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Posted: 1/7/2005 1:48:08 AM EDT
I have written several short stories, poetry and such and have written professionally for newspapers before, but never tried my hand at a novel. Oddly, a topic here at ARF dealing with infidelity got me thinking about a story and I started on it recently. It's probably more of a novella but I'd like some input on the beginning. I have the story worked out, and it's all coming together pretty well but I obsess about the introduction of a book...I know that publishers will quit after the intro and throw it in the trash based on the first page. This is still rough, but what I'm looking for is interest - does this pull you in and make you want to read on or no. Your comments are welcome, even if you say it blows donkeys....bear in mind it's supposed to be a witty, introspective story about love and sex.

Untitled

People often claim, wrongly so, that love is some fluid, incomprehensible mystery. The kind of thing that lives and breathes in the ether of the unknown, attaching itself to those unlucky souls who wander too long in the fog. Ok, maybe that's the cynics' view of it. The more hopeful believe it to be a sugary, glorious nectar delivered by angelic messengers, floating on gilded wings, sent to brighten the souls of mankind. Some people are clearly brain damaged.

Some of us, the tragically enlightened, know sadly that love is common as VD, and just as easy to contract. It's neither special, individual, heaven sent nor cursed. It's just neurons firing, biology and racing fluids, hurling us at one another. It is millions of years of survival instincts trying feverishly to forget we're not on the savannah anymore. It is seed and soil, nurture and satisfaction, the fulfillment of our primordial duty - to continue. It can be an entrancing, heady and glorious pleasure or a vexxing, unrelenting torture. Unrequited, it can and does lead us to our doom. Our bodies, our conscience, our very cells guide us into it, and sadly our desires can work against our own happiness. With all of modern man's brilliance, we cannot escape a pitiful truth, so slowly we wake up to the ugly realization that we are sad little animals in Armani suits trying to reason how great pussy turned into crappy marriage. I say that metaphorically. The only Armani suit I've ever seen up close was when I met George Clooney in an airport…but it doesn’t diminish my wisdom.

I’m digressing, and It’s not really cathartic ridiculing the foundations of human attraction. To be honest, I'm just throwing up my theories on love and attraction as a blinding haze of chaff. I do that when I'm hesitant to cut to the meat of my problems. I’d guess you’re curious to know where this is headed? I’ll spell it out. I had an affair.

Not the kind of thing that involves bourbon & an office party where a flaxen-haired receptionist, who's always been a temptation, offers herself in a dark hallway. Not even the kind that comes, let’s pretend, when my wife's friend comes over to help with the kids while wife is away, and ends up on my couch with her legs around my neck. No, those are but small, petty, predictable potholes on the infidelity highway. What I had was a real affair. I had true, deep, gut-busting love outside of an up-to-then healthy marriage. The kind that rips you down your axis, making you both a brand-new, passionate lover and a slinking, lying animal. In short, I found true goddamned love, and with one more woman than my nature can allow.

So, that's why I'm giving you the little bullshit story about love and what I know about it's deep, visceral strangle-hold on the mortal human. It's my childish shell game thrown in the face of my daliance. I'm praying that I'm judged for my insights instead of my transgressions. Fat chance, I know – but in fairness I sinned under the Clinton administration. It was a different time back then. At least half the nation seemed ready to forgive the frailty of the sexual spirit and the havoc it wreaks on foolish men. Unfortunately for Bill & me, there are wives to answer to.

It’s in my moments of keener introspection, when I realize that the ignorant fail to a design of destiny. The same cruel god that denied poor, ignorant people self-awareness also puts them on the path to repeat the kind of mistakes the normal person might easily correct. What a terrific shield ignorance of one’s nature truly is. “Well shit, I didn’t know that was gonna happen twice!”. Yes, the hapless loser is destiny’s bitch, but he knows not why he fails and that’s a thing to be envied.

Make no mistake, though, I am not a clueless boob bent on blind self-destruction – that’s the rub. It’s precisely the ability to think things through that makes the sting of my foolishness all the sharper. We smart ones are truly the worst lot. We collide with our animal self, often knowing full well we are spiraling out of control, unable or unwilling to correct our sails before the storm takes us away and so it was with me. Blessed with every tool necessary to give myself a pleasing, satisfactory life, I could not resist the delicious gravity, the enticing pull towards a new, warm body. I all too easily abandoned my rational mind, leaping towards a sweet voice, milky skin and nervous passion that would yank me out of my placid orbit and decimate my little world. And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s having no one but myself to blame.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 1:57:18 AM EDT
I stopped at love


Sgat1r5
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 2:00:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/7/2005 2:01:36 AM EDT by swingset]

Originally Posted By sgtar15:
I stopped at love

Sgat1r5



Yeah, I know it's hard to read outside of the wide spectrum of SHTF manifestos and gunplay novels, but pretend my book has pictures. They'd be really close to porn.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 2:02:22 AM EDT

Originally Posted By swingset:

Originally Posted By sgtar15:
I stopped at love

Sgat1r5



Yeah, I know it's hard to read beyond SHTF manifestos and gunplay novels, but pretend my book has pictures. They'd be really close to porn.



