Literary Fiction - Untitled

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Philabuster
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Literary Fiction - Untitled

Post by Philabuster » August 7th, 2012, 11:01 pm

This is the first chapter of my WIP. I'm in the "second guess myself" and "doubt everything I write" stage (I feel like I've been there a while) so I figured I mind as well post it and see what the world thinks. It may run a bit long for a first chapter..(just a warning)




“What’s the Laker’s score?”
“Lakers still up twenty seven. How many times you gonna ask me that?”
“Every minute until the game’s over.”
Martin grabbed a stack of baby blue chips and moved them around the board. He always played the same numbers. Everything six - all the time. Six, sixteen, twenty six, and thirty six. When he felt frisky he’d split the zeroes, or go hard on a random number looking for a quick hit. Steadily down since he started a couple hours ago, Martin shuffled the sixty dollars in front of him as the dealer spun the wheel.
“How much you got riding on it?”
“A lot.”
“How much is a lot?”
“Enough to make me want to ask the score every minute till the games over.”
He wasn’t trying to be rude to the man, even though that’s how it came off. Once a bet was in play Martin made a point to never talk about it until it was done. A gambler’s superstition, one which he played very close to the chest.
“No more bets,” the dealer proclaimed, waving his hand over top the board for the eye in the sky. Martin watched as the ball dropped and bounced erratically off the spinning wheel. After looking at first that it would land on twenty six it hopped out and rested itself on thirty.
“Thirty. Red. Even.”
The dealer placed his marker on the number then cleared the rest of the board with one swoop from his left arm. Another hundred dollars or so to the casino.
Martin leaned back in his chair to try to catch a glimpse of the game but the angle was terrible. He bent over the table to ask the same man as before.
“What’s the Laker’s score?”
“Tell ya what buddy, why don’t you tell me what you want the score to be and I’ll tell you when it gets there.”
“Place your bet’s gentlemen.”
Martin grabbed another twenty baby blue chips and scattered them in stacks of five on the sixes. He then stood up to check the score himself. The Lakers were up by twenty six now with just under two minutes left. The line was twenty two and Martin had bet the Lakers to beat the spread. He needed the Lakers to beat the spread. Everything depended on the Lakers beating the spread.
He trudged back to the table in enough time to see the dealer declare no more bets. The ball bounced around, again almost finding a home on the twenty six before ricocheting out like last time and landing on the zero.
“Zero. Green,” Announced the dealer. The other man at the table won just over fifty dollars. Martin sneered.
“The one time I don’t split the zeroes,” he mumbled to himself. “Of course it hits the one fucking time I don’t split the zeroes.”
“So are you a big Laker’s fan?” The man asked as he collected his yellow chips, leaving a couple behind for the dealer.
“Only if they beat the spread.”
“Who they against? Detroit right? Damn that must have been one hell of a spread. What was it like twenty?”
“Twenty two.” Martin replied, annoyed that he was breaking his own gambler’s code by even mentioning it.
“And they’re up by what...ugh...twenty six?”
Martin nodded his head as he moved the twenty baby blue chips around. Six - Sixteen - Twenty Six - Thirty Six. The dealer spun.
“Relax, you’re looking pretty good. They’re in the final two minutes. The name’s Dan. Nice to meet ya.” Dan extended his hand towards Martin. Martin shook it meekly. He was a little embarrassed over how sweaty his palms were but yet still incredibly uninterested in making a good impression at the same time.
“No more bets,” announced the dealer waving his hand.
“And you are…”
“Martin. It’s nice to meet you,” Martin replied without lifting up his head. His eyes were focused on shuffling the remaining twenty dollars in chips he had in front of him. He didn’t even look up to see the ball land.
“Seventeen. Black. Odd,” announced the dealer. Martin moved the final stack around. Six - Sixteen - Twenty Six - Thirty Six. He then got up and walked over to watch the game. The Pistons had forced a foul on Gasol, but he missed both of his free throws so the Pistons had the ball again down by twenty two with a little over a minute and half.
“Why the fuck are you fouling?” Martin asked the Detroit Pistons through the television. “You’re down by twenty six. Just fucking lose.”
He dragged himself back over to the roulette table in enough time to see the dealer swiping all of his blue chips off the board. Dan had hit his zero again and was all smiles about it. Martin began mumbling math under his breath.
“Down three hundred, plus another two at craps. Seven to six odds. It was worth it. It’s worth it.”
He walked back over to the T.V. in enough time to see the game go to a commercial.
“Hey yo, Martin? How much are the Laker’s ahead?” shouted Dan from across the floor.
“Twenty six!” Martin shouted back as he headed toward the ATM, still talking to himself. “I can collect on Wednesday, get paid on friday. The money will hold over. I can collect on Wednesday. Pay Jenny on Thursday, get paid on Friday.”
