Author Topic: Novel -chaper 1 re-write  (Read 1096 times)

Offline ABestSeller

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Novel -chaper 1 re-write
« on: February 21, 2007, 11:16:52 PM »
This is a re-write of a post I started a few weeks ago.  This novel is going to be heavily laced with poker play, but will be plotted so that the poker does not dominate the story.  Obviously, the story is geared toward poker player readers, but I was wondering how it appeals to the average reader.  Any input will be appreciated.  I haven't done any editing yet;  I usually do that at the end.  Then I give it to my sister-in-law who is a retired English teacher/writer to fix it up for me... 

                                                             CHAPTER 1

It was late evening, middle of March, three months until the world’s biggest poker tournament kicked off again at The Rio in Las Vegas. Bobby Leonard was talking to the woman he was currently seeing.
     “You know, I could win the World Series of Poker this year.  It’s just a matter of getting mentally prepared, getting my thoughts together..  Need to do that to compete with these young guys coming from all over the world to knock your head off.    Jesus!  Guy plays about 20,000 hands on line, wins a ticket to the big dance and all of a sudden he knows everything there is to know about poker.”
     “You said that last year, Bobby.  And the year before, and the year before that.  You’ve been saying every year right after you get knocked out  on the first day.” Shelly Bertram, dancer, stripper, cocktail waitress, master’s degree in psychology from New York University, rolled her eyes back and shook her head slowly.
     “Really, I don’t remember.”
     “The last time was at The Aladdin.  The day your suited AJ didn’t improve against the guy from Sweden’s pocket deuces.  You don’t  remember that?” 
     “How could he make that call?  Him with around $7,000 in chips and I’m all in with $6,000.  I had to do it you understand.  Go all in, I mean.  End of first day, you have to at least double up.”
     Shelly sighed.  They’d been here before.
     “Physical too.  That’s all part of it.  You have to be in top shape to play  for six days.  Strong back, neck muscles limbered up, gut tucked in,  every little bit counts.  You let go just a little bit, a little flab around the middle, hands shaking  from riffling chips and handling cards all day.  It all plays a part.”
    “You forgot the part about your eyes.” 
    “My eyes?”
   “You exercise your eyes; roll them around in your head for five minutes every morning just before breakfast.  Said it makes your gaze stronger.  You can hold it on another player for like two minutes or more without blinking. Seems like it would be easier if you just wore glasses.  Then you said you were going to take a trial membership at Bronco’s Athletic Club, which you never did.”
     “You sure it wasn’t Lester’s Gym?  I like their equipment better.  Bronco is for the lifters.  I just want to get toned up.”
       They were in Bobby’s upscale apartment on Tropicana, playing heads up Texas Hold’em, one-two dollar limit, fifty cent and one dollar blinds.  Getting ready for the final table, Bobby had told her.  As though playing low limit with zero pressure was going to get him to the final table, Shelly thought.  Fat chance. 
        Bobby was stretched out on the sofa next to the leather covered card table. He reached out and picked his cards completely off the table, holding them close to his face as though he was studying them, knowing that his 9-4 suited was a dog hand.  Shelly was the designated dealer only because she could reach the table better from  her sitting position on  the recliner that Bobby had purchased from the slick furniture salesman who had told Bobby it was specially made to enhance a lady’s sexual energies.  It was something in the way it tilted.  The angle. “Raise,” Bobby said. 
      Shelly also managed the chips and reached in to Bobby’s stack shaking her head slowly while she moved two one dollar chips forward, then announced a re-raise.  Bobby grunted and threw his cards back on to the table into the muck.
     “You raise and then fold to a re-raise? For one buck?” Shelly’s eyes rolled back into her head again.                      .   
     Bobby had picked up a tell on Shelly.  Or so he thought. When she lifted herself completely out of the recliner to reach for the chips, she always had pocket aces or kings. Bobby stifled a laugh. “What is it, aces or kings?”
     Shelly turned over 7-2 off suit.  “You think I don’t know that you think you have a tell on me?”  Shelly moved her recliner to a full rest position and glared at Bobby.  He was wondering why he hadn’t dumped her before now.  Not that she looked bad.  Nothing had changed since he met her five years ago at Fancy Dan’s strip club in downtown Las Vegas.  It was the New York twang in her voice, and the way her  eyes rolled upward when she corrected him that bothered him.  And stealing a pot with 7-2 off didn’t help matters. 
     Like he always did, Bobby dismissed the thought of dumping her.
   “There’s that guy on the strip, calls himself the poker guru.  Says he can make a winner out of any one who will make the commitment.  Says he can tailor a system to anyone’s game.  They all play different, you know.  It’s just a matter of maximizing your play.  There’s no wrong way to play.”
    “Jesus,” Shelly sighed.  “At the Aladdin, same conversation, you talked about him for ten minutes.”
    Bobby’s face was turning red.  One of his moods was coming on.  He was about to get bitchy.
     Shelly was one step ahead.  She crossed her legs all the way up and smiled at Bobby like she always did when he gets this way. Bobby’s eyes blinked. He remembered how it had been the first night with Shelly.  Still was for that matter.  Best legs in the state was what he had told her when they first met.   It didn’t bother him that she was two inches taller than him. 
     Shelly took Bobby by the hand and gently led him to the bedroom and they made love. 
     “That was very nice,” Bobby said.  “You do a man good.”                 
   Shelly had heard those words before also.  Many times.  She wondered why she hadn’t dumped him. It wasn’t the money.  Life with Bobby was comfortable, but she knew she could land a bigger ticket if she worked at it.  She remembered the night they met and he took out two 250 pound  would be muggers without working up a sweat. At 5’7 “  and 175 pounds,  Bobby was a legitimate tough guy. But there are a lot of tough guys.  She thought about  his instincts.  His uncanny ability to size up any situation or person and make the right move. Security.  That made her feel good.  Bottom line though, was that he did  her good.  Shelly liked that.  More than anything else about him.   Shelly sighed. She was stuck with Bobby. 
      Bobby rolled over.   “Did I ever tell you about the time I almost won the intercollegiate boxing championship?
     “No…tell me about it.”  Shelly rolled over in the opposite direction, laying back-to-back with Bobby. She was in another world before he got to the part about the bum decision he got in the finals.
     Bobby Leonard fancied himself to be a top-level poker player.  What he was in fact was a far better than average  player who had money to burn.   Twenty years with  the FBI and four years in the private detective business, at which he was very good, had provided the cushion for him to live it up with the pros at The Bellagio.   “I do it full time, they don’t have a chance,” he often told Shelly.  He didn’t know that lady luck was about to smile on him for the first time at the World Series of Poker.  Nor did he know that his toughest and most lucrative case ever was about to fall into his lap.   Smack dab in the middle of the World Series of Poker finals.