Yeah that's great and all that, but it starts to read like a romance novel and since I have a penis I don't do romance novels.

Andyou asked ME for MY opinion.

Sgat1r5
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 2:08:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By sgtar15:
Andyou asked ME for MY opinion.

Sgat1r5



I asked for writers & literary fans. If you write, you appreciate the craft. If you read literature, love wouldn't send you into penile convulsions. Either way, thanks for the input. Now I know not to send it to Delta Press.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 2:22:29 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/7/2005 2:23:38 AM EDT by Sin_Bin]
I write. Nothing spectacular but enough to realize that your level of communication is insufficient for your target audience.

Try it again with a 10th grade reading level. Most popular novelists aim for that goal.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 2:34:09 AM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 2:34:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Sin_Bin:
I write. Nothing spectacular but enough to realize that your level of communication is insufficient for your target audience.

Try it again with a 10th grade reading level. Most popular novelists aim for that goal.



Well, my target audience is definately not Walmart house-fraus. More looking at getting published with a company that does short stories and literary journals. People who read that stuff are usually pretty savvy, well read and don't like popular (dumbed-down) novels. That's why I asked for literary fans. Literature, in the classic sense, isn't dime-store Harlequins or Cowboy books.

Awwww shit, I'm too high brow. Maybe I should just write sex stories for Hustler.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 2:48:31 AM EDT

Originally Posted By swingset:

Originally Posted By Sin_Bin:
I write. Nothing spectacular but enough to realize that your level of communication is insufficient for your target audience.

Try it again with a 10th grade reading level. Most popular novelists aim for that goal.



Well, my target audience is definately not Walmart house-fraus. More looking at getting published with a company that does short stories and literary journals. People who read that stuff are usually pretty savvy, well read and don't like popular (dumbed-down) novels. That's why I asked for literary fans. Literature, in the classic sense, isn't dime-store Harlequins or Cowboy books.

Awwww shit, I'm too high brow. Maybe I should just write sex stories for Hustler.



I do see your motivation and get your point. Where did you study?
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 3:39:00 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/7/2005 3:41:11 AM EDT by TomJefferson]
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 9:00:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/7/2005 9:02:40 AM EDT by sgtar15]

Originally Posted By swingset:

People who read that stuff are usually pretty savvy, well read and don't like popular (dumbed-down) novels. That's why I asked for literary fans.



Well excuse the fuck out of me.



Literature, in the classic sense, isn't dime-store Harlequins or Cowboy books..


Sure as fuck reads like it. Even my wife read it and said it was targeted to wards lonely women.

Maybe I know what I like to read and YOU just have a problem with criticism.

I am very familiar with literature. that why it didn't take me long to tell you your intro sucks. So excuse me for give you an honest opinion which is what you fucking asked for.

I'll try not to make that mistake again.

Sgtar15
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 9:08:39 AM EDT
On the opposing hand, you are quite a wordsmith there and I would like to read something by you that does not have this subject. The overall impression was that of the intro to a really good detective novel. The fast paced flow of words reminds me of intros that start out--
Violet was my secretary, my girl friday, my confidant and the best damn coffee artist in three states. She was also built like a brick shithouse and had a mind like a titanium razor slicing through whipped cream.
Now the next question here is do we have a plotline to go with this little piece or do we just have a good intro. Do you have a romance, a tragedy, a comedy, a detective novel, or literary fiction on your hands.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 9:55:19 AM EDT

Originally Posted By sgtar15:

Originally Posted By swingset:

People who read that stuff are usually pretty savvy, well read and don't like popular (dumbed-down) novels. That's why I asked for literary fans.



Well excuse the fuck out of me.



Literature, in the classic sense, isn't dime-store Harlequins or Cowboy books..


Sure as fuck reads like it. Even my wife read it and said it was targeted to wards lonely women.

Maybe I know what I like to read and YOU just have a problem with criticism.

I am very familiar with literature. that why it didn't take me long to tell you your intro sucks. So excuse me for give you an honest opinion which is what you fucking asked for.

I'll try not to make that mistake again.

Sgtar15



Settle down, Francis.

You don't like my writing, that's your perogative. I'd like to say I value your opinion, but frankly I read most of what you post on ARF as pissing on any topic you can, usually with a pious, condescending tone. Might even say you spend half your time on here seeking out things and people you can crap on, with a thinly veiled humor to hide an outright attack.

