Palooka Express (First Four Pages)

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Mary-Catharine
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Palooka Express (First Four Pages)

Post by Mary-Catharine » April 2nd, 2010, 6:13 pm

1. Gag
CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. SPACE. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. ENTER. “FUCK OFF,” says the electronic voice of his plastic child’s toy. Holding up his middle finger to a staring pedestrian (now buggering off), Wallace McHardy is reminded why he doesn’t have any friends. It can also be the fact he keeps aloof, quiet, and a navy bandana over his face to cover his bilateral cleft lip. It is a project started by the doctors that was never finished and now he has two white stretches of skin lifting his lip like a curtain for his teeth to be shown. His teeth are compacted by the minimal room his mouth left for them to grow. His speech is slurred and the sound is incomplete by the missing pieces of his upper lip. He is a very fortunate white boy to be born with a complete palate unlike some poor bastards. Wallace had failed to follow through the exercises in speech therapy as a child and is left with lack of verbalization. So, Wallace developed a tactic to avoid speaking entirely. Hostility.
Not only is antagonism apart of his tactic, but an old school Texas Instrument toy from the eighties is. He uses a swamp-water green guitar strap to hold the orange keyboard in place over his shoulder. It is some obscure child’s toy that articulates whatever is inscribed into the keyboard. At one point, the toy’s first intention was to teach children how to spell and the pronunciation of words, but now it is used for the small conversations Wallace feels obligated to take part of.
There is something very primal about Wallace. It might be his lack of vocabulary or his volatile temper. Maybe it is his hair hanging in greasy strands covering what little face he shows like some teenage Cro-Magnon. His body is proportioned like any other teenage boy with broad shoulders and narrow hips. His shoulders aren’t exactly symmetrical because he has a little bit of scoliosis and it causes him to slouch. But it is mainly his eyes that always look like they are hungry for sleep, a shower, or an evolution in habitat.
He is wearing a gray shirt with a picture of a wolf eating a deer on the front. His camouflage jeans stick out in the Podunk surroundings with its generic forest colors. They still smell like vomit from his accident in the greenhouse. It was after he had taken three 400mg tablets of Lorcet, five 50mg of Demerol, seven 100mg of Celebrex, two 325mg of Percodan, six 200mg of Hydrocodine, and eight Dilaudid. Eight months later and out of Green-Dike Saint Hospital after all the acetaminophen is purged, Wallace is proscribed with a full 45mg of Remeron. He spent months withdrawing with feverish cold sweets, violent tantrums, vomiting, and phantasm filled insomnia nights, just to be reliant once again on a bottle of ‘fulfillment.’
A family of three stands to the right of Wallace with no intention on sitting in the blank space beside him. It is a black mother in a gray jumpsuit. Her breasts are untamed and balancing on her belly. Her ass is in the shape of a squished tomato that shifts violently to the left and right when her hips do. The fat head of her vagina looks like a chubby V between her legs. The sight of her body is like jello confined by a gray apparatus. There are two other children with her and Wallace is watching the boy who sucks his thumb. The saliva makes his dark skin glisten making Wallace’s hair rise and chill-bumps cultivate. When someone masticates loudly, Wallace can feel his body being stimulated. The kind of chills stirred when someone is scratching your back or combing your hair.
The mother notices his staring after a while and links her child closer to her. She ruffles her feathers trying to make it obvious that she doesn’t want him staring at her child. Wallace wants to avoid her having to say anything to him, so he looks away and makes it look like it is an accident. While he fidgets, he shoves the T.I behind his back and adjusts his bandana to a more comfortable spot. It is higher and he can feel the air being directed upward to his eyes. He doesn’t divert very well. She still thinks he is a creeper.
Their ride finally comes and takes them away and the cleft lip boy is left alone as he likes it. Returning home are the groin punching thoughts that run through his mind. He suddenly taste acid from the nerves boiling over in his stomach to the thought of returning to his school, to the students, to the teachers, to all the noise and fuss that makes his high school. Wallace knows he disserves the whispers because he knows he makes a spectacle of himself. Even though he sticks out like an erection in a hula skirt, he wishes he would just sink back into the wallpaper. At least at Green-dike he didn’t feel odd with all the kids at group therapy. He almost misses: Paul (the pica kid), Dwight (the guy who thought he could absorb calcium through satellites), Reece (the girl with Fregoli syndrome), and Carl the Cotard. Carl wasn’t only his roommate but his ‘special buddy,’ who is basically an assigned friend. They have assigned friends so one can look after the other and tell the counselors if your ‘special buddy’ is planning on doing harm to themselves or someone else. Wallace had never spoken to Carl for that to be a conflict anyway. He wasn’t friends with any of them, but he did feel strangely comfortable around them. It was like being a part of some kind of club. It was very exclusive.
“Sup, fucktard!” A bicycle boy shouts to Wallace as he whisks by on the sidewalk interrupting Wallace’s thinking. He isn’t really sure if that it is supposed to be a rhetorical question or what a fucktard actually is. Obviously, he looks like one.

