This is another one I've posted before but just got done doing a little re-polishing.
Comments on the begining welcome, offers to read it all prefered.
Peter was not surprised to see the police cars sitting outside the run-down tenement building where he lived. Drug busts, assaults, robberies, all were common here, so he thought nothing of their presence as he walked toward the building. Several of its large windows were broken; all were dirty. Many of them looked into empty rooms with cracked yellowing walls and floors littered with debris. Massive, rusty culvert drains, each clogged with trash and detritus, ringed the base of the building. Peter often looked at the drains and wondered what might be down there in the metal and concrete bowels of the building. He thought a lot of strange things sometimes. He walked into the building and climbed the rickety stairs
The end of the second sentence "so he thought nothing of their presence as he walked toward the building" is a bit redundant since you already said in the first sentence that he wasn't surprised. It's interested and I'm intrigued with the opening. The hook for me is why he's going into the nasty building(nice description of the building, very clear), but I'm already starting to wonder why he hasn't told us yet. If he witholds for too much longer I'd lose interest.
Nits – Your sentence -- Drug busts, assaults, robberies, all were common here Needs better punctuation. You begin with a list. Fine. Then the – what? Summation?
How about this way? Drug busts, assaults, robberies -- all were common here. Or, Drug busts, assaults, robberies: all were common here.
And make that the whole sentence. Rather than tell us he thought nothing of it – show us with his reaction. Something like –
Drug busts, assaults -- robberies, all were common here. He dug down deep in his pockets for his ID card (just in case he was stopped) and headed toward the front stairs.
Doesn’t that show us more about him than the rather vague bit of him thinking nothing as he walked toward the building? Maybe not what you intend for him, but can you see how this moment could be better utilized to begin the story?
And… have him pass one of these drains and a – a smell drifts up or some greenish fluid dribbles out. You could have a direct thought – What was down there he wondered for the hundredth time and hurried on by.
One of the police sitting in the cars waved at him. He waved back. His hand fumbled the key as he tried to use it to open the door.
You mentioned the police – so, you brought them up, finish the idea. Do something with it.
[This message has been edited by arriki (edited February 23, 2009).]
quote:The hook for me is why he's going into the nasty building(nice description of the building, very clear), but I'm already starting to wonder why he hasn't told us yet. If he witholds for too much longer I'd lose interest.
He's going in because he lives there, like it says in the first sentence :-)
A minor comment: I found that "building" was used an awful lot (the word's not quite invisible enough for it to appear that often without the reader noticing), and it probably isn't necessary since the description obviously pertains to his building.
"Massive, rusty culvert drains, each clogged with trash and detritus, ringed the base of the building." --> could simply say "ringed its base".
"...he thought nothing of their presence as he walked toward the building." --> something like "... their presence as he passed them."?
I really liked the descriptions here. The only sentence that sent up a flag was "He thought a lot of strange things sometimes." Are his strange thoughts vital to the plot? If not, I suggest cutting this. Otherwise, I'm interested and will read the whole thing this week if you'd like.
Posts: 226 | Registered: May 2008
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Perhaps you could include a noun or adjective that would remind the reader that this dump is where Peter lives, maybe one of the broken windows is the one to his apartment. I too, forgot the first sentence, and gave myself a mental eye roll.
Posts: 72 | Registered: Dec 2008
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Oh, also, are the police just sitting outside the tenement, you know, like on a dougnut break, or are they there with a purpose, lights on SWAT team in place, that sort of thing, like you see on TV when something's going down?
Just going on the first 13 premise we're all so fond of here, it needs a better hook to really get my attention. A lot of description, quite well done - but I'm not sure I care yet. He arrives at the apartments because he's home, there's police around but we are quickly assured thats nothing to be alarmed about and then a pretty in depth description of the apartment complex and drains. Where's the question that needs answered? What is the conflict? Where is there tension? (Other than the vague suspicion that the cops are there for him somehow, figuring as we do, that it is fiction and we are all looking for something to happen pretty soon.)
This is of course based on the notion that something ought to snatch and grip our attention in the first 13 which may or may not be true depending on the slush pile the story is in.
quote:A lot of showing again, with not much telling and your MC is mainly an observer rather than a participant in what is going on.
You mean a lot of telling, not much showing right?
Of course, all writing is telling technically.
I've read plenty of stories that begin with someone observing something...it's mostly a matter of preference. The characters in my stories of this type arent necessarily meant to be terribly sympathetic or to be all that connected to...they are generally apathetic and feel little connection to their own lives.
quote:Also, what had me scratching my head is that if the cops are parked outside due to something going on inside, theres a really good chance that you MC wouldn't even be let near the place...
Even in our world, theres plenty of circumstances wherein police may be present, but its not going to impact people coming and going from an apartment building.
In fact, even if it was a major crime scene, I dont believe, even in our world, that they can more or less temporarily evict a whole floor of an apartment building.
That being said, this isn't set in our world, and things like police procedure, in this world, are sketchy at best.
I apreciate you commenting...my darker/industrial stories aren't always all that appealing to a general audience since they often don't contain the things that people who read stories mostly to connect with a character go for, and they tend to have a surrealistic approach to reality..
Heh, you caught me, that is what I get when I am typing in a rush. Mea Culpa.
AND, it is not that dark fantasy doesn't appeal to me, I read all kinds of things. It is just that your presentation of your first 13 seems kind a flat to me. What I'd really like to see is more of an introduction of your main, and his interactions within that setting.
For example with your first 13...
quote:Red/blue, red/blue. The afterimage burned against Peter's eyelids. The cops were back, again. Nothing new there, Peter thought. Broken glass crunched beneath his boot heels as he dodged the worst of the sidwalk's missing chunks.
Up ahead, his building loomed over him as if wanting to swallow him whole. He could imagine the bricks and mortar chewing up his yellowed bones to spit out into the pavement's worst holes outside. Now that would be a joke, wouldn't it? Peter laughed out loud and kicked a crumpled beer can into the nearest of the culverts ringing the base of the building. Perhaps later he'd come back and fish out the crumpled aluminum to add to his collection.
As far as the police presence, it would be something I'd inquire about to be sure of.
Anyway, I hope this helps...
[This message has been edited by mommiller (edited February 27, 2009).]