Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tiny Drop the Needle #7

TITLE: Tell Me Something About Yourself I Don't
GENRE: Mainstream/Crime

93K finished and polished - this is the opening:

"I don't remember when I met Becky."

My job brings me in contact with journalists from all over the state. Sometimes a new one, usually from down south, realizes that I'm not just Vic Anderson, I'm that Vic Anderson. I was a big deal two decades ago.

"With all due respect, that's hard to believe," he said.

I wanted to hang up on him, but I need to be nice to these people.

"My mother claimed that we played in the same park as preschoolers, but I don't remember that. It was a small city. She wasn't in my high school, or my church, but I knew her from around."

That was true. At interfaith basketball games I would occasionally glance up from the court and see her perched on the outskirts of the pretty girls. She was also quick on the buzzer at the academic bowl. I used to sit in my school's alternates' row and cheer against her squad. She was always a smart girl.

"And you never had any sort of adolescent relationship with her?" Jesus, I thought. This is what passes for journalism nowadays? Sometimes I saw her at parties; is that a relationship? I remember her as the voice of reason:

"Let's not do that." "It's too late to go way out there." "I'll drive. You've had enough." She was brainy, flat-chested, and short.


  1. Honestly, I was confused a lot during this opening. The first "he said"... threw me. Who is he? Next line, I didn't realize this was a phone conversation. I thought it was in person. Who are "these people?"

    I do feel intrigued about Becky, wondering what happened to her, so I'd read a little longer to see what happens, but I'm not entirely hooked.

    Good luck.

  2. I was completely confused during the opening, too much hinting, not enough actual information - who's talking, what his reputation has to do with whether he knows this Becky or not. I'm just floundering until halfway through.

    BUT.. once I get oriented, I'm intrigued.

    Still, I'd rather have spent that time getting oriented. I'd rather know why a reporter is calling him about Becky, and why Vic Anderson was a big deal two decades ago in this first page. I can learn more about Becky later.

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  4. Some people aren't nuts about the opening line being dialogue.
    I got a little confused as to who was who in the zoo. Maybe clarify that for us.

  5. I think you changed verb tense when you said "I need to be nice to these people." Shouldn't it be "needed"? That said, I liked this a lot. I like how you have to keep reading to figure out what's going on. That's the whole point, right? To make your reader keep reading. Good job.

  6. I have to admit I was confused with this opening. I wasn't sure who was actually speaking the dialogue in places, the second paragraph I had to re-read several times to figure out what it meant, and I think you're missing a set of quotes in the second to last paragraph.

    I think if things were a little clearer it would hook me more, but I am intrigued about Becky, and why Vic was famous.

  7. Who is talking in the beginning?

    I don't know who "he" is in paragraph 3.

    I like your description of her being quick on the buzzer. And the brainy, flat-chested description.

    I think it would make it easier if you made it clearer who was talking in your dialogue.

    Good job!

  8. Confusing.

    Can't tell who is speaking, throughout, and the next to last paragraph seems to mix concepts.

    Not much here to pull me in: washed-up journalist and a missing girl who was smart, flat-chested, and short. I'm guessing there's a good story here, but I'm not finding it.

  9. It was a bit confusing the first time I read it, but the second time around I understood. I would clarify who is speaking, and in the last few lines of dialogue, I'd give each speaker a new paragraph.

    However, this raises a few questions that I would continue reading to have answered.

  10. I had the same problem as everyone else. I think if you add an "I said," after the first line, the rest of the dialogue problem is solved. We'll know it's him speaking.

    The second parg. takes us out of the story. He's talking to someone on the phone, and then he stops to talk to me. I'd cut it. Get the info about him in through dialogue and action. The same is true of the - that was true - parg. It's the most common mistake people make in writing first person.

    I thought the story itself was intriguing and I'd read more. I feel like there's more here than meets the eye.

  11. I agree with the confusing, but I think it needs more than just an, "I said" to make it work. The next paragraph isn't related, and that actually threw me more than anything else. I was wondering who Becky was, and then it changed subjects to his job (which I'm uncertain about) and that he was a big name.

    I was reading the comments, though, and had a thought. Not sure if it would work, but it's an idea lol. ;) Basically, I was thinking instead of him telling us about journalists figuring out he's *that* Vic Anderson, why not show a bit more of the conversation. You could indicate earlier on that he's on the phone and start with the guy figuring it out. Maybe something like, "Vic Anderson, huh? You must hear a lot of jokes about that one," and Vic explaining that it's really him (or choosing not to, or whatever Vic would do).

    It would indicate that Vic's an important guy, that he's on the phone to a journalist, and be less confusing. The writing is good and I'd keep reading, but I have to admit, I had to reread the opening a few times to get it.