Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Beginning 1006

"Just shoot it, Mr. Pidwig," Hyde said with greater urgency than the three or four times he'd said it before.

Still, the trembling client seemed no closer to pulling the trigger than when he had dropped his heavy body to a knee and taken aim at the tyrannosaur Unvolution Incorporated's genetic technicians had re-created for him.

It wasn't the first time Hyde had seen wealthy clients freeze when they came to realize, too late, that one thing their money could not buy was the courage to face a terror brought back from the prehistoric past that measured them by nothing more than the richness of their flesh.

Hyde flashed an anxious glance towards the nearby hilltop where his teammate Brash was set up to record Mr. Pidwig's "great kill."  The location also put Brash in perfect position to provide backup firepower that, considering the power of the projectile in Pidwig's weapon, should not be needed.

A shriek of agony from the baby sauropod they had staked out to attract the tyrannosaur drew Hyde's attention back to the bait area, and an irrepressible well of sympathy rose in his throat as he watched the great carnivore tear flesh from the helpless creature's tender back.

Within moments the tyrannosaur had tired of divesting the sauropod of its flesh, and had settled to it's side in the dust.

Hyde snorted with disgust as Pidwig, emboldened by the beast's lack of aggression, stood and emptied his weapon. Unfortunately, from this less stable firing position, the recoil sent the missile spiraling over the target.

Not that it didn't hit something. Brash had no time to make his peace with the Maker he was undoubtedly greeting.

Pidwig, the insufferable twit, gazed up at Hyde through hazy eyes, chuffing on about "most unfortunate," and "couldn't be avoided."

"Aye, verily," Hyde offered before lifting his sidearm and creating his own sound of thunder.

Opening: James Catlett.....Continuation: Veronica Rundell


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

The first time Hyde had seen one of his wealthy clients freeze was when he was in London in the sleet and they had been wearing black garbage bags because no shops were open and a parade of men and women wearing only bowler hats and sneakers had jogged by and disrupted their afternoon tea-on-the-back-of-a-feral-oversized-ostrich. The ostrich had kicked and knocked everyone like dominos into The Thames and the richness of naked flesh had nearly smothered Hyde's client.


It was as if, seeing the horror of the victim, which was tearing at the leads, purchased at considerable expense due to the strength needed to bind the large hither to pampered adult sauropod, during what could only be described as the one terror ridden moment in its entire life experience and as bait, Hyde knew, would greatly increase the charges against the client’s eventual bill that he had signed off on with his unlimited American Express card carried in his expensive, exotic South American lizard skin wallet, such that Hyde could only imagine the betrayal the poor beast, now knowing it had been raised not as a pet, given the name Fluffy, which was Hyde’s teen daughter’s favorite cat’s name, but solely for this one-time bloody and painful moment, for which reasons Fluffy, the sauropod not the cat, could never understand, Hyde felt himself unworthy of any trust and ought, if there were any justice in the world or any God in heaven, to be similarly treated to such a hideous and torturous death, when he heard Brush’s shot, which ended poor Fluffy’s, again, the dinosaur’s not the feline’s, anguish, and which relieved Hyde greatly until, in the next moment, when the tyrannosaur turned and ran, at full speed, toward them, Hyde and Pidwig not Fluffy the dead sauropod and Fluffy the cat, who was several miles away, doubtless enjoying a nap on the sun porch.

--Mister Furkles

Tk said...

Hi author, you started with a moment of high-stakes action, kudos. Then killed the action with the infodump in paragraph two. Can you let it unfold like a scene instead, draw the reader in with the action, not the background. This is the essence of your scene:

"Just shoot it, Mr. Pidwig!" Hyde glared at his trembling client.

In the bait area, the baby sauropod shrieked as the tyrannosaur tore a strip of flesh from its back. Pidwig was still frozen.

"Shoot, you @#$%!"

Continue with what happens now, not what happened to get them to this point.

Evil Editor said...

A few of the adjectives can go, as they don't tell us anything we can't infer: "wealthy," "irrepressible," "brought back from the prehistoric past." Not sure the last one is accurate anyway, as the animal was never in the prehistoric past.

