This is topic Candid (horror sci-fi 5,300 words in forum Fragments and Feedback for Short Works at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
I always knew dealing with a mobster might lead to this. Trussed upside down, chain around my ankles, I struggle but there’s not much I can do. Something trickles down my brow and around my ear. I hope it’s just condensed ocean spray and sweat, but I fear it’s probably blood.
The Ledger is the only boat I can see out here. It’s McMillan’s fishing boat and I’m the bait. “It’s not what it looks like,” I yell at him. “I wasn’t spying on you.”
McMillan leans against the deck railing. Wind whips his silk dressing gown behind him. His belly droops over his swimming briefs. He’s the tannest Irishman I’ve ever seen.
Posted by Princesisto (Member # 11113) on :
Scared reading this because I instinctively put myself in the position of the MC.

So you certainly know how to set a mood, don't you?

I know what one certain critic on this site will say: "We don't know who this guy is, why he's trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey, where this is, when this is. You know all the answers but the reader doesn't, so it's quite unfair on the reader. This is writing not a movie and they are fundamentally different media. As an engaged reader, I would tell you to get ...d"

Actually, in this case, such comments might have merit (except the final sentence).

Spare a thought for the poor reader: you leave him feel trussed up and ready for the drop into the ocean and don't tell him anything except that the one who is doing this is overtanned, Celtic (at least he's not Italian: cheers for not perpetuating another stereotype!) and overweight.

Think about it . . . This story could be a contendah.

P.S. If you want me to read and comment on the whole story I am willing to do a critique exchange with you via e-mail.
Posted by EmmaSohan (Member # 10917) on :
I want the first two ideas reversed.

I'm trussed upside down, with chain around my ankles. I struggle but there’s not much I can do. Something trickles down my brow and around my ear, and I hope it’s just condensed ocean spray and sweat, but I fear it’s probably blood.

I always knew dealing with a mobster might lead to this.

I'm stuck inside my own head as reader, I'm probably not a typical reader, and I firmly believe you should write for yourself, and I wouldn't have mentioned it except that feeling is strong.

I will offer this: That image is probably the start you thought was good; it's probably the image Princesisto and I are reacting to -- it's a powerful start.

BTW, the big mystery part -- why is he trussed up? -- is, in my opinion, perfectly normal for a start and some mystery is unavoidable. So I'm fine starting there.
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
babooher, you've been here long enough to know what to expect from me with this submission, but, hey, let's do it all again.

I have a particular dislike for first person narratives: They are rarely done well and are usually the sole province of the novice writer. Suspense and tension? Not in first person. Complex plots and character development? Not in first person.

To make it even worse, you give me the second thing I hate most about ‘modern writers’, their compulsive need to start with an in medias res opening; only, is it? Will there be the required flash-back to explain how what’s-their-name ended up swinging by their ankles? I somehow doubt it and I’m not prepared to take the off-chance it will be explained.

So, on with it.

Who is this person? Are they male or female? What do they do? Where is he/she, apart from being on a boat? How was he/she caught? Why was he/she dealing with a mobster? What was the deal? Now enter the cliché bad-guy. Really? Silk dressing gown and belly drooping over his swimming briefs? I’ve seen that movie a million times.

It should come as no surprise that, as a reader, I am not engaged.

Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
I thought I would add this observation about first person narratives. If you had said this submission was the start of a gritty detective story, in the style of Dashiell Hammett, I would have accepted that as a legitimate use of first person.

The detective-noir genre requires the use of first person narrative. It is expected by the readers; along with a whole lot of other genre-specific traits. That doesn’t excuse the in medias res start though. That is not a part of the genre.

Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
I've missed you, Phil!

I was playing around with a detective story! And indeed, there is a flashback. The flashback is book-ended with the boat scene where the final blow lands. Your spot on rejection is, I think, confirmation that in some way I did what I wanted to do. Thanks!

And, I don't want to be rude, thanks for all the comments, Princesisto and EmmaSohan.

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