The Man Who Did Too Much opening - Mystery

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daringnovelist
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The Man Who Did Too Much opening - Mystery

Post by daringnovelist » May 11th, 2010, 2:05 pm

This is the opening 5 pages of The Man Who Did Too Much, which is a cozy/suspense mystery.
*****
Chapter 1

Doctor Cannon was running late. She dashed in through the waiting room entrance, but found the room was empty.

"Is Gwen here yet?" she asked the receptionist.

"Not yet."

Gwen Littleton was always exactly on time, in spite of an apparent reluctance to come at all. Dr. Cannon furrowed her brow and went into her private office.

She almost didn't see the man in the perfectly pressed trench coat sitting quietly in the chair in the corner, where he would see her before she saw him. Neat, quiet, exuding control like a goddamn spy.

"You're George," she said, not a question.

"George Starling. Yes." Slight accent, vaguely British to go with the trenchcoat and cool, lurking presence.

She glanced back at the receptionist and shut the door.

"Gwen sent you, didn't she?"

"Yes."

"Dammit!"

She threw her papers on the desk and went around to sit behind it. He sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and watched her.

"I can't talk to you about her," she told him.

"I'm aware of that."

"Then why are you here?"

"I believe Gwen was under the impression that I could talk to you instead."

"You can't take her therapy for her."

"It was that or cancel."

They sat and stared at one another for a long moment, before Dr. Cannon finally sighed.

"All right. Fine. I suppose you could fill in a little background." She shuffled the papers around on her desk to find a notebook. "Let's start with you. I'm not clear on what you actually are to her."

He furrowed his brow.

"Do you mean... am I the controlling bastard of a boyfriend, or the obsessive compulsive co-dependent, or the bodyguard who forgot to go home when the job was over?"

"Or something else."

"That would be nice, wouldn't it? But I'll be first to admit that I can be a controlling compulsive co-dependent bastard who doesn't know when to quit."

"What about boyfriend?"

"That's... under review."

Dr. Cannon made a non-commital sound and a note. Not sure of his feelings, or of hers?

"Does she say otherwise?"

The super-cool melted for a moment, and he looked at her with hope, uncertainty. She paused to underline hers.

"I can't talk about that."

"No, of course not." He glanced away, brow furrowed again. He tapped his fingers as he seemed to consider whether to put his guard back up or not. Then the guard came down altogether and he sat forward. "We'd had a flirtation. It was inappropriate. She was engaged, and it ended wh--" He cut himself short. "It ended. Then later she was kidnapped."

He looked at Cannon, an indirect look, as if judging how much she knew about Gwen's ordeal. She, of course, couldn't indicate anything, so she just watched him.

"She didn't have anyone in country, and what family she has is not wealthy. It was months before anyone contacted me. By then we didn't even know who had her. They shuffle them around you know, the hostages. Trade them, sell them. And sometimes.... Well, we did track her down, and got her out."

"We?"

"I. I got her out." He paused. "She was in this awful pit in the back of a cave. There was a corpse in the pit with her and she'd been abandoned there. I pulled her out and she clung to me. She was dehydrated and she could hardly talk, so she whispered 'don't leave.' That's all she could say. Didn't even want me to step away to get her some water. So I carried her. Anyway, she said don't leave, so I won't."

He said that last in a defiant tone.

"I wasn't going to ask you to, George."

"She's under the impression that you don't approve of me."

"I don't even know you, George."

"And yet she has that impression, Ellen."

"She does or you do?"

"She does." He sat back, a cool Mr. Bond again. But then he leaned forward again, and looked at her frankly. "You knew that I came here because she asked me to. You know she's excessively dependent on me. It's only reasonable for you to think she's using me as a crutch. What's the word? Enabling."

"Well, you can't make her life for her."

"I can't breathe for her either, but if she asks I'll give it a go," he said.

"And she suffocates while you get all the oxygen."

He sat back as if slapped. She thought he was going to protest, but instead he shook his head and pressed his fingers to his eyes.

