Cabbages and Kings

A diary by the authors of the Louis Kincaid series

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We are the New York Times bestselling authors of the Louis Kincaid series and other stand alone thrillers. We have taught writing at major conferences for ten years.

Friday, January 26, 2007

New! Booky Noise VI

I am off to Bookmania in Stuart today, where I share a panel with Tess Gerritsen, J.A. Jance, Sujata Massey, Katherine Hall Page and Lisa Unger called "Once Upon a Crime." What a line-up, huh?

While I am gone, would you all take a look at Jeannie's opening to her book "No Apologies" and give her some feedback. Does it float your boat? Tickle your twines? Get your toes acurling?

Okay, talk amongst yourselves until I get home Sunday!


“Take your clothes off.”

“What?”

“Take them off.”

“Nooo…”

Ephraim pointed his really big gun at me as I stood on Gunnison Beach. A crisp October breeze cut across the sand and maked me shiver. The soft shimmer of moonlight cast an eerie silver glow across the water, making it seem like a mocking entity ready to pounce, but the real threat stood before me.

“You have what you came for, just leave.”

“Strip, damn it.” Ephraim took a step forward and aimed that gun at my heart. “Now.”

“Please, you don’t have to do this.” Thinking rape and murder and everything in between I kept inching back, away from the gun. “Take the money, it’s yours. Please just leave.”

“I want your clothes.”

“But why? I’ve done what you said. You have the money.”

“I want you naked so you don’t get any ideas about following me.”

“Oh, no.” A sense of relief, “I won’t follow you. I’ll just sit here and count to a hundred or something.”

“Sorry dear, but I have no reason to trust you. Now give me your clothes before I put a bullet in between those pretty green eyes.” The gun came up to give me a good look down its long barrel.

Gathering all the courage in my soul I raised my chin defiantly and said, “No. I refuse.”

“Then I’ll have to shoot you.” Ephraim said. I backed up a step, legs shaking and thought of Judy. It was all I could do not to look up to the dune where she was hidden video taping this exchange. She told me this would be an easy drop. Just hand off the money and leave, she just needed proof, that’s all.

Ephraim pulled the little thingy back on the top of the gun with an ominous click.

I flung off my denim jacket, ripped my t-shirt over my head and kicked off my shoes and jeans. It was a no choice situation and as much as I didn’t want to do this, even more I didn’t want to get shot. As I stood there in my bra and panties Ephraim said, “Everything.”

8 Comments:

Anonymous gregory huffstutter said...

Great first sentance, but to me, it lost steam the longer it went without escalation.

Too much, you don't have to do this, yes I do, no you don't, yes I do.

I'd want to keep reading if it were tightened up. I made some editing recommendations below.

One other thought... the gal seems to have done this before, if her friend tells her it will be a simple 'drop.' If that's the case, she'd probably know what a gun's safety is -- instead of calling it a little thingy -- which instantly pegs her as an amateur.


“Take your clothes off.”

“What?”

“Take them off.”

Ephraim pointed his really big gun at me as I stood on Gunnison Beach. A crisp October breeze cut across the sand, making me shiver. The soft shimmer of moonlight cast an eerie silver glow across the water.
“But why? You have the money.”

“Strip, damn it.” Ephraim stepped forward, aiming at my heart. “Now.”

“You don’t have to do this.” Thinking rape, murder and everything in between, I inched back. “Please just leave.”

“I want you naked so you don’t get any ideas about following me.”

“How about if I just sit here and count to a hundred?”

“Sorry dear. Now give me your clothes before I put a bullet between those pretty green eyes.”

“No. I refuse.”
I backed up, legs shaking, and thought of Judy. It was all I could do not to look to the dune where she hid with her video camera. This will be an easy drop, she’d said. Just hand off the money and leave.

Ephraim pulled the little thingy back on the top of the gun with an ominous click.

Flinging off my denim jacket, I pulled off my t-shirt, kicked away my shoes and jeans. As I stood there in my bra and panties Ephraim said, “Everything.”

4:14 PM  
Blogger PJ Parrish said...

I am reposting this comment from Shannon who put it under the wrong Booky Noise by mistake:

Hi Jeannie,

I think you have a good skeleton of a scene here. I really liked the moment when you tell us someone is secretly videotaping the exchange on the beach. In general, I just didn't feel any emotional charge but I think that can be fixed easily with some added description. Especially in places like the dialog exchange starting with "I want your clothes." I don't know what to feel here because I have no idea what she's feeling. Is she whining, is she screaming, is she cold, breathing heavy?

Just some small stuff:

"A crisp October breeze cut across the sand and maked me shiver."

