Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

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NickB
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Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by NickB » July 14th, 2010, 10:56 pm

Warning: Rated R for violence and cursing

Hi. I'm a newbie excerpt poster, so please bear with any first-timer ignorance of The Way Things Are Done.

The way the rest of this book is currently set up, I need some version of this scene in the beginning. To remove it would be to remove this character's importance to the story. That said, if it deserves the circular file, then that's where it shall go.

All comments are appreciated.


Deep within a non-descript patch of Florida Pine Flatwoods, somewhere mid-state…


A traumatized man stepped from the cab of a large, green-camo’ed pick-up truck.

The truck: Loaded gun rack. Pack of hunting dogs. Various artistic representations of confederate flags lining the outer edges of the cab’s rear window. All this was overlooked due to: 1. Desperation and 2. A distaste for—to the point of utter denial—stereotyping i.e. profiling.

As fortune would have it, the flags hid what would have been at least a head’s-up to the man only an hour ago: The bottom lines of two bumper stickers. As was, they read: Why experiment on animals…; and: 50,000 battered women…. Leading the man to believe that, despite appearances, the truck’s operator had grave concerns about animal testing and spousal abuse.

The reality: Mr. Hicks, said operator, had been under the influence of a pilfered twelve-pack of Bud Light (“What is this shit, Roy?” “Free, Jake.”) when affixing the statements, which read in full: Why experiment on animals…when there are so many democrats? And: 50,000 battered women…and I’m still eating mine plain?!

The hounds jumped at his thighs and scattered brittle, desiccated leaves over his shiny, black shoes. Twigs cracked with every shaky step. His hands shook. His nose ran. He angled his head to get a look at the man behind him. More importantly, to get a look at the gun in the hands of the man behind him.

“Turn around, boy.”

Arms in the air, the man walked on. Watched the ground as it blurred through his tears. What was he gonna do, anyway? If he weren’t a fucking coward—as it turned out—what would he do?

His hands lost feeling. Great, he was gonna faint. Like a girl. He thought of that man telling him how purty he was and laughing. What The Fuck did he mean by that? Was it a dig on his Armani or was it an Unwelcome Advance? Yeah, he should report him to the ACL-fuckin’-U. Christ, he was cracking up. He did an automatic reach for his forehead at the mental blasphemy.

“Up.”

He stopped himself in time. He couldn’t imagine where they were going, but it didn’t look good. He spaced out as they shuffled only as far as the back of the truck. The dogs quieted in the fog of his peripheral vision. More tears at his goddamn cowardice. He’d end up passed out, waiting to die…probably a Cracker’s girlfriend.

Numb and floaty now. He’d felt this before. Peaceful, almost happy…X?

He stopped. Stood tall. Dude. Just like Neo in The Matrix. Nothing mattered. He was invincible.

“Whatchyou doin’ there, boy? I din’t say stop yet.”

The dark-haired man heard the gelatinous pip of chaw spit hitting leaf litter and charged. Backward. His NordicTrack ass rammed into a solid beer belly. Hicks toppled back. The man sprung forward, spun around and stomped on Hicks’ nose. Then he grabbed the shotgun one-handed as a dog dangled from his other hand. The rest of the pack Went Long at the transfer of the gun. Awaiting further instruction. The man shook off the attached hound and aimed at Hicks. Backed several feet away. “Get up.”

Head tilted back, palm guarding his nose, the redneck braced his other hand behind him and rocked.

“Now.”

Hicks gave up on nose protection and used both hands to seesaw himself vertical. Blood flowed freely from the broken nose. His eyes narrowed on the gun. It had begun to shake.

Hicks started forward and the gun fired at his feet. He stopped, then smiled and took one small step and another and another, mocking the well-dressed young man with the now badly shaking, uncocked gun. His arm shot out toward the raised barrel.

The dark-haired man yanked back on the ratchet and fired. Buckshot ricocheted off the license plate of the truck and into Mr. Hicks’ left eye. The man jerked back on the empty, unfamiliar mechanism again and again as the redneck dropped to his knees.

He grabbed onto the double-barrel and, raising the gun over his shoulder, used the butt to bludgeon first the dead man and then the truck. The dogs whined and ran into the woods.

When he was done, he wiped down the gun with the hem of the redneck’s soiled tee-shirt, threw it into the truck cab, ripped a scrap from said shirt, placed one end in the truck’s gas tank, pulled a lighter from his pocket, lit the other end and walked calmly down the road the way they’d come.


Kaboom.