He swiped Jenny’s card, punched in her PIN, and accepted the five dollar surcharge before withdrawing the remaining two hundred dollar cash balance before heading back toward the roulette table. He approached as the dealer waived his hand, signaling no more bets.
“Let’s hope for twenty six, huh Marty?”
Martin looked up to see Dan with ten dollars on twenty six. He gripped his hands into fists as the ball dropped down, rebounding off the wheel, and continuing to jump around the numbers until it fell casually on twenty six.
“Twenty six. Black. Even.”
“Hell yeah! Now that’s a come up! What are the Laker’s at now?”
Martin shook his head in disgust.
“Nickels please,” he told the dealer pushing the ten fresh twenties across the board.
“Nickels inside,” the dealer repeats, pushing two stacks of red back over to him. Martin placed his bets on the four sixes before walking back over to the game. Less than a minute left now; Laker’s are up by twenty four with the ball. Twenty seconds left on the shot clock.
“C’mon Marty! How much they up?”
“Twenty four!” Martin shouted in Dan’s direction. He watched as Dan quickly dropped ten dollars down on twenty four. The wheel spun.
Gasol got fouled again and walked up to the line. He missed the first attempt almost in line with Dan hitting again, this time on twenty four. Dan’s uproarious cheer from the table made Martin sick. He walked back over and placed his chips on the four sixes, this go around doubling his normal bet to make it forty total. Dan smiled in his direction but Martin did not reciprocate. At very least not until he walked back over to the T.V. in enough time to watch Gasol make his second free throw attempt, putting the Laker’s up twenty five.
“What’s the good word Martin? Where they at?”
“Up twenty five!” Martin shouted back. His phone began to vibrate and Jenny’s name came up on the screen. After a deep breathe he answered.
“Hey baby.”
“Hey, where are you? Are we still going out for dinner?”
“Umm, hell baby I forgot about dinner. I’m downstairs on a hot streak right now.”
Silence.
“What’s wrong baby?”
“Martin...honey you should’t be gambling. I thought we talked about this.”
“Baby I’m about to win big on the Lakers.”
“I knew we shouldn't have come here. We should have just gone on that cruise like my mom had said.”
“Baby did you hear me? I’m about to win big on the Lakers!”
“Twenty five! Son of a bitch! Unbelievable!” Dan shouted from across the room. Martin squinted his eyes and saw the board light up with the numbers twenty five.
“Wait a minute. God dammit Martin! Did you take your bosses deposit money?”
Silence
“God dammit! Martin, that’s over five thousand dollars! You’re gonna lose your job!” Martin cringed as soon as Jenny mentioned the five thousand dollars. That was his Laker’s bet; the one he wasn’t supposed to talk about.
“I’m coming down. Don’t move! And please stop gambling!”
“Baby it’s okay. Really. I’m winning, we’re winning. We’re going to win big baby!”
“Don’t move!” Jenny shouted through the phone. Martin looked toward the game. The Laker’s were up by twenty three with the ball and the shot clock unplugged. The Pistons had no chance to win but Martin still had a chance to lose. In order for that to happen Detroit would have to force a foul, get the ball back, and score. The likelihood of Detroit even bothering to force a foul down twenty three was so slim, that when it happened, it made Martin’s stomach twitch.
“Twenty six again! Hell yeah!” Dan shouted, high fiveing anybody and everybody around him. Martin ran back to the table. His hundred and forty, or rather Jenny’s hundred and forty, was still sitting there on the sidelines. He cursed himself for forgetting to bet and tripled up this time to make up for it. He then, put the remaining eighty on black on ran back to the T.V. where a small crowd was forming.
“What’s going on here?” He asked a young man in the center of the group.
“Detroit just forced a foul on LA, down by twenty three! Haha, you believe that shit? Damn, what was the spread on this game Phil?”
“I think it was twenty one, or twenty two.”
“Damn, some poor son-of-a-bitch is sweating over this shit, huh?”
Martin heard them but he wasn’t listening. All of his focus was on the game. Bynum had two free throws and even if he missed both of them, Detroit would only have six seconds left. It was still looking good, but it should have been over by now.
Bynum shot and made his first free throw. Martin smiled and tapped his knee in approval. He caught a glimpse of Jenny walking out of the elevator doors and flagged her over to watch.
Bynum lined up on the second throw and hit the rim. The ball bounced into the hands of a Piston’s point guard.
Jenny made her way up the ramp, shaking her head.
Six seconds left.
The player maneuvered up the court.
“Seriously Martin, no more gambling. Do you have any idea how screwed we would be in if you lost that five grand?”
Four seconds left.
“Three. Red. Odd,” announced the dealer as he dragged Martin’s hundred and forty dollar bet towards the casinos side of the table.
The player stepped over the three point line and into the paint.
Three seconds left.
“I’ll be right back honey. I’m just going to withdraw some money real quick for dinner. When I get back, we are leaving mister. No arguments.”
Two seconds left.
Jenny walked toward the ATM machines.
The player fired the ball back to his teammate behind the three point line.
One second left.
His teammate shot the ball towards the net. The buzzer went off. The light on the backboard illuminated. The ball went in for the three...never touching the rim.

