Opinions - is this worth pursuing?

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Valpariso
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Joined: June 25th, 2013, 5:25 pm
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Opinions - is this worth pursuing?

Post by Valpariso » June 25th, 2013, 5:53 pm

Hey guys and gals,

So as a writing prompt I generated some random tropes and tried to mash them together (Story generator on the TV tropes site - I recommend it). Anyway I went for 1,000 words and, well, kinda overshot. By about 14,000. Yeah, you know how it is. Anyway, I think I created something a lot deeper than I thought, perhaps enough to carry a novel. But there's a problem (NB: there's always a problem).

1) I'm beginning to layer in the outlines (albeit in my head), to take the writing seriously. This requires a lot of effort (I'm a thorough planner and drafter).
........which would normally be fine. Except..........
2) The main motif of the plot is, well, one rarely seen outside fan-fic. And not very...professional...fan-fic at that. I think I can do it justice and I think I can do it believable. Thing is I just don't think it will within a Astronomic Unit of publication.

So the question is: Should I just treat it like the exercise it started as, free-write, finish it up, and not waste the colossal effort of creating a solid product at the end of it? Coz likely it'll get knocked straight back because the theme is so...well...look, read for yourself (I predict most won't get past paragraph 5). Like I said, the writing is important - I think I can do it justice. But anyway, it's going to be a thriller (possibly crime, possibly psychological)....please take a look and tell me if I'm wasting my time (I'd I'm quite happy even for feedback that's just "Ewww, DUDE!" - it'd tell me a lot).

.............................................................

Forty Three Reasons - Chapter 1

I held open my passport with both hands, like a pocket bible boiled down to a handful of vital passages. In a sense it was, now. Fourteen watermarked pages unblemished by careless prints from immigration stamps - crisp, new, and awaiting all the places I might have gone but hadn’t - and my identity. Raquel Velosa. Twenty-Five Years Old. Female.

It had become a vital part of my morning ritual. Between the frantic exercises that left me drenched in as much sweat as I could squeeze out of my body in fifteen minutes, and the regimented process of washing, moisturising, and smoothing my way through a few hundred dollar’s worth of products, the five minutes I spent with my passport was the mental part of my routine. Raquel Velosa. Twenty Five. Female.

I rubbed my thumb across the photo, pressing out the faint air bubbles trapped beneath the laminate. The faint hint of olive in the skin washed out by the harsh blast of the bulb; the eyes wide, startled, heavy with mascara and eyeliner like any young woman who listened to too much modern rock music – not gothic, just influenced by the drama and emotion scrawled artlessly across verses and stuffed into a chorus barely able to cope, occasionally spilling into parody. Lips glossy and wet, painted to a shine with lipstick, parted slightly. Shoulder length loose curls hiding one ear, exposing the other. My hair. My skin and eyes and lips. Raquel Velosa. Twenty Five. Female.

After soaking my consciousness in the list of personal details I carefully folded my passport and tucked it underneath my bedside lamp. In the third draw was a real bible, Gideon’s edition, I’d never read, wrapped in rosary beads I’d never used. By now I didn't even need to open it to find the newspaper clipping tucked around the end of Psalms. Dropping the bible on the bed I cradled the paper as though it were a hundred years old rather than six weeks.

The picture showed five young men, all long limbed and bursting with the visceral energy of youth, leaning against a whitewashed wall in classic pose with arms and shoulders entangled and knotted. Five friends: one band. Three guitars, a keyboard balanced on one end, a single high-hat, leaned amongst them like friends. They were I suppose. The headline simple read: Massacre! The photo tagline explained further: “Young local band ‘Forty Three Reasons for Tears’ posing on the cover of their indie EP “Too sharp to hold”. Four of the band were found murdered yesterday in the parking lot behind the popular club Tento’s”. I’d only kept a few paragraphs, but it had enough detail to explain the police suspected the band had stumbled on a drug deal and had been gunned down. They were looking for the fifth member of the band, lead singer and guitarist Rafe Walker, Twenty Six. Blood and DNA found at the scene, but no body. Witnesses reported hearing automatic weapons fire and seeing someone matching Walker’s description fleeing the scene. My Blood. My DNA. Rafael ‘Rafe’ Walker. Twenty Six. Male.

It was as much as exercise as the crunches, press-ups, and weights that left most of me tingling with faint, warm, pain. Rafe was someone else, a poor bastard who was unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but luckier than his four friends. Rafe was probably dead, caught and slung in the Dale Maffitt Resevoir tied to a concrete sleeper by the Drug Lords he’d disturbed. Raquel lived here, where I lived. If Rafe was alive he’d be hollowed out by fear, everyday spent on the run from those eager to silence him. I, Raquel, only worried about making rent. Rafe was a young man with a golden voice the world would never see again. I had to get up, get changed and get to work. Me. Raquel Velosa. Twenty Five. Female.

I tucked the photo away in Psalms and the bible in the drawer and headed to the bathroom. I had my tasks strictly ordered: cleanse, exfoliate, shave, moisturise, a liberal layer of hair softening lotion. My skin is the canvas on which I paint and maintaining it is the foundation of everything that is me, Raquel. I might only be a little over four weeks old, but my passport disagreed and I needed the habits to match. Next was the arduous task of make-up.

My heavy, emo-style eyes took the longest, but were most important. I’d been told to find my most feminine feature and enhance it, define it. They drew attention to something overtly feminine, a statement I made to the world, and hinted at something darker, bleaker. It defined my character, Raquel Velosa whose passport photo showed a woman startled, fearful, and slightly wild. Everything else was neat and understated, from light lipstick to subtle blusher to the three shades of foundation needed to soften my brow and nose. The persona had taken less than an hour to flesh out, and two whole days of trial and error to perfect: I’d once been on the edge, near breaking, and now I was reforging myself. The best lies are always ninety percent truth.