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wilderness
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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by wilderness » July 16th, 2010, 1:02 am

You've got some interesting observations and imagery, but really I'm lost.

When you say "the man" I don't know which man you refer to. Why not name both men and then call them by their names? The dialogue is confusing -- I'm not sure who is speaking because there are no dialogue tags.
The truck: Loaded gun rack. Pack of hunting dogs. Various artistic representations of confederate flags lining the outer edges of the cab’s rear window. All this was overlooked due to: 1. Desperation and 2. A distaste for—to the point of utter denial—stereotyping i.e. profiling.
This reads like someone's thoughts, but it's not clear to me that it is the traumatized man's thoughts. It seems heavy-handed style for just the narrator.

There are lots of sentence fragments, too. That's OK in moderation, but by eliminating dialogue tags, names, AND the subject of the sentence, you've left me pretty confused about who is doing what.

I see potential in here, lot's of voice, but it can't be at the expense of coherence.

Hope that helps.

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by NickB » July 16th, 2010, 7:49 pm

Thanks Wilderness, for the input.

It is the narrator in the beginning...and I was feeling it was a bit heavy-handed, no matter who is speaking:) One of my worries.

Thought the dialogue was coherent because I'd worked so much on trying to be clear. So, I hope to get more feedback on which parts were most confusing. (For me, most writing is over-tagged and it gets in the way, so I suppose I overdid it on trying to avoid that.) As you may have guessed, I don't want the reader to know the name of the man yet. It matters later on. So, the style was in the vein of news reportage. 'That unidentified man and Mr. Hicks.'

I'm thinking to start over on the whole scene; but like I said, it's necessary to the plot, SO I'm really interested on any ideas you or anyone else has on running this scene successfully without overidentifying the man who is not Mr. Hicks. Perhaps if I make it clearer that there's no one else entering the scene...Anyhow, maybe a successful example of this will pop into someone's head and they'll post a title.

Thanks again, Nick

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by wilderness » July 16th, 2010, 9:03 pm

Hey Nick -- hope this helps explain why I was confused.
NickB wrote:

Deep within a non-descript patch of Florida Pine Flatwoods, somewhere mid-state…


A traumatized man stepped from the cab of a large, green-camo’ed pick-up truck. How do we know he's traumatized? It would be better to use a physical description "The man in the slick Armani suit stepped out of the cab. He squinted in the sun, brushing back his dark hair." Now you can work with those descriptions later.

The truck: Loaded gun rack. Pack of hunting dogs. Various artistic representations of confederate flags lining the outer edges of the cab’s rear window. All this was overlooked due to: 1. Desperation and 2. A distaste for—to the point of utter denial—stereotyping i.e. profiling.

As fortune would have it, the flags hid what would have been at least a head’s-up to the man only an hour ago: The bottom lines of two bumper stickers. As was, they read: Why experiment on animals…; and: 50,000 battered women…. Leading the man to believe that, despite appearances, the truck’s operator had grave concerns about animal testing and spousal abuse.

The reality: Mr. Hicks, said operator, had been under the influence of a pilfered twelve-pack of Bud Light (“What is this shit, Roy?” “Free, Jake.”) when affixing the statements, which read in full: Why experiment on animals…when there are so many democrats? And: 50,000 battered women…and I’m still eating mine plain?!
While the bumper sticker part is amusing, it does change our point of view from "the man". Also, it doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the story in tone. Are we supposed to be OK with this man's death because of his bumper stickers?

The hounds jumped at his thighs and scattered brittle, desiccated leaves over his shiny, black shoes. OK, so the last person you mentioned was Mr. Hicks, so "his thighs" would refer to Mr. Hicks. But I don't think that's what you mean.Twigs cracked with every shaky step. His hands shook. His nose ran. He angled his head to get a look at the man behind him. If the man behind him is Mr. Hicks, why not just say Mr. Hicks? It's better to keep all references to "the man" to be the unnamed one. More importantly, to get a look at the gun in the hands of the man behind him.

“Turn around, boy.”

Arms in the air, the man walked on. Watched the ground as it blurred through his tears. What was he gonna do, anyway? If he weren’t a fucking coward—as it turned out—what would he do? This is kind of odd. No one thinks of himself as "the man", but now you're delving into this thoughts. It's jarring.

His hands lost feeling. Great, he was gonna faint. Like a girl. He thought of that man telling him how purty he was and laughing. What The Fuck did he mean by that? Was it a dig on his Armani or was it an Unwelcome Advance? Yeah, he should report him to the ACL-fuckin’-U. Christ, he was cracking up. He did an automatic reach for his forehead at the mental blasphemy.