Regarding the 2nd paragraph, when the client dropped to his knee and took aim at the dinosaur, he probably seemed very close to pulling the trigger. So maybe to say he seems no closer now isn't saying much. Maybe he seemed no closer than he was when he first took aim three minutes ago? Or maybe it's no big deal, as we get the point.

I would change the 3rd paragraph to refer to single clients, rather than multiple clients:

Pidwig wasn't the first client Hyde had watched freeze when he realized the one thing his money could not buy was the courage to face a terror that measured him only by the richness of his flesh.

Actually, it's probably more the availability than the richness when you're a giant lizard.

I took out "too late" because it suggests that clients have been killed by dinosaurs. Have they? Or do you mean it's too late to get their money back now that they know they're not cut out for dinosaur killing?

Dave Fragments said...

When I started reading this I ahd the impression that it was a Detective-like NOIR story where the grizzled old detective (think Sam Spade) is telling a less experienced shooter who's dropped an intruder in his office to shoot the intruder. Then I hit the Tyrannosaurus and realized this was a fake game hunt.
The opening has the tone of a police procedural and not a big game hunt. Up the adrenaline levee by making the sentences shorter.
"It's your Tyrannosaur, Mr Pidwig. Shoot it," Hyde said. and stop explaining right there.
Then in P2 "Pidwig trembled, dropped to one knee and froze."

And here you've put the reader as Hyde looking at Pidwig and in the distance the Tyrannosaur. Don't keep overloading the reader with images in an action scene. In practice that means that the way you move the reader's mind in P4 is distraction. It would work better to make Pidwig hesitate and look to Brash and back to Hyde and then back to the tyrannosaur -- he's losing focus on making the kill shot.

Something very tough for an author to see is a repetition of certain items:
P2: "Unvolution Incorporated's genetic technicians had re-created for him"
P3: "a terror brought back from the prehistoric past"

That's my suggestions.

none said...

EE hacked down one line but I think it would have greater impact if it was hacked even further.

It wasn't the first time Hyde had seen wealthy clients freeze when they realized, too late, that their money could not buy courage.

That brings 'courage' into prominence rather than burying it in verbiage.

This opening is overwritten and reminds me of at least two other (published) SF stories that I've read. It needs something more to make it stand out than an incompetent hunter and a dino.

Evil Editor said...

Yes, the dino needs to eat Pidwig on page 1. We don't want to read about Pidwig anyway, so off him.

Unknown said...

This piece immediately conjured Bradbury for me...which is good and bad.

Good, because I love Bradbury.
Bad, because it feels derivative.

Suggestions: I think Hyde should demonstrate more irritation. I think this scene should move faster. I think you should consider the length of your sentences--and cut them.

Action sequences are often hampered by too much prose. Cut it to the bone. Incident, reaction, consequence. The only description should be that which paints the scene, no reflections, no musings. Save that for the post-action scene.

You might, for example, have a sardonic commentary running on tranmitters between Hyde and Brash that captures the disdain Hyde feels about his job, and his client. I dunno.

Best of luck. And thanks for the Bradbury memory. Oh, to be in seventh grade again....

none said...

EE's right. The dino should eat everyone and go on to have a successful career in publishing. As an editor.


VGC said...

Mister Furkles, were you channeling James Joyce in that continuation? Loved it!

khazar-khum said...

I'm rooting for the dinosaurs already, and we're only on the first page. Maybe they'll organize a hunt into Manhattan or London, where they can catch financiers for their bespoke silk suits.

Anonymous said...

I loved the continuation. That's all I have to say. I loved the continuation.

james said...

Author here:

Sorry for the late response, but I just go in from a really long day. Truly appreciate the advice, though.

You'll all be glad to know that Pidwig does get eaten. Second page, I think.

I absolutely do agree with Dave Fragments that the pace of the wording needs to be faster for action scenes. Sentences short and to the point. And that does happen. Just not in the first 200 words. Intentionally used that space for info dumping, Tk. And please don't think I'm trying to be a smartass in saying that. I know it isn't the way things are supposed to be done these days, and I fully expected to be told about it. In fact I figured more people would tell me about it. But I made a conscious decision to go ahead and do it for reasons that would take to long to explain. Thanks, though.

