Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Beginning 79


Rock Out


Zach backed away from the microphone stand after singing the last lines of the Led Zeppelin tune they were rehearsing. He continued to plunk down a thumping bass line as he carefully stepped over the myriad of cables and gadgets that surrounded him. Lead guitarist Joe Fauquier was seemingly in his own world as he played an extended lead. The solo went on too long, but the other band members knew he wouldn't try to pull that off during a live gig.

"Packing up early, again?" Joe asked when Zach snapped his amplifier off immediately after the song ended.

"Don't start. I can't stay late," Zach said.

Joe looked at his reflection in one of the many mirrors in his loft apartment. He tucked a stray wisp of black hair under the bandana and tossed the rest over his shoulder, where it splashed down his back the way he knew it would. "We have to be perfect," he said. "Who knows who might show up? I don't want to spend the rest of my life as a laborer on a construction site."

"Yeah," scoffed Bo Herndon. "I'll bet most of the record companies will have talent scouts there. Besides us, they can scope out the fourteen-year-old chicks."

Unbelievable, Zach thought. Our guitarist thinks record company R&A guys want to hear yet another cover of "D'yer Maker," and our drummer thinks they're all pedophiles. Which would make the perfect band a waifish blond chick singing nothing but covers.

Come to think of it, that describes half the recording industry
.

He sighed and plugged back in. "Okay, 'Black Dog,' from the top."


Opening: Dave Conifer.....Continuation: Mark

18 comments:

pacatrue said...

Well done, continuation person. I kept trying to come up with something along those lines (hitting it big by covering 30 year old classic rock tunes) but could never get it to flow succinctly. Congrats on pulling it off.

Rei said...

[quote]Joe looked at his reflection in one of the many mirrors in his loft apartment. He tucked a stray wisp of black hair under the bandana and tossed the rest over his shoulder, where it splashed down his back the way he knew it would.[/quote]

Owww, my prefrontal cortex! The pain!

On a more serious note: please don't do this. Overdescribing your characters this early on is an amateur mistake. "Looking into a mirror" worked around it briefly, but now it's just cliche.

We want to know who these people are and what of interest is going on, not that the MC is used to the way that his hair splashes down on his back while he looks into a mirror.

Solution: Cut unimportant details, intersperse the rest.

xiqay said...

The title and the first line clearly put us in a type of setting.

The writing is competent. However, there are "ly" words (carefully, seemingly, immediately) and "to be" constructions (... they were...Joe... was ...,) that aren't helping. In fairness, there are also some nice verbs (plunk, snapped, tucked) that do help-a lot.

So far the story doesn't grab me. I think I'm having problems with POV. I'm not sure from this start who is the main character.

Zach seems like a good candidate because the story opens with him and he's the one who can't stay late. He's the one who sees Joe as "seemingly in his own world."

But maybe Joe is the MC because he's in his own world and then starts the dialogue (is it inconsistent for Joe to be out of it, and then be the one to notice that Zach is packing up?). Joe looks in the mirror and we hear inside his head (it splashed down his back the way he knew it would). He continues talking after Joe is gone (Joe is gone at that point, isn't he?)

The main character isn't Bo, althouth he's got lines, too. But right now, I'm not sure I like any of these guys.

The dialogue doesn't work for me, either. Too many beats that interrupt the flow.

And, without beats, it sounds awkward.

"Packing up early again?" Joe

"Don't start. I can't stay late." Zach

"We have to be perfect," he said. "Who knows who might show up? I don't want to spend the rest of my life as a laborer on a construction site." Joe

"Yeah, I'll bet most of the record companies will have talent scouts there. Besides us, they can scope out the fourteen-year-old chicks." Bo.

This dialogue is a start, but it doesn't quite sound real. Joe's backstory and Bo's hypothesizing in particular sound artificial. As written, it doesn't make me hear these guys talking.

You don't need "scoffed"--said is transparent, which is good in dialogue.

Right now, I wouldn't keep reading. (Okay, so call me intolerant, again!) These problems could be fixed, though.

Thanks for sharing and good luck.


my word verification: raygunvy--is that like raygun-envy?

Anonymous said...

I like the part about Joe and his mirror. It SHOWS a lot about him -- he's cocky and vain, to the point that he's distracted from anything he was doing as soon as he sees his own reflection.

