TITLE: A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS
GENRE: LITERARY FICTION
Nick had sensed for some weeks now that something important, something seismic, was about to happen. He didn't know what. But he could feel it there, hear the distant, whispering roar as the current drew him ever closer to the waterfall-edge of the future.
He poured himself more wine before going over to the desk and taking out a worn, old rosewood case. Opening it, he sat for a long time in the middle of the room caressing the heavy chunk of smooth, black steel, weighing it, turning it in his hands. So superbly engineered. So comforting to hold. So lethal.
In a sudden surge of anger, Nick snapped the loaded magazine into the hollow grip with the heel of his hand. In one swift-flowing movement, he whirled the swivel chair he was sitting on into a fierce, violent spin, pointing the black Beretta stiff-armed, two-handed in front of him. Treasured mementoes flashed past, in and out of the circling gun sights: laughing photographs, Art Deco dancers, Meissen figures, Japanese prints of lovers and warriors, Dutch oil paintings, each carrying their own story – each up for rapid-fire.
The first bullet hit his face in the mirror, smacking and fracturing it like a frozen pond. Then in rapid succession the photographs, the figures, the lamps exploded and splintered, fragments flying. He ejected the empty magazine and slammed in another, forcing the whirling chair even faster.
The gun leapt after each explosion and suddenly he half felt, half saw something hurtle past his ear.
Hello there! I'm a little bit new at giving others comments and critiques but I'm going to try my best. :)ReplyDelete
If this was a book I'd read on to see what happened next: especially with the title, I want to know if he did see something and why Nick reacted the way he did.
Having said that, personally I feel that the writing is a little bit overloaded with descriptions. For example,
"In one swift flowing movement, he whirled... violent spin..." I get that Nick is moving very quickly, and I think the additional adjectives weigh down the action.
It's a curious set up, but I'm not drawn in. Sorry.ReplyDelete
I don't like the "sudden burst of anger" that seemingly comes from nowhere.
The writing is solid, though. I think my pass is just a personal preference thing.
I wish there was at least one more sentence in here!ReplyDelete
This sounds a lot like the beginning of a good detective novel, and I wonder what it would sound like if you tried it in the traditional detective-novel first person.
I like the first paragraph, and the images of Nick holding the gun.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure about him shooting up the place, though. I guess I feel like I don't know enough about Nick yet to understand/have empathy for why why he's doing this. In the first graph, he seems thoughtful, but then he has a violent outburst. What made him snap? Where did this sudden surge come from?
I like the opening sentences. I've seen stronger hooks, but I didn't feel there was really anything lacking here.ReplyDelete
In this bit: "He didn't know what. But he could feel it there, hear the distant, whispering roar as the current drew him ever closer to the waterfall-edge of the future." I don't know what "there" refers to and it made me stumble. I love the metaphor of the waterfall, I REALLY do, but at the same time I started to ask myself if he was really in a boat. Just FYI.
Notice that the next two sentences both begin with "in". Changing that might aid the rhythm here. I'd suggest cutting the second "in one swift..." to read like this:
In a sudden surge of anger, Nick snapped the loaded magazine into the hollow grip with the heel of his hand. He whirled the swivel chair he was sitting on into a (( cut fierce/ echoing earlier mention of a little too much description)) violent spin, pointing the black Beretta stiff-armed, two-handed in front of him.
Is it mementoes or mementos? Which is correct? Anybody?
"each carrying their own story – each up for rapid-fire." --Love this.
The first bullet hit his face in the mirror, ((consider cutting smacking and)) fracturing it like a frozen pond.
The section as a whole DEFINITELY makes you want to read more/ know what happens next!
Although I agree with the others above that the writing is generally solid, this feels like the middle of a chapter rather than the beginning. I guess what I mean is that this doesn't seem like the right place to start.ReplyDelete
Here we are deep in the internal struggle of the main character, but because we don't yet know anything about him the scene doesn't have emotional impact (at least for me).
It would even be a little better if you cut the first paragraph entirely, and started with "Nick poured himself more wine..." because then we would be entrenched in action rather than lost in a fog of "something".
To completely contradict some of the previous commenters (don't you love it when that happens), I like where the story starts, but I think the writing still needs some work.ReplyDelete
I don't mind the sudden burst of anger. It shows me we're dealing with an unstable character. I'm willing to read on to find out what's wrong with him.