“Up.” I think he's saying raise your hands. How about adding "Mr. Hicks poked the gun against his arms." to make it clear?

He stopped himself in time. He couldn’t imagine where they were going, but it didn’t look good. He spaced out as they shuffled only as far as the back of the truck. The dogs quieted in the fog of his peripheral vision. More tears at his goddamn cowardice. He’d end up passed out, waiting to die…probably a Cracker’s girlfriend.

Numb and floaty now. He’d felt this before. Peaceful, almost happy…X? I assume you mean ecstasy but how about "When he'd taken two hits of X" X by itself leaves you guessing.

He stopped. Stood tall. Dude. Just like Neo in The Matrix. Nothing mattered. He was invincible.

“Whatchyou doin’ there, boy? I din’t say stop yet.”

The dark-haired man You never referred to him as having dark hair before, so this could mean Mr. Hicks. heard the gelatinous pip of chaw spit hitting leaf litter and charged. Backward. His NordicTrack ass rammed into a solid beer belly. Hicks toppled back. The man sprung forward, spun around and stomped on Hicks’ nose. Then he grabbed the shotgun one-handed as a dog dangled from his other hand. The rest of the pack Went Long at the transfer of the gun. Awaiting further instruction. The man shook off the attached hound and aimed at Hicks. Backed several feet away. “Get up.”

Head tilted back, palm guarding his nose, the redneck braced his other hand behind him and rocked. OK, so now you're referring to Hicks as the redneck, but it's not explicit because you never called him that before. We have to guess from your bumper stickers. Also, some people might not like the stereo-typing.

“Now.”

Hicks gave up on nose protection and used both hands to seesaw himself vertical. Blood flowed freely from the broken nose. His eyes narrowed on the gun. It had begun to shake.

Hicks started forward and the gun fired at his feet. He stopped, then smiled and took one small step and another and another, mocking the well-dressed young man with the now badly shaking, uncocked gun. His arm shot out toward the raised barrel.

The dark-haired man yanked back on the ratchet and fired. Buckshot ricocheted off the license plate of the truck and into Mr. Hicks’ left eye. The man jerked back on the empty, unfamiliar mechanism again and again as the redneck dropped to his knees.

He grabbed onto the double-barrel and, raising the gun over his shoulder, used the butt to bludgeon first the dead man and then the truck. The dogs whined and ran into the woods.

When he was done, he wiped down the gun with the hem of the redneck’s soiled tee-shirt, threw it into the truck cab, ripped a scrap from said shirt, placed one end in the truck’s gas tank, pulled a lighter from his pocket, lit the other end and walked calmly down the road the way they’d come.

Kaboom.
You've never explained why Mr. Hicks pointed a gun at the man, or why the man got out of his truck. All I got was Mr. Hicks gave him a ride and then decided to point a gun at him?

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by NickB » July 16th, 2010, 9:55 pm

Hi Wilderness, thanks for the specifics!

You made a couple of comments about stereotyping that indicated that I offended you. While I don't want to alienate potential readers, I don't think that using mysoginistic, hateful bumper stickers to characterize someone as a potential bad guy would drive off readers.

Although, I suppose that some people consider the term redneck itself to be non-offensive and self-descriptive. I've gone back and forth over leaving it and will likely remove it, thanks. (I have friends and family...lots of them...who would consider themselves rednecks. It was not meant to be derogatory, but since Hicks seems to be a bad guy (he is holding someone at gunpoint and leading him into the woods) then I suppose the term as used there could only be taken badly. Glad you pointed that out.

I don't expect anyone to ever be "okay with" anyone else's death. Again, the tone was meant to be somewhat removed, like a news article, with parts that are from a narrator and parts that are from the POV of a man who is frightened and being victimized. Clearly, I've not made the man being held at gunpoint sympathetic enough. Of course, I didn't intend him to be a "good guy" necessarily. Just a guy. So, back to the ol' drawing board on that.

I've taken your suggestions on POV and internal monologue/dialogue clarity to heart and am making changes accordingly.

Thanks again, Nick

P.S.: Many self-described "rednecks" are some of my very favorite people. Hicks' tendencies toward intolerance and violence are independent of his redneck-edness.:) I'll have to rewrite so that's clear.

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by wilderness » July 17th, 2010, 2:32 am

Hey Nick --

Just to let you know, I don't personally know if people will be offended by the term "redneck" or not. I've grown up in cities all my life so I really don't know how people take it. If you have lived in the south or small towns, you would certainly know better than I what is accepted, and it is up to your judgment.