JTB
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Re: Palooka Express (First Four Pages)

Post by JTB » April 3rd, 2010, 8:07 am

I quite like the style of this, bit lumpy as someone else here might say, but I'm guessing this still needs a lot of editing.

The main probelm is - for me - I have no idea - if these are the opening lines - where we're going or why we should care about any of these characters - what's the hook, where do i bite in and say OK, let's turn the page and see what happens next ...

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JustineDell
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Re: Palooka Express (First Four Pages)

Post by JustineDell » April 3rd, 2010, 9:13 am

Mary-Catharine wrote:1. Gag
CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. SPACE. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. ENTER. “FUCK OFF,” says the electronic voice of his plastic child’s toy. Holding up his middle finger to a staring pedestrian (now buggering off), Wallace McHardy is reminded why he doesn’t have any friends. When I read the first line, I'm thinking someone is sitting at a computer. But then the next two sentences are jarring because you talk about a cursing toy and then a man flipping off a stranger and saying why it reminds him why he doesn't have any friends. Yet, you don't tell us the stranger was doing anything more than starring, which people do all the time. Well, me any way ;-) I don't understand the meaning here, and it doesn't come together until a few paragraphs later. It can also be the fact he keeps aloof, quiet, and a navy bandana over his face to cover his bilateral cleft lip. It is a project started by the doctors that was never finished and now he has two white stretches of skin lifting his lip like a curtain for his teeth to be shown. His teeth are compacted by the minimal room his mouth left for them to grow. His speech is slurred and the sound is incomplete by the missing pieces of his upper lip. He is a very fortunate white boy to be born with a complete palate unlike some poor bastards. If he is a fortunate white boy then why wasn't the project finished? Wallace had failed to follow through the exercises in speech therapy as a child and is left with lack of verbalization. So, Wallace developed a tactic to avoid speaking entirely. Hostility.<--I like these last two sentences.
Not only is antagonism apart of his tactic, but an old school Texas Instrument toy from the eighties is. Oh, so this is the thing that made me think he was typing earlier? This is why I need stuff, like, in order. My OCD demands it...lol.He uses a swamp-water green guitar strap to hold the orange keyboard in place over his shoulder. It is some obscure child’s toy that articulates whatever is inscribed into the keyboard. At one point, the toy’s first intention was to teach children how to spell and the pronunciation of words, but now it is used for the small conversations Wallace feels obligated to take part of. Ah, here's the part about the toy.
There is something very primal about Wallace. It might be his lack of vocabulary or his volatile temper. Maybe it is his hair hanging in greasy strands covering what little face he shows like some teenage Cro-Magnon. His body is proportioned like any other teenage boy with broad shoulders and narrow hips. His shoulders aren’t exactly symmetrical because he has a little bit of scoliosis and it causes him to slouch. But it is mainly his eyes that always look like they are hungry for sleep, a shower, or an evolution in habitat.
He is wearing a gray shirt with a picture of a wolf eating a deer on the front. His camouflage jeans stick out in the Podunk <--OMG! I LOVE this word. I totally use it! surroundings with its generic forest colors. Generic Forest colors? They still smell like vomit from his accident in the greenhouse. Ewh..It was after he had taken three 400mg tablets of Lorcet, five 50mg of Demerol, seven 100mg of Celebrex, two 325mg of Percodan, six 200mg of Hydrocodine, and eight Dilaudid. Whoa...that's a lot. And a lot to read. Eight months later and out of Green-Dike Saint Hospital after all the acetaminophen is purged, Wallace is proscribed with a full 45mg of Remeron. He spent months withdrawing with feverish cold sweets, violent tantrums, vomiting, and phantasm filled insomnia nights, just to be reliant once again on a bottle of ‘fulfillment.’