"Oh god that was an awful metaphor wasn't it? I swear it is not as revealing as it sounds," he said. "Listen, for months and months, she had absolutely no control of anything, and that was demonstrated to her on a hourly basis. Now she has control of me, and of anything I can control. So what I meant to say was that I will enable the hell out of her until she strong enough to do it for herself."

"Have you thought that you could be enabling her to stay weak?"

"She is weak. And I'm not going to bully her into anything she doesn't want."

"Tell me, George, do you think she's getting better?"

"Yes, Ellen, I do think she's getting better." He wasn't going to say more, but she waited and he conceeded. "She was, but she stopped."

"And that's why you're here."

"Absolutely. That's why I'm here. I don't know what's wrong. I can't say she's got worse. The anxiety attacks are not too bad, almost gone really, but she won't leave the house these past few weeks. It's like she's stuck."

Dr. Cannon sat back and put her hands together in a little steeple, which she rested against her nose while she waited for him to think about what he just said. He simply looked at her expectantly.

"I can't tell you anything of what she has told me," she said. "But based on what you have said, you feel you're there to make her feel safe."

"Yes."

"But is there any actual danger?"

"No. And she knows it, but she is still anxious."

"So, you're the knight, she's the damsel and there's no dragon. What else is there to the relationship?"

"We don't have a relationship yet."

"That's right. She's stuck, and so are you. You need to start doing something normal."

He sat and looked at her for a very long time, and then suddenly he tensed up.

"Like what?" he said in a burst of angry frustration. He stood up. "Like what? I don't know what normal is. I've never lived a normal life. And she just won't. She wants cheese burgers, so I feed her cheese burgers until I'm sick to death of them. Is that what you mean?"

"What do you want normal to be?"

"Whatever she wants it to be."

"And that is?"

"I don't know."

"Then you need to find out."

Emily J
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Re: The Man Who Did Too Much opening - Mystery

Post by Emily J » May 11th, 2010, 9:13 pm

daringnovelist wrote:This is the opening 5 pages of The Man Who Did Too Much, which is a cozy/suspense mystery.
*****
Chapter 1

Doctor Cannon was running late. She dashed in through the waiting room entrance, but found the room was empty.

"Is Gwen here yet?" she asked the receptionist.

"Not yet."

Gwen Littleton was always exactly on time, in spite of an apparent reluctance to come at all. Dr. Cannon furrowed her brow a bit of a cliche and went into her private office.

She almost didn't see the man in the perfectly pressed trench coat sitting quietly in the chair in the corner, where he would see her before she saw him. Neat, quiet, exuding control like a goddamn spy. Odd, and telling rather than showing. Explain HOW he is exuding control. Perhaps he closes the door not her? I don't really get the sense he IS in control

"You're George," she said, not a question. He doesn't even have the upperhand here

"George Starling. Yes." Slight accent, vaguely British to go with the trenchcoat and cool, lurking presence. Are you saying all Brits have trenchcoats and cool lurking presence?

She glanced back at the receptionist and shut the door.

"Gwen sent you, didn't she?"

"Yes."

"Dammit!"

She threw her papers on the desk and went around to sit behind it. He sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and watched her.

"I can't talk to you about her," she told him.

"I'm aware of that."

"Then why are you here?"

"I believe Gwen was under the impression that I could talk to you instead."

"You can't take her therapy for her."

"It was that or cancel."

They sat and stared at one another for a long moment, before Dr. Cannon finally sighed.

"All right. Fine. I suppose you could fill in a little background." She shuffled the papers around on her desk to find a notebook. "Let's start with you. I'm not clear on what you actually are to her."

He furrowed his brow. Okay same cliche twice now

"Do you mean... am I the controlling well he exudes control eh? bastard of a boyfriend, or the obsessive compulsive co-dependent, or the bodyguard who forgot to go home when the job was over?"

"Or something else."

"That would be nice, wouldn't it? But I'll be first to admit that I can be a controlling compulsive co-dependent bastard who doesn't know when to quit."

"What about boyfriend?"

"That's... under review."

Dr. Cannon made a non-commital sound and a note. Not sure of his feelings, or of hers?

"Does she say otherwise?"