My biggest morality question was:
and walked calmly down the road the way they’d come
In a way, it seems that you are portraying the mysterious man as a hero, a James Bond type, but because I wasn't sure what Mr. Hicks' motivation was, I wasn't sure that this rather cavalier sentence seemed right. Maybe providing some motivation, as you mentioned above, would help.

Hope I didn't hurt your feelings. Thanks!

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by NickB » August 8th, 2010, 10:26 pm

I'm posting this as a revision, but I'm unhappy with it. A more direct (less flashback-flavored) version I wrote--but didn't post--read better to me. However, it was devoid of voice. Or my usual style, maybe. I guess my voice was still there. Long story short, I'm still completely unhappy with this and have a long way to go. In fact, I've made some progress on plotting a third book and will probably relegate this one to a drawer with my first. I mean, I'm having voice issues for goodness' sake!Anyhow, thanks for all the feedback...I hope you don't feel it went to waste. It's such a kindness to offer critique to a stranger.
Thanks again, Nick
P.S.: Wilderness, Naw, I wasn't going for a James Bond thing...the guy's kind of a doof. Oh, well...


ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
Dark Romantic comedy adventure
Prologue

Deep within a non-descript patch of Florida Pine Flatwoods, somewhere mid-state…

A traumatized man blew out the end of a long-held breath as he eased from the passenger-side cab of a large, green-camo’ed pick-up truck and slammed the door.

The man: Sweaty dark hair (that usually swung in a professional bowl cut common to young boys in nineties Abercrombie and Fitch magazine spreads) that stuck to his forehead. Gritty, wrinkled shirt and pants that otherwise suggested he belonged in a corner office of a downtown high-rise.
The truck: Loaded gun rack. Pack of hunting dogs. Various artistic representations of confederate flags lining the outer edges of the cab’s rear window. All this had been overlooked by the man due to: 1. Desperation and 2. A distaste for—to the point of utter denial—stereotyping i.e. profiling. As fortune would have it, the flags hid what would have been at least a head’s-up only an hour ago: The bottom lines of two bumper stickers. As was, they read: Why experiment on animals…; and: 50,000 battered women…. Leading the man to believe that, despite appearances, the truck’s operator had grave concerns about animal testing and spousal abuse.
The reality: Mr. Roy Hicks, said operator, had been under the influence of a pilfered twelve-pack of Bud Light (“What is this shit, Roy?” “Free, Jake.”) when affixing the statements, which read in full: Why experiment on animals…when there are so many democrats? And: 50,000 battered women…and I’m still eating mine plain?!

The slammed door bounced back at Abercrombie, so he turned around and booty-bopped Roy’s dead head so the guy’s top half angled into the floorboard. This time the door shut. Okay, next.
He looked down at his empty hands. Shit. He opened the door, ripped a long scrap from his former captor’s beer and sweat-soaked white tee-shirt, shut the door and just missed putting his eye out when he turned and vomited into a saw palmetto. Roy hadn’t smelled all that good when he was alive and it was crazy hot and then there were those dogs, who rated cab-riding, but he guessed not regular bathing…so the truck cab smelled like nasty, wet dog and broiled human…beer-battered.
Hands on knees, he buried his head again in palmetto and yakked, trembling. Hacked and spit. He s wiped his forehead with a rolled-up cuff and went into a mental retracing of events…if he could figure out how in the hell he’d gotten here, maybe he could figure out how in the hell to get out.

It had only been an hour since Roy had spotted him on the side of the road and offered him a ride. Abercrombie’d been walking in the hot sun all afternoon, so he’d jumped at Roy’s offer. Ensconced beside one hound dog and beneath two others and following Roy’s loud cell conversation, however, Roy’s new captive had concluded that well, he was a captive and that Roy thought he was A. “easy money”, B. “colored” and C. knew something about farming. Roy had looked him over. His brief description of Abercrombie inspired Jake (the man on the other end of the line) to yell at Roy unintelligibly for the duration of “Sweet Home Alabama” with a final, well-enunciated pronouncement to “fix it.” Neither Roy nor his charge ever knew that Jake had meant for Roy to let Abercrombie go. Next thing, they were in this clearing, a shotgun in Roy’s hands, then in Abercrombie’s and then Roy was dead.