Final score: Lakers - 110 | Pistons - 89

“Hey babe, have you seen my debit card?” asked Jenny as she fumbled through her purse. She looked back up at Martin who hand’t taken his eyes off the screen. “Wow honey. You were really right about those Lakers. Just to be on the safe side though, I should probably carry the rest of our money. Honestly, I don’t even know what I would have done if you had lost that five grand.”

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Beethovenfan
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Re: Literary Fiction - Untitled

Post by Beethovenfan » August 18th, 2012, 4:20 am

Whew! That was really exciting! I don't know anything about gambling, but this really held my atrention. Your pacing was great - started out walking, introducing characters and setting. Then ramping it up with the roulette wheel, and at the end, with all eyes on the ball game... It was excellent.

The dialogues are very good too. They are believable, sound the way people really talk, and really moved the story along. Awesome writing. Really.
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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Philabuster
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Re: Literary Fiction - Untitled

Post by Philabuster » August 20th, 2012, 12:25 pm

Thank you! I needed that haha.

It also means a lot coming from someone who isn't really into gambling. The rest of the book has nothing to do with gambling and I was worried that the first chapter may turn some people off.

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LurkingVirologist
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Re: Literary Fiction - Untitled

Post by LurkingVirologist » August 20th, 2012, 11:40 pm

Nicely done. I'm not a gambler, but everything was understandable, or close enough that I could approximate without breaking the narrative (which is sometimes even better, since it creates a sense of eavesdropping on an unfamiliar world). I agree about the dialogue, it was fast and loose enough to sound realistic, and that's critical for a classic setup like the down-on-his-luck gambler. If I were thumbing through this in a bookstore, I'd be inclined to sit down and knock out another 5 or 10 pages with an option to buy.
"Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic." -Carl Sagan

GeeGee55
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Re: Literary Fiction - Untitled

Post by GeeGee55 » September 17th, 2012, 12:58 am

Philabuster wrote:

I read this the other day and it interested me enough that I came back to leave comments. The dialogue is very good, but I think you might depend upon it a little too much because you know it's good.