The super-cool melted for a moment, and he looked at her with hope, uncertainty. She paused to underline hers. Confused, what does she underline? why is he looking at her with hope?

"I can't talk about that." who's saying this?

"No, of course not." He glanced away, brow furrowed again. ack *falls over* no more please He tapped his fingers as he seemed to consider whether to put his guard back up or not. what?? this is all telling Then the guard came down altogether how?? and he sat forward. "We'd had a flirtation. It was inappropriate. She was engaged, and it ended wh--" He cut himself short. "It ended. Then later she was kidnapped."

He looked at Cannon, an indirect look, as if judging how much she knew about Gwen's ordeal. how does all that come across? telling again She, of course, couldn't indicate anything, so she just watched him.

"She didn't have anyone in country, and what family she has is not wealthy. It was months before anyone contacted me. By then we didn't even know who had her. They shuffle them around you know, the hostages. Trade them, sell them. And sometimes.... Well, we did track her down, and got her out."

"We?"

"I. I got her out." He paused. "She was in this awful pit in the back of a cave. There was a corpse in the pit with her and she'd been abandoned there. I pulled her out and she clung to me. She was dehydrated and she could hardly talk, so she whispered 'don't leave.' That's all she could say. Didn't even want me to step away to get her some water. So I carried her. Anyway, she said don't leave, so I won't."

He said that last in a defiant tone.

"I wasn't going to ask you to, George."

"She's under the impression that you don't approve of me."

"I don't even know you, George."

"And yet she has that impression, Ellen."

"She does or you do?"

"She does." He sat back, a cool Mr. Bond again. But then he leaned forward again, and looked at her frankly. "You knew that I came here because she asked me to. You know she's excessively dependent on me. It's only reasonable for you to think she's using me as a crutch. What's the word? Enabling."

"Well, you can't make her life for her."

"I can't breathe for her either, but if she asks I'll give it a go," he said.

"And she suffocates while you get all the oxygen."

He sat back as if slapped. She thought he was going to protest, but instead he shook his head and pressed his fingers to his eyes.

"Oh god that was an awful metaphor wasn't it? I swear it is not as revealing as it sounds," he said. "Listen, for months and months, she had absolutely no control of anything, and that was demonstrated to her on a hourly basis. Now she has control of me, and of anything I can control. So what I meant to say was that I will enable the hell out of her until she strong enough to do it for herself."

"Have you thought that you could be enabling her to stay weak?"

"She is weak. And I'm not going to bully her into anything she doesn't want."

"Tell me, George, do you think she's getting better?"

"Yes, Ellen, I do think she's getting better." He wasn't going to say more, but she waited and he conceeded. conceded "She was, but she stopped."

"And that's why you're here."

"Absolutely. That's why I'm here. I don't know what's wrong. I can't say she's got worse. gotten worse? i know its dialogue but c'mon! he's british! :-) The anxiety attacks are not too bad, almost gone really, but she won't leave the house these past few weeks. It's like she's stuck."

Dr. Cannon sat back and put her hands together in a little steeple, which she rested against her nose while she waited for him to think about what he just said. He simply looked at her expectantly. Steepling fingers, leaning forward, I feel like your gestures are kind of cliched and not revealing anything about the characters or their inner states

"I can't tell you anything of what she has told me," she said. "But based on what you have said, you feel you're there to make her feel safe."

"Yes."

"But is there any actual danger?"

"No. And she knows it, but she is still anxious."

"So, you're the knight, she's the damsel and there's no dragon. What else is there to the relationship?"

"We don't have a relationship yet."

"That's right. She's stuck, and so are you. You need to start doing something normal." seems like kind of vague advice esp for a therapist

He sat and looked at her for a very long time, and then suddenly he tensed up.

"Like what?" he said in a burst of angry frustration. He stood up. "Like what? I don't know what normal is. I've never lived a normal life. And she just won't. She wants cheese burgers, so I feed her cheese burgers until I'm sick to death of them. Is that what you mean?"

"What do you want normal to be?"

"Whatever she wants it to be."

"And that is?"

