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  1. #1
    Stephen Holak
    Guest

    Short Story Opening

    I have to scratch an itch and write out a short story that's banging around in my head, so I can get on to other things. It's about a rabid, frustrated (neurotic) Boston Red Sox fan who believes that if he offers himself up to the Baseball Gods as a sacrifice, he can break the "Curse of the Bambino" that plagued the team for nearly a century after they traded Babe Ruth to the hated Yankees. The sacrifice possibly leads to the team's breakthough World Series title a few years ago. The narrator is a (fictional) Sox beat sportswriter whose home the fan barricaded himself in, and where the events take place. The meat of the story is a flashback triggered by the writer's visit to the fan's grave.

    Here's my opening, first draft. Comments?

    A few years ago, when Charley O'Reilly died, his death was the lead news item on all the local Boston TV stations. Most of the national networks picked up the story too. Charley wasn't rich, or powerful, or a famous actor or sports figure; in fact, I'm pretty sure his entire circle of friends and family would fit comfortably in my Mini Cooper, with me at the wheel. Charley was dirt-poor, barely literate, and completely unknown. What caught everyone's attention at the time was not anything he accomplished in his life, but rather, his messy death.

    I was there, and I have to say: it was pretty goddamn spectacular.


    [I live near Philly; I'm a die-hard Phillies fan and [verb] [adjective] Red Sox Nation. But I liked the story idea.]



  2. #2
    L Bea
    Guest

    Re: Short Story Opening

    I would hold off mentioning his death until you get to that last sentence, "What caught everyone's attention at the time...." Feels redundant and that last sentence of that paragraph is good but it loses its potency when you already mention his death earlier.

    In fact, I'd just delete those first 2 sentences all together and start out "Charley O'Reilly wasn't rich or powerful..."

    Then you're redundant again with Charley was dirt poor. Pick where you want to point out rich or dirt poor -- not both.

    Interesting story idea. Not knowledgeable enough about the incident to know if it's been done or not.

    My two cents~
    Bea

  3. #3
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Short Story Opening

    Wouldn't be my kind of short story. If the "hook" was that the protagonist was a rabid, frustrated, neurotic baseball fan, I'd start the story showing him being that, not with a dissertation on his life to this point.

  4. #4
    Diane Snyder-Haug
    Guest

    Re: Short Story Opening

    Stephen,

    I rather like this, but then I have a dark sense of humor. (And I don't even care about baseball, but you made me want to read more.) Just one suggestion, I'd take out "A few years ago" and trim the first line to read: "Charlie O'Reilly's death was the lead news item.... etc." Good luck with it!

  5. #5
    A.L. Sirois
    Guest

    Re: Short Story Opening

    So far so good. Some good avice here. I'm not a sports fan, either, but I'll read any story that hooks me. This could be a little like "You Could Look it Up" crossed with "The Greatest Man in the World," if you've read either of those James Thurber oldies.

    "You Could Look It Up," about a midget being brought in to take a walk in a baseball game, is said to have been an inspiration for Bill Veeck's stunt with Eddie Gaedel with the St. Louis Browns in 1951.

    "The Greatest Man in the World," 1931, is the story of Jack Smurch, first man to make a non-stop flight around the world. He's an instant celebrity, but before his first press conference he proves to be absolute trailer trash, an uneducated slob only out for money and fame. Even his mother hates him! At the President's reception somebody pushes him out of an open window. The nation mourns its hero without ever knowing what a jerk he really was.

  6. #6
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Short Story Opening

    I'd have to agree with Gary that this is a lot of beating around the bush. The "messy death" is where it gets interesting, so I'd lead off with something about that.

  7. #7
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: Short Story Opening

    Steve,

    I wonder why you'd choose to sacrifice any chance of suspense during the story by revealing in a prologue, so to speak, that the guy died.

    Thurber's stories depended more on humor than suspense. Your opening contains neither humor, nor lyrical prose (the traits I most admire in fiction). What will you give the reader to compensate for the loss of suspense?

    Best,
    Janice

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