Friday, January 26, 2018

New Beginning 1076

I was binge watching season three of Fargo when I got the call from my burner phone that hadn't rang in eight months. I kept it behind a skull bookend inside a mahogany bookcase built into my apartment wall. If I pushed the bookcase, I would enter a secret passage that led down to a gothic nightclub, or so I imagined.

I rolled off my sofa and slid across my shiny marble floor to the bookcase. I'd practiced my Risky Business slide for this day too many times. And I just so happened to be wearing an oversized pink oxford shirt with a pair of white cashmere socks.

"At your service," I said into the flip phone, my heart pounding.

"Verity," said the man on the other end. It was my manager Enoch. I pictured what his disguise might be today. A bartender in Paris with a handlebar moustache, a bearded fishmonger in Seattle, and a homeless man chasing birds around a fountain in Rome were new impersonations he'd told me about the last time we spoke. I was never sure if these were for his amusement or business-related.

"Okay. I don't know who might be watching you. Your target is the IN-And-Out on Third."

This is it. I'm going to prove myself worthy.

"Get a Double-Double, inside and out. Got your wig? Hat? Camera? Thermometer? Cash?"

"Oh boy do I!"

"Good. Get there by 12:45. Millions of consumers are counting on you."

I dashed to my car, where I kept my kit. I was no longer Verity Spivak, IT drone. No more. Now I was Verity Spivak, Super Secret Shopper!

Opening: Elizabeth Tudor.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


P1: "rung," not "rang." 

P2: If I rolled off my sofa I'd end up lying on the floor, not the optimum position from which to go into a Risky Business slide. I would leap off my sofa. But that's me. "Too many times" suggests that something goes wrong. As in: I ate too many cookies, so I puked on my sofa. I'd change "too many" to "a hundred" or "a thousand."

P4: Not clear why Enoch would be in disguise to make a phone call. Then again, it's not clear that any of this is actually happening. That "or so I imagined" at the end of paragraph 1 could mean that the narrator is just lying on the sofa imagining everything. If that's not the case, and there is a skull bookend hiding a phone that rings with Enoch on the other end, I'd get rid of the "or so I imagined," as it leaves me wondering whether to trust anything Verity (if that's even her/his real name) says. 

In the unlikely case that this is all Walter Mitty-type imagination, with the narrator pretending to be an assassin or a spy when she's actually a receptionist, you still should get rid of "or so I imagined," as you want her to be so engrossed in her fantasy that she doesn't let on that she knows it's a fantasy. But you also don't want to carry this far enough to get the reader engrossed in the spy story that doesn't exist. Tricky. If it's all a fantasy, maybe  start in the real world and open chapter 2 with the fantasy.


khazarkhum said...

Alternatively, you could put the fantasy sections in italics, thereby setting them apart as something other than the norm.

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

I can second EE and state that when I roll off the couch all I can really manage is to not land on the floor. I think you need a running start to do a Risky business slide so it reads a bit awkward. I like the voice though, and the enthusiasm.

Maybe I'm too gullible but I want the 'Or so I imagined' there because I actually thought there was a gothic nightclub behind the wall.

Lol about the secret shopper conclusion of scene from the new beginning. I loved that

Mister Furkles said...

This may be way off base because I’ve no idea what kind of story this is. This is how I critique writing in my crit group—there I know what kind of story we are reviewing.

The first two paragraphs are too wordy and contain some things the reader need not know at the opening. Also, it is a good practice to start and end longer paragraphs with shorter sentences. Not always but usually and especially in the beginning. You want to interest the readers and inspire their imaginations. Spiffy stuff like imagining a gothic nightclub and Risky Business slides can wait. And you need not bother with Enoch’s disguises until they matter.

Cut to fewer words. Example: first sentence can be “My burner phone, hidden behind a skull bookend, rang for the first time in months.” The reader will wonder why there is a burner phone, whether the skull is real, and what kind of call hasn't come in for months.

Don’t bother with ‘mahogany’ because it is irrelevant. Does it matter if the skull is on a bookcase anyway? You can mention lying on the sofa and watching season three of Fargo but first get the readers imagination and curiosity going.

I think if you cut this by half, it will be much stronger and better serve its purpose of getting the reader into the story.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Thank you EE for the feedback! I have applied those suggestions.

This is supposed to be a real person experiencing something so I will make sure the reader understands that.

Thanks vampire child for the feedback and compliments!

I have also cut some things beyond the first 200 words that were not working. Thank you Mister Furkles for your input.

khazarkhum said...

I do like the voice here. That conversational tone can be tricky to make work over a 100,000 word or so ms. But if you can pull it off, kudos to you. I do like her fantasy world, and like iamanoldvampire, part of me wants it to be true.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Thanks khazarkhum! I’m keeping this between 70k-73k words as a first novel so we’ll see.