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Eicca
June 16th, 2014, 05:54 AM
I'd like to think this is sufficiently compelling to know the rest of the story. Positive criticism most welcome!

-----------

Red and blue light strobed on metal hoods and blacked-out windows. It was an all-too-common sight in the city; the lights, the yellow tape, the road flares, the officers standing outside the ring of cars, ushering people by. Nobody really wanted to see anyway, even though they always looked. It was just another bloody crime scene. The usual. Part of the everyday life. That was the norm, heads kept low, paces brisk, everybody trying to play their cards, get where they were going, praying that today wasn’t the day they were dealt the losing hand.


But for somebody, that deal always came. Every night somebody’s card was picked. Tonight that someone sat on the curb with his face in his hands, right in the middle it all. No tears leaked between his fingers. He just sat there, numb with shock, trying to reason with what had happened. Barely a week ago he had been on that hot California sand, surrounded by women and lemonade, not a care in the world. How quickly things change. He raised his head, his piercing blue eyes wishing death on everything around him.


New York City. How he hated it. That city was the embodiment of his past. Dark alleyways of fear and uncertainty. Pride as tall and cold as the steel that pricked the sky. Tumultuous chaos that left his mind as filthy as the streets. Millions of thoughts wandered about, wanting never to be disturbed. A stench of sadness--cigarettes, alcohol, drugs--filled his lungs to suffocation. He had worked so hard to leave it all behind. He had vowed never to return.


Somehow, by bad luck, coincidence, an act of God, he didn’t know, he didn’t care… He was back. The demons he had left to die wasted no time trying to destroy him again.


The city had always fought dirty and had only gotten worse during his absence. The wounds that had taken years to heal now oozed freely, ripped open by the sight of his brother bleeding to death on the sidewalk in front of him.


Fresh new images joined the old: gold badges, flashing lights, the car door open wide like the jaws of a shark. Flailing fists. The knife blade, shiny, black, three inches long, spring-loaded. Agony twisting his brother’s face. Guns, suddenly, everywhere, pointing at him. The CIA. Medics. An ambulance. The agent forcing him behind cover. He couldn’t see, was he alive? Was he alive??

Greimour
June 16th, 2014, 06:58 AM
I could continue reading that, you could tighten it up a bit though.

You have mixed pacing in your words and grammar. The tone wavers a little as you progress. I think you could really drive the nail home in one blow with a few alterations.

Not saying to go ahead with this or anything, but if you drop a few commas or change a little bit here and there- the pace will be much steadier and have a higher impact. That's my opinion anyway:


Red and blue light strobed on metal hoods and blacked-out windows. It was an all-too-common sight in the city; the lights, the yellow tape, the road flares, the officers standing outside the ring of cars, ushering people by. Nobody really wanted to see anyway, even though they always looked. It was just another bloody crime scene. The usual. Part of the everyday life. That was the norm, heads kept low, paces brisk, everybody trying to play their cards, get where they were going, praying that today wasn’t the day they were dealt the losing hand.

Red and Blue lights strobed on metal hoods and blacked-out windows. It was an all too common sight in the city; flashing lights, yellow tape, road flares and officers ushering people by. People didn't really want to see, but they always looked just the same. Just another bloody crime scene. The usual. Every day life - the norm. Heads low, brisk pace and eyes averted. [... continue this to finish the paragraph anyway you see fit. Such as with mention of people just wanting to get home before it was their ticket that gets punched.]

***

Don't think the card references are needed yet, you can do that when you have a suspect or something. Will have a bigger impact when it is directly compared to a person in the scene. Someone who is staying tight lipped or judging his hand before making his bet.

***

As I said, not saying to go with what I wrote -not at all - just hoping to show that a few simple (very simple) changes can change the pace, tone and weight. Mine was a loose example but if you read both out loud, I think you will at least get what I am saying. The tempo is different but the words are the same. [mostly]

Anywho, this isn't really my genre but I liked it ... and you had that classical cynical film noir-esque feel in the narration.

Anyway, like I said - at this point, I would continue reading.


~Kev.

