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  1. #1
    Carter James
    Guest

    "DirectAction", opening

    I'm not familiar with what policy is here, so if this is too long I appologize. I just started a new novel. I'm about twenty pages in (double spaced), and this is the first three or so pages. It's rough. I'm looking for advice, mainly in style and tone. I'm also wondering if this holds your interest. Let me know if this is worth reading:

    ONE

    Police issue pepper spray is not a mild irritant.

    It can cause blindness and in rare cases even death. It is fifty times hotter than habanero chili. It causes inflammation not just in the eyes but in the ear, nose, lungs, and throat. Pepper spray doesn't just hurt when shot in the eyes. It stings when in contact with your skin.

    This is one reason riot cops don't have any visible skin.

    He holds my head in his shoulder and methodically shoots a steady stream first in one eye, and then the other. The heat is intense. The sound of hundreds of angry shouting bodies fades away and all I know is searing pain and white glowing light. I scream and my fingers dig uncontrollably into my eye sockets.

    Somebody is pulling me, running and shouting something at me. The words are just sounds. I realize that at this point I can hardly open my eyes because they are swelling shut. The shouting continues and I hear the words "Blink your eyes!" This only seems to escalate the pain but I continue to do so in the hope that this person knows what he is talking about. I hear something pop open, like a Tupperware container. "Lift your head up!" I feel liquid dripping over my eyes as I continue to blink. "There is detergent in this so don't drink it. It should help a little." I smell something like milk and honey but I take the advice. The mix doesn't simply take the pain away, but it does seem to be helping.

    "What the hell is going on!?"

    "This is a protest. Or it was until the cops showed up. Now it's a riot."

    "A protest of what?"

    "Globalization. Keep blinking." He pours more fluid.

    "Why are you helping me?"

    "Unlike most of the people here, we came prepared. But I'm starting to run out."

    We? I keep blinking. I turn my head toward the small voice and catch a few brief glimpses of my companion. He is short, dressed entirely in black. Even his face is wrapped in a mask that reveals only his eyes, which to me are a complete blur.

    "So what happened?" he asks as the fluid begins to run out.
    "I got off work. I was trying to ask a police officer which way I should go."

    "We try to avoid confrontation with the police. They aren't well trained so they tend to get over aggressive, which is probably intentional on the institutional level."

    "Here," says somebody to my right, and more fluid begins flowing over my eyes.

    "Then why the mask?"

    "Two reasons. The first is, you don't have to break laws to get arrested in this country anymore. The second reason is that, yes, we break their laws."

    Oh...

    "And why's that?"

    "We're anarchists."

    ...@!#$.

    "I should go."

    "If you want. If you stay with us you're less likely to get sprayed again or beaten. The cops have surrounded the area."

    I shouldn't have changed my clothes.

    I shouldn't have changed my clothes because one hour ago I was sitting in my cubicle. They have a strict unofficial dress code. You work in what they like to call the casual business suit. No tie, not all black and white, but dressed in that button down shirt with the khaki pants. You pretend it's different from yesterday's business suit, but if you go to work in anything else you get the same reaction you would have a few decades ago. At least, that's how I imagine it. I'm late twenties, and I'm a programmer.

    Cops don't attack polite computer programmers trying to find their way home.

    I lost my business clothes. I don't want to get sprayed again. I want them to continue flushing my eyes because I don't like the way forks feel in my eye sockets. "I'll stay with you guys."

    That was probably my first real mistake.

    The guy who first poured the fluid on my face asks "What's you're name anyway?"

    "Job Harrison."

    "Such a fitting name."

    "Yours?"

    Then the guy opens his mask momentarily and says, "Call me Sally."

    No wonder his voice is so small.

    This is how I came to know a cute little anarchist named Sally.



  2. #2
    Bree
    Guest

    Re: "DirectAction", opening


    ONE

    He holds my head on his shoulder and methodically shoots a steady stream--first in one eye, and then the other. The heat is intense. The sound of hundreds of angry shouting bodies fades away and all I feel is searing pain. All I see is white glowing light.