You believe anything written about love is aimed at a woman, even my story told by and about a man. That tells me plenty, enough to know you're the last person I'd write for. Have a nice day.


Originally Posted By Tom Jefferson:
Many people publish works, hell I have, but appealing to the largest market segment is what makes money.

The days of readers reading to impress both themselves and others from a marketing standpoint is gone and the action thriller or romance novel rules the dollar.

Sorry you asked.

Tj



Point taken, I do get carried away with prose sometimes. I am certainly not a laconic writer, but I also try make my point with some imagery. I probably should scale it back a bit, as the rest of the story sheds the overly descriptive narrative.

Literal writing is, as you say, what sells books but I never intended to do that. Some books are closer to poetic verse than fiction, and I grew up reading TS Eliot, Bromfield, etc. and I enjoy that style of writing. I'm not a professional writer, and in a way don't see myself ever becoming one (Sarge applauds). I'm aiming my work at people who enjoy that kind of imagery - which is probably a rare thing around here. Probably should have posted this where it belongs.

Oh, Sin_Bin, I studied at Carnegie Mellon, Classical Literature and Visual Arts.....happily employed using neither!
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 10:02:10 AM EDT
Don't have time to read presently. Will later.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 10:03:42 AM EDT
Its to dry you will scare people away in the first few paragraphs. Besides this looks geared more towards woman post in the womans forum see what they say.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 10:51:16 AM EDT
the voice reminds me a little of tom robbins. almost like a jaded cousin of his who still has a romantic streak buried under that big pile of melancholy.

i like it.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 10:57:20 AM EDT
Honestly it reads a little like you are trying too hard; as if you were focused not on telling a story but on demonstrating your facility with language. In other words somewhat fussy.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:02:27 AM EDT
I like Tom Wolfe. Do I qualify as literary?
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:03:11 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/7/2005 11:06:14 AM EDT by Ghostchild]

Originally Posted By sirensong:
the voice reminds me a little of tom robbins. almost like a jaded cousin of his who still has a romantic streak buried under that big pile of melancholy.

i like it.



It is very robbinish, the above assesment is almost spot on for what I think.

Just don't forget and get so caught up in the words that you miss your point.

I like the imagery you are going for.

Not bad, wouldn't mind reading more of what you have written.

ETA: I do see some of it as being too wordy, that last thing you want is to make your readers look for a dictionary every other word. ( just saying, most people are waaaay dumber than you think)

Its good though, you have a good command of your words, and the tone is definatly interesting.

where is the story going?

Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:21:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Ghostchild:
...Just don't forget and get so caught up in the words that you miss your point...



very good point. remember what faulkner said about the need to 'kill your darlings.'

wordiness is my personal waterloo. i finish a chapter and have to force myself to go back and strip out the non-essential.

that being said, all prose has music behind it, and i think that this is pretty close to the mark. it isn't an effortless glide of a read, but i don't think it's intended to be. the movement is a bit more intricate. think modern french romanticist--intentionally wordy for atmosphere's sake.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:24:15 AM EDT
Good start, but I'm not sure if your shooting for creative non-fiction type presentation or a first person narration? If you intend to be the narrator, I would be really careful with the use of cliches and "purple prose." Try to speak more plainly. If your going for first person narration, I think the voice lacks some narritive distance. Try a switch to 3rd person and get to know the narrator a little better, then switch back to first.

Just my 2 cents...Keep at it and good luck!ruido
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:32:55 AM EDT
Also I would like to add that fact that I really like the grittiness of it.

The armani suit reference is great.

It's got kind of a chuck pahlanuik edge to it.

(which is a good thing)
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:33:05 AM EDT
"flaxen haired"

I'm out of my element.

Best wishes....remember us little folks when you become rich and famous.

Seriously, you have some talent.

As I don't read this sort of thing, I have NO IDEA what it SHOULD sound like. But your intro para seems a little technical.

To wit -

I am under the impression that words like "incomprehensible" and "ether" make them yawn. Conversely, words like "sugary, angelic and gilded wings" are right up their alley.

Beyond that, like I say, all I have to go on are my preconceptions and prejudices of the mental acuity of romance novel readers.

Let's just say it ain't flattering towards them.

And let me also say, you just never know whats behind the keyboard at Arfcom. Men who play with dolls, and others who use the term "flaxen haired."



Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:35:55 AM EDT
"The sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel"

the best intro to any modern sci-fi book right there.

"No matter how much you love someone you'll take a step back when the pool of their blood edges close."

Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:38:28 AM EDT
"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:40:18 AM EDT
I read a lot,and I have written a lot. Poetry, stories etc.,... for years.