Abercrombie stared at the rag in his hand and decided that the lesson to be learned from his previous actions was not to panic and do something stupid.
He frowned into the darkening forest where the dogs had disappeared. Then he placed one end of the rag in the truck’s gas tank, pulled a lighter from his pocket, lit the other end and walked calmly down the road the way they’d come.
Kaboom.
Last edited by NickB on August 9th, 2010, 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Down the well
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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by Down the well » August 9th, 2010, 10:02 am

Nick,

Wilderness did a good job of pointing out some sticking points in your first attempt, but after looking at this I was wondering if you are serious about the Romantic/Comedy Adventure designation. If so, how do you think a reader would respond if they opened a book they thought was going to be a light story about love but instead they are shown some dead redneck in a truck who smells like broiled, battered human? Do you think that would pull in your target reader? If the rest of your novel is, as you have indicated, romantic and funny then the tone of your prologue or opening chapter should be also. Just something to think about.

If it isn't really a romantic comedy, if it's really something darker, then your opening could work with a little clarification of viewpoint. It's actually an interesting scene, it just doesn't fit with romantic comedy.

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by NickB » August 9th, 2010, 10:03 pm

Down the well,

I've gone back and forth with myself on the genre as I've beefed up the adventure (light crime) part of the romantic comedy adventure. Unfortunately, I may have put myself into mainstream (not the best place for establishing a readership.) The crime part and my inclination to write "crime" are both very light; however, crime may be the place for me on this one.

What's really important to me about the book and most of my writing is the Humor, but it's hard to be that funny...I'm not yet a Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen or Christopher Moore, but they're my favorite contemporary humor writers...but not in that genre (though Hiaasen is heavy with romance and usually has some version of happily-ever-after.)

Evanovich and Crusie (BLUE MOON is more like their stuff) Have Been classified as romantic-comedy-adventure and last I checked they still are.THEY don't have a problem getting across the funny of a smelly corpse in the prologue.:)

So. What I decided was that it's rather (including the prologue, if I can make it Funny!) like Crusie's current work in tone and content, so I went with that designation. Her genre listing.

Oh, but as for a "light story about love," nonononononono...this is NOT a romance novel. Romantic Comedy Adventure usually has a heavier crime element than I have here, but I'll Definitely review the genre designation under which these people (and others like them) are currently writing.

Thanks so much for the input!
Nick

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by Down the well » August 9th, 2010, 10:12 pm

NickB wrote:What's really important to me about the book and most of my writing is the Humor, but it's hard to be that funny...I'm not yet a Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen or Christopher Moore, but they're my favorite contemporary humor writers...but not in that genre (though Hiaasen is heavy with romance and usually has some version of happily-ever-after.)
Tim Dorsey was the keynote speaker at a conference I was at recently. OMG, he is soooo funny. In a dark humor sort of way. I haven't read anything of his yet, but now I understand much better what you are going for.

Yeah, you should drop the romantic comedy designation under your title. I opened this post expecting something entirely different than what I got. Threw me off. I'll give it another read now that I know what you're working toward.

**Edit.

You've educated me. I didn't know about this Romantic Comedy Adventure genre. I was thinking it was more like what you would get with a romantic comedy movie, you know, like Romancing the Stone. LOL. But I did some digging on the internet, and though I still couldn't get a clear definition, I think I get it. Evanavich's novels are described as romantic adventure. Dorsey as crime fiction with humor.

As for the romance part, well, Dorsey read a excerpt from one of his books -- a sex scene that was, um, really funny but just barely acceptable for mixed company, as they say. Had the room roaring.

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by NickB » August 9th, 2010, 11:52 pm

Down the Well,

Agh! Color me green...I haven't seen him since last year and he should've been back to The Bookmark in Atlantic Beach by now...I need to check on that. If you didn't grab him, next time I urge you to do so. I was a little starstruck and that's fairly rare for me (but I'm unpublished and he's freakin' Hilarious!) so we spoke, but I'd've loved to really pick his brain for hours on end. (Another writer friend, a poet and neighbor, writes him a lot and my husband did for awhile...my point is that he's not only brilliant, but also Completely Accessible...if you're not too in awe like Some People Who Are Not to be Named Here...) Do you Not want to go on a roadtrip with this guy?! My favorite of his might be Orange Crush. And The Big Bamboo. And his last one. And, and, and...

Y'know, come to think of it, both he and Hiaasen...their first books were their most violent and maybe not their funniest...just an aside there. They were both reporters, too. Not something at which I excelled, but Moore says the same thing and that buoys my spirit.

Okay, sorry to go so off-topic, but I got a little fan-crazed there for a minute.