"I don't know."

"Then you need to find out."
Interesting premise but I think this could be strengthened by more show less tell, (use concrete examples and actions to portray the characters inner states rather than listing them) and by steering away from over used expressions (like brow furrowing). Also you may want to consider adding a few dialogue tags, there was one place in particular where I couldn't figure out who was talking.

daringnovelist
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Re: The Man Who Did Too Much opening - Mystery

Post by daringnovelist » May 11th, 2010, 9:24 pm

Yikes! I did not see how much I used "furrowed brow" until you had it there in pink. The other things are noted. (One of the issues was simply a mistake - when I copied and pasted, underline/italics went away, which was what set off the note she wrote and underlined.)

Thanks, Emily!

I have been finding it's extremely hard to get critique partners for mystery fiction. I've got a great circle of sf and fantasy writers, but man, getting critique out of a mystery writer is like pulling teeth.

(Oh, and he's actually not British, which is a later plot point. But I don't necessarily want to distract with clues otherwise yet. I'm assuming you mean he should have said "got better" rather than "gotten".)

Camille

Ermo
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Re: The Man Who Did Too Much opening - Mystery

Post by Ermo » May 12th, 2010, 10:09 am

daringnovelist wrote:This is the opening 5 pages of The Man Who Did Too Much, which is a cozy/suspense mystery.
*****
Chapter 1

Doctor Cannon was running late. She dashed in through the waiting room entrance, but found the room was empty.

"Is Gwen here yet?" she asked the receptionist.

"Not yet."

Gwen Littleton was always exactly on time, in spite of an apparent reluctance to come at all. Dr. Cannon furrowed her brow and went into her private office. I like the furrowed brow detail.

She almost didn't see the man in the perfectly pressed trench coat sitting quietly in the chair in the corner, where he would see her before she saw him. Neat, quiet, exuding control like a goddamn spy. The "exuding control like a goddamn spy" didn't work for me. I don't know if it is too angry or if I just don't buy the simile.

"You're George," she said, not a question.

"George Starling. Yes." Slight accent, vaguely British to go with the trenchcoat and cool, lurking presence.I'd end this at British. Trust your writing to paint the cool character for us - you don't need to tell us.

She glanced back at the receptionist and shut the door.

"Gwen sent you, didn't she?"

"Yes."

"Dammit!"

She threw her papers on the desk and went around to sit behind it. He sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and watched her.The thing about throwing papers is I just picture them flutterring around the office instead of making an impact on the desk. Maybe there is another way to show her anger. I like that she has an action to go with her words though.

"I can't talk to you about her," she told him.

"I'm aware of that."

"Then why are you here?"

"I believe Gwen was under the impression that I could talk to you instead."

"You can't take her therapy for her."

"It was that or cancel."

They sat and stared at one another for a long moment, before Dr. Cannon finally sighed.

"All right. Fine. I suppose you could fill in a little background." She shuffled the papers around on her desk to find a notebook. "Let's start with you. I'm not clear on what you actually are to her."

He furrowed his brow.

"Do you mean... am I the controlling bastard of a boyfriend, or the obsessive compulsive co-dependent, or the bodyguard who forgot to go home when the job was over?"

"Or something else."

"That would be nice, wouldn't it? But I'll be first to admit that I can be a controlling compulsive co-dependent bastard who doesn't know when to quit."

"What about boyfriend?"

"That's... under review."

Dr. Cannon made a non-commital sound and a note. Not sure of his feelings, or of hers?

"Does she say otherwise?"

The super-cool melted for a moment, and he looked at her with hope, uncertainty. How did the super-cool melt? Did he stammer? Did he look down at his shoes? She paused to underline hers.

"I can't talk about that."

"No, of course not." He glanced away, brow furrowed again. Probably too much brow furrowing.He tapped his fingers as he seemed to consider whether to put his guard back up or not. I like that sentence.Then the guard came down altogether and he sat forward. "We'd had a flirtation. It was inappropriate. She was engaged, and it ended wh--" He cut himself short. "It ended. Then later she was kidnapped."