I think there's a lot of room, though, to tighten the prose. As others have mentioned, the scene is weighed down by adjectives and adverbs. There are also an awful lot of "ing" verbs, which create a passive feel.
For example, IMHO, "He poured himself more wine before going over to the desk and taking out a worn, old rosewood case" would be sharper as "He poured himself more wine, went to the desk, and took out a worn rosewood case." (You can delete "old," because "worn" implies it.)
Watch, also, for simultaneous actions that cannot be performed simultaneously. For example, this sentence, "Opening it, he sat for a long time in the middle of the room caressing the heavy chunk of smooth, black steel, weighing it, turning it in his hands" implies that he did all those things (sitting for a long time, caressing, weighing, turning) while he opened the case, when you really meant that he opened it and then sat, caressed, etc.
Good luck with this! It sounds like an interesting story.
Absolutely love this one. I particularly like the metaphor in the third sentence and the mirror 'fracturing like a frozen pond', and the juxtaposition of 'so comforting' and 'so lethal'. Am totally intrigued to discover what has made Nick lose his temper and shoot the room up like this. Am also intrigued to find out who Nick is and why he has a gun. I think it's an unusual beginning and would absolutely read on.ReplyDelete
Well, yes, I would read on. However, since folks are re-writing, I would switch around the first sentence. "Something seismic was about to happen. Nick had sensed it for some weeks now. He didn't know what, but he could feel it there." I like the idea of shooting knick knacks and mementos. The last sentence, "The gun leapt after each explosion and suddenly he half felt, half saw something hurtle past his ear." I would separate it into two. Maybe find another word to replace suddenly.ReplyDelete
Ooo! "Something seismic was about to happen." I love that!ReplyDelete
There's something about ambiguity that I find irksome. Most of this is lovely, like the obvious madness that overcomes Nick and the descriptions of his personal shooting spree. I enjoyed the frenzied feel of it and for a brief moment, I shared in his madness.ReplyDelete
It's the beginning that's ambiguous and floats untethered to anything that grounds the story to a rational start. Nick sensed something ominous about to happen. I strongly dislike this approach. It feels gimicky, which immediately makes me put up my guard.
The language is wonderful, the style and voice engaging, but that first paragraph shuts me down. FWIW.
I would keep reading!! Great mystery and setting description. So bizarre to start shooting up a room without seeming to have a reason. Very curious if someone was shooting back at the end.ReplyDelete
That said, I am also not a fan of the vague opening. "He sensed" reads the same as "He feels" to me, and it comes across as telling. The opening could be better if you tell the reader what made him sense the ominous events to follow - a serious of bad luck, a shadowy figure following him, a twitch in his left foot, the fact that he just heard a window break in another room of his house? We need a real reason to suspect danger is on the horizon.
I like this but think it's a tad melodramatic and over-written. By dialing back on some description, I think the action will read more smoothly. For instance, cut the word "ever" in the first para. I love "waterfall edge of the future." Cut "old" since you already say "worn." Cut "In a sudden surge of anger." I'd just like to see the action and try to figure out the emotion from the small details. This has a hard-boiled mystery kind of feel. Great details and action. Would definitely read more.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed this. Very suprising! I’d definitely read more.ReplyDelete
Perhaps consider letting the reader know he has a gun in hand in parg 2 instead of calling it a heavy chunk of black steel. I don’t think it will lessen the surprise of him turning around and blasting everything. As is, the reader is wondering what it might be. If you said it was a gun, you immediately heighten the tension, because now the reader is wondering, why does he have a gun? Who is he? What does he need it for? What will he do with it? And that anticipation, knowing he has it for some reason, but not knowing why, is a much stronger pull than the curiosity of wondering what it is.
This is a bit overwritten for my tastes, but there's an edge to it that I appreciate.ReplyDelete
I liked this opening too. I liked the contemplative build up before the explosion of emotion.ReplyDelete
I also think you should not say he is angry, but let the reader interpret his feelings. Shooting his image in the mirror is a subtle and powerful hint of the inner man.
I also agree with some of the other comments that you could pare down a bit of the description. It would make it sharper.
I would definitely read more.