And laugh if you will, but I SO wish I had written Romancing the Stone. (Not just for the money.:)) I'd LOVE to write like that...y'know...some parody, some exotic adventure, sex, love, happily-ever-after, and Danny DeVito. But my efforts in that direction often feel contrived.

After reading STORY, though, I may write my next book as a screenplay first. Seems like I think that way; though as novelists, we have much more freedom in how we get the idea across. Thinking it might be too much for me, though...or not enough. Do you ever find that you either want to write almost All Dialogue or go the other direction and make something Internal Monologue all the way? Can you tell I've recently been dealing with a bit of self-doubt and what many may term as Writer's Block? :)

Anyhow, thanks again...and I'm so freaking jealous of your Tim encounter!!! OMG I've gone Valley Girl over here. LOL.

Maybe I should attach "Dark" to the genre...I'll try it, though it's not too official...maybe it would clear things up for the critiquer.
Nick

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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by Down the well » August 10th, 2010, 10:51 am

NickB wrote: ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
Dark Romantic comedy adventure
Prologue

Deep within a non-descript patch of Florida Pine Flatwoods, somewhere mid-state…

A traumatized It's too early for this word. It comes off as telling. You show us in the following why he might be traumatized. Let the reader make the determination. man blew out the end of a long-held breath as he eased from the passenger-side cab of a large, green-camo’ed pick-up truck and slammed the door.

The man: I realize this is a style choice. It is unusual right now, but I could adapt to it as part of the narrator's delivery if it remains consistent throughout the novel. Sweaty dark hair (that usually swung in a professional bowl cut common to young boys in nineties Abercrombie and Fitch magazine spreads This is wordy for me. Maybe shorten it to "like an Abercrombie and Fitch model from the nineties" ) that stuck to his forehead. Gritty, wrinkled dress? shirt and pleated? pants that otherwise suggested he belonged in a corner office of a downtown high-rise.

The truck: Loaded gun rack. Pack of hunting dogs Um, how many dogs in a pack? Sounds like a lot. Maybe a pair?. Various artistic representations Not sure what this means. Couldn't you just say Confederate flags lined the outer edges of the cab's rear window? of confederate flags lining the outer edges of the cab’s rear window. All thishad been overlooked by the man due to The man had overlooked all this due to: 1. Desperation and 2. A distaste for—to the point of utter denial—stereotyping i.e. profiling. I think there is an opportunity here for some humor and voice. Relate a brief encounter of him or someone else being profiled maybe to show why he would take this attitude? As fortune would have it, the flags hid what would have been at least a head’s-up only an hour ago: The bottompunch lines of two bumper stickers. As was it were, they read: Why experiment on animals…; and: 50,000 battered women…. Leading the man to believe that, despite appearances, the truck’s operator had grave concerns about animal testing and spousal abuse.

The reality: Mr. Roy Hicks, said operator, had been under the influence of a pilfered twelve-pack of Bud Light (“What is this shit, Roy?” “Free, Jake.” I'd cut this.) when affixing the statements, which read in full: Why experiment on animals…when there are so many democrats? And: 50,000 battered women…and I’m still eating mine plain?! Okay, this is funny.

The slammed door bounced back at AbercrombieThe door bounced back at Abercrombie when he slammed it. I'm assuming this is our protag, but you are choosing not to give him a "real" name yet. Makes me go hmmm. The dead guy and his friend both have names., so he turned around and booty-bopped Roy’s dead head so the guy’s top half angled into the floorboard. This time the door shut.Okay, next.

He Abercrombie looked down at his empty hands. Shit. He opened the door, ripped a long scrap from his former captor’s beer and sweat-soaked white tee-shirt, shut the door and just missed putting his eye out on a saw palmetto when he turned and vomited.into a saw palmetto. Roy hadn't smelled all that good when he was alive, and it was crazy hot, and then there were those dogs -- who rated cab-riding but he guessed not regular bathing -- so the truck cab smelled like nasty, wet dog and broiled human…beer-battered and deep fried? LOL

Hands on knees, he buried his head again and yacked in the palmetto again. tremblingHacked, and spit. He wiped his forehead with a rolled-up cuff and went into began a mental retracing of events. If he could figure out how in the hell he’d gotten here, maybe he could figure out how in the hell to get out.

