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Author Topic: First 13: Doug
branteaton
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I've revised the passage a few times, looking for better pacing and removal of extraneous elements. Please see current version in thread.
(Added 4/4/2008 10:47 PM UTC -6)

--original post:
This is an opening to a contemporary fiction short story.

Please comment on the opening, the hook, and anything else that strikes you.

quote:

Doug turned the corner at the end of the hallway and saw the corpse on the bed. In twelve years on the force, he'd never seen a dead body until that moment. He felt an electric shock, a rush of adrenaline like he felt when he fumbled his pistol putting it in his holster and, sometimes, caught it before it hit the floor. His leg froze in mid-step. He didn't want to enter that room. He planted both feet and shifted his weight back and forth between them, considering his options.
Doug subscribed to the Theory of Invisibility. His brother-in-law, the one that knocked up, then married his big sister Kate taught him that one. That was in high school, before the Army. Francis explained how, if you were invisible, you were damned-near invincible. “Don't be no squeaky wheel, Dougie,” Francis

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 03, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by branteaton (edited April 05, 2008).]


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branteaton
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Sorry about the excessive text in the initial post. I took a new text editor for a test run, and forgot to check the margins and font.

This story opening runs for a few more lines. If any are willing to take the whole passage (just over 200 words, twenty lines total), I can send it over in any format you need (Word 2003, Word 2007, RTF, PDF; you get the picture ).


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TheOnceandFutureMe
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Line edits:

quote:
Doug turned the corner at the end of the hallway (What hallway? Where is he?)and saw the corpse on the bed. In twelve years on the force, he'd never seen a dead body until that moment.(Cut "until that moment." Same meaning without it.) He felt an electric shock,(Have you felt an electric shock? Intense pain and numbness all at once. Cut this) a rush of adrenaline like he felt (Cut "he felt." Same meaning without it) when he fumbled his pistol putting it in his holster (Cut "putting it in his holster." Get back to the corpse as quickly as possible. I love the characterization of a cop fumbling his pistol, but I get it without those five extra words) and, sometimes, caught it before it hit the floor. His leg froze in mid-step. He didn't want to enter that room. (You're doing a good job of showing me this. Trust yourself to convey it; trust me to understand. Cut this sentence.) He planted both feet (Was he hovering before? Unless you tell me he's hopping around, I'll assume his feet are planted. Cut this)and shifted his weight back and forth between them, considering his options.
Doug subscribed to the Theory of Invisibility. His brother-in-law, the one that knocked up, then married his big sister Kate taught him that one.(This sentence is convoluted. Clear it up.) That was in high school, before the Army.(He's reminiscing about the army!? There's a body on the bed!) Francis explained how, if you were invisible, you were damned-near invincible. “Don't be no squeaky wheel, Dougie,” Francis


I love the idea of cop who fumbles his gun (but sometimes catches it). I want to get to know this character.

However, I'm not hooked in any other way. Yeah, there's a body on a bed, but I don't know the implications of that. Does he know the corpse? Is it damaged? Fresh? Rotten? Where are we? Police station? Apartment? Pull me into the scene, and stay in the moment - right now I don't care about Doug's family or past. You've shown me a body, now deliver. Work in characterization, like dropping the gun, but wait until the pace slows down to dig deep into the characters past.

[This message has been edited by TheOnceandFutureMe (edited April 04, 2008).]


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wbriggs
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quote:
Doug turned the corner at the end of the hallway and saw the corpse on the bed. In twelve years on the force, he'd never seen a dead body until that moment. He felt an electric shock, a rush of adrenaline like he felt when he fumbled his pistol putting it in his holster and, sometimes, caught it before it hit the floor. His leg froze in mid-step. He didn't want to enter that room. He planted both feet and shifted his weight back and forth between them, considering his options.

Doug subscribed to the Theory of Invisibility. His brother-in-law, the one that knocked up, then married his big sister Kate taught him that one. That was in high school, before the Army. Francis explained how, if you were invisible, you were damned-near invincible. “Don't be no squeaky wheel, Dougie,” Francis



Maybe break it into more paragraphs. Better for action or excitement.

I'd drop the thing about what Doug sometimes did with his gun. I'm more interested in what's happening right now.

When Doug starts considering his options, I want to know what OnceAndFutureMe asked about: where is Doug? What's his situation? Until I know this, I won't understand his options. I think we can get the theory of invisibility, and the circumstances of his sister's family, later.


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TheOnceandFutureMe
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Yeah, wbriggs is probably right. This is an action scene, and should remain an action scene. As cool as I think the dropping the gun thing is, it doesn't belong here. *sigh*
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branteaton
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quote:

"I'm not being defensive: _you're_ the one that's being defensive! Sheesh...."

-- Martin Short (in character, of course)

I'm not defending my choices in this bit as much as asking: isn't it appropriate to sprinkle an aside or two in an opening "for flavor?"

I'm willing to hear how wrong I am, or some thoughts on the appropriate use of this technique, and how correct use differs from my own .


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branteaton
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revised first thirteen:
quote:

Doug turned the corner in the back hallway at 723 H Street—domestic disturbance call—and saw the corpse on the bed. In twelve years on the force, he'd never seen a dead body. He shuddered with the rush of adrenaline like he felt when he fumbled his pistol and, sometimes, caught it before it hit the floor. His leg froze in mid-step. His foot fell heavy to the floor just outside the doorway. He shifted his weight back and forth, considering his options.

Doug subscribed to the Theory of Invisibility. His brother-in-law, the one that knocked up, then married his big sister Kate taught him that one. Francis explained how, if you were invisible, you were damned-near invincible. “Don't be no squeaky wheel, Dougie,” Francis said, a cigarette muffling half


Thanks for the suggestions, TheOnceAndFutureMe and wbriggs. I've implemented changes based on many of them, and am wrapping my mind around others.

[This message has been edited by branteaton (edited April 04, 2008).]


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branteaton
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revised again (trimming out-of-place background: better pace?)

quote:

Doug turned the corner in the back hallway at 723 H Street—domestic disturbance call—and saw the corpse on the bed. In twelve years on the force, he'd never seen a dead body. He shuddered with the rush of adrenaline like he felt when he fumbled his pistol and, sometimes, caught it before it hit the floor. His leg froze in mid-step. His foot fell heavy to the floor just outside the doorway. He shifted his weight back and forth, considering his options.

He subscribed to the Theory of Invisibility. His brother-in-law often explained how if you were invisible, you were damned-near invincible. "Don't be no squeaky wheel, Dougie," Francis said, his lazy tongue playing with his cigarette so "Dougie" came out like "Dungy". "You don't want nobody greasing you." He laughed


[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 05, 2008).]


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Darth Petra
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You seem to begin a lot of sentences with 'he' and 'his'. You might try re-wording them, so it seems less like reading a list, and more like reading a narrative.
Example:
Before: He shifted his weight back and forth, considering his options.
After: Shifting his weight back and forth, he considered his options.

Hope this helps....


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branteaton
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Good point on style, Darth. I've enjoyed the time I spend writing Doug. I'm excited enough to flesh out the rest of the tale (have been working on openings more or less exclusively these past few months).
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