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Thread: Catching?

  1. #1
    Alex Hipkins


    Terry watched the cars pass by on the street below. His eyes looked from vehicle to vehicle imagining that the inhabitants were on some secret mission for the government, or that they were hurrying off toward a romantic or deviant tryst. He only wished that he knew something more about them all than he had while he perched on the rooftop ledge of his apartment building. He was there to kill himself, but the trivial seemed to draw him in even more each time he found himself looking out over the town below.

    This is what I have of the first paragraph of the ms I am working on while waiting for someone to critique/edit a draft of my other ms.

    Thought I would see what people thought.

  2. #2
    Gary Kessler

    Re: Catching?

    He only wished that he knew something more about them all than he had while he perched

    Something's off in the "about them all than he had while[/i].

    Maybe you mean "before" rather than "while"? While he's on the roof, there seems no room for movement in what he knows about them. Or maybe you mean something even more meaningful than this.

    "Searched" wouldn't be a more compelling word than "looked" in the first line, especially given the circumstance?

    Don't cars have "occupants" more than "inhabitants"? Lots of homeless people down there?

    The "he found himself looking" seems too wordy. Think something like "even more each time he looked out over the town below" is less padded, more streamlined. Also, "looked" is a pretty pedestrian word. You might consider something more interesting than "panned" or search for an even better word that shows us his state of mind, like an appropriate form of "darted."

    There should be a comma after vehicle in the first line--to set off the gerund clause.

    The only reason to put the comma between "government" and "or" is if you want the reader to pause extra long there. (Which would be OK, but possibly edited out down the road.) The second clause isn't independent.

    Other than that, it seems OK for an opening to me--with the note that, as I sort of suggested, you make his mood flat, you don't reach for words that will show us his state of mind.

  3. #3
    Alex Hipkins

    Re: Catching?

    Wow, that was honestly more than I expected anyone to get into it. Thank you very much for taking the time to go in depth with my paragraph. Everything you said will definitely be taken to heart.

  4. #4
    Angela Edwards

    Re: Catching?

    His eyes looked from vehicle to vehicle

    I would say something besides "looked". We all know our eyes 'look'; that's redundant. I'd say something like "His eyes flicked from vehicle to vehicle". Something like that.

  5. #5
    Sam English

    Re: Catching?

    I had a hard time buying that a guy perched on a roof ready to off himself would be thinking about anyone else but himself, much less thinking someone might be heading off to do the dirty. Just didn't work for me. Sorry.

  6. #6
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: Catching?

    I'm with Sam. I don't really think someone going up there to off himself is going to be wondering about the lives of strangers; he's obviously thinking more about his own life at that point. Now if you wanted to have him looking around and thinking, "She was down there somewhere, that dirty b!tch who broke my heart" then I could buy into that easier.

  7. #7
    Cammy Stevens

    Re: Catching?

    I tripped over the same part as Gary. Maybe something like:
    more, about them all, than

    That way your words stay the same, but the words more and than are kept more together in the reader's mind, making it easier to understand the sentence.

    I would agree about the thoughts going on in his head, too. Maybe check out other books written about it or something. I was thinking if it were someone like that, they would have thoughts cycling in their head and dwelling on it. It might be a personal issue, but it would be one that in their mind they couldn't find a way out of, thus leading them to the irrational decision of being perched on a roof, thinking of suicide.

  8. #8
    Gary Kessler

    Re: Catching?

    I don't really have any trouble with the idea that someone playing with the idea of jumping would go off on unconnected tangents of thoughts. But this is possibly the key problem here. Nothing is shown on the state of mind. If he's hazy on drugs or alcohol, having worked up the courage to go perch, he could be having visions of blue rabbits and it could be believable in context. If later the reason he's in this funk and at least thinking of the suicide game is that his significant other has gone off to tryst, there's a interesting tieback to the reference in this first paragraph. Other than the failure to give us a state of mind, this first paragraph could be clarified or made relevant in interesting ways by whatever comes afterward--even the lack of mood establishment could, as a matter of fact.

    In fact, I think hazy first paragraphs that are, zing, jolted into clarity later, are a good technique--as long as the writer realizes that's what he/she is doing.

  9. #9
    rock doctor

    Re: Catching?

    Having dealt with friends contemplating suicide, I agree that the person "perched" is likely only thinking of himself. But as previously stated, he could be in some drunken, drugged stupor and therefore anything might be possible.

    With regard to:
    "He only wished that he knew something more about them all than he had while he perched..."

    I would be a little more specific with "them all". With such a description and/or imagery, the reader could potentially see the time of day, if the story takes place in a busy metropolis, or lazy country town.
    Only suggestions. ~cheers

  10. #10
    Juynal Miah

    Re: Catching?

    Maybe the character is noticing other people because he is having second thoughts about jumping, so noticing other people is just way of him prolonging what he now fears to do.

    His thoughts that people are secret government agents, maybe a suggestion of his state of mind at this point, a paranoid schizophrenic perhaps? who knows, only the writer knows.

    Maybe this is just me, but i found the ending in slight contradiction with the begining, first you say he notices people as possible secret agents and meeting in deviant trysts, but then you refer to him as noticing the trivial, i wouldnt consider those things trivial, not everyday you imagine someone to be a spy.

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