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Author Topic: The Grind
Member # 4713

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Let me know how this works. Thanks:

Another night, another late night, drifted past our squad car with nagging persistence; unearthly neons announcing topless girls, nude shows and no questions. Thick fog, a constant feature of the bay, suffocated every inch around our vehicle. Detective Hall, my partner, drove another loop around our stakeout before parking outside a late night liquor store.

“Need a drink?” he asked me.

“Nah, thanks. Don’t drink.”

“More for me, I guess. Hold down the fort?”

“Sure thing,” I said.

His door clicked shut, his shadow lost immediately behind the screen of fog. I pulled a pack of Marlboro reds from my jacket pocket, rolled down my window and flicked my lighter open.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited January 12, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by thecox (edited January 12, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by thecox (edited January 15, 2007).]

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Member # 3432

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It's not bad writing, but "hook"? No, not unless you mean something different from what I mean by that term.
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Member # 213

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I was a little put off by the phrase "night...flew past our squad car", it makes it sound like the car is moving at high speed, which doesn't seem plausible given the setting you go on to describe. I also found it completely isane that a detective would casually engage in drinking hard liquor during a stakeout, an activity which puts a premium on wakefulness over a long period of time. It was even more insane that his partner, who would thus bear the entire burden of the stakeout without effective support, should take this so lightly.

Prosewise, I have to agree that it's not bad at all, though the subject matter didn't really "grab" me and those plausibility issues left me with no desire whatsoever to read further. If you changed "flew" to "drifted" and "drink" to "coffee/Coke", it'd be pretty good. If you're trying for a hook with either, you need to make it clear that it's not just a goof-up.

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Member # 4707

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I second Visitor's observations. The same things struck me and I echo his advice. I liked the setup, voice and mechanics.
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Member # 2651

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Voice is mostly workmanlike, pulpy, needs a little polishing (as noted, the "night flew past" really doesn't work).

Faintly puzzled that the MC's partner doesn't already know he doesn't drink, especially if he's the kind to stop at liquor stores while on duty.

But there's nothing here that sparks any hint of real originality, nothing that makes me intrigued about the MC or setting or events. If this is a novel, that's not necessarily a problem - novels have back cover copy to capture the reader - but if this is a short story, and you're trying to catch an editor's attention, I doubt an editor will bother to carry on. Editors get a lot of stories coming by; they need a reason to read on, more than simply no reason not to.

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Sara Genge
Member # 3468

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I liked this. The voice is dark and this looks like it's going to be a mystery. From my POV I think it does have a hook: they're on patrol and the speakers partner drinks on the job. Not only that, but the speaker is fine with it. Looks like plenty of a hook to me
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Member # 2267

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Mostly, ditto survivor. I'll add two difficulties. One is the neon signs advertising topless women, nude dancers, and no questions: Does this mean it doesn't advertise questions (which woulnd't make sense anyway), or does it advertise "no questions here!" (which also doesn't make sense to me).

The other is that if the fog is *that* thick, they won't be able to see the signs as they drive by.

Beyond that, actually, I *am* hooked. Nothing's happening yet, but the voice is so delightful I'd keep reading to enjoy more of it.

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Member # 2733

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I agree that the first sentence is a killer, but after that the excerpt is engaging.
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Member # 4713

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Thanks for all the tips guys, I really appreciate your crits. I wrote the beginning in hopes of writing a novel length work and not a short story, which makes it hard to convey the entire tone in the first thirteen lines. It's actually set in the mid 1900's, not present day.

I agree with Survivor's comments about the night "flying by" and will take his suggestion. I also understand the incredulous remarks about the men's characters. The "no questions" is actually figurative, just to let you know.

I started writing more with an atmosphere in mind than anything else, so it's hard to find in the first thirteen. Anyway, enough excuses, thanks for the help.

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