Author Topic: Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!  (Read 1456 times)

Offline Polycles

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Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!
« on: November 17, 2009, 12:40:36 PM »
 I've been wanting to get this written for some time. Now I've got an undergraduate ( son) hassling me for some original , visual, local prose to convert into a screenplay for a Uni excercise/ short film . I haven't written anything in years so if you spot anything , or can see a better way , please point it out.



 Danny placed his gum shield in the soap tray, closed his eyes   letting the jet of warm water play across his face . When he opened them again and looked down at the white tiles in the shower cubicle ,between his feet, a swirl of blood and water tightened to an eddy as it drained  down the plug hole. After a fight small cuts always look like they are bleading profusely  in the showers.

He felt his teeth, again. Nothing  loose. Gently he probed his lower lip with his tongue, then dabbed at it with his finger tip. It was still numb, just starting to pulse. He definitely had a cut  lip and it was swelling up. The rest was dried blood from where he taken a punch to the nose.

Going over a fight, after the shock,  is the only way the brain can begin to structure and make sense the last fifteen or so minutes of time In those fifteen minutes, maybe three thousand heartbeats, it feels like you are fighting for your life

His opponent had been ultra-agressive from the start. Close cropped white-blond hair, prison tattoo's , black  button- wide pupils-  like a junkies . He had done time for GBH  . Before the fight his ‘support crew’ had got the word around to try and psyche Danny out.

A  whole block  of the crowd had been made up of this guy’s family and mates. A row of shaven heads had filed into Grimesmoor Wood Sports Hall . They were wearing black jogging bottoms, hoodies, nylon coats , the standard Grimesmoor estates uniform . Had there been jobs most of these lads would have worked in the local meat industries , carrying carcasses a cutting up slabs meat , thye’d be outside the gate ofor a fag break in their hair nets , white coats covered in butchery. The local industry was closing down so there weren’t any jobs , and this guy with the big wide button eyes is what happens when all that physical energy goes to the bad. Danny didn’t eat meat, and in summer the stench of  the waste  from the skips and meat wagons in the remaining factories turned his stomach

Amy, his girlfriend  refused to come and watch him fight  but Danny had one friend in the audience Mike, and that’s all that counted to him. He was fighting for him. The rest could go to hell.

When their gloves touched-off and this opponent  was eyeballing him, Danny kept his head . He knew from the start the other fighter  was on a looser. Let raw hate into  the ring,  the wrong muscles tense , the body becomes less than efficient and you’re always one step behind  real time.  His opponent  was a street fighter. He no patience and no technique.

In the opening round his gloves  kept wind milling  , hooking- out ,trying to throw wild punches over the top of Danny’s gloves. His section of the  crowd were yelling  for it. They’d paid hard cash to see Danny’s blood on  white canvas. The fight quickly turned slippery and nasty. Into the first round  Danny felt his lip tear as an elbow contacted then pulled away from his face. There was no need for that, this was an amateur three round event, intended to be stylised aggression with rules.

Danny kept out of range,testing and   working his opponent out . His arms  came up for guard when Danny threw a punch at his head. It was cover-up style boxing with a few kicks thrown in: - guard move-punch. Danny feigned a  right cross and reflexively  his opponent’s, elbows , arms and  gloves came up to block ,  leaving his lower midsection and  ribs exposed. Without thinking  Danny saw the gap, spun on the ball of his right foot, winding up to power a turning kick into his opponents left side . On contact it detonated , exploding   the breath out of the other fighter’s body . Any harder, ( and Danny could kick harder ), bone would have splintered .  His opponents  head  fell forward . Danny drove an uppercut under his chin between his guard.

It's that particular slice  of time you replay a in the shower after winning your fight. The guy you’ve just taken out: his mind needing time to to catch up with what his body’s about to do. He can't breathe in or out . His visions collapsing down  to a small tunnel of light then  he’s fighting against blackout. It’s only the adrenaline and ‘emergency lighting” in his consciousness   that’s keeping him from hitting the canvas.



He staggered two steps and went down on one knee . He couldn’t raise his head to see Danny being held back by the ref. He heard the count  like he was going under in dark water and he couldn’t raise his head see the referees hands arm grab around the  wrist and lift his glove like it was  punching  the air over his head.

Danny heard the rest of the crowd applauding and yelling when he closed his eyes . Shivering, and sweating he’s flooding up with golden warmth , which is the opposite of fear and pain.   

He doesn’t even remember climbing out of the ring. All he wanted to do was get the hell out of there, have his shower, get dressed in soft-against-the-skin clothes,  get out of there , with Mike to normal bar, in a normal street,  one where some life- sucked-out lunatic wasn’t trying to take his head off his shoulders.

Offline Polycles

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Re: Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2009, 02:14:21 AM »

 This is a scene somewhere at the begining , not the opening of the novel that establishes Danny's character.
The rest of the novel is about human interest and relations. It's also about art in a hard place.I would welcome some feedback on this section though. Even if its doesn't work. Let me know.

Wolfe

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Re: Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2009, 04:08:56 AM »
The first problem I noted appeared with the strange spacing between punctuation and certain words. You'll you want to fix this first.