I think Mr. Furkles either wanted to prove he can write a longer sentence than some of mine, or he just knows I like cats.

And I like adjectives. Too much, I know, EE. They're like beer. One good adjective deserves another. But you're right. Thank you for reminding me that I've got many of them to weed out. Although the story is complete, I still very much consider it a WIP. By the way, "too late" isn't even in the original draft. I just threw it in at the last minute when I sent the opening to you, because I thought it looked good there. Obviously it didn't. It won't be there on the final draft.

Veronica. Wow! There were certain things in your continuation that made me wonder if you'd somehow managed to read the rest of the story. Not about Pidwig. He gets eaten. And there really is a good bit more going on than just what you wrote. But the blundered shot, the tragic loss, the outrage ... they're elements that have much to do with certain aspects of the story.

Sorry if I've left anything out. But I'm going to bed now. Thank you all for your input.

Thanks, and good night

CavalierdeNuit said...

You could benefit by cutting down your sentences, removing the over explanations, adding commas and/or semicolons, and challenging yourself to write the opening in much less words. Adjectives are fun to play with, but usually unnecessary. Cut the ones you don't need.

This made me think of Jurassic Park meets The Most Dangerous Game. And that sounds like a cool read.

james said...

Author here, again. Awake and seeing with clearer eyes after a good nights sleep.

I agree with you, CavalierdeNuit, and had already decided to post a redo using many of the suggestions that you and others offered. With EE's permission, of course. Not now. Gotta get ready for work. But if (big "if") I manage to get off part of this weekend, I plan on taking a crack at it. Will be going for tighter sentence construction, omission of certain adjectives that might not be as essential as I thought they were, and losing as much info dumping as I think I can get by with. In so doing, it may give me enough extra room in the first 200 words to provide a few more lines, which should give a better idea of where this story is going.

Still probably won't be able to kill Pidwig on the first page, though. Sorry.

Thanks again to all for the helpful and useful suggestions.

PLaF said...

I don’t care if it has been done before: a story about hunting dino’s is too cool NOT to read!
I got kind of a “King Kong” vibe from this, where all of Hyde’s careful planning and fail-safes actually fail and then T-rexes go on a rampage in New York.
Anyway, I just wanted to add that I hope, in your rewrite, that some semblance of “It wasn't the first time Hyde had seen wealthy clients freeze when they came to realize, too late, that one thing their money could not buy was the courage to face a terror” survives.

none said...

Why is Hyde pushing him to fire anyway? Is he worried he'll get bad feedback on the customer satisfaction form? Or that the dino will kill someone? That will make a big difference in how he reacts.

You can defend info-dumping all you like but the final say on whether it's acceptable isn't yours :).

Mister Furkles said...


What the others said. I wasn’t going to add anything to their’s and maybe nothing more need be said. Then I remembered something Lee Child said and then something Janet Reid said.

Well, why was my one sentence so long? I only wanted to show how a long sentence kills tension by writing an eighty word mess. But then I thought a dinosaur should have a name, and what better name for a dinosaur than Fluffy? And it just kind of got out of control. Sorry about that.

Janet Reid said on a number of occasions, “Short sentences and long scenes build tension.” So trash those thirty to fifty word sentences; they cause the reader to disassociate from the scene. The reader should see the dinosaurs, smell the dinosaurs, and fear the dinosaurs. If a home invader says, “Why don’t I just blow your head off?” You’re going to be afraid. If launches a five thousand word spiel on the meaningless of life, well, you’ll fall asleep.

Lee Child wrote an article on suspense for the NYT. In it he said, “Imply a question at the beginning of the story, and then delay the answer.” He also used a cake metaphor, “Don’t bake a cake. Make your family hungry instead.”

You should start with a relatively modest sentence that promises some great disaster later. Then some medium sentences and tighten them as you get to the end of the scene.

Something like: “Hyde had been guiding big game hunters for several years but no experience could prepare him for the disasters that came that summer.”