A family of three stands to the right of Wallace with no intention on sitting in the blank space beside him. It is a black mother in a gray jumpsuit. Her breasts are untamed and balancing on her belly. Her ass is in the shape of a squished tomato that shifts violently to the left and right when her hips do. <--Nice visual. The fat head of her vagina looks like a chubby V between her legs. The sight of her body is like jello confined by a gray apparatus. There are two other children with her and Wallace is watching the boy who sucks his thumb. The saliva makes his dark skin glisten making Wallace’s hair rise and chill-bumps cultivate. When someone masticates loudly, Wallace can feel his body being stimulated. The kind of chills stirred when someone is scratching your back or combing your hair. <--Okay, and I'm sorry, but this kind of creeps me out. Why would someone chewing give him this type of reaction? Are you meaning for it do sound like he's having a sexual reaction to this woman?
The mother notices his staring after a while and links her child closer to her. She ruffles her feathers <--This description is odd to me. Makes me think she is actually wearing feathers. trying to make it obvious that she doesn’t want him staring at her child. Wallace wants to avoid her having to say anything to him, so he looks away and makes it look like it is an accident. While he fidgets, he shoves the T.I behind his back and adjusts his bandana to a more comfortable spot. It is higher and he can feel the air being directed upward to his eyes. He doesn’t divert very well. She still thinks he is a creeper. Hmmm...cuz that's kind of what you made him sound like. It doesn't really matter that he wears a bandana and smells of vomit. If someone stared at me, like I'm imagining him starring at her, I'd be creeped out.
Their ride finally comes and takes them away and the cleft lip boy is left alone as he likes it. Returning home are the groin punching thoughts that run through his mind. He suddenly taste acid from the nerves boiling over in his stomach to the thought of returning to his school, to the students, to the teachers, to all the noise and fuss that makes his high school. Wallace knows he disserves the whispers because he knows he makes a spectacle of himself. Even though he sticks out like an erection in a hula skirt, he wishes he would just sink back into the wallpaper. At least at Green-dike he didn’t feel odd with all the kids at group therapy. He almost misses: Paul (the pica kid), Dwight (the guy who thought he could absorb calcium through satellites), Reece (the girl with Fregoli syndrome), and Carl the Cotard. Carl wasn’t only his roommate but his ‘special buddy,’ who is basically an assigned friend. They have assigned friends so one can look after the other and tell the counselors if your ‘special buddy’ is planning on doing harm to themselves or someone else. Wallace had never spoken to Carl for that to be a conflict anyway. He wasn’t friends with any of them, but he did feel strangely comfortable around them. It was like being a part of some kind of club. It was very exclusive.
“Sup, fucktard!” A bicycle boy shouts to Wallace as he whisks by on the sidewalk interrupting Wallace’s thinking. He isn’t really sure if that it is supposed to be a rhetorical question or what a fucktard actually is. Obviously, he looks like one.I like this last paragraph.
I really like your writing style/voice. But, I'm afraid in these first few paragraphs, I don't really like the MC. I understand it's subjective and I have a wip where a few people didn't care for MC and wanted me to make her more sympathetic. I didn't. So, I guess I'm saying that if you want your character this way, that's fine - I just wanted to point it out in case you hadn't realized you portrayed him so. (I know I made my MC a pain in the butt, I did it on purpose - hopefully you did the same here).