Danny placed his gum shield in the soap tray, closed his eyes   letting the jet of warm water play across his face . When he opened them again and looked down at the white tiles in the shower cubicle ,between his feet, a swirl of blood and water tightened to an eddy as it drained  down the plug hole. After a fight small cuts always look like they are bleading profusely  in the showers.


Editors call this situation: Sentence Disorder. In other words, you show good sentences, but they appear in a sequence that lack strength to draw readers into the story.

An easy fix.

I'll demonstrate with the first paragraph, and I'll keep it verbatim.


A swirl of blood and water tightened to an eddy as it drained down the plug hole. Danny closed his eyes, placed his gum shield in the soap tray, and let the jet of warm water play across his face. After a fight, small cuts always look like they are bleading profusely  in the showers.


Now, we'll remove the excess modifiers to make the sentences tighter.


A swirl of blood and water tightened to an eddy as it drained down the plug hole. Danny closed his eyes, placed his gum shield in the soap tray, and let the jet of warm water play across his face. After a fight, small cuts always look like they are bleading profusely in the showers.


Finally, we'll make those adjectives marked out, and phrases deleted, into the powerful verbs they should be. This also allows the readers more imagery with showing sans telling.


Blood and water tightened into an eddy down the drain. Danny closed his eyes, placed his gum shield in the tray, and let the water play across his face. The bleeding from his cuts pooled between his feet.


Notice how your same words sound of alliteration and assonance now? Again, word and sentence sequence remains key.

Learn to love editing.  ;D

Wolfe
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 02:49:48 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Polycles

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Re: Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2009, 01:36:31 PM »
 Ok, I think I've got the idea of this . Let me have a go and see what I can do. Here's some immediate thoughts:

1. Does this mean all my sentances will come out disordered and need to be edited?
2. Is there a quick fix when writing to prevent this happening?
3. I'm going to end up with very short paragraphs so do I need to link them together to form one paragraph out of two or three previous ?
4. This isn't the opening of the first chapter, so does it need to hook the reader in this way?

Thank you so much for your help so far. It feels like trying to decipher mirror writing when you convert disordered sentances, but I will try.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 01:41:11 PM by Polycles »

Wolfe

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Re: Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2009, 02:58:23 PM »
1. Your call on this. But, consider whether each paragraph's first and last sentence links the previous and post paragraphs to draw the reader further.

2. Afraid not. You'll use this technique when editing.

3. Again, your call. Choose the structure that creates the best flow or breeziness to your prose. Avoid monolith paragraphs.

4. In a way, you're asking if the middle part can be boring or dryer. I'll let you know, when editors get to the places where writers relax, the editors consider rejection. You want that thought to never enter a reader or editor's mind.

Good luck.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 03:00:34 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Polycles

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Re: Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2009, 03:07:51 PM »
Blood and water tightened into an eddy down the drain. Danny closed his eyes, placed his gum shield in the tray and let the water play across his face. The bleeding from his cuts pooled between his feet. He'd already worked out most of the blood was from when he'd taken the hit to his nose . He cautiously felt around his mouth before deciding none of his teeth were loose and gently probed his lower lip with his tongue and dabbed at it with his finger tips . His lower lip began to pulse under the pressure . When he withdrew his hand  he watched as water jetted away  blood and saliva from his finger ends .

 In the last  three thousand heartbeats of Danny's existence he had been fighting for his life and was still in shock. The only way could begin to make sense of things  was by replaying and piecing together the fight in his mind.

He considered the man he had just put down on the canvas. He'd had come into the ring and been ultra-aggressive from the start. He raised his forearms to show off  prison tatooes. It was all part of the act . His crew had  been trying put  the word around , put the frightners on Danny that their man had done time for GBH. Danny kept his head. When he  looked into his opponent's eyes  he saw pupils dilated like a smack-head's . Under his close cropped  hair this man's black, button-wide eyes were full of hate .  This other fighter was a fake and Danny knew  he'd deserved to go down. He was all mouth , threats and eyeballing . Maybe he could fool people in the street, outside a pub  after his victim had a few pints and when he had his crew standing behind him but  on his own against a real trained fighter this guy had no technique and no patience, no chance, and he knew it. Deep down he was shitting himself to keep face in front of his mates, and this pretence had delivered him into the ring with Danny.
 
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 03:50:57 PM by Polycles »

Wolfe

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Re: Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2009, 03:23:17 PM »
The first problem I noted appeared with the strange spacing between punctuation and certain words. You'll you want to fix this first.

Wolfe

Offline Polycles

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Re: Unpolished chunk of a short novel I'm trying to write - help!
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2009, 03:47:45 PM »
 OK strange spacing and unecessary punctuation gone, hopefully. Getting the spacing right is like bricklaying and I think it happens when I move sentances around and don't realise there's another backspace and the whole line needs tapping along to fill the gap.

I used to read loads of poetry and one thought  occured to me :  Ted Hughes said Sylvia Plath's raw words emerged like soldiers surrendering from  foxholes , walking out backwards and blinking in the light.

 I'm nowhere in the same league as her , but is that is what is happening here?
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 03:53:31 PM by Polycles »