He looked at Cannon, an indirect look, as if judging how much she knew about Gwen's ordeal. She, of course, couldn't indicate anything, so she just watched him.

"She didn't have anyone in country, and what family she has is not wealthy. It was months before anyone contacted me. By then we didn't even know who had her. They shuffle them around you know, the hostages. Trade them, sell them. And sometimes.... Well, we did track her down, and got her out."

"We?"

"I. I got her out." He paused. "She was in this awful pit in the back of a cave. There was a corpse in the pit with her and she'd been abandoned there. I pulled her out and she clung to me. She was dehydrated and she could hardly talk, so she whispered 'don't leave.' That's all she could say. Didn't even want me to step away to get her some water. So I carried her. Anyway, she said don't leave, so I won't."Interesting detail. And a good hook.

He said that last in a defiant tone.

"I wasn't going to ask you to, George."

"She's under the impression that you don't approve of me."

"I don't even know you, George."

"And yet she has that impression, Ellen."

"She does or you do?"

"She does." He sat back, a cool Mr. Bond again. But then he leaned forward again, and looked at her frankly. "You knew that I came here because she asked me to. You know she's excessively dependent on me. It's only reasonable for you to think she's using me as a crutch. What's the word? Enabling."

"Well, you can't make her life for her."

"I can't breathe for her either, but if she asks I'll give it a go," he said.

"And she suffocates while you get all the oxygen." Good line.

He sat back as if slapped. She thought he was going to protest, but instead he shook his head and pressed his fingers to his eyes.

"Oh god that was an awful metaphor wasn't it? I swear it is not as revealing as it sounds," he said. "Listen, for months and months, she had absolutely no control of anything, and that was demonstrated to her on a hourly basis. Now she has control of me, and of anything I can control. So what I meant to say was that I will enable the hell out of her until she strong enough to do it for herself."

"Have you thought that you could be enabling her to stay weak?"

"She is weak. And I'm not going to bully her into anything she doesn't want."

"Tell me, George, do you think she's getting better?"

"Yes, Ellen, I do think she's getting better." He wasn't going to say more, but she waited and he conceeded. "She was, but she stopped."

"And that's why you're here."

"Absolutely. That's why I'm here. I don't know what's wrong. I can't say she's got worse. The anxiety attacks are not too bad, almost gone really, but she won't leave the house these past few weeks. It's like she's stuck."

Dr. Cannon sat back and put her hands together in a little steeple, which she rested against her nose while she waited for him to think about what he just said. He simply looked at her expectantly.

"I can't tell you anything of what she has told me," she said. "But based on what you have said, you feel you're there to make her feel safe."

"Yes."

"But is there any actual danger?"

"No. And she knows it, but she is still anxious."

"So, you're the knight, she's the damsel and there's no dragon. What else is there to the relationship?"Another good line.

"We don't have a relationship yet."

"That's right. She's stuck, and so are you. You need to start doing something normal."

He sat and looked at her for a very long time, and then suddenly he tensed up.

"Like what?" he said in a burst of angry frustration. He stood up. "Like what? I don't know what normal is. I've never lived a normal life. And she just won't. She wants cheese burgers, so I feed her cheese burgers until I'm sick to death of them. Is that what you mean?"

"What do you want normal to be?"

"Whatever she wants it to be."

"And that is?"

"I don't know."

"Then you need to find out."

This is a well-written opening. I love the dialogue. My primary question right now is why does Dr. Cannon care so much about Gwen? If she is more than just another patient to her, I want to know why. Also, when she entered through the emergency room - I thought she was an ER doc and it took me longer than it probably should to figure out that is she is not. Also, the conflict here is a bit muddled. Is it between the doctor and George - are we supposed to fear him in some way? Or is it between Gwen and George, in which case, we haven't even met Gwen. I want to read on because I think it's well written and I liked the drama about the kidnapping, but I'm not real sure what this story is about yet, if that makes sense. Nice work.

daringnovelist
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Re: The Man Who Did Too Much opening - Mystery

Post by daringnovelist » May 12th, 2010, 12:50 pm

Thanks Ermo:

You actually inadvertently answered one of my main questions - is it clear this is a therapist's office? Some people pick up on the clue, but not everybody, so maybe I need to be more explicit earlier there. (She entered through the waiting room, not the ER.) Dr. Cannon doesn't care about Gwen any more than she should in her role as a shrink.

