Monday, August 28, 2006

New Beginning 93


The neurotically cleaned hospital room smelled of ammonia and lemons.

"So, in short," said Dyson, trying to change positions without his bandaged wounds crying out in pain, "that is where my date went horribly wrong."

Zz leaned forward and pushed her single lock of bangs off of her forehead. "Wow, a whole bottle of hot sauce?"

"But where did she get that many ferrets at that hour?" asked Bane.

Dyson carefully reached his arms to the sides of the bed and pushed himself upright. Jolts of pain shot through him, but he kept his grip until he finished sitting up. "I didn't ask her," he said. "I was to busy trying to get out of the bear trap while wearing boxing gloves."

"And you say she was playing the accordion the whole time?" Bane asked.

"Yes. While lying in a hammock."

"What song?" Zz asked.

"'Pop goes the Weasel.' Over and over."

"Wait a minute," Bane said. "Don't you see? They weren't ferrets, they were weasels!"

"My God." Dyson slapped his forehead. "Of course. Suddenly . . . it all makes sense."


Opening: Karen Rei Pease.....Continuation: Evil Editor

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ummm, I got some questions here:

The neurotically cleaned hospital room smelled of ammonia and lemons.

"So, in short," said Dyson, trying to change positions without his bandaged wounds crying out in pain, "that is where my date went horribly wrong."

Zz leaned forward and pushed her single lock of bangs off of her forehead.

1. How would this guy know the room was cleaned "neurotically"? And don't you want your hospital room to be clean?

2. What's with these names? Zz and Bane? Are they in some kind of biker gang or something?

3. A single lock of bangs? That doesn't make sense the way it's worded. It seems like it should be a lock of hair or bangs, but not both because then you're combining singular and plural at once.

Too many questions to read on.

Anonymous said...

Hot sauce and ferrets! Yes!

I want to read more of this. I like the style -simple. I mean that in a good way.

I know this is only the first 150, but hopefully there will be more descriptive detail about the characters.

I will leave the grammar and sentence structure, etc. all that crap critiques up to the smart folks like dave and kis and the lot. -JTC

Dave said...

I'm really going to give my well known advice - too many words.

I like the opening. It's intruiging.
However, phrases like "pushed her single lock of bangs off of her forehead" slow it down. I like the color it adds but find a way to say it that's shorter.

In paragraph two and five he moves and hurts. That's too redundant. You can tighten it up and give hte same impression.

What's a "spikey head"? I don't get the hair image. I like it to establish his character.

You character sits up, moves his legs off the bed and stands up. Maybe take all the description and separate it from the action.

These three characters intrigue me.

December Quinn said...

Ditto anonymous. It's not neurotic to keep a hospital room clean. It's neurotic to scrub the finish off your kitchen countertop if a fly lands on it, or to boil your toothbrush after every use a la Mr. Monk. Keeping a hospital room clean is pretty important. If you change it to "meticulously" or "carefully" it works better.

And "single lock of bangs" doesn't work.

It's an intriguing situation, certainly, but the language is a bit clunky.

Gerb said...

I wouldn't read further, though I am intrigued by the hot sauce and ferrets. Just - there's too much here to slog through. The author is trying too hard to be witty and fails. Tone it down a little, tighten up the writing and maybe then I'd want to know what happened on that date.

Midwife said...

I would read on. I smiled at the mention of hot sauce and ferrets and want to know what the heck is going to happen next.

braun said...

This is brilliant. I think it sat in the openings blog for so long because there was no continuation that could top it. I love how what exactly went wrong on the date is left to the imagination, which just makes it funnier.

"Neurotically" works because of the obviously humorous angle. Cutting would be a terrible, terrible idea.

pjd said...

I get the sense that we may never actually hear about the date, the ferrets, and the hot sauce. This reads like banter thrown in to establish quirkiness, a Douglas Adams sort of riff. It shows us a bit about the characters, but it feels like throwaway dialog.

Will we hear about the date and the ferrets? If not, I think it's a bit underhanded to start with such a tease and then dump it. You may frustrate some readers. Then again, others might have no problem with it.

Why is the injured character named after a vacuum company?

And why is another character named Zz? More quirkiness for quirkiness' sake?

I don't get the visual of the spiky head or signaling traffic, either. Is it really a spiky head, or is it spiky hair? I am put in mind of the Shel Silverstien poem that goes something like
I thought that I had wavy hair
Until I shaved. Instead,
I find that I have straight hair
And a very wavy head.


If it's a spiky head, then we've got aliens or Barney, BJ, and Baby Bop. If it's spiky hair, I don't understand how one would signal traffic in such a manner.

All in all, it seems that the events leading up to the hospital room may be much more interesting and intriguing than what is coming next. And I am worried that we won't ever hear about what led up to the hospital room.

If you're trying to establish quirkiness of writing and character, I don't think you need to focus on that so much right away. Feels like you're trying too hard. If I recall my HHGTTG, Adams began relating the story in a fairly deadpan, mundane manner. The quirkiness seeped in over time.

All that said, there's nothing terribly wrong with the passage. Just some questions and a couple of issues with visuals.

(Plus, I would recommend moving the first paragraph to the end of the second paragraph.)

kis said...