                                                    CHAPTER 2

“The green dress…it goes nicely with your red hair.”  Her name was Naomi Caldwell and she’d taken a seat at Bobby Leonard’s metal desk he’d picked up at an army salvage sale.  She’d arrived at First Choice Detective Agency promptly for her 9 AM. appointment.  Pretty lady;  5 foot 6 or so.  Carried herself well.  Had that little hip swagger that brought the second over-the-shoulder looks at the malls.   
    “No small talk, Mr. Leonard. I’m here on a business appointment.”  She moved the metal folding chair just a little to the left,  seeming to want to be face-to-face with Bobby..
    “I mean if you’d worn blue, it wouldn’t have brought out your personality as well.”  Niemann Marcus all the way.  Top of the line perfume. Hair style cost more than ten bucks for sure.  Bobby Leonard saw big bucks coming his way, but more importantly, another high profile case.
    She reached into a valise she clutched tightly and took out a newspaper clipping. 
   “You weren’t my first choice, Mr. Leonard.  I made this appointment at the insistence of a good friend.”  She handed the clipping to Bobby.  Her hands were shaking.  Bobby wanted to tell her she needed to work out more, strengthen the arms, but he passed.  It was time to do business.
    He set the clipping on his desk without looking at it, but moved it to the right to cover a stain on the desk.  She noticed.  “Look, miss, I don’t need your business.  You don’t like the way I look, or for whatever reason I wasn’t your first choice…that’s OK with me.  You have a problem and want it solved, then relax.  You’re in good hands.” 
    She eyed Bobby coldly as she took out a check from her purse made out to First Choice Detective Agency.  “I understand your retainer is $5,000, Mr. Leonard.”   She placed the check on the desk. Her hands had stopped shaking. She reached out and moved the folder off  the stain on the desk.  “You can use it to buy a new desk.”
    “It’s pro-rated, Miss Caldwell.  $125 per hour, plus expenses. If I don’t use it all, you get some change.  If I need more, I’ll let you know.  Who’s your friend?”
    “That’s none of your business”
    Bobby picked up the check and tore it in two.  “I don’t know what your problem is, Miss Caldwell, but if we’re going to solve it, we gotta trust each other.”  He was bluffing.  Five K wasn’t a  lot of money, but he did want the case.  Or at least he wanted to know what it was all about.   (to be continued)


Offline Foxy

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Re: Novel -chaper 1 re-write
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2007, 05:50:29 AM »
Hello ABestSeller, I enjoyed this, even though the poker references meant nothing to me, so here's one average reader you've appealed to. However, I am slightly biased in that I write in the hard-boiled noir style too, so this was always going to appeal to me, whether it was set in the world of poker, backgammon or Connect Four.

You have captured the style well, and I would have continued to read on if there had been more. The only minor niggle I have is the switching of point of views in the first part. I think it would be better if you stuck with Bobby's POV throughout the scene, because when you let us know what Shelly was thinking, it broke my identification with Bobby. But this could just be me, other readers may feel differently.

I hope you post more of this story.
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Offline Titania

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Re: Novel -chaper 1 re-write
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2007, 05:26:27 PM »
It looks to me as though you have captured the style you were aiming at very well but as I know absolutely nothing about poker, and it's not really my cup of tea, it's difficult for me to judge.
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Offline ABestSeller

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Re: Novel -chaper 1 re-write
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2007, 09:36:48 AM »
Thanks for the feedback, Foxy & Titania.  About using Shelly's POV;  I wanted to get as much of Bobby's character into the first chapter as possible.  Using Shelly's thoughts accomplished this. Not sure how much it breaks the rhythm of the story.  By the time I've finished the book, the first chapter will probably have been totally re-written.  I'm not much at outlining.  I just write what comes to my mind, then go back and fit it together.  Truth:  I haven't thought this story out yet.  I know essentially where it's going, but there are a lot of gaps.  I still need more peripheral characters and situations (scenes) to turn it into a novel.  This, to me is the most difficult part of writing.  Especially for an unknown writer.  I see a lot of stuff by established authors that wouldn't get the time of day from publishers if it had been a first effort.  I'm reading one now by Lawrence Block (The Devil Knows You're Dead) that presents the crime scene in the first chapter, then goes off target for the next 50-75 pages. But everyone who reads Block knows that he will put it all together somewhere along the way so we keep reading.  And the publishers keep on publishing.

Titania:  thanks for your thoughts.  The story will go beyond the poker content, but I can see how a reader who doesn't have a clue about poker might get turned off with the beginning.  Novels are very adjustable.  I could even start it with what I have in the second chapter and bring the poker content in a little more slowly. 

Thanks again.  Looking for more feedback. 

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