Monday, February 22, 2010

Early Teaser - Boom Boom

So, here it is. My own personal leap in the dark. From third person close POV to first person...oh, and the MC is male.

I'm completely absorbed by this story. I can't stop thinking about it, when I'm not writing it. I'm also anxious to know if I can carry this off. To that end, I've posted this early Teaser, because I really am going to be a shameless comment whore with this one. This is the first 250 words, those golden, attention-grabbing moments.

The usual caveat applies. It's rough and I need feedback on whether it works for you or not.

Dig in.


When the IED went off, none of us expected it. I guess that’s why those Taliban bastards use the buggers. They love their little surprises. This one certainly worked. For a split second everyone in the convoy stopped and gawped at the blossoming cloud of dust and smoke. I grabbed my camera and then stopped. It was bloody hard to maintain good old-fashioned journalistic neutrality when the blast hurled Captain Beaumont through the air.

Holy crap, I thought that only happened in films.

Men shouted at each other up and down the convoy. While the dust and smoke from the explosion faded, the air was now alive with the wasps’ hiss of bullets, pinging against the lorries, spitting in the dust. Guardsman Walker grabbed my arm and wrenched me to the ground.

“For fucks’ sake, man, get the fuck out of here.”

No arguments from me.

I did my best impression of a combat crawl, across the dirt and small stones, under the lorry to the ditch on the other side of the road. I didn’t even swear when scraps of sharp rock bit into my skin. I just wanted to be away from the worst of the gunfire. At least the ground there was open, no place for the gutless little bastards to hide. Nope, they were entrenched on other side, hunkered down behind a crumbling mud wall.

Lucky them.


  1. Oooh, this is great. Grabs me right away and I have to say, for someone who never wrote first, you do it really well! No surprise though. Your writing is always so good!

  2. I like. Consistent voice, effective descriptions, one of those kinds of things that's really easy to over-do, and you don't.

  3. Oh, except I wonder about "holy crap" under the circumstances! that's really the only thing that stood out a little wrong for me.

  4. I totally believe this as a male voice - British, of course. Love the "wasps' hiss" description, and it's gripping.

    An observation, and one I haven't worked through myself, so this is not a criticism, but it can be easy to breech "the wall" in 1st. What I mean by that is the tendency to talk to the reader rather than stay in deep 1st. (This is where I slip all the time.) For example, in "deep 1st", for want of a better expression, the first sentence might be "When the IED went off, I didn't expect it."

    If you're going for a more conversational tone, though, the narrator will often subtly address the reader like you have done. So in the end, you're not doing anything wrong. Just thought I'd point out a distinction so you can make a decision about narrator style before you get too deeply into this. As your narrator might say, "It's bugger hard to fix after the fact."

  5. thanks all, for commenting. I;m glad it's working.
    Yes, I wondered about the Holy Crap. I can ditch that and, will probably replace with something more english, e.g. Bugger.

    Hope, that is a very interesting point. I'll read through and make sure that the voice is consistent throughout. I was aiming for a more conversational 'feel'. Because he's a journalist, I kinda wanted him to be aware of his 'audience', if that makes sense.

    I'm glad he comes across as manly. :D

  6. " Because he's a journalist, I kinda wanted him to be aware of his 'audience', if that makes sense."

    Absolutely. I think it's a stylistic choice rather than something that's a right or wrong. I'm just aware of it because I've been recently trying my hand at first and I keep catching my blogging style bleeding over into the piece.

  7. I like this! I think the 1st person POV is working and comes across as definitely male, and yet it clearly shows off your simple but effective style of description. Agree with everyone else about the "holy crap" but otherwise I think the voice is strong.

  8. Sue, I think you've done great here. I could really feel what he was going through, in real time, as he was experiencing it.

    I have to admit I don't know what an IED is, so I didn't understand its significance as a "bad thing" until the next sentence. I'm sure it's because I'm SO uninformed!

    Also, I would like to see a little bit more in depth of what he's seeing/experiencing with the first paragraph. It feels a little more distant, but only because we're really in the nitty gritty and the chaos in the next paragraphs. (Awesome stuff.)

    I would love to read more of this. Should we imagine your former avatar as the MC? :)

  9. This is bloody birlliant! Seriously, why haven't you tried 1st yet? It seems to come natural. I agree on the Holy crap. Maybe Bloody hell? Because I love that phrase lol.

    The scene was firmly planted in my head and I loved the voice. Great job, don't stray away from this one Sue. It's good.

  10. Ah, I see Captain Beaumont making an appearance!
    Like the voice, and you're doing well with your adventures in 1st-pov land :) (though count me as another vote to ditch the 'holy crap')

    Only other comment is I'm not sure about the 1st sentence - it reminds me quite a bit of the struggles Jess was having with her silent prison camp. It's not bad as-is, but even though it's clear we're looking back at the event, I could stand to feel that unexpectedness more. Ignore me if that doesn't make any sense. Need more coffee.

  11. This is definitely working for me, love the voice of your MC and unlike with some other writers I have no problems clearly identifying him as male - excellent job given that this is your first foray into 1st person, but also a male PoV!

    The only things that I think you might want to work on is using a few stronger words "holy crap" is rather weak, also I'd imagine him giving sort of an immediate run-on commentary about what he's seeing that conveys the events here in a more direct, more immediate and chaotic way. As is it feels a tad detached at places.

    Really like the overall opening idea though and can't wait to read more!

  12. Fantastic Sue.Gripping.
    'Holy crap' is far too tame, Sue.haha

    'Bloody Hell' is too perceived English.

    Go for 'fuckin' 'ell'.I say it all the time, under my breath.

  13. Love the voice of this, and it was convincingly male - the only bit that I wondered about (and it's not necessarily a criticism, but a wondering observation) is that it felt very light in tone. If this a happy-go-lucky journalist telling war stories with a "glad-to-be-her" smile over a drink, that voice works well. But if it's a darker book, a darker memory, I worry it feels too light. I didn't feel fear, more like elation at having survived another crazy scrape. So, loved the voice, but I wonder where the story is going and if it was the mood you intended.

  14. Sigh... that should have been a "glad to be HERE" smile...

  15. Love the thrill of coming at something in a new way, so I can share your excitement. On the other hand, wonder about this setting. Having just seen Kathryn Bigelow's (everything crossed that can be, that she wins best director) The Hurt Locker, I couldn't find this opening convincing. How old is your narrator? How did such an inexperienced and seemingly ignorant guy become embedded in a combat operation? How far away from the explosion is this guy? Close enough to identify the person flying through the air does not suggest to me gawping as a reaction.Could your character, rather than experiencing a real event, be preparing for it via virtual reality? Then he could be 'beeped' into oblivion, as would probably happen to your guy! Last, but certainly not least, how brave of you to post and offer up for critique at this tender stage! Best wishes on the successful publication of all your work!

  16. Dear all, thanks for all your helpful and encouraging comments. There are some useful suggestions here, which I'll definitely take on board.
    It's not as strong a start as it needs to be. So I will be upping the drama and impact.
    Anonymous Number 2, very sound points. I see that the Hurt Locker is on ppv at the moment, so I am going to watch it and get some ideas.

    Once again, thanks for everyone's comments. Much appreciated. I'm enjoying going out on a limb and telling this story.