PDA

View Full Version : Does it work?



Olly Buckle
September 21st, 2010, 11:22 PM
Does it work, I was trying to get the total exasperation and anger across but found it interfering with the dialogue, does it work?

Bus stop.

Three o’clock, Thursday afternoon, coming up for school run time. Harris was a good and experienced driver, he’d been on the busses fifteen years and he still enjoyed it. When you drive the same routes, day in day out, in both directions, you get to know the trouble spots, The places where an indefinable something makes drivers misjudge distance or speed. On a hot day, by mid afternoon, drivers who are still vigilant at the hazard points sometimes start to relax a little on the ‘easy’ bits.
Harris knew better than that, idiots are everywhere, and come in all shapes and sizes, he was driving properly, aware of everything to the horizon, back and front. There was not much, someone at the request stop a hundred yards ahead, two cars coming the other way, one well back behind him and an electric blue fiesta in the side road that made a T junction with the main road he was travelling on. There was no way of telling the Fiesta would not stop when it reached the junction. He managed to swing the bus out an extra four feet from the kerb and was almost stationary when it hit him, the little blue car had driven straight into the front nearside wing of a double-decker bus.
Harris had not had a good day for many and varied reasons, there had been quite a lead up. Now it had gone from being a not very good day to being a bad week. There would be an investigation, forms would be filled, overtime would be lost. There would be all sorts of hassle. Still, Harris had been on the job long enough to know the drill. Other than exchanging details, you say nothing and wait for an inspector or a policeman. As he got out of the cab he was annoyed but calm. The other driver had been blonde, and was again, she still dressed as she had when the blonde was natural. It had not been a good look when she was skinny, now she was scrawny it was worse. Her face was flat and without features, apart from the ones painted on. Her voice was a high pitched, whining insincerity that fractured reality. But it was what she said that broke Harris.
“Oooh, I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t see you.”
“You didn’t see me?” said Harris, and then again, voice rising in volume and pitch as he lost it “You didn’t see me?”. Total incredulity and a profanity found their way into the third ejaculation of the phrase and Harris was turning a colour to match his bus. Gesturing towards the vehicle he loudly demonstrated the impossibility of the statement,
“Lady, it’s fifteen foot tall, eight feet wide and forty foot long” He outlined the bus with his hands as he spoke, by now he was turning purple, “And its painted bright f***ing red, how can you tell me you didn’t see it?” He was almost shouting as he finished with a hopeless, downward sweep of his arms.
“Oooh” she said “I’m ever so sorry.”
Luckily that was the moment the police car turned up.

Kat
September 21st, 2010, 11:33 PM
He doesn't seem angry until he starts talking. More like exasperated. I have to tell you that it made me laugh. "I didn't see." Ha!

garza
September 21st, 2010, 11:52 PM
Delightful, Olly. Yes, it certainly does work.

It reminds me of a police traffic officer I knew many years ago. He collected the excuses people gave for causing accidents. His favourite was, 'You can't blame me, I was drunk'.

The Backward OX
September 22nd, 2010, 12:29 AM
Total exasperation, he says? That’s what I felt, just now. My own fault, I suppose. I’d come to the computer armed with my first cup of java for the day, made sure the word processor wasn’t having a hissy fit again, and was about to open my story file. Oh, what the heck, let’s see what the rest of the world’s been up to while I slept. And now I'm committed to going over your writing instead of getting on with mine.

So, your preface had me lost. Interfering with the dialogue? What’s he on about this time? My gut reaction was that exasperation and anger are expressed with dialogue.

Made a fool of myself there, didn’t I, with my opening words, this post. Okay, let’s see what it’s all about.

Right. My second reaction had been that you have nothing to worry about on the count of successfully combining exasperation and anger with dialogue. I thought you’d done a good job. Note the past tense.

And then, finally, I think I figured out what you were getting at. I've told you before, I’m a slow learner.

The phrase ‘third ejaculation’ refers, I assume, to the ‘fifteen foot tall, bright f***ing red’. I think what you’ve done here is use both Tell and Show, when only Show is needed. Some bits of the Tell however need to be retained - the bits about how his complexion changes colour and about the gesturing. Maybe you could add a few words about the turning red into the ‘You didn’t see me’ sentence, and forget about the turning purple bit. And the gesturing could be simply ‘He gestured towards the bus’ full stop. (I used ‘bus’ rather than ‘vehicle’, thinking the shorter word packed more punch; but that’s just me). The ‘impossibility’ phrase is merely another unneeded Tell, as the Show of the dialogue says it all.

You may find, if you try some of what I’ve outlined, that the “interference” has gone away.

There were also a couple of minor nits I could of mentioned; instead, I’ll note this one, not so minor, a trap you’ve fallen into in the past:

“The other driver had been blonde, and was again, she still dressed as she had when the blonde was natural. It had not been a good look when she was skinny”

Apart from a minor punctuation error, what I didn’t like here was the changed narration. The story up to this point has been third person limited; now it suddenly changes to third omniscient, and within a paragraph that’s just not on.

Hope that helps. Good story, by the way. Realistic.

Olly Buckle
September 22nd, 2010, 09:18 AM
The phrase ‘third ejaculation’ refers, I assume, to the ‘fifteen foot tall, bright f***ing red’. I think what you’ve done here is use both Tell and Show, Not often you read me wrong, no the third ejaculation of the only phrase he has used so far, ie, "You didn't f***ing see me!". Maybe I need both show and tell. I used vehicle as he is the same colour as the bus in the previous line.
Sorry I am not that aufait with tenses, is it that the narrator had no way of knowing that she was once a natural blonde? Surely that's prescient? And if you are going to tell me there is no way of knowing she was a natural blonde who decided to stay that way, well I thought you knew natural blondes better than that. Time for a second cup of Java?http://www.writingforums.com/images/icons/icon9.gif

Thank you every one, I am glad you enjoyed it, my other worry was that it was simply too trivial.

The Backward OX
September 22nd, 2010, 09:29 AM
Sorry I am not that aufait with tenses, is it that the narrator had no way of knowing that she was once a natural blonde?

In a word, yes.

Although 'tense' isn't the name of the game. Tense is past, present, future. What we're dealing with here is, I believe, 'narrative voice'.