Just knowing that would probably have cleared up some of your confusion. As for the rest, the conflict in this scene is between George and the shrink, but it's set up for the real conflicts to come. George is stuck in an untenable position and he's about to become unstuck. (The shrink doesn't play a part in the rest of the story, although I think I might bring her back for an end scene - in which George has actually made his own appointment.)

I'll post the next scene this afternoon sometime.

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Kalthandrix
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Re: The Man Who Did Too Much opening - Mystery

Post by Kalthandrix » May 12th, 2010, 1:50 pm

Hello!

Let me start by saying that I do not read mystery, well not since my younger years with The Hardy Boys, so I do not consider myself any sort of expert on this genre.

I liked the over-all read of the material--it was interesting and I would have kept on reading if there had been more.

That being said, I have a few comments that would be in addition to those already covered.
daringnovelist wrote:This is the opening 5 pages of The Man Who Did Too Much, which is a cozy/suspense mystery.
*****
Chapter 1

Doctor Cannon was running late. She dashed in through the waiting room entrance, but found the room was empty.

"Is Gwen here yet?" she asked the receptionist. First, I think you should be more specific when we meet the receptionist. If this is her office, she would know the receptionist and that person would not be a faceless/sexless/obscure individual.

"Not yet."

Gwen Littleton was always exactly on time, in spite of an apparent reluctance to come at all. Dr. Cannon furrowed her brow and went into her private office.

She almost didn't see the man in the perfectly pressed trench coat sitting quietly in the chair in the corner, where he would see her before she saw him. Neat, quiet, exuding control like a goddamn spy. I found it strange that Cannon makes note of how George is positioned so she would not see him easily, but she shows absolutely no surprise. Add to this that she was expecting Gwen and the receptionist did not mention someone in her office should have elicited some kind of shock/surprise IMO.

"You're George," she said, not a question.

"George Starling. Yes." Slight accent, vaguely British to go with the trenchcoat and cool, lurking presence.

She glanced back at the receptionist and shut the door.

"Gwen sent you, didn't she?"

"Yes."

"Dammit!"

She threw her papers on the desk and went around to sit behind it. He sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and watched her.

"I can't talk to you about her," she told him.

"I'm aware of that."

"Then why are you here?"

"I believe Gwen was under the impression that I could talk to you instead."

"You can't take her therapy for her."

"It was that or cancel."

They sat and stared at one another for a long moment, before Dr. Cannon finally sighed.

"All right. Fine. I suppose you could fill in a little background." She shuffled the papers around on her desk to find a notebook. "Let's start with you. I'm not clear on what you actually are to her."

He furrowed his brow.

"Do you mean... am I the controlling bastard of a boyfriend, or the obsessive compulsive co-dependent, or the bodyguard who forgot to go home when the job was over?"

"Or something else."

"That would be nice, wouldn't it? But I'll be first to admit that I can be a controlling compulsive co-dependent bastard who doesn't know when to quit."

"What about boyfriend?"

"That's... under review."

Dr. Cannon made a non-commital non-committal sound and a note. Not sure of his feelings, or of hers?

"Does she say otherwise?"

The super-cool melted for a moment, and he looked at her with hope, uncertainty. She paused to underline hers.

"I can't talk about that."

"No, of course not." He glanced away, brow furrowed again. He tapped his fingers as he seemed to consider whether to put his guard back up or not. Then the guard came down altogether and he sat forward. "We'd had a flirtation. It was inappropriate. She was engaged, and it ended wh--" He cut himself short. "It ended. Then later she was kidnapped."

He looked at Cannon, an indirect look, as if judging how much she knew about Gwen's ordeal. She, of course, couldn't indicate anything, so she just watched him.

