8.29.2005

The Crapometer Celebrates her Quinceanera


The first time I saved his life, I was fourteen, Hugh was nineteen and the drunken lout was choking on a tortilla chip. He'd inhaled the thing laughing at a stupid comment my stepbrother had made about my figure -- that I lacked one -- so I smacked him hard between the shoulder blades -- Hugh, not Kyle -- and the chip came flying out. Kyle shoved into the pool and Hugh with a lapful of salsa and a garden hose rinse -- full blast, concentrated stream -- and I walked away satisfied. Retaliation is deep in my DNA.

The second time was five months ago when he'd come casually knocking on my door after taking off for a two-week lovefest with some French diplomat's daughter and murdering him myself seemed like a grand idea. I could have done it, too. I'm a cop. I have weapons. I know places to ditch a body, how an investigation is run and ways to finesse the system. I could have done it for two things -- all right, three.

First, his daddy's a big whig. I mean really big. As in leader of the Free World big. Yup, Hugh Thomas James Rothman, VIII, is the son of the President of the United States. Not that either of them claim the connection that fervently. Still, the feds would look hard for him just on principle.

Second, there were witnesses in the form of my guests. One of whom came up, snaked an arm around my waist and pulled me snug back against him. When Mike began nibbling up my neck, I tilted my head to give him better access and told Hugh, if he had an itch to scratch, his best bet was a strong course of antibiotics. Not that funny but the look on his face as I shut the door was, as they say, priceless



yawn yawn yawn. This is ALL tell, no show. I'd stop reading after one page, sorry to say.
You might have some elements of a good story but the way you are telling it keeps us at arms length. A good story draws you right in.

Think: Hugh choked on his tortilla chip laughing at Kyle's stupid comment about my lack of a figure. I pounded him on the back, saving his life. My mistake. Fourteen years later, I regretted saving his life again.


see the difference?

Even if you're going to tell backstory, if you place it in the present tense, and then move us ahead with you, it's better.

also, it's big wig, not whig. Whigs were a political party. Bigwig is an important person.

13 comments:

Tania said...

*giggles* The big whig sentence confused me for a bit because I didn't think whigs were still around.

kitty said...

I like it. It reminds me of the beginning of Nora Ephron's Heartburn:

The first day I did not think it was funny. I didn't think it was funny the third day either, but I managed to make a little joke about it.

Anonymous said...

At least I saw it coming from the previous offerings. A common issue which goes to why so much doesn't make the cut.

I do see the difference, MS. Thank you and I appreciate your help (or I WILL appreciate it after I get over my small pout)

Semi-uselss trivia on the wig/whig thing. I Dogpiled it 'cause I had the same concern. Whig does refer to the political party, populated by the wealthy and influential. Wig from when the size of your headpiece denoted your place in society. (The bigger the wig, the bigger your -- oh,never mind.) Linguistically, they have different origins but similar meanings even today. I went with whig because of the political connotation.

For those keeping track of where they are in the line up, mine was sent in around 9:50 am.

Good luck and happy learning!

Bernita said...

Aside from a few sentence problems, I thought it was a hoot.
Good visuals, early conflict, nice kick-ass tone.
Would want to read more.

ed said...

I would argue that the "lack of figure" remark is completely unneeded, unless framed within the narrative. Let's say that we instead read a section of dialogue that established character and setting and it involved something as preposterous as the lack of a figure. The very commentary and the specific words said here would no doubt give us some interesting characters. We would wonder then why figure is even an issue.

Punctuated by an unexpected choke upon a tortilla chip (recalling George Bush's pretzel mishap a few years ago), the story then moves into interesting comical territory, pointing out the absurd and trivial nature of this dialogue.

Again, it's all organization, folks. It's moving forward in the present with punchy declarative sentences and details that cause the reader to conntemplate these people.

Action, action, action. Behavior, behavior, behavior.

Anonymous said...

Kitty and Bernita, thank you. Your comments take out some of the sting. How subjective all this is!

Bernita said...

ed. Oh ed.
To a 14 year old girl, the "lack of figure" is NEVER preposterous.
Especially, when, as hinted, said 14 year old may have a bad crush on the snickering guy.
I do hope you do not have any teen-age daughters.

kitty said...

The "lack of figure" is never preposterous at any age.

ed said...

I was talking about the phrasing, not the subject. Oh fuck it. I can't communicate to anybody today.

Anonymous said...

I agree with bernita. I liked liked it.

Anonymous said...

Re: Whig -

I'm with Miss Snark. Correct, common usage is bigwig. You say big whig, I'm gonna think Abe Lincoln is about to walk through the door. Either that or you don't know how to spell.

But I liked the voice. Add some action and I'd read more.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm willing to go with the flow on the bigwig thing. It's logical and the other way is clearly a distraction.

As for action, maybe I would have fared better if Miss Snark had given us 350 words. The next paragraph is real time with the heroine on the roof with a sniper rifle saving the damned man's life once more.

But then, maybe not. *smile*

Either way, reading all these entries has reinforced for me what varied and unique skill sets every writer possesses. And that, with seventy-seven first-pages to go through, Miss Snark is either a masochist or slightly deranged -- possibly both -- for volunteering to do this. She's going beyond the call and I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

The first two paragraphs grabbed me, but I'm lost when the author launches into a list of reasons. Even in the past tense the first part works for me. It's when they list the reasons it starts to lose feelings and a sense of urgency.