Eicca
June 17th, 2014, 05:15 AM
Thanks for your suggestions! One of my biggest challenges is definitely delivering the biggest punch in the most efficient way. There's a fine line between "cool" and "excess," if you know what I mean.

bazz cargo
June 19th, 2014, 08:56 PM
Hi Eicca,
long time no read.

Great imagery, by sheer coincidence I have a part written story parked on my hard drive with a similar opening. I will now have to change it.
Good teasers, lots of questions and a hint of an interesting character.
Nice flow, easy read with no 'what?' moments.
I would read on.
BC

Additional, I wonder if arrogance rather than pride would be better?

qwertyman
June 20th, 2014, 01:39 PM
I'd like to think this is sufficiently compelling to know the rest of the story.

Short answer, yes definitely . Most of the images I took on board without hesitation. Here are a few picky comments.


Nobody really wanted to see anyway, even though they always looked. Not sure about that. People are inquisitive they want to see the drama. Have you ever passed a car crash?


But for somebody, that deal always came. Every night somebody’s card was picked. Tonight that someone sat on the curb with his face in his hands,... I would name 'that someone'. You have to do it sometime, get his name on the page. The beginning of a story involves introducing several characters names. If you can space them out the reader has a better chance of retaining them.


New York City. How he hated it. That city was the embodiment of his past. Dark alleyways of fear and uncertainty. The middle sentence strains the POV identity. I am sure he isn't thinking, 'this city embodies my past'. It's a comment from an omniscient observer.


A stench of sadness--cigarettes, alcohol, drugs--filled his lungs to suffocation. This is probably me but 'stench of sadness' seems wrong. The sad stench of ... seems to work better.



The city had always fought dirty and had only gotten worse during his absence. The wounds that had taken years to heal now oozed freely, ripped open by the sight of his brother bleeding to death on the sidewalk in front of him.

Only my opinion, but I think it's time for a line of dialogue in this para. "Do you know this man?" said a man flashing a gold badge... and save the 'He's my brother' for the answer.

*

Good.

Terry D
June 20th, 2014, 03:42 PM
This is just my opinion, but you seem to be trying way too hard to make the scene dramatic by throwing out image after image instead of choosing one or two and letting them create the drama as the story unfolds. A little Tabasco adds flavor, too much ruins the dish. It is also six paragraphs of flash, but no action. Nothing actually happens. Take your time, but tell the story of the scene don't simply describe it.

Eicca
June 20th, 2014, 06:08 PM
I did a revision with a few things in mind: I'm better at dialogue, things need to keep happening, and excess description does not a story make.

Here's a chunk of the revision, tell me whatchya think

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

“Hey. You okay?”


He didn’t move. He stayed where he was, sitting against the wheel of the police car with his face in his hands.


The voice, female, grew more persistent. “Baron. Are you okay?”


Leave me alone. He continued to ignore her, until something tapped his foot.


“Private! Answer me!”


He sprang to his feet, shouting inches from her face: “Do I look like I’m okay?! Do you think I can watch my brother get stabbed in the gut and still be…” The words jammed in his throat. He smashed a fist into the police car, denting the Y in NYPD.


The officer was on him in seconds, slamming him against the car. “You wanna try that again?” His breath reeked of cheap coffee.


“Do you job,” Baron snapped, pushing the officer away. “Honestly, if you showed half the interest in the crime as you did your stupid car…!”


The officer spun him around, pinning him again, face to the glass. He heard the rattle of handcuffs and began to thrash.


The stun gun came out instantly, fired up with a nasty popping, when the woman stepped between them. “Stop!” She flicked strands of red hair out of her eyes and shoved the officer further away. “Stop. Seriously. Leave him alone. Finish collecting the casings or something.”


“Yes, Miss Rothlin,” said the officer as patronizingly as he could, clearly despising the fact that someone young as she was could order him around.


She turned back to Baron, who was again on his haunches, surveying the scene. His piercing blue eyes wished death on everything.


He recoiled slightly when she sat next to him. “With all due respect, Agent Rothlin,” he said just as sarcastically, “go away.”


She fixed him with a steady glare. “Really? I’m trying to help you.”