The impression of the character in the story[be it you or someone else written form the "I" perspective], is looking at physical love. he is young, he is in-experienced, and has not found self discipline. the only reason he let his body go to another, is that his heart, mind and soul had not committed to one.

he is striving to feel what he believes to be love, but is only lust, lonliness and deep hurt. hence, why it appears to be "for women". they love romance, intrigue,and tearing men apart.And in this story , we could easily comment on "where the man went wrong and why". Sorry but most of us do! just as many men love tearing women apart.

it has potential. but I do believe the audience of this particular story would be women for the most part.

And if you could change the intro a bit,...that would help. If one wants the general population as an audience, one needs to simplify the vocabulary. But perhpas you weren't aiming for the gen public? Didn't bother me, however, I write poetry that is over the top for most to understand...
Such as
"carnel knowledge, simple fate,
For which we have intrinsic sate.
Surpass the human and be free,
but first come be one with me."
As you can see, another "deep"[ or full of crap-- you decide! haha] person would get it. the general public will not. and anything where they have to look up words, they will usually stay away from. Relax, be yourself,and don't try to impress. The best stories come from the that.
Good luck


Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:42:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By garandman:
"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."




/The simpsons.

You see, we have had 100 monkeys typing on typewriters in here to back up the theory that they could write a great amercian novel.

/rips sheet off of typewriter.

"It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times!, you dolt"

monkey screaming.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:44:08 AM EDT
Oh, one more piece of advice -

use the "F" word alot.

No one ever went hungry underestimating the intelligence of their prospective audience.

Especially romance novel readers.

Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:44:40 AM EDT
Saddleup77 writes great fiction. You should talk to him.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 11:58:47 AM EDT
I like the style. Is the story autobiographical?
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 12:12:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/7/2005 12:15:49 PM EDT by 9X19]

Originally Posted By Rand:
Its to dry you will scare people away in the first few paragraphs. Besides this looks geared more towards woman post in the womans forum see what they say.



I think most of the women on ARFcom read the other forums as well as the women's forum.

As far as the introduction, I love a good book, fiction, literature, the classics, autobiographies, non-fiction, NO ROMANCE crap. I don't always like what is "popular." One thing I do when I am browsing through books, is pick one up and read the first page or two. If doesn't interest me after the first few paragraphs, then I put it back. A good introduction, gives an idea of the subject, but leaves the reader wanting to read more.

I think you should get rid of the first two paragraphs. It seems contrived, like you are trying to show how well you write, but it had the opposite effect on me. It just didn't ring true to me. I think you should start with the last sentence in the third paragraph, and the fourth paragraph. I also think the writing for the intro is too philosophical. You are telling your whole story in the first couple of paragraphs. You have to leave something for the rest of the book. There is room for that in the other chapters.

My .02.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 2:17:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TomJefferson:
Your writing style is fluid and easy to follow however it tends to remind me of Truman Copote and his continous monotonous attempt to convince the reader how intellegent he is and deep his thoughts are.

He's sold some books and received acclaim but Clive Gussler can't crank them out fast enough.

The trick to writing isn't can you write but can you publish and involves alot of things from who you know to primarily what markets you appeal to. Many people publish works, hell I have, but appealing to the largest market segment is what makes money.

The days of readers reading to impress both themselves and others from a marketing standpoint is gone and the action thriller or romance novel rules the dollar.

Sorry you asked.

Tj


I agree.
And may I add, as a reader, you shouldn't feel as though the author is trying to prove how intelligent he is, this will translate to boredom. It is obvious that you are a capable author, but I don't need to be hit over the head with attempts to prove such. It should be conveyed through your writing in a smooth, nonchalant manner. I can't exactly say how this is accomplished, but I know it when I read it.
As far as your story goes, I would read a bit further to give the story an opportunity to overcome the style, but I am not inclined to finish books that bore me. Good luck.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 6:50:02 PM EDT
Your writing is very lucid and descriptive. All writing is about editing.... and editing.... and editing... until you are satisfied with it. If you are not satisfied with it, no one else will be either. Good luck.
Link Posted: 1/7/2005 7:12:15 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/8/2005 7:33:44 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/8/2005 7:39:45 PM EDT by swingset]
Thanks guys, I really appreciate your comments...except Sarge.

This is only a draft, so there is ample time to work it out and I agree in rereading from a fresh perspective that I'm trying too hard.

For those that asked, the story is about how this man (not me) relearns romantic love of the ordinary, finding out that his obsession with a new pussy is really more about his forgetting what made him a man in the first place....ie his wife, his morality, his children, etc.

It takes some funny and strange turns, especially when the affair comes out. Without giving too much away, it sort of turns black comedy towards the end.
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