Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Beginning 321

It was me that found Duggie Watts first, with his guts leaking out across the cobbled close like hot strawberry jam over the crusty top of Gran’s rice pudding.

‘Aw, shite,’ I said out loud and I was amazed how grown up I sounded, just like Dad. Then I turned and went back along the close, and up the stair into Mrs Gammie’s dance studio where the piano was plonking and Rose and her wee friends were jinking up and down pretending to be fairies, despite their muckle elephant feet. Mum gave me a skelp for not bringing back the milk she’d sent me out to buy, but when she tried to send me back out again I just shook my head.

I never told anyone I’d found Duggie first. I never told anyone anything much after that. ‘Aw, shite,’ was the last important thing I said for twelve years, which would have been dead embarrassing, except nobody heard me.

So when they found Colin Bates dead in London I kent exactly what he looked like, even though they didn’t show that on the telly, just a dark mark on the floor where the sofa had been.

They'd bashed his head in and his brain had leaked out of his skull like grey stew from a bread bowl.

Somewhere, Rose and her friends were probably still dancing like elephants in a studio with pipes that leaked like . . .



I stopped typing and looked back at the first paragraph. The strawberry jam and rice pudding line. Yeah, that was the one. No improving on that! I deleted the rest and sent that line on in to Evil Editor's Bad Analogy exercise.


Opening: McKoala.....Continuation: whoever

24 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen but excellent continuation that many will think should have been chosen, well nyaah nyaah:


My thoughts flashed back to Gran's rice pudding. But somehow, it didn't seem right.

No. Colin was American. A big fat American visiting London. Shite, I thought. Shite, Shite, Shite.

Colin looked like a mound of mashed potatoes topped with cherry sauce.

He would've wanted it that way. Shite.

--takoda

Evil Editor said...

This is one case in which the unchosen continuation is more likely to be used in Novel Deviations than the chosen one, as many readers wouldn't know about the analogy exercise.

takoda said...

I just love Shite. Sounds like a baseball team, like the Kansas City Shites.

words and phrases I don't know:
-cobbled close
-plonking
-jinking
-muckle
-skelp
-kent

Vocabulary development is one of my many personal improvement programs, so that's more my issue than yours. (BTW, GO Aussies!)

Just some suggested edits:

It was me ((who)) found Duggie Watts first, with his guts leaking out across the cobbled close.

‘Aw, shite.’ I turned and went back along the close, and up the stair into Mrs Gammie’s dance studio. The piano plonked and Rose and her wee friends jinked up and down pretending to be fairies, despite their muckle elephant feet. Mum skelped me for not bringing back the milk she’d sent me out to buy, but when she tried to send me back out again I shook my head.

I never told anyone I’d found Duggie first. I never told anyone anything much for the next twelve years.

So when they found Colin Bates dead in London, I kent exactly what he looked like. The telly showed a dark mark on the floor where the sofa had been.


I don't know...just some 'food' for thought.

BuffySquirrel said...

Takoda, I'm sure you mean well, but you've knocked all the voice out of it :).

Robin S. said...

I agree. If everyone is rewritten to be perfunctorily 'correct', whatever the hell that is, then we might as well all be the same person. The voice of the narrator is an important part of the, well, narration, and if the grammar is used incorrectly on purpose, or if Britishisms or Americanisms are used, it sets the place and background, by virtue, again, of the narration. (You know I love ya, takoda, this is just my opinion.)

Now that I've said that, I've also gotta say that I really like this opening, except for the jam analogy. Guts and strawberry jam aren't doin' it for me. The rest I liked a lot - the way it's written tells the read a lot about the narrator, his family background, and where the narrator's 'head' is.
Not to mention I now want to know about Colin Bates. Good deal.

Nyaah nyaah, EE?

Bonnie said...

I don't normally like dialect, but this is good. And I want to know about this second dead man. I think the narrator knows more about both deaths than he's telling...

takoda said...

You guys are right. (And also very nice and not at all evil minions!) My suggested edits took out McKoala's voice. Sorry about that. Okay, so I'll put editing on my list of self-improvement plans!

Still want to know what skelp and muckle mean! :-)

Cheers,

Dave said...

This opening is troublesome. It as too much jargon and tries so hard to introduce whatever world the author is building.BUT, but, but, but, but, when I try to "fix" it, it falls apart.

So I suggest combining paragraphs 1 and 3 and making it the opening. I say this because you say "I found Duggie first" in both of those paragraphs. Make one opening paragraph and leave the current fourth paragraph where it is.

Move the "Aw Shite" around too.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Continuation and critique all in one. How very efficient.

BuffySquirrel said...

skelp (noun) (plural skelps):

Northern England, a smack; a slap, usually with the hand

muckle (adjective):

large; very big or great

I find One Look Dictionary Search very useful when I can't be arsed picking up the Oxford :).

Anonymous said...

I didn't mind the odd slang words. Already heard most of them in Harry Potter and the meanings are discernible enough.

The jam analogy might be perfectly suited to the narrator and his situation etc. but you might want to use it a little later in the text -- after the reader knows enough about the guy and his world to see the brilliance of this prose rather than getting a first impression of glitch.

Xenith said...

Voice, & an interesting situation. Nice.

Is it complete? Is it a short story or novel?

McKoala said...

Heh, heh. Loved both continuations. Yes it's an awesomely bad analogy, but this character thinks of a lot of things in terms of food, for a range of reasons. She also has a learning disability if that's any help when reading; although she's smarter than most people around her think. Dialect is Scottish, sorry Takoda, great research Buffy! I know this probably isn't an easy read for those on the other side of the pond and appreciate all that manage it - and your comments.

Anonymous said...

I think it's terrific as is.

Scoot said...

I like this but never mind the dead bodies, tell me about the strawberry jam. Whole or squishy? Pipless?

Bernita said...

Hmm. I thought the strawberry jam business was entirely consistent with the kid and his culture.

Excellent beginning.

BuffySquirrel said...

It's dialect, not jargon or slang. I doubt it's any more difficult for Americans than American English often is for us....

Anonymous said...

I really liked this - wanted to know more about the narrator and would keep reading. I happened to enjoy the "hot strawberry jam" fit with the next sentence for me - I thought, "Ah, this is a kid. A kid might compare those two things."

BUT - I have to ask if that's what it would really look like? How long has this Duggie been there with his guts leaking out? If very long - even not so very long - the color would be dark instead of strawberryish. Texture different too. Just a thought.

150 said...

Now I'm just hungry for jam and toast. Thanks a lot.

Scoot said...

Definitely pipless then.

Ali said...

McKoala, I enjoyed the the dialect, didn't find it difficult at all. My only suggestion is, if the character is female, you might not want her to say she sounds just like Dad. I had a very clear picture of a young man whose voice has recently changed. For most girls, even the word Shite isn't going to make her sound remotely like Dad.

Bonnie said...

Yeah, I had the same impression as Ali, and for the same reason.

phoenix said...

Mcexcellent, Mckoala!

Ditto Ali and Bonnie about the MC's gender.

Ditto Xenith about whether it's a novel or short story. My guess is ss.

McKoala said...

Novel! Longer bits over at Elektra's somewhere, sliding down the page!

I just meant that Dad swears a lot, but can see exactly what you mean. Easy fix, thank you so much.