Yeah, the grammar is a bit clunky at times, and neurotically is definitely not appropriate here. Ditto, lock of bangs, although it does convey a certain punkness when paired with Bane's "spikey head."

Friendly stare is odd, too. I always thought it was rude to stare. Maybe "friendly glance?"

And if these guys are anything like my circle during our spikey hair, torn fishnets and machine-gun belt days, they don't actually go on "dates." They go to gigs, they go hang, they, like, whatever. A date implies a certain level of sophistication that names like Zz and Bane do not convey.

As for the hot sauce (notwithstanding my own stepson's idiocy in drinking a whole bottle of Mike's Insanity Sauce on a five dollar bet, and then barfing his guts out for four hours) and the ferrets (what, she rented them from an all-nite ferret emporium?), well, the payoff had better be spectacular to keep me reading. There's such a thing as too wacky.

Then again, the payoff might just be there, and I would definitely keep reading til I found it (or didn't), so this bit did what it set out to do. I'd read on.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you don't have to describe every motion of every person in the room. We would like to know the characters, no their little movements every now and then. Everyone has already said what needs to be said about "neurotically" and "lock of bangs"

Margaret said...

I'd read on. I like the nice, clean writing style and I want to know what's going on with the ferret and the hot sauce. I didn't realize until the end of the passage that Zz and Bane were visiting the injured Dyson. I thought they were in hospital beds next to him and everybody was sharing stories of how they got there.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

I agree with JTC.

Hot sauce and ferrets - sounds like my life. However, I'm a bit concerned with the others. I want to know if this is just a cute opening, or if the author tells what happened with the hot sauce and ferrets.

I could give you MY version of what happened, but then it wouldn't be fiction.

December Quinn said...

I wondered if the writer was implying a devillock, too, kis, but I figured s/he would have said so.

Virginia Miss said...

I liked it. "neurotically" shows Dyson's attitude, the single lock of bangs gave me a strong image. I agree with braun that it sat so long because no continuation could top it. I also agree with the commentators that it can be pared down a bit -- get Dyson upright and out of bed with fewer verbs. I didn't like "friendly stare."

Anonymous said...

I'm with Virginia Miss. I liked it. I liked the "neurotically cleaned hospital room". Sure, hospital rooms should be clean (and aren't necessarly as clean as they seem), but it makes sense to me -- and presumably tells us something about Dyson.

I loved the "my date went horribly wrong" line.

Dunno if the real story could live up to the promise of the original, but I would certainly keep reading long enough to find out.

And sadly, I didn't think the continuation was even remotely as good as the start.

HawkOwl said...

I didn't pay attention to the writing, because I was busy reading the story. That's a good thing. However, I thought the descriptions of pain were distracting, not because they're excessive but because the type and timing of the pain doesn't seem compatible with injuries inflicted by ferrets and hot sauce.

I wouldn't read this because it seems to be intended as humour, and I don't like novels where humour is the main dramatic device. If it wasn't so humourous, I might go further, depending what's coming. It seemed like it might go toward cyberpunk. But it also seemed a lot like it was going to YA, which I don't like nearly as much.

As for the great "neurotically" debate, I'm with the nays. I'd say "freshly."

Good luck with this.

Evil Editor said...

And sadly, I didn't think the continuation was even remotely as good as the start.

This one sat there for weeks waiting for a continuation. If you had a better one, where were you?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the only thing that kept me reading was the humorous note of ferrets and hot sauce.

xiqay said...

Nice continuation.

On the writing: seemed like a lot of very short paragraphs. All disconnected. And with hot sauce and ferrets--all I could think of was roadkill stew. ugh.

I wouldn't keep reading.

Good luck.

kis said...

Ah, hawkowl, now we're getting to the heart of the matter. How long have you had this prejudice against humor? And while you're at it, how do you feel about your mother? ;)

Actually, I thought the humor would have worked if it wasn't so obviously, well, working. That is to say, it seemed contrived, rather than effortless.

xiqay, roadkill stew. Blech.

McKoala said...

I liked this start - but couldn't think of a single way to continue it. I'd keep reading this, though. I'm intrigued.

HawkOwl said...

Kis - I'm quite sure I've talked to my mother at least once in the last three years.

Humour? I enjoy stand-up, usually, and sarcasm. Like, say, FourFour. Ferrets and hot sauce, Abe Lincoln, slapstick... Not so much.

Anonymous said...

I figured out why the main character is named after a vacuum (Dyson). This story sucks. It might also have something to do with the neurotically cleaned room.

(The story doesn't really suck; I just wanted to use the pun.)

braun said...

HawkOwl: OMG! I've been reading FourFour for the PR recaps! He's hilarious! This sentence ends with an exclamation point!

HawkOwl said...

Braun - I've actually been avoiding FourFour for that exact reason. We get new PR seasons way behind the US - PR3 starts for us on September 4. I don't want to hear any spoilers! Last time I stopped watching when I found out Chloe would win. It should so have been Daniel V.!

braun said...

Heh, I was rooting for Santino meself.

Somewhere, an anonymous commentor is grumbling 'how appropriate'.

The new season is certainly suspenseful, but it will make you mad too.