For me, this begins in the wrong place. It is your job as a literary writer to give me, the reader, a sense of the 5w's right away and I think there's a better sentence embedded further into the work. Try this:

Steadily down since he started a couple of hours ago, Martin shuffled the sixty dollars in front of him as the dealer spun the wheel. (It tells me immediately the situation and the character and the coming conflict.)

“What’s the Laker’s score?” he said.
“Lakers still up twenty seven. How many times you gonna ask me that?”
“Every minute until the game’s over.”
Martin grabbed a stack of baby blue chips and moved them around the board (this could be more clear - moved them how? be precise). He always played the same numbers. Everything six - all the time. Six, sixteen, twenty six, and thirty six. When he felt frisky he’d split the zeroes, or go hard on a random number looking for a quick hit. Good
“How much you got riding on it?”
“A lot.”
“How much is a lot?”
“Enough to make me want to ask the score every minute till the games over.”
He wasn’t trying to be rude to the man, even though that’s how it came off. Once a bet was in play Martin made a point to never talk about it until it was done. A gambler’s superstition, one which he played very close to the chest.
“No more bets,” the dealer proclaimed said, waving his hand over top the board for the eye in the sky. Martin watched as the ball dropped and bounced erratically off the spinning wheel. After looking at first that as if is correct, not that it would land on twenty six it hopped out and rested itself on thirty.
“Thirty. Red. Even.”
The dealer placed his marker on the number then cleared the rest of the board with one swoop from his left arm. Another hundred dollars or so to the casino.
Martin leaned back in his chair to try to catch a glimpse of the game on the televison across the room but the angle was terrible. He bent over the table to ask the same man as before.
“What’s the Laker’s score?”
“Tell ya what buddy, why don’t you tell me what you want the score to be and I’ll tell you when it gets there.”
“Place your bet’s gentlemen.” the dealer said.
Martin grabbed another twenty baby blue chips and scattered them in stacks of five on the sixes. He then stood up to check the score himself. The Lakers were up by twenty six now with just under two minutes left. The line was twenty two and Martin had bet the Lakers to beat the spread. He needed the Lakers to beat the spread. Everything depended on the Lakers beating the spread.
He trudged back to the table in enough time to see hear the dealer declare say," no more bets." The ball bounced around, again almost finding a home on the twenty six before ricocheting out like the last time and landing on the zero.
“Zero. Green,” Announced the dealer. The other man give him a description - the fat guy at the table, the thin man at the table won just over fifty dollars. Martin sneered.
“The one time I don’t split the zeroes,” he mumbled to himself. “Of course it hits the one fucking time I don’t split the zeroes.”
“So are you a big Laker’s fan?” The man asked as he collected his yellow chips, leaving a couple behind for the dealer.
“Only if they beat the spread.”
“Who they against? Detroit right? Damn that must have been one hell of a spread. What was it like twenty?”
“Twenty two.” Martin replied, annoyed that he was breaking his own gambler’s code by even mentioning it.
“And they’re up by what...ugh...twenty six?”
Martin nodded his head as he moved the twenty baby blue chips around. Six - Sixteen - Twenty Six - Thirty Six. The dealer spun.
“Relax, you’re looking pretty good. They’re in the final two minutes. The name’s Dan. Nice to meet ya.” Dan extended his hand towards Martin. Martin shook it meekly. He was a little embarrassed over how sweaty his palms were but yet - choose one still incredibly uninterested in making a good impression at the same time.
“No more bets,” announced the dealer waving his hand.
“And you are…”
“Martin. It’s nice to meet you,” Martin replied without shifting his focus from his hands shuffling the remaining twenty dollars in chips he had in front of him. He didn’t even look up to see the ball land.
