Friday, February 12, 2016

New Beginning 1052

The snow around the cabin lay unmarked by man or animal.

“You never told me you owned this place,” Logan and his buddy Nick walked the last hundred yards. The four hundred mile drive from Vancouver left them dog-tired and cold.

“It was Uncle Ronan’s. I found out that I inherited it a month ago.”

“Were you close?”

“After Dad started drinking, I would hitch to the main road. This was my refuge from the beatings. We shared the love of outdoors. He taught me how to survive out here and be a man. I was fifteen when the sheriff called and said Uncle Ronan was missing and presumed dead; no investigations, no missing persons report, just a memorial service, and an empty coffin.”

Nick opened the door and set the LED lantern in the middle of the cabin. A large bed sat facing the fireplace. A rough-hewn table with chairs sat opposite with the stove and sink. Logan grimaced as he removed the drop cloths covered in years of dust.

“Glad I’m not asthmatic. Speaking of rustic, it’s so much more than I thought.” To Logan, rustic meant the scurrying of field mice in the walls, and “almost never washed” sheets. Which would make Nick's one-room walk-up in the city rustic. In Nick's mind, "rustic" was a last-minute hitch-hike beyond the range of the nearest cell tower with no chance to let people know where you're headed; an abandoned cabin in the middle of nowhere, untouched by man or beast; a sharpened ax with a worn but sturdy handle; a pot of slow-cooked stew with that special, sweet sweet meat; and a banjo playing wistfully in the background.

"Why don't you light the stove," Nick asked his friend. "I'll see if I can find some music."

Opening: Dave Fragments......Continuation: ril


P2: If you use a comma instead of a period, we expect a dialogue tag: Logan said as he and his buddy Nick....   

Also, they just spent about seven hours driving to this place and Nick has only now revealed that he owns the place? Surely he told Logan where they were going before they left Vancouver. 

I can see how a 400-miles drive would leave them dog-tired, but not cold. Presumably their vehicle had a heater. Or were they driving a dogsled? 

Change "left" to "had left."

Shouldn't they walk the last hundred yards first and then see that the snow is unmarked by man or animal?

P3: I would say "my" Uncle Ronan's. Omitting the "my" suggests that Logan is familiar with Uncle Ronan, but the following paragraph suggests he isn't.

P5: Start with his answer to the question he was just asked. Possibly by dropping the first two sentences. At least by dropping "I would hitch to the main road." This cabin doesn't sound like it's on the main road, so it's not clear what that has to do with whether they were close.

Change "He" to "Uncle Ronan" and "Uncle Ronan" to "he."

"I was fifteen" would be more meaningful if we knew whether he was now seventeen or thirty-seven. Of course if they had a memorial service when he was fifteen, and he's much older than that now, why did it take till now to find out he inherited the cabin?

P6: Seems like if you're building a cabin in which you want a large bed and a stove, you'd want it where you can get to it without having to walk the last hundred yards. I'll assume there's a driveway that's impassable because of the snow.

P7: I think the removing of the drop cloths and the comment about asthma should be in the same paragraph.

If he means it's more rustic than expected, change "It's so much more" to "It's much more so". Also, field mice in the walls is rustic, and I think you're trying to say Logan hasn't been exposed to rustic, so you want something like: To Logan, "rustic" meant having only two bars on his cell phone.

There are no dialogue tags. I assume Logan is the first to speak only because it says "Logan and his buddy Nick" rather than "Nick and his buddy Logan." It wouldn't hurt to toss in "Nick told him," "Logan asked," "Nick answered," "Logan said" . . . 


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

The door swung open. "Well!" bellowed the newcomer. "If it isn't my Logan!"

Logan and Nick stood, silent, as a pair of shabbily-dressed skeletons sauntered into the room.

"I was just telling my gal Julie here all about you," said Uncle Ronan. "Boys, meet Julie, the toughest girl in British Columbia."

"Hi," said Julie, shyly.

"But--"began Logan, "But you're dead. We buried you."

"Well, that's what that bear thought, too." Uncle Ronan bent down to examine the wood burning stove. "Thought he could finish us off. But like I told you, there's some funny things in these woods. Now--howsabout getting some wood for this, and a beer, eh?"

Nick and Logan nodded, heading for the door. No doubt about it, Spring Break would never be the same.


Tk said...

Hi Dave, it's nice to see you have a new story! Couple of things that struck me that you could fix:

In Canada, we measure in metres and kilometres.

"This was my refuge from the beatings" does not sound like something people actually say. If someone asks "were you close" and the backstory involves a lot of personal pain, people usually say stuff like "He was good to me. Wish I knew where he was now" and more comes in dribs and drabs, if Logan (or was it Nick?) feels like saying more. Especially if it never came up for the entire hours-long drive.

Anonymous said...

What did they talk about during the extremely long trip if it had nothing to do with where they were going? And I agree about the need for a few dialogue tags.

I found it odd that the furniture in the cabin was covered by drop clothes. The furniture used in cabins isn't usually the type that people worry about getting dusty (or muddy, or bloody, or scratched and dented). That may have more to do with the people I know who have cabins. ymmv

I would probably keep reading to see if it was going anywhere interesting.

Anonymous said...

When people are missing, the law goes through an awful lot of steps before presuming them dead and redistributing their worldy belongings. Among other things, it's customary to wait seven years.

The exception would be if Uncle was last spotted boarding a ship of which then sailed into a hurricane and all that was found afterward was a few floating bits, or something like that. And even then, it would take a while.

davefragments said...

Thanks EE. I hope you are getting better.

I needed this. This story, like many I write, starts with a single mental image. Int his case it was the image of the twenty-somethings walking up to the cabin. They won't leave in human form. The problem with that is the first sentence or two gets so fixed in my head that I don't change it. Nothing should be that special in writing.

EE: I spent today doing revision. All of your suggestions have been added to the text. The initial 200 words have another two hundred words of backstory and clarification. I'll work that though the rest of the story this weekend.

It's all metric.
I've filled in Ronan's family history.
It's no longer Probate Court but the Tribal Council that has the legal authority.
It's on Tribal lands. The Tribe has the cellphone tower and internet service.
I'll blame the drop cloths on the Tribal Council, too.
Nick and Logan are 23/24 years old. I'll make that clear in the story.

And no Banjos. (wink, wink). I always enjoy the continuations.

I have to go cook. If I think of anything else, I'll write another post.

Whoever said...

"Rustic meant having only two bars on his cell phone". I love that. Can I steal it? Er, I mean use it? If yes, would a thank you in the foreward be sufficient or would you require a .01% cut of the royalties?

Evil Editor said...

It's yours if you dedicate the book to me.