Also, I think you could really benefit from tighening up your writing up bit. Not being so "wordy" as they say. You dump a lot of information in these first few paragraphs, and I really think you could cut some of it out. For example, and this is just me putting my two cents in - you totally don't have to listen - if I were to redo it, it would sound something like this:

Beady eyes starring right in his direction. His hackles raised. He hated being starred at. The stranger laughed, then pointed at the bandana covering his face. He turned his attention to his keyboard. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. SPACE. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. ENTER. “FUCK OFF,” says the electronic voice of his child's toy. The toy does his talking for him, because he cannot. He will not. He flips the bird and the stranger runs off. Wallace McHardy is reminded why he doesn’t have any friends. People are cruel. And stupid. It can also be the fact he's aloof, quiet. The a navy bandana over his face to cover his bilateral cleft lip doesn't help much either. His teeth are compacted by the minimal room his mouth left for them to grow. His speech is slurred and the sound is incomplete by the missing pieces of his upper lip. He avoids speech entirely. He uses hostility to get his point across. It works.

Not only is antagonism apart of his tactic, but an old school Texas Instrument toy from the eighties is. It is some obscure child’s toy that articulates whatever is inscribed into the keyboard. He was supposed to use it to learn the pronunciation of words when he was younger. But now he just likes to curse at those who can't mind their own business. And, once and a while, it is used for the small conversations Wallace feels obligated to take part of.

Wallace is primal. It might be his lack of vocabulary or his volatile temper. Maybe it is his hair hanging in greasy strands covering what little face he shows like some teenage Cro-Magnon. His body is proportioned like any other teenage boy with broad shoulders and narrow hips. His shoulders aren’t exactly symmetrical because of scoliosis that causes him to slouch. His eyes are what make him feral. They are (insert color of them here), hungry for sleep, a shower, or an evolution in habitat.

He is wearing a gray shirt with a picture of a wolf eating a deer on the front. His camouflage jeans stick out in the Podunk surroundings with its generic forest colors. They still smell like vomit from his accident in the greenhouse, right before an eight month stint in rehab. That's what taking six different kinds of prescriptions drugs at once will get you. He spent months withdrawing with feverish cold sweets, violent tantrums, vomiting, and phantasm filled insomnia nights. The new drug he left rehab with will make him better. Yeah, right.

A family of three stands to the right of Wallace with no intention on sitting in the blank space beside him. It is a black mother in a gray jumpsuit. Her breasts are untamed and balancing on her belly. Her ass is in the shape of a squished tomato that shifts violently to the left and right when her hips do. The fat head of her vagina looks like a chubby V between her legs. The sight of her body is like jello confined by a gray apparatus. There are two other children with her and Wallace is watching the boy who sucks his thumb. The saliva makes his dark skin glisten making Wallace’s hair rise and chill-bumps cultivate. When someone masticates loudly, Wallace can feel his body being stimulated. The kind of chills stirred when someone is scratching your back or combing your hair. Okay, I didn't do anything with this paragraph. I'm not quite sure what to do with it. But I really want you to do something with it.

The mother notices his staring and links her child closer to her, her arm like a protective cocoon. Wallace looks away, he doesn't care what the woman thinks. He shoves the T.I behind his back and adjusts his bandana to a higher spot on his face. He doesn’t divert very well, he still cast a glance in the woman's direction. She still thinks he is a creeper.

The woman and child disapear in a black minivan. Figures. Soccer mom. That leaves cleft lip boy alone, as he likes it. Returning home are the groin punching thoughts that run through his mind. He taste acid from the nerves boiling over in his stomach to the thought of returning to his school, to the students, to the teachers, to all the noise and fuss that makes his high school. Wallace knows he disserves the whispers. He's made spectacle of himself in the past. Even though he sticks out like an erection in a hula skirt, he wishes he would just sink back into the wallpaper. At least in rehab he didn’t feel odd with all the kids at group therapy. He almost misses the pica kid, the guy who thought he could absorb calcium through satellites, the girl with Fregoli syndrome, and Carl the Cotard.

