Monday, July 31, 2006

New Beginning 25


Audrey sidestepped so the man she could see from the corner of her eye could slide past her in the aisle. She pressed back into a rack of clothing, the thrift-store smell wafting out at her. She kept her eyes down, waiting for him to pass, then glanced up to see that he was standing in front of her, staring at her intently.

"Pardon me," she said, stepping aside again. He just looked at her, which upped her city-girl dander. "Is there a problem?"

He thrust a flier at her, big black letters on bright yellow paper. Just a crazy, that's all.

"I'm okay, thanks," she muttered, and headed down the aisle.

"You really need this," he said.

"I'm all full up, honestly." Audrey looked around for a clerk. No one in sight. If this guy got any closer, she was going to stomp on his instep.

The man turned away. Thank God. But as he turned, some of the black letters on the flyer jumped out at Audrey. Audrey Quigglesthorp. What was her name doing on the flyer?

"Give me that!" Audrey snatched at the page, but the man held it above her head.

"Can you pay the price?" he sneered.

"Damn right I can." She stomped on his instep, then tackled him into a rack of shirts.

"You're too late," he laughed. "You had your chance."

As they lay among the garments, Audrey pounded on his face until it was an unrecognizable bloody pulp.

"Too . . . late," the old man moaned.

Audrey grabbed up the flyer. Her name was nowhere to be seen. It was nothing but a coupon for ten percent off her purchase. At the bottom it said, Expires at 5 p.m.

She looked at her watch. 5:02.


Continuation: Nancy Conner/Evil Editor

19 comments:

Nut said...

Poor old man...

garden minion said...

"Upped her city-girl dander..." I'm not quite sure what this means, although I can guess. It was distracting, and I randomly thought of dandelions. It also seemed incongrous with the predominant image of the first paragraph: Audrey pressing herself into the clothes, eyes downcast, trying to get out of the way. She seemed shy, then not. But perhaps the first paragraph just goes on too long.

duwvbhbf: the sound the crazy makes as audrey pummels him amidst the cloth racks.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good start, but I don't much like Audrey.

You've instantly pulled me in with an uncomfortable (and yet familiar) situation--being confronted by some unknown, possibly mentally ill, person in a store. You've almost got sensory detail, like the smell of thrift store (not sure what that smell is). So I might keep reading.

But Audrey seems over-reactive-getting her "city-girl dander" upped when he looks at her? Wanting to stomp on his instep. Also, her statement "I'm all full up" doesn't register with me. What does that mean? (Obviously, I"m not up on slang.)

Audrey heads down the aisle, then thinks about what she'll do if he gets any closer. Did he follow her? Is there any other reason to think he's a crazy, besides the fact that he has a brochure or flier to hand her?

I think this opening can work, but I'm not sure it's working for me exactly as written. I think it's a good choice for an opening, but I want to identify with Audrey, not beat the crap out of a homeless man.

Chumplet said...

She's a paranoid girl who has seen enough crazies in her young life. Getting her city girl dander up must mean the same as getting her back up.

"Full up" means the same as "I gave at the office" or some such thing.

Too many people getting too close over too long a time. I can see it. I sense a bit of desperation, a feeling of "I've had enough, dammit!"

Don't forget that the pummelling scene is the 'made up' one. I can almost see it as a natural progression, though, in a crazy, paranormal way. Ooooeeeeoooo The Twilight Zone...

Daisy said...

I like this one, and I didn't have a problem with the heroine. I like her voice, and I didn't think her response was inappropriate. It is definitely creepy to have someone come up to you and get in your personal space, especially if they won't take no for an answer.

You could probably lose the dander thing, though.

-c- said...

I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but there seemed to be too many references to sight--something that I do myself. She looks here, looks there, eyes downcast, etc etc. Check it out. It's almost filtering.

Her extreme reaction to a guy who is trying to give her a flyer really doesn't make sense. So either make the guy very aggressive and creepy, or take your time with it. Give us atmosphere and building creepiness of the guy so her instep stomping urges finally make sense. While that's happening, have Audrey wanting something else (to drive the scene).

McKoala said...

Dander always makes me think of cats. To me, 'city-girl dander' would be the dander of a sassy urban alley cat. 'I'm full up' confused me too. I like the situation, though.

Jeb said...

I agree about the 'seeing' references acting as a filter. This could become more atmospheric if we were were more firmly inside her head, thinking and feeling what she is, instead of being told what her eyes are doing.

"Audrey sidestepped so the man she could see from the corner of her eye could slide past her in the aisle."