“Seventeen. Black. Odd,” announced the dealer. Martin moved the final stack around. Six - Sixteen - Twenty Six - Thirty Six. He then got up and walked over to watch the game. The Pistons had forced a foul on Gasol, but he missed both of his free throws so the Pistons had the ball again down by twenty two with a little over a minute and half.
“Why the fuck are you fouling?” Martin asked the Detroit Pistons through the television. “You’re down by twenty six. Just fucking lose.”
He dragged himself back over to the roulette table in enough time to see the dealer swiping all of his blue chips off the board. Dan had hit his zero again and was all smiles about it. Martin began mumbling math under his breath.
“Down three hundred, plus another two at craps. Seven to six odds. It was worth it. It’s worth it.”
He walked back over to the T.V. in enough time to see the game go to a commercial.
“Hey yo, Martin? How much are the Laker’s ahead?” shouted Dan from across the floor.
“Twenty six!” Martin shouted back as he headed toward the ATM, still talking to himself. “I can collect on Wednesday, get paid on Friday. The money will hold over. I can collect on Wednesday. Pay Jenny on Thursday, get paid on Friday.”
He swiped Jenny’s card, punched in her PIN, and accepted the five dollar surcharge before withdrawing the remaining two hundred dollar cash balance before heading back toward the roulette table. He approached as the dealer waived his hand, signaling no more bets.
“Let’s hope for twenty six, huh Marty?”
Martin looked up to see Dan put ten dollars on twenty six. He gripped his hands into fists as the ball dropped down, rebounding off the wheel, and continuing to jump around the numbers until it fell casually on twenty six.
“Twenty six. Black. Even.”
“Hell yeah! Now that’s a come up! What are the Laker’s at now?”
Martin shook his head in disgust.
“Nickels please,” he told the dealer, pushing the ten fresh twenties across the board. Needs the comma, otherwise it reads as if the dealer is doing the pushing. “Nickels inside,” the dealer repeats, pushing two stacks of red back over to him. Martin placed his bets on the four sixes before walking back over to the game. Less than a minute left now; Laker’s are up by twenty four with the ball. Twenty seconds left on the shot clock.
“C’mon Marty! How much they up?”
“Twenty four!” Martin shouted in Dan’s direction. He watched as Dan quickly dropped ten dollars down on twenty four. The wheel spun.
Gasol got fouled again and walked up to the line. He missed the first attempt almost in line in time with with Dan hitting again, this time on twenty four. Dan’s uproarious cheer from the table made Martin sick. He walked back over and placed his chips on the four sixes, this go around doubling his normal bet to make it forty total. Dan smiled in his direction but Martin did not reciprocate. At very least not until he walked back over to the T.V. in enough time to watch Gasol make his second free throw attempt, putting the Laker’s up twenty five.
“What’s the good word Martin? Where they at?”
“Up twenty five!” Martin shouted back. His phone began to vibrate and Jenny’s name came up on the screen. After a deep breathe he answered.
“Hey baby.”
“Hey, where are you? Are we still going out for dinner?”
“Umm, hell baby I forgot about dinner. I’m downstairs on a hot streak right now.”
Silence.
“What’s wrong baby?”
“Martin...honey you should’t be gambling. I thought we talked about this.”
“Baby I’m about to win big on the Lakers.”
“I knew we shouldn't have come here. We should have just gone on that cruise like my mom had said.”
“Baby did you hear me? I’m about to win big on the Lakers!”
“Twenty five! Son of a bitch! Unbelievable!” Dan shouted from across the room. Martin squinted his eyes and saw the board light up with the numbers twenty five.
“Wait a minute. God dammit Martin! Did you take your bosses deposit money?”
Silence
“God dammit! Martin, that’s over five thousand dollars! You’re gonna lose your job!” Martin cringed as soon as Jenny mentioned the five thousand dollars. - I'd delete this, not necessary That was his Laker’s bet; the one he wasn’t supposed to talk about.
“I’m coming down. Don’t move! And please stop gambling!”
“Baby it’s okay. Really. I’m winning, we’re winning. We’re going to win big baby!”