It had only been. An hour had passed since Roy had first spotted him on the side of the road. and offered him a ride. Abercrombie had been walking in the hot sun all afternoon, so when Roy offered him a ride, he jumped at the offer.he’d jumped at Roy’s offer You are using contractions here, trying to hide all the hads. :). Ensconced beside one hound dog and beneath two others, and forced to listen to following Roy’s loud cell conversation,however, Roy’s new captive Abercrombie had concluded that, well, he was a captive and that Roy thought he was A: “easy money”, B: “colored” and C: knew something about farming. Don't understand this one, given how he is dressed. Roy had looked him over. His brief description of Abercrombie inspired Jake I think it might be confusing at this point to even give this guy a name. the man on the other end of the line to yell at Roy unintelligibly for the duration of “Sweet Home Alabama” with a final, well-enunciated pronouncement to “fix it.” Neither Roy nor his charge ever knewunderstood that Jake the man on the phone had meant for Roy to let Abercrombie go. Next thing he knew, they were in this some clearing, a shotgun first in Roy’s hands, then in Abercrombie’s, and then Roy was dead. I think this is a little too quick. Maybe mention a struggle?

Conclusion: Abercrombie stared at the rag in his hand and decided that the lesson to be learned from his previous actions was not to panic and do something stupid.
He frowned into the darkening forest where the dogs had disappeared. Then he placed one end of the rag in the truck’s gas tank, pulled a lighter from his pocket, lit the other end, and walked calmly down the road the way they’d come. Calmly down the road doesn't quite match up with your opening sentence when you stated he was traumatized. Maybe he walked in a sort of daze?.

Kaboom.

Okay, so all the word choice stuff is only my opinion. I think it's a fun scene and I'm curious what's going to happen. The bumper-sticker stuff is very funny, and you do have a humorous voice going. I have a concern about the character being called Abercrombie throughout the prologue (I'm assuming you are referring to him by that name here because of the resemblance to the nineties ad). If he is going to go by another name in the following chapters it could be confusing. Or not. Maybe you'll just keep calling him Abercrombie. Anyway, I think this is totally a keeper with some polishing. Good luck.
Last edited by Down the well on August 11th, 2010, 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

NickB
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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by NickB » August 10th, 2010, 10:01 pm

Thanks, Down the well!

Deep fried...LOL. Y'know, that's somehow far more disgusting:).

I particularly like the suggestions for going into an explanation about the profiling thing and saying more about what happened between Hicks and Abercrombie. However, I can't say much more without rewriting all...I've tried just writing little stories and peeling some info out for events like these, but the insertions end up being long-winded, confusing and they just screw up the rhythm. (Some of this may be symptomatic of too much reading of authors who have mastered ridiculously long sentences that are hilarious and make absolute sense; some is Too Long Spent in Rewrite; some is that I need a vacation.) Like when you're nervous and just go on and on and on and on about nothing until somebody shoves you off a cliff? Like that. So, I mean, I didn't want to name the Beast and give him credibility, but this may be a full-on case of WB. And probably I should stop reading for a while. Whew!

So, re: the explanations, what do you think about little blurbs, sort of? Like, "Nope, he'd never do that [profile] to anyone after That Time...yadayadayada." Do you think that would get it, or do you think a whole little story (paragraph or two) there would be helpful?

Roy gets the wrong idea about Abercrombie because Roy's not too bright and because he's extremely racist. I'll try to show that more clearly--not sure how. Frankly, I'm uncomfortable with it. So far, in writing that sort of character, I sound pompous/condescending...when I thought I wrote it from a completely objective POV...like "Here's what happened...", my voice makes me sound like an judgmental asshole...hm....;) Maybe... So, another thing to practice.

Abercrombie gets another name, but I'd rather the reader not know who he is just yet...he could be one of two people later on in the story and it's important to keep that a mystery.

Oh, and you're right about "Calmly" meaning "in a daze", but he's not rattled. He's gone into a calm, like in the middle of the storm. Calm in a crisis..he's gone Zen...like that.

Thanks so much, Down the well. It's really helpful to see what's confusing to someone else. All those things that seemed so clear to me just plain Aren't to you and probably most other people.

And thanks for the encouragement and the time you've taken with this and you too, Wilderness. Likely I'll relegate this book to Practice. But the extra pairs of eyes on this should help future endeavors quite a bit.

Nick

Down the well
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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by Down the well » August 11th, 2010, 9:53 am

NickB wrote:Deep fried...LOL. Y'know, that's somehow far more disgusting:).
Well, you do light him on fire. Just saying.
NickB wrote:So, re: the explanations, what do you think about little blurbs, sort of? Like, "Nope, he'd never do that [profile] to anyone after That Time...yadayadayada." Do you think that would get it, or do you think a whole little story (paragraph or two) there would be helpful?
I think it would interrupt the flow to say more than a line or two. I'm just speculating, but maybe something about the way cops always give him sideways glances at stoplights, or how it takes thirty minutes longer for him to get through an airport than everyone else.
NickB wrote: It's really helpful to see what's confusing to someone else. All those things that seemed so clear to me just plain Aren't to you and probably most other people.
I'm always amazed at what people catch in my writing that I didn't see. Head-slapping moments.