The opening sentence is rather awkward; you're trying to cram too much into it. Try a couple of shorter sentences. Maybe she steps aside automatically to let someone pass, and only after that notices it's a man and he's not moving on.

Or let her feel/hear someone coming behind her; maybe a shiver runs up her neck as her personal space is being invaded?

Or, if you must, let her see him from the corner of her eye, although that might not be the most interest-generating action for the first line. THEN, next sentence, let her decide what to do about it.

It isn't easy to get distance from our own writing, to see it not as we experienced it, with the excitement and knowledge of the whole back-and-forward story in place, but as someone who only knows this little piece. Get someone else to read your writing out loud to you, slowly, so you can hear the rough edges and feel the rise of tension.

sgttyct said...

Isn't the fastest way to get away from someone who is leafletting to just take the flier? Isn't this SOP (standard operating procedure)in a big city?

And if you were leafletting and someone crouched in a rack of clothes, don't you think you'd look at them (and wonder WTF)?

I think Chumplet is right--Audrey is a paranoid girl. Do I want to keep reading? not sure.

tlh said...

Did I miss something? She jumped on the guy and pulped him after he tried to walk away from her? That's horrible. Isn't she afraid of going to jail for assault?

It's a long way from "going to step on his instep" to "pounded on his face until it was an unrecognizable bloody pulp".

Oh, and there are too many "said" replacements -- sneered, laughed, muttered, moaned. You could make a case for each of them separately, but one after another is very jarring.

eafuurm: the sound I made as the shy MC turned into a homicidal maniac.

Evil Editor said...

Yes, you missed something. The blue text is not part of the author's story. It's a continuation of the story written by someone else just for fun. Serious comments should be confined to the black text.

Anonymous said...

TLH, the words in the blue font were written as an add-on by a minion.

fvceiwbz (the sound I make when people chime in and obviously have not read the directions)

orishagirl said...

Personally, I think the writer was going for a sort of chick-lit voice with the upping the city-girl-dander bit. Didn't work, though. The scenario is a bit too creepy for that.

Kanani said...

There are some basic things that need your attention. I know it sounds tiresome, but it'll help you tighten up your writing.

We don't have to know that she sidestepped, watched from the corner of her eye, glanced or kept her eyes down. You have a lot of physical movements that aren't very interesting. They don't impart tension as well as just letting us know that Audrey is being followed and she's trying to avoid this man. (What does the man look like? What is the sound of his step?) Take advantage of that first paragraph and nail it down.

Craft your paragraphs. In your first, you've started a sentence twice with the word 'she.' Vary your beginnings.

Watch for word repetitions. "Her" is used six times in the first paragraph.

Why is she so polite to this stalker? "Pardon me," she said. It sounds a bit like a matron talking to a waiter. Shouldn't she be more forceful, saying something that imparts her character? After all, the guy is following her. Unless something happened to her, she doesn't need to say "I'm okay, thanks."

Overall, I think Audrey could be a fun character. Rewrite this part and let us know how it goes!
Nice job, Thanks for tossing this out here.

Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but I like the dander thing. I also like the thrift store smell- I know exactly what that smells like and it puts me in the scene right away. I picture a cramped store and a crazy guy getting in your face that close up would make me react the same way, like get out of my face- now. Escpecially if the character sees it alot and is tired of it. I'd definitely read on.

Bernita said...

Arrugh.
Every single action does not have to be described.

Consider: "Audrey pressed back back into the rack of clothing so the man could slide past her."
Clothing rack tells us there's probably an aisle - we doubt she's in her walk-in closet.
"Pressed back" tells us what we need to know, don't need to know she "side-stepped."
How she noticed him, whether "out of the corner of her eye" or not, is not relevant. Just make it a fact.

tlh said...

*light bulb goes on*

OH! Okay, I get it now. I think so, anyway. I hate it when I'm stupid.

(It would be embarrassing to admit how many times I checked this and the other blog for updates before I realized there was a stickied post at the top and the new content was hiding under it.)

JerseyGirl said...

There's tension here, which I really liked. Audrey is obviously tired of this weirdo following her...creepy.

I liked what Kanani said:

You have a lot of physical movements that aren't very interesting.

and to just let:

...us know Audrey is being followed and she's trying to avoid this man. (What does the man look like? What is the sound of his step?)

And Bernita's advice about not describing every last action sounded right to me, too.

I think the author's got the right idea; just needs to rewrite it somewhat (like I have to do, lol).

~Nancy

eliza said...

Author here. I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to contribute. You've all given me really good things to think about and lots of ways to make this much better. I really appreciate it!