“Yeah, just like they are.” He pointed at the cops, who seemed unconcerned, even bored. This was just another day in the city for them. More paperwork. Violent crimes were all they ever responded to anymore, and they were clearly accustomed to it. They exchanged small talk and casually took down the yellow tape, oblivious to what he was going through. He was nervous wreck sitting smack in the middle of it all, and nobody seemed to care.


“You know what?” she began, irritated, then stopped herself.


Baron jumped into her silence. “Doesn’t CIA crap happen overseas anyway? You shouldn’t even be here.”


“Well I am,” she retorted, standing up. “Forget it. If you don’t want to talk, there’s nothing I can do.”


“Wait.” He took a deep, shuddering breath. “Any word from the ambulance?”


She paused, then shook her head.

Terry D
June 20th, 2014, 07:15 PM
I like that much better. Things are happening now. The reader is part of the story. There are a couple of bumps I'd like to point out: First, you start out writing from Baron's POV, but in the 12th paragraph, the one that starts with 'She turned back to Baron...' you slip into her POV (His piercing blue eyes wished death on everything.) The second thing I noticed was a great example of the old 'rule' of show don't tell. In the 11th paragraph you write--"Yes, Miss Rothlin," said the officer as patronizingly as he could (another POV shift here, you have to be in the officer's head to know this), clearly despising the fact that someone young as she was could order him around. This is a perfect opportunity to show the reader his disdain for her by writing about his voice, his facial expression, or body language. If you are writing from Baron's POV it might be something like; "Yes, Miss Rothlin," the cop said. What Baron heard--and he was sure Rothlin did too--was, "Fuck you, Miss Rothlin." I'm not trying to rewrite your story; just giving an example. Good luck with this, it's a genre I really like.

Eicca
June 20th, 2014, 07:24 PM
The POV issue is definitely something I'm learning to work on. My first draft was a POV-switching nightmare. Thanks for the suggestions on smoothing those out, I can apply those in other places as well!

Terry D
June 20th, 2014, 07:34 PM
:scratch: It's always easier to see issues like that in someone else's work, isn't it?:cookie:

son_of_lockman
June 25th, 2014, 05:46 PM
That's New York City and good. :)

A_Jones
June 25th, 2014, 09:01 PM
New York City. How he hated it. That city was the embodiment of his past. Dark alleyways of fear and uncertainty. Pride as tall and cold as the steel that pricked the sky. Tumultuous chaos that left his mind as filthy as the streets. Millions of thoughts wandered about, wanting never to be disturbed. A stench of sadness--cigarettes, alcohol, drugs--filled his lungs to suffocation. He had worked so hard to leave it all behind. He had vowed never to return.


I liked this paragraph. Very nice use of metaphor as well as good imagery. I would highly suggest this paragraph be moved to the first. To open a book and read that would instantly hook me. As it is I had trouble wanting to continue past the first sentence. After this paragraph I got very confused and wasnt sure what was going on.

Hope this helps!

Eicca
June 26th, 2014, 05:12 AM
I liked this paragraph. Very nice use of metaphor as well as good imagery. I would highly suggest this paragraph be moved to the first. To open a book and read that would instantly hook me. As it is I had trouble wanting to continue past the first sentence. After this paragraph I got very confused and wasnt sure what was going on.

Hope this helps!

Is this in reference to the original post or the revised segment (which has it's own thread here (http://www.writingforums.com/threads/148386-Opening-segment-take-two?p=1746652#post1746652))?

HumanYoYo
July 30th, 2014, 03:19 AM
Very cool imagery. Dark and gritty and emotionally intense - reminds me of something out of Sin City. I liked the way you described the crime scene, and the way people act as they drift by.
As others have stated, the pacing could be worked on a bit. It seems that you are 'telling' more than you are 'showing.' Although that could just be because this scene seems to take place after the action. It does make me want to know what happened, and what will happen next.
Anyway, cool noir tone.
Keep up the good work.

Eicca
July 30th, 2014, 04:44 AM
I have since completely redone the opening. And finished all of chapter 1, in fact. If anyone wants to give it a lookin' let me know