Anyway, there are plenty of people on this forum who can give you a better critique than I did. Hopefully someone who is well read in your genre will give it a go. Stick with this. It's an interesting opener.

NickB
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Re: Prologue to Romantic Comedy Adventure

Post by NickB » August 12th, 2010, 10:30 pm

The latest incarnation:

ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
Dark Romantic comedy adventure
Prologue

Deep within a non-descript patch of Florida Pine Flatwoods, somewhere mid-state…

A man blew out the end of a long-held breath as he eased from the passenger-side cab of a large, green-camo’ed pick-up truck.

The man: Sweaty dark hair (that usually swung in a professional bowl cut common to young boys in nineties Abercrombie and Fitch ads) that stuck to his forehead. Gritty, wrinkled dress shirt and pants that otherwise suggested he belonged in a corner office of a downtown high-rise.

The truck: Loaded gun rack. Small pack of hunting dogs. Confederate flags in various artistic representations lining the outer edges of the cab’s rear window. The man had overlooked all this due to: 1. Desperation and 2. A distaste for—to the point of utter denial—stereotyping i.e. profiling. (He had been mistaken for a Mexican drug-smuggler, a Colombian drug-and-human smuggler…that was the last time he would go out with five women at once, Miami flamer/man-whore…same as the last, Cuban rafter and French Canadian. It was the last that pissed him off the most simply because it made no sense and he still got cuffed.) As fortune would have it, the flags hid what would have been at least a head’s-up only an hour ago: The punch lines of two bumper stickers. As was, they read: Why experiment on animals…; and: 50,000 battered women…. Leading the man to believe that, despite appearances, the truck’s operator had grave concerns about animal testing and spousal abuse.

The reality: Mr. Roy Hicks, said operator, had been under the influence of a pilfered twelve-pack of Bud Light when affixing the statements, which read in full: Why experiment on animals…when there are so many democrats? And: 50,000 battered women…and I’m still eating mine plain?!

Abercrombie scraped out an armload of rawhide dog treats, lobbed them into the forest and slammed the door. It bounced backed, so he turned around and booty-bopped Roy’s dead head so the guy’s top half angled into the floorboard. This time the door shut.

He looked down at his empty hands. Shit. Abercrombie opened the door, ripped a long scrap from his former captor’s beer-soaked white tee-shirt, shut the door and just missed putting his eye out when he turned and vomited into a saw palmetto. Roy hadn't smelled all that good when he was alive and it was crazy hot, and then there were those dogs -- who rated cab-riding but he guessed not regular bathing -- so the truck cab smelled like nasty, wet dog and broiled human…beer-battered, but not yet deep-fried.

Hands on knees, he buried his head and yakked in the palmetto again. He wiped his forehead with a rolled-up cuff and began a mental retracing of events. If he could figure out how in the hell he’d gotten here, maybe he could figure out how in the hell to get out.

An hour had passed since Roy first spotted him on the side of the road. Abercrombie had been walking in the hot sun all afternoon, so when Roy offered him a ride, he jumped at the offer. Ensconced beside one hound dog and beneath two others, and forced to listen to Roy’s loud cell conversation, Abercrombie concluded that, well, he was a captive and that Roy somehow deduced that he was A: “easy money”, B: “colored” and C: knew something about farming. Roy had looked him over. His brief description of Abercrombie inspired the man on the other end of the line to yell at Roy for the duration of “Sweet Home Alabama” with a final pronouncement to “fix it.” Neither Roy nor his charge ever knew that the man had meant for Roy to let Abercrombie go. Next thing he knew, they were in some clearing, a shotgun first in Roy’s hands, then in Abercrombie’s. Roy taunting him and grabbing for the gun, then Abercrombie firing. And then Roy was dead.

The decision: Abercrombie stared at the rag in his hand and concluded that the lesson to be learned from his previous actions was not to panic and do something stupid.
He frowned into the darkening forest where the dogs had disappeared. Then he placed one end of the rag in the truck’s gas tank, pulled a lighter from his pocket, lit the other end, and walked down the road the way they’d come.


Kaboom.

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