    I scream and my fingers dig uncontrollably into my eye sockets.

    Police issue pepper spray is not a mild irritant. It causes blindness, and in rare cases, death. It is fifty times hotter than habanero chili. It causes inflammation not just in the eyes but in the ear, nose, lungs, and throat. Pepper spray doesn't just hurt when shot in the eyes. It stings when in contact with your skin.

    Somebody is pulling me. Running and shouting at me. The words are just sounds. My eyes are swelling shut.

    "Blink your eyes!"

    This escalates the pain. I hear something pop open, like a Tupperware container. "Lift your head up!"

    Liquid drips over my eyes, and I blink.

    "There's detergent in this--it should help."

    It smells of milk and honey. "What the hell is going on?" I scream.

    "A protest. Or--it was, until the cops showed up. Now it's a riot."

    "What for?"

    "Globalization. Keep blinking." He pours more fluid. "Unlike most of the people here, we came prepared."

    We? I turn my head toward the small voice and catch a few brief glimpses of my companion. He's short, masked, dressed entirely in black. .

    "You don't have to break laws to get arrested in this country anymore. So we break their laws. We're anarchists."

    I shouldn't have changed my clothes. One hour ago, I was sitting in my cubicle. They have a strict unofficial dress code. You work in what they like to call The Casual Business Suit. No tie, not all black and white, but that button down shirt with the khaki pants. I'm late twenties, and I'm a programmer.

    "I'll stay with you guys, " I say.

    That was my first real mistake.

    "What's you're name anyway?" asks the guy with the fluid.

    "Job Harrison. Yours?"

    "Call me Sally."

    No wonder his voice is so small.

    And this is how I came to know a cute little anarchist called Sally.

  3. #3
    Carter James
    Guest

    Re: "DirectAction", opening

    Wow. I had no idea there was that much verbage. I do like your changes, and I'll try to incorporate some of them. Is this how you normally write or were you trying to capture my voice? Because if you noticed, I try to be concise. This seems like something I would write if I were, well, a better writer.

    I think one reason this was as long as it was is because I have a tendency to write one sentence paragraphs.

    I do it for emphasis.

    So I try to lengthen other paragraphs in an effort to make those sentences stand out even more. Which I guess can also add unecessary information. You know, like, the kind of information that is just there to take up space. That kind of thing.

    Thank you for your help.

  4. #4
    Bree
    Guest

    Re: "DirectAction", opening

    It's all yours! It's just pruned and rearranged.

    I detected a "voice" though, so keep going!

    Read Renni Browne's Self Editing. Hell, I ought to claim a percentage the number of times I suggest that little book.


    Don't hide the good stuff!

  5. #5
    Bree
    Guest

    Re: "DirectAction", opening

    Forgot to add. One sentence paragraphs are fine. Think of your writing as beats.

  6. #6
    Paul Cilwa
    Guest

    Re: "DirectAction", opening

    Carter, I really liked it.

    I liked Bree's rephrasing, too.

    If you find anarchy an interesting topic, you might enjoy The Sun City Cannabis Club.

    (Sorry for the plugs; I can't help myself!)

  7. #7
    Carter James
    Guest

    Re: "DirectAction", opening

    Don't mind the plugging. I think I'm somewhere around chapter twenty in your novel already. I responded some time ago to your alpha invitation about something in chapter 5 I noticed. Your book is very good. I enjoyed meeting your quirky characters who lived in the mountain and I like the whole idea of everything being ruled by one corporation.

    Yes I am indeed interested in the subject of anarchy. In fact politics is so interesting to me that one of my main concerns about my novel is that it will eventually lose the interest of anybody reading it. So I will probably submit some pages later asking if anything comes off too preachy. Like you I try to put enough action in there to keep it interesting. Hopefully my characters get developed enough.

    I'm glad you liked it.

    And Bree, it's good to know that you don't find anything wrong with single sentence paragraphs. Like I said, I use a lot of them. I will consider getting Browne's book.

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