Give the guy (or girl) a break, it's not bad at all. It's as good as the flying fruit, which got raves here.

The Red Pen said...

This seems pretty good. Not a gripping start, but it's better written than the fruit beginning, which was just sloppy. Joe's hair piece (pun intended) was rather over-the-top, especially if he isn't the protagonist.

I would also suggest inserting Zach's last name from the start if we're getting everyone else's last names.

I think Xiqay is too harsh with the dialogue. I would take out the first 'Zach said' since who is speaking is apparent, and Joe's 'he said' in the hair paragraph (while excising most of the hair stuff as well).

And Author, take note from the continuation, the instrument Bo plays is quickly clarified, since we don't know what it is just from the original text. If it isn't quickly revealed in your story, the reader will be confused or frustrated. The continuation slipped in that bit of information very well.

Imelda said...

I had trouble with the POV in this. I couldn't tell whose head I was in or why.

Anonymous said...

The Joe-mirror incident is good. I agree with ANON 12:12. It showed me more about a character than anything else in the opening. Maybe just lose the tail end, where it's splashing down his back.

I'd keep reading. It is hard to tell who's head we're in yet but is that fatal after 150 words?

pj said...

The sensory details are not bad in my opinion. What I have a problem with is the repetition of sentence structure types in the first few sentences. --Zach backed away... after singing...He continued...as he carefully stepped. Lead guitarist was this...as he played that.

Even the first dialogue follows the pattern: "Packing up early, again?" Joe asked when Zach snapped his amplifier off immediately after the song ended.

Too many things happening "as" other things are happening. A little variety in construction would help. I also agree with xiquy--adverbs should be used sparingly if at all.

Anonymous said...

How can I fault any story that even mentions Led Zep?

As a bass player myself, I like a story about a band trying to make it.

I also like the mirror part. Everyone knows lead singers and lead guitarists are premadonnas(sp?). My son plays guitar and we always end up playing what he wants to play when he wants to play it.

I said all that to say the story seems real to me. I like the way it is written and would read further.

Rock On! -JTC

Anonymous said...

I liked this one. I think it's well written. I also liked the hair-mirror bit and I think the splashing down the back shows that it's long and puts a better picture in my head early on. I'd keep it just like it is. I'd read it. Good job, author!

braun said...

Having the protagonist glimpse themselves in a mirror and using this to describe them to the reader is a hideous cliche, but I get the impression that that's not what the author wants to do here. Using it to show the vanity of one of the characters is just fine.

Beth said...

The POV character (Zach, I presume) is male, but the narrative voice sounds like a woman. I just can't imagine a guy looking at another guy and thinking about him "tucking" away "wisps" of hair and the rest "splashing" down his back.

Which brings me to the mirror scene. Very cliche, which the writer might not have known before, but certainly does now. :)

The biggest problem, though, is that the dialogue and action themselves are dull. No conflict, no tension, no questions raised that I'd read on to find the answer to.

Anonymous said...

I like the tension here. Why does Hairy (or whatever his name was) care so much about the band when Zach doesn't? Why is Z in such a hurry?

A few mechanical problems, maybe, but I think it's good.

Anonymous said...

Beth, I think the author knows the mirror part is cliche. I think Joe himself is a cliche. That's the point. At least the way I read it.

Frainstorm said...

I'm enjoying this enough to read on, but not for long if I don't get intrigued pretty soon.

My two concerns:
- POV
- conflict

I know, I know, it's 150 words, I'm not saying to drag out a dead body. But hint at something to come to keep me hooked. Right now, it's not there for me. These guys sound like every cover band: on the verge of breaking up. What makes them special? Raise the stakes and start the story there.

BuffySquirrel said...

Zach backed away from the microphone stand after singing the last lines of the Led Zeppelin tune they were rehearsing.

"They" has no antecedent. Who are "they"?

Beth said...

Anon 12:24--

Ah. Possibly. Though it still doesn't work (from my perspective, at least), because the POV is so indistinct. We start out in Zach's head (I think) but on my first read-through, I thought the POV switched to Joe during the mirror part. I'm not entirely convinced it didn't.

Anonymous said...

Kinda had an "as you know, Bob," moment when Joe says, "I don't want to spend the rest of my life as a laborer on a construction site."

That doesn't seem like something a rocker/construction guy would say to a band mate. His band mate knows where he works.