"She didn't have anyone in country, and what family she has is not wealthy. It was months before anyone contacted me. By then we didn't even know who had her. They shuffle them around you know, the hostages. Trade them, sell them. And sometimes.... Well, we did track her down, and got her out."

"We?"

"I. I got her out." He paused. "She was in this awful pit in the back of a cave. There was a corpse in the pit with her and she'd been abandoned there. I pulled her out and she clung to me. She was so dehydrated and she could hardly talk, so and she just kept whisperedwhispering 'don't leave.' That's all she could say. Didn't even want me to step away to get her some water. So I carried her. Anyway, she said don't leave, so I won't."

He said that last in a defiant tone.

"I wasn't going to ask you to, George."

"She's under the impression that you don't approve of me."

"I don't even know you, George."

"And yet she has that impression, Ellen."

"She does or you do?"

"She does." He sat back, a cool Mr. Bond again. But then he leaned forward again, and looked at her frankly. "You knew that I came here because she asked me to. You know she's excessively dependent on me. It's only reasonable for you to think she's using me as a crutch. What's the word? Enabling."

"Well, you can't make her life for her."

"I can't breathe for her either, but if she asks I'll give it a go," he said.

"And she suffocates while you get all the oxygen." Great line!

He sat back as if slapped. She thought he was going to protest, but instead he shook his head and pressed his fingers to his eyes.

"Oh god that was an awful metaphor wasn't it? I swear it is not as revealing as it sounds," he said. "Listen, for months and months, she had absolutely no control of over anything, and that was demonstrated to her on a hourly basis. Now she has control of me, and of anything I can control. So what I meant to say was that I will enable the hell out of her until she strong enough to do it for herself."

"Have you thought that you could be enabling her to stay weak?"

"She is weak. And I'm not going to bully her into anything she doesn't want."

"Tell me, George, do you think she's getting better?"

"Yes, Ellen, I do think she's getting better." He wasn't going to say more, but she waited and he conceeded. "At least,she was, but she stopped." Removing some of this text makes it stronger.

"And that's why you're here."

"Absolutely. That's why I'm here. I don't know what's wrong. I can't say she's got worse. The anxiety attacks are not too bad, almost gone really, but she won't leave the house these past few weeks. It's like she's stuck."

Dr. Cannon sat back and put her hands together in a little steeple, which she rested against her nose while she waited for him to think about what he just said. He simply looked at her expectantly.

"I can't tell you anything of what she has told me," she said. "But based on what you have said, you feel you're there to make her feel safe."

"Yes."

"But is there any actual danger?"

"No. And she knows it, but she is still anxious."

"So, you're the knight, she's the damsel and there's no dragon. What else is there to the relationship?"

"We don't have a relationship yet."

"That's right. She's stuck, and so are you. You need to start doing something normal."

He sat and looked at her for a very long time, and then suddenly he tensed up.

"Like what?" he said in a burst of angry frustration. He stood up. "Like what? I don't know what normal is. I've never lived a normal life. And she just won't. She wants cheese burgers, so I feed her cheese burgers until I'm sick to death of them. Is that what you mean?"

"What do you want normal to be?"

"Whatever she wants it to be."

"And that is?"

"I don't know."

"Then you need to find out."
I made a few editorial changes that I thought would make things a bit smoother, but I can see where there could be some more in the dialogue to make it sound more like two people actually talking...at least to me.

Overall I liked it and with some additional polishing I think it will be excellent.

Thanks for sharing!
I Don’t use sublIminal mEssages

daringnovelist
Posts: 33
Joined: April 30th, 2010, 6:54 pm
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Re: The Man Who Did Too Much opening - Mystery

Post by daringnovelist » May 12th, 2010, 2:38 pm

Thanks! I'll be going over that more later.

While I was reading your notes I finally thought of the right word to describe his attitude at a few points. It was nagging at me. Whenever George uses her first name it's in reaction to the fact that she just used his (in that mildly controlling way shrinks do) - he's _mocking_ her. Not in the nasty way we usually think of (which is why I couldn't think of the word) but mildly, pushing back. That's why the second time he repeats her words exactly.

Thanks for the details, all of you.

Camille

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