Carl wasn’t only his roommate but his ‘special buddy’. It's was more of an assigned friend. Like he needed friends. They were supposed look after each other and tell the counselors if your ‘special buddy’ is planning on doing harm to themselves or someone else. Wallace never spoke to Carl. It was never an issue. He wasn’t friends with any of them. He did feel strangely comfortable around them, thought. It was like being a part of some kind of club. It was very exclusive.

“Sup, fucktard!” A bicycle boy shouts to Wallace as he whisks by on the sidewalk interrupting Wallace’s thinking. He isn’t really sure if that it is supposed to be a rhetorical question or what a fucktard actually is. Obviously, he looks like one.

So, there's my take. I'm sorry if you hate it. I just tried to tighten it up a bit and make it flow better. Hope it helps!

~JD

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Emily J
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Re: Palooka Express (First Four Pages)

Post by Emily J » April 3rd, 2010, 5:36 pm

Okay, first off I should warn you that this is definitely not the type of literature I would be interested in. I would describe it as the grotesque. But that aside, after the first very active sentence you have sentence after sentence of telling rather than showing. It's like we started off in the world then the voice took two great big steps backwards and there is a disembodied narrator floating a hundred feet above the MC dictating what he is doing. The description of the MC is not active, or direct. If this is your style that's fine (well maybe) but it doesn't fit with the first sentence. Also you need to vary your sentence structure. You rely too often on a "He is..." or "His this" or "His that" construction and it becomes repetitive. You use very concrete details and images which is great, but try to present them in a more active engaging manner. Also he comes across as a pedophile in this, to me anyway. I think you lose the likability factor of your MC with that. Obviously the MC is a creepy anti-social character, but there has to be something interesting or refreshing about him to make the reader want to spend the next two-hundred or so pages with him.

But, like I said, I am not very familiar with this type of literature so I may not be the most helpful reviewer.

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Mary-Catharine
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Re: Palooka Express (First Four Pages)

Post by Mary-Catharine » April 3rd, 2010, 10:31 pm

I'm taking all your comments into consideration. And, no, I don't hate them! hahahha. That's why I'm here, to hear things likes this. I meant for Wallace to be a very disturbed individual, because he is. thank you so much for saying my writing is grotesque (not sarcasm). If you didn't care, you wouldn't take the time out of your day to give me advice, so I am very thankful. It gives me great hope and I wish you well in the future. :)

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Re: Palooka Express (First Four Pages)

Post by wildheart » April 4th, 2010, 1:34 am

I don't want to give you more of the same advice, but I did want to say that I too like your voice. I just don't like what you do with it exactly....but it is very interesting. It feels like something is missing though. I don't know, maybe it needs more action?

You really did a good job showing Wallace being disturbed. I got that quite quickly. Is he your main character? I have not read many books where the main character was unlikeable. I am wondering what agents will think of Wallace. He interests me but scares me as well. I would probably read more of this but I would be on edge most of the time I think.

Your first pages do sound a bit too wordy, like you are rushing the scene too much and trying to add a lot of information in such a short space. I'm not sure how you can fix that, but maybe you should look into it. I found myself skimming the first paragraph or two, but him watching the black woman and kid sure got my attention.

I am not really sure what else to say. I do think your pages are pretty well written, you just have some cleaning up to do. It could flow better. But, from what I have seen, there is nothing too major that needs to be fixed.

I hope this helps. It is my first crit, so I am not really sure if I even did this right.
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BlancheKing
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Re: Palooka Express (First Four Pages)

Post by BlancheKing » April 4th, 2010, 2:09 am

I actually like the MC but not the voice. It's too verbose. While I agree that some situations call for an embellishment of modifiers, this one would do better without. The story itself is already chaotic enough to convey that upfront sickly stickiness; it doesn't need help from the language. Cut, cut like the wind (or an angry housewife). Even if you like the sentence, cut it if it doesn't contribute much to the story. If your manuscript ends up half its original size, then that's the length it should've been in the first place.

best of luck

-B.
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