Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Beginning 31

The midnight tide rushed in to the Saipan shore, but ten-year-old Lambert David Taisague didn't notice. He listened for the slap of his friends' footsteps on the sidewalk, the familiar whistle of Manet, or a loud shout from Tomás. The American Memorial Park offered none of these. Only the distant murmur of voices from the Liberation Day carnival filtered through the hot tropical air. Lambert's friends were late.

Lambert twisted on the playground swing, then lifted his feet to feel a jerk and spin as the chains uncoiled. When the swing stopped, he craned his neck first to the right and then to the left. His eyes had difficulty discerning shapes in the dark. He pulled new glasses from his pocket and put them on. In the distance, he could see the colored Japanese lanterns more clearly. The sidewalk was empty.

The shadows, however, were not.

A pale face floated beneath the slide, its wide, wicked smile caked around the lips, red and laughing. A clown. Now leaping from his hiding place, and Lambert, who so wished his parents would let him go by David, choked on the chloroform-soaked rag. His last thoughts were of his friends, and the clown's blue wig tickling his nose.

Lambert need not have worried about his friends. He would see them soon enough; for the carnival had need of four boys for the elephant cages.

Continuation: Gareth Bendall


McKoala said...

I like this one (yes, and the continuation too...). Only two small quibbles: I didn't like the use of his full name in the first sentence, and I dn't think that you need the last sentence: 'Lambert's friends were late'. I don't care what his full name is at this point and I've figured out that his friends haven't arrived yet. I also don't think that you need 'tropical' - we've had 'Saipan' and 'hot' to cover this.

Other than that I like the writing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks mckoala.

Please-others comment! I need feedback (and I've read and commented on most of the new beginnings, also.)

BuffySquirrel said...

That first line bugs me a little, but a lot depends on whose POV we're in. If Lambert hasn't noticed the midnight tide rushing in, then who is it that has, and is telling us about it? An omniscient narrator?

Evil Editor said...

Minor points that aren't that bothersonme, but since you asked:
1. Does the tide "rush in" on Saipan? It's pretty gradual most places.

2. Are Manet, Tomás, and Lambert's friends three different items on a list, or are Manet and Tomás the only friends he's expecting?

3. I don't need both Saipan and the Memorial Park mentioned up front.

4. That the park "offered none of these" is clear from the next sentence.

5. If there were a distant carnival in progress, I would expect music rather than voices to reach my ears.

6. I don't really care which direction he craned his neck first.

7. Which pocket was he carrying his glasses in? A pants pocket might crush them, and it seems they might fly out of a shirt pocket when he's on the swing. And why isn't he wearing them, if he can't see shapes in the dark?

This version addresses some of these concerns (and probably creates others):

Lambert David Taisague listened for the familiar whistle of Manet, a loud shout from Tomás, the slap of their footsteps on the sidewalk. But only the sounds of the midnight tide and the music from the Liberation Day carnival filtered through the tropical air.

He twisted on the playground swing, then lifted his feet to feel a jerk and spin as the chains uncoiled. When the swing stopped, Lambert craned his neck right and left. He pulled his glasses from his pocket and put them on. In the distance, the colored Japanese lanterns came into focus; the sidewalk was empty.

Kanani said...

Overall, nice attention to details.
However, it's this same attention that gets you tripped up in small details that don't mean a lot.

Let the reader fill in the details. In other words, if someone is driving a car, and they shift into 4th gear, the reader can fill in that the driver went from 1,2,3 by himself.

It's all minutea, and knowing that he craned his neck, or dug into his pockets doesn't realy push the action along and the space could be used for somethign else.
As he sat on the swing, he twisted and spun, feeling the jerk as the chains uncoiled. When he stopped, he looked in the distance at the colored Japanese Lanterns. The sidewalk was empty.

Overall, very nice. You have a nice feel for words and description. I like the location, the hot tropical air (is it monsoon season?), and the names. Very interesting youth literature.

Thank you for tossing this out there. Good luck with the rewrite.

Anonymous said...

Thanks EE and everybody else who commented.

Looking for my fine tooth comb.

Frainstorm said...

Well EE has stolen my thunder, but I'll make the couple points I was going to make anyway, because who knows, right?

Since nothing is more important that the first sentence, I think that's the place where you need to concentrate most. I think calling him Lambert here is enough and we can learn his full name (and any significance to it) later. Otherwise, it's a mouthful here.

I had the same quandary about the tide rushing in. I can't get grounded in that and it actually kept bothering me the rest of the reading.

If he's listening so closely, then why doesn't he hear the tide? And who does?

All that said, I was dying to read more.

One thought to noodle on: Maybe you can foreshadow something for the reader, such as (I'm just making something up) Lambert fingering an envelope in his pocket or some such to let us know something large is possibly at stake.

HawkOwl said...

By popular request...

I would rate this as a "meh." It's not bad, but it feels "technical." The way you're inserting information casually into the flow of the story (e.g. "ten-year-old Lambert David Taisague", "voices from the Liberation Day carnival") is a good thing in moderation, but you're doing it so much, it feels like it's something your writing coach just showed you.

You also use a lot of words. "Hot tropical air?" Why not just "tropical?" "Lambert's friends were late"... I think "they" would be enough. The part about twisting on the swing... We all know how to twist on swings. He puts his glasses on and now he can see more clearly? Again, you didn't need to say that.

This might be your regular style, but it kinda feels like you're trying to pad your word count, or you're not sure where to go and you're talking lots to buy time.

Where is this going? It almost reminds me of the opening to It (and not because the continuation has a clown), which is promising, but the style needs to get moving.

If I knew this was gonna be something creepy and dark, I'd keep going. If it's gonna be happy flowers and sunshine, probably not.

How's that?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Hawkowl.

He witnesses a murder, fairly brutal (beating to death with a little drowning in there). So it does go toward the dark and creepy.

And it's amazing how much I've edited this passage since I submitted it--noticing all those pesky repetitions. How did I overlook them? (That's rhetorical, as my daughter would say.)

Thanks again.