“Don’t move!” Jenny shouted through the phone. Martin looked toward the game. The Laker’s were up by twenty three with the ball and the shot clock unplugged. The Pistons had no chance to win but Martin still had a chance to lose. In order for that to happen Detroit would have to force a foul, get the ball back, and score. The likelihood of Detroit even bothering to force a foul down twenty three was so slim, that when it happened, it made Martin’s stomach twitch.
“Twenty six again! Hell yeah!” Dan shouted, high fiveing anybody and everybody around him. Martin ran back to the table. His hundred and forty, or rather Jenny’s hundred and forty, was still sitting there on the sidelines. He cursed himself for forgetting to bet and tripled up this time to make up for it. He then, put the remaining eighty on black on ran back to the T.V. where a small crowd was forming.
“What’s going on here?” He asked a young man in the center of the group.
“Detroit just forced a foul on LA, down by twenty three! Haha, you believe that shit? Damn, what was the spread on this game Phil?”
“I think it was twenty one, or twenty two.”
“Damn, some poor son-of-a-bitch is sweating over this shit, huh?”
Martin heard them but he wasn’t listening. All of his focus was on the game. Bynum had two free throws and even if he missed both of them, Detroit would only have six seconds left. It was still looking good, but it should have been over by now.
Bynum shot and made his first free throw. Martin smiled and tapped his knee in approval. He caught a glimpse of Jenny walking out of the elevator doors and flagged her over to watch.
Bynum lined up on the second throw and hit the rim. The ball bounced into the hands of a Piston’s point guard.
Jenny made her way up the ramp, shaking her head.
Six seconds left.
The player maneuvered up the court.
“Seriously Martin, no more gambling. Do you have any idea how screwed we would be in if you lost that five grand?”
Four seconds left.
“Three. Red. Odd,” announced the dealer as he dragged Martin’s hundred and forty dollar bet towards the casinos side of the table.
The player stepped over the three point line and into the paint.
Three seconds left.
“I’ll be right back honey. I’m just going to withdraw some money real quick for dinner. When I get back, we are leaving mister. No arguments.”
Two seconds left.
Jenny walked toward the ATM machines.
The player fired the ball back to his teammate behind the three point line.
One second left.
His teammate shot the ball towards the net. The buzzer went off. The light on the backboard illuminated. The ball went in for the three...never touching the rim.

Final score: Lakers - 110 | Pistons - 89

“Hey babe, have you seen my debit card?” asked Jenny as she fumbled through her purse. This doesn't quite ring true after the previous convo - I think she might give him supreme hell, and if her debit card is missing she might suspect he took it. She looked back up at Martin who hand’t taken his eyes off the screen. “Wow honey. You were really right about those Lakers. Just to be on the safe side though, I should probably carry the rest of our money. Honestly, I don’t even know what I would have done if you had lost that five grand.”


This has lots going for it - lots of action and conflict and very good dialogue. Martin obviously has a problem with gambling and you've let his actions speak for themselves, which is also good. I do wonder though why you spend so much time setting this up if the rest of the story doesn't involve gambling? And if you're writing literary work, you must pay attention to proper grammar.

Good luck with your story.

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Beethovenfan
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Re: Literary Fiction - Untitled

Post by Beethovenfan » September 17th, 2012, 2:44 am

I don't know, I think with Literary Fiction you can get away with not using conventions more than with other genres. And, I think in this instance it actually works quite well. Lit. Fic. is more about being multilayered and complex, bringing out voice and characterization. Sometimes, the best way to do that is to do it in new and different ways.
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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