A crisp October breeze cuts across the sand. I shiver.

"The soft shimmer of moonlight cast an eerie silver glow across the water"
Watch your cliches. Give us a unique view of the moonlight on the beach so we don't just skim over that part as "been there, read that".

"Ephraim pulled the little thingy back on the top of the gun with an ominous click."
'Little thingy'would only work for me here if it was in the dialog, not in the narration.

I do think it's a good scene to start a novel with, just need to fill in some detail. Good luck!

10:20 AM

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Tattieheid said...

Hi Jeannie,

Openings can be a right bugger. :)

This is a good opening but as previously mentioned, a bit long/going where? type.

I preferred the previous opening you posted, for reasons I can't put my finger on. I think maybe a hint of more suspense and mystery, coupled with more intensity.

I don't quite get that with this opening.

It's interesting and the fact someone is in the dunes filming it adds some sense of a wider story but then it goes flat.

Once it's established that he's not planning rape then he's just another guy that gets his rocks off forcing a woman to strip and they are two a penny. There is no indication what it's about or where it's going, or any tension other than will she strip.

Ephraim pointed his really big gun at me as I stood on Gunnison Beach
This comes across as a bit of parody/innuendo, I don't know if that's intended or not but it left me wondering if they were filming a blue movie.

A crisp October breeze cut across the sand and maked me shiver
Is "maked" intentional or a typo for made? It jars.

soft shimmer of moonlight cast an eerie silver glow across the water, making it seem like a mocking entity ready to pounce, but the real threat stood before me.
Yes there's a cliche but I think it works if you lose the word mocking. There's not enough happening in this scene to establish whether mockery is an appropriate description.

I think the rest could be condensed a wee bit.

Having said all that, I skim read this yesterday and found it disturbing and gripping in a way; so I think it probably does work well if you are not looking too deeply.

Sorry about the disjointed thinking, hope it helps.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I don't know, I've read your first version here and I've read the whole chapter you sent me, and I'm not really sure this improves things. It's possible you're over-thinking (and I ought to know, because I do that all the time). To-date I would argue that the 2nd version you sent me was the best one.

So, now are you getting all sorts of contradictory advice?

Best,
Mark Terry
www.markterrybooks.com

4:13 PM  
Blogger PJ Parrish said...

I agree with all the comments here so far...some good solid advice.

Here's my input:

As the others said, you have a nice mood going here, but this could benefit from some tightening. When you're writing an action scene like this, less is always more. And I sense a wavering in tone. (ie what kind of book am I reading here? Dark? Light? Something in between? Your description makes me think dark and serious but then we get that "little thingie on the gun" thought which SMACK! puts me in chick-lit mood. Unless you're going for semi-humor here, that is quite jarring because if someone is pointing a gun at you, your mind isn't registering "little thingie."

Other small points:

Ephraim pointed his really big gun at me as I stood on Gunnison Beach. A crisp October breeze cut across the sand and maked me shiver. The soft shimmer of moonlight cast an eerie silver glow across the water, making it seem like a mocking entity ready to pounce, but the real threat stood before me.

As Shannon points out, lose the extra words to make your action scene more muscular: "Making it seem..." is flabby. It seemed or looked like a glowing entity. Most those little "ing" words can be cut.
Gathering all the courage in my soul I raised my chin defiantly and said, “No. I refuse.”

Adverbs are your enemies. Kill them. Better yet, never give birth to them. "Defiantly" is unecessary because the action is in itself defiant. In fact, so is her dialog. I would keep it clean: "I raised my chin. 'No, I refuse,'"

“Then I’ll have to shoot you.” Ephraim said. I backed up a step, legs shaking and thought of Judy.

This should be two paragraphs. His quote and then you have a new action.

But all and all, not a bad start!

4:18 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

It seems like the girl is just a wee bit too cavalier about the whole thing.

With a gun pointed at her heart, she should be pissing her pants or something. Put some real emotions in here, and I think you'll have a winner.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh...shivers. Definitely drew me in.

I agree with what everyone else said. A little tightening, and it sounds like Jeanne's got a great opener.

Bookmania...what a great name for a writer's conference!

4:37 PM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments. I'm ready step back from this for a bit. My head is spinning and I thought all your comments were good. I can see how I need to tighten it up. I think I've been pushing this too hard (Over thinking, Mark?) Maybe if I lay it aside for a bit I can come back with a fresh view.
PJ; Love the adverb comment. That is now a postit on my desk top.
Sorry it too so long to answer but I was in a car crash and now I'm moving a bit slower. (but I'll be fine)

7:53 PM  

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