I looked in the dresser mirror, fixing my face in my mind. Being Raquel not playing out a character. My hair had been longish anyway, so settling on the right cut hadn’t taken long. The loose curls remained but were now untangled and glossy, lying relaxed on my shoulders. I’d prefer a shorter cut, less chance for the wind to ruin the illusion, but longer hair hid more.

It’s hard, staring at a face that patently isn’t yours, but also is. Your natural reaction is to touch a cheek, your nose, as though the mirror would ripple like a pond and resolve into something else. I pulled my hand away and adjusted and scrunched my curls, watching as they settled back in their proper place.

“Raquel Velosa”, the woman in the mirror said back to me in my voice, albeit one slightly softer and breathier, subtly modulated. In the background I’d smuggled notes of South America borrowed from my parents, so my accent was just strange enough to mask the odd fluctuation.

Thinking about my parents hurt, like the tears gathering hot in my eyes started in the pit of my gut and burned caustic and sharp up through my stomach, lungs, heart and throat. I looked at myself, Raquel, and saw the thing that was me in there. My eye make-up may be the window dressing of pain, but my eyes were the real thing, staring back like two wounds. Everything else was just a brave face painted over the top. As I said, the best lies are ninety percent truth. As it did most mornings now, the perception of myself and my reflection snapped into focus, and something in me loosened, a tension I didn’t know I held.

“Get a grip,” I muttered. Dabbing the unshed tears from my eyes before my mascara ran. I took a deep breath, let it out. Another. I looked exactly as I had the morning before: a cold eyed woman with hints of Latino heritage. Not perfect, but convincing. I sighed and got dressed.

My wardrobe was another product of extensive trial an error. That and cheap tricks. An elastic waist cincher gave me the slightest hourglass shape, and I’d tried every cup size from double A to F to find the best compliment. Everything I owned had been adjusted in one capacity or another to give my rather rangy frame a feminine polish. For work I had a selection of modest high necked dresses, all tightened at the waist, or slightly looser blouses with fitted suits. Nothing racy, just chic and professional.

Once I’d secured my false breasts into the slots sewn into my bra and stepped into some fitted underwear, I zipped myself into a grey dress. The mirror reflected back an image of stylish restraint. Twirling on my toes, everything looked in order: the cincher hidden by the slightly heavier fabric at the waist, my bra snugged and supported at the chest, rising gently with my calming breaths. I slipped on some thick black hold ups, doing so in an excessively feminine manner for practise, knee up to chest and then extending my leg outwards. I was as good as complete.

The clock on the wall said seven forty-four. Right on time. I suppose it’s amazing to think I’d gone from a life of designing software by day and flitting between gig venues by night, to one of rigid behaviour anchored to specific minutes. I guess having four of the closest people to you ripped to pieces by a hail of bullets can derail one’s life like that.

At times it was the only thing that kept me going. Even sane. When the weeks of fear and paranoia had finished dissolving your capacity for rational thought - when the hope and relief at finding a way to escape was hurling your moods between delirium and depression; when you were weeping hopelessly at night because two weeks wasn’t long enough to learn to walk properly in heels without tripping or looking like a man, but you had to anyway; when you woke every morning curled around your stomach because you’d done six thousands sit ups a day to try and smash your abdomen beach-bunny flat – the only way through was focussing on the clock and reducing the world to a specific time and a specific task.

When the clock ticked over to seven forty-six I grabbed a black silk scarf and a pair of black patent pumps from the racks in my wardrobe and walked to the door adjoined to the neighbouring apartment. With each pace I flicked out my foot like a gymnast, exaggerating the action and moving only on my toes. These exercises I’d done more times than I’d dared think about, but you could never have too much practice. I rapped on the door once, waited for a count of three, and went into Romana’s apartment.

---------------------------------

All thoughts welcome....=0)

WPTaylor
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Joined: June 30th, 2013, 6:14 pm
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Re: Opinions - is this worth pursuing?

Post by WPTaylor » June 30th, 2013, 6:39 pm

I think it's well written: if flows smoothly, reveals what's really happening without much confusion, and is necessary as an explanation and introduction to your character. It's sufficient, it isn't too much of an information dump, either. I think it's a good start to ... something. But what? From this point it seems to me that the rest of the story is nearly as wide open as a blank piece of paper. I don't think that's true of many beginnings. I can see this building into a romantic farce - how does Raquel fend off a male suitor he's really not interested in without coming across as lesbian or revealing he's a he, how does Ramona explain to another woman that he's not a she and in love with her, or a thriller where Raquel takes revenge against an unsuspecting drug gang who expect some guy, or how Rafael decides to become Raquel permanently, or something entirely different. I think it's wide open. Some stories tell you what kind they'll be (thriller, mystery, romance) within the first thousand words, this doesn't. It's well enough written that I'd continue reading until I found out. I have a hard time reading romances. Don't let that discourage you from carrying this on if that's where it's headed. You just have to keep the rest as good as this. Good luck with it.

laurac
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Re: Opinions - is this worth pursuing?

Post by laurac » September 25th, 2013, 8:25 pm

I like this. I like the writing, I am intrigued by the setup. I agree with the previous comment...it is very unclear where this is going. I found myself wanting to know much more. I would encourage you to go with it.

Doug Pardee
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Re: Opinions - is this worth pursuing?

Post by Doug Pardee » September 26th, 2013, 12:01 pm

Very good. Better than the earlier version you'd posted. Aside from a few line edits, it reads very smoothly, each paragraph adding to the picture. There are some tiny details I might nit-pick at, but that wasn't the question you asked.

Yes, I think this is an interesting character, and it's a very good introduction to her. Now... is there an equally interesting story?

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