Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Beginning 996

“Fuck you, Dave,” Rob snaps.

I try. Honestly. No matter how hard I focus, I just can’t stop. I’m choking and my eyes are popping under the pressure of keeping my laughter in, Rob’s evil eye notwithstanding. Mary Elizabeth? Je. Sus. Our buddy, Jake, tagged her on Memorial Day, but he’d been shit-faced. And Jake had zero standards. Rob, he’s our Alpha Male. Leader of the Wolf Pack, for good reason. Girls cling to him like sweat on balls—and that’s usually where they cling, too.

“Later asshole,” he hisses.

“Wait! Just, hold on. I’ll,” I mean to say I’ll get my shit together, but I snort loudly and my ribs shake. He shoves me backward onto my bed and heads for the door. My cell buzzes. Despite himself, he can’t resist checking. He knows I let most calls go to voicemail. I’m not good at faking conversation with people I don’t know well. It’s easier if I can work out a strategy. Call ’em back on my terms. Or, not call them back.

“Unknown,” he mutters.

That can’t be good. “Let her leave a message,” I say, sure it’s my stalker. “Why’d you give Jessie my number, anyway?” I demand.

He ignores my question and flings the phone toward me.

Sure enough, it's Jessie. The voice confirms it, muffled but loud. "Don't hang up!" Like she read my mind.

"I've told you to stop stalking me," I tell her.

"I'm not stalking you. I've done something stupid and you're the only one who can help me."

"This better not be a game, Jessie. What do you want?"

"It's not a game. I'm trapped. Your bedroom closet doesn't open from the inside." 

Opening: Veronica Rundell.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

"Why do you think, asshole?" he hissed. "She's the best goddamned beard in this shithole town."

As usual, he was right. That's why he's my Alpha Male.


Evil Editor said...

At least drop the first sentence. Better yet, cut Rob and open:

My cell buzzes; the screen says "Unknown Caller." I'm sure it’s Jessie, my stalker, but instead of letting it go to Voicemail, I foolishly answer.

Another possibility: start somewhere else, as this scene isn't tempting me to read more about any of these people.

IMHO said...

I'm confused -- too many names. I also read "Je. Sus." as 'Je. Suis.' and thought the speaker had switched to French!

Had to read the first para twice before getting (I think) that Rob is heading out to meet Mary E, whom Dave thinks is beneath Rob's alpha male status.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Hey Veronica! Great voice here :) (Even though, admittedly, I feel bad for Mary Elizabeth.) I only had a few small nits:

First, Dave's response to "Fuck you" doesn't seem appropriate. (i.e. "Fuck you." "I'm trying.") More accurate might be: "Fuck you, Dave, " Rob snaps. "Knock it off."

Then we see immediately that the "I try" is in response to the knock it off, not the "Fuck you."

Got hung up on "Je. Sus." I kept reading it as misspelled french (Je. Suis.) Don't ask me why. Maybe "Je-sus." would work better (for me, anyway.)

Since the main part of the story is in present tense, I don't think you need "He'd been shit-faced..." For me it might flow smoother as, "But he was shit faced. And Jake has zero standards." (Unless Jake's dead now--that could account for the past tense in "had zero standards."

Again, I'm being nit-picky. This is very engaging voice. Love the continuations. Khazar's made me giggly.

St0n3henge said...

I've been trying to figure out how this sort of thing will be marketed. It's obviously some sort of testosterone laden, profanity spiced, boys-will-be-boys kind of beer-fueled frat party style hijinks story, a la The Hangover. So, a book series entitled "Books For Straight Guys In Their Twenties" moght be a good presentation.

I'd definitely make sure the cover looks like those 70's comedy movies like Animal House.

If your going to do this at all, I'd totally go overboard with it. Naughty pictures should end up on the internet for all the world to see, guys should lie to their girlfriends about their other girlfriends, and things should end up in orifices they're not supposed to be in. See what you can get away with. I sense you could have a lucrative thing here if you can throw all caution, and taste, to the wind.

Dave Fragments said...

Very few stories can have a protagonist so awful that they can't redeemed in the reader's eyes by the end of the book.

This isn't a good opening for a story. It's like three day old road kill, something we know exists and never want to see.

BUt let's forget about all that. Who are in this opening?

Dave the narrator (1), who's being stalked by Jessie (2_, and his buddy Rob (3) who is disgusted with Dave (1) who thinks it's fun to tease Rob (3) that Jake (4) tagged Mary Elizabeth (5).

Five people in 200 words? Way too many for the average reader.

I'm with EE. Make the opening about Dave's conversation with Jessie or his/her reasons for their spat. Relationship angsts can hold a story together. There's many popular boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, fall out of love, fight like cats and dogs and then find love stories out there with all sorts of window dressing settings and main plots.

none said...

I can't follow some of this. For starters, I have no idea what Dave's trying to do. Fuck Rob was my first thought, but probably that's just me. Eventually I realised he was trying to stop laughing. Perhaps you could clue the reader in to that earlier.

Then I wondered why Rob was checking Dave's phone. And why Rob does nothing to stop him.

You could probably start earlier so we know why Dave's laughing, at least. Why is this scene the start of your novel, though? Nothing much seems to be happening.

Mister Furkles said...


Two problems:

“Mary Elizabeth? … zero standards.” – This is a distraction and what is it doing in the middle of a paragraph about the MC and Rob?

One of the editors I’ve read recommends most conversations tags be a simple “X said”. He said that others act as a break in action – I’m paraphrasing from memory. These are a problem if that is true:
- he hisses - and is it Jake or Rob?
- he mutters
- I demand

‘“Fuck you, Dave,” Rob snaps.’ Is okay because it adds tension and I know Rob’s not being funny.

I converted a lot of my conversation tags because of this. Maybe EE could comment on conversation tags.

Evil Editor said...

Could and did in Q & A 134 (http://evileditor.blogspot.com/2008/02/q-134-say-what.html)

Of course, searching seven years of blog posts to find the topic you want is tiresome, which is why most of the Q & A posts have been collected in volumes 1 and 2 of Why You Don't Get Published.

none said...

The 'average reader'--whoever they may be--has obviously never attempted Tolstoy, then. The problem isn't a surfeit of names; it's a lack of clarity and of any sense of a story beginning.

Unknown said...

Thanks all! This piece is actually chapter two of a novel told in alternating first person--but it is the first scene in Dave's POV and comes after the female POV character has just been helped by Dave who she believes to be a "hero".

Dave isn't--but he does become one. He's been wingman to a "player" (Rob) for some time and is unsatisfied in that role. Jessie is a girl Dave hurt (recently and unintentionally) and the guilt is eating him alive.

I know I need to work on both dialogue tags and odd caps. Thanks Chelsea for the suggestions. I will also work on the character soup.

I loved the continuations...Dave's closet does contain some contraband, but not of the living variety.

Thanks again for your comments. I really appreciate the fresh perspectives.