And if you name the biggest meanest dinosaur Fluffy, I promise to buy a hardbound copy as soon as it’s available.

Author said...


"Just shoot it, Mr. Pidwig," Hyde said with greater urgency than the times he'd said it before.

The client had dropped his heavy body to a knee and taken aim at the tyrannosaur moments earlier. Then his trigger finger had frozen.

Hyde flashed an anxious glance towards the nearby hilltop where his teammate Brash was set up to record Mr. Pidwig's "great kill," but a shriek of agony from the baby sauropod they had staked out quickly drew his attention back to the bait area.

"Mr. Pidwig, if you don't shoot the goddamned thing before it finishes the bait, it will come looking for something else to eat. Like us. Then I'll have to shoot it. And you will have wasted all those millions you spent for the rights to the re-extinction of a species."

He instantly regretted having spoken so disrespectfully to a Homo sapiens. But the thought of facing a charging tyrannosaur with a half-filled gut had overshadowed the concern of being reported for insolence by one of Unvolution Incorporated's wealthiest patrons.

"Give me a couple of minutes," Pidwig managed to say between wheezing breaths.

Hyde wasn't sure they had a couple of minutes, as he watched the great predator tear off half the bait animal's back with a single bite and rock back its massive head to chew. Even from two hundred yards away, the snaps and pops of the larger bones cracked in its jaws as clearly as small-caliber rifle shots.

"One minute gone, sir."

Pidwig wheezed faster.

Unknown said...

Hallelujah! I would SO read on, even if the t-Rex wasn't named Fluffy...

Tk said...

Hi Author, this has a much better sense of urgency and action.

You might switch the second para into regular past, not double past (whatever the term is) for better flow and for staying in the moment.

The client was still on one knee, gun aimed and pudgy finger frozen on the trigger.

In third para, I’d just say Brash – Hyde is unlikely to refer to the guy in his head as his teammate, and that’s clear from the context.

I like the way you introduce Hyde’s non-homo sapienity. Luck!

Evil Editor said...

All in all, much better.

Should "Then I'll have to shoot it" be "Then Mr. Brash will have to shoot it."? In the previous version, it's claimed that Brash is in the perfect position to provide backup firepower.

Maybe the dinosaur should rock back its massive head to swallow. I don't think of carnivorous reptiles as big chewers.

When I think of wealthy patrons I think of the arts. Maybe go with clients or customers.

The suggestion that Hyde is not Homo sapiens is intriguing. Unless he IS Homo sapiens, in which case it's misleading.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't have more to add than has already been said. So I will say take their advice and good luck with the story.

james said...

Thanks for more input. I only had a short while Sunday night to rework the opening, but took your comments to heart. It felt better immediately.

Hey, Tk, I wasn't at all happy with the second paragraph either. Loved your suggestion: "The client was still on one knee, gun aimed and pudgy finger frozen." It has everything in it that I needed to say without all that "had" stuff. Mind if I use it?

EE, "swallow" seems better than "chew." Somehow, "chew" makes me think of bubblegum.

As for "patron," I beg forgiveness, but I resorted to Thesaurus in search of a synonym for the word "client" that I was using way too much. Remember, I was rewriting on the fly. Then EE comes up with "customer." Whoa, it works. Thanks. Who needs a Thesaurus if you've got an evil editor's blog?

As to whether or not Hyde is a Homo sapiens, I suppose I can reveal it. It comes up soon enough in the story. He is late-stage Homo heidelbergensis. Unvolution Inc. makes more than dinosaurs, you see.

Thanks again to all

Tk said...

Hi James, of course use it!

And resurrecting old Homo species - does that idea ever have story potential. I really want to read this now (maybe I can close my eyes for the gory dino bits).

Anonymous said...

Good characters but the dinosaurs do nothing for me - they don't appear to add to the dynamics between the main characters.

Why not put Mr. Pidwig, Hyde, and Brash in medieval England (or at a stretch the Early modern period)? Let's see the tension as these characters face feudalism and the Black Death.

Great crossover potential (YA/history/memoir).

Best of luck.