Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tempest in Time

This illustration is from a package of Dollar $tore notepaper, marked made in Hong Kong.
Other than the contemplative pose, it bears, I hope, no relation to today's post.

The first page of the adventures of Damie Tempest follows.
Tomorrow I will attempt to render it in first person.

He watched her stride down the airport concourse.

Black it was, just as she had said: black pants, black leather jacket, a black scarf covering that extraordinary hair. She towed black leather luggage and carried a black travel case.

Tres chic, he thought, but she walks like a warrior.

Inspector Steve LaViolette, of the National Security Branch, felt momentarily startled. Had she deliberately crossed her eyes when they met his?

He watched her angle toward the lounge area. With a quick stride and twitch of her travel case, she beat a mother and two kids to the only free double seat.

She parked her suitcase beside the bench, dropped the carry-on next to her feet, extracted a pen and note pad from the side compartment and sat back. She left the compartment unzipped and nudged the case sideways with her boot.

"Sooo...that's my contact?" asked a voice at his shoulder. "Nice ass!"

Steve turned his head and looked the source over slowly. "You really are young, aren't you," he said at last. "There you go. She set it up for you."

LaViolette watched the body language critically as the young agent ambled through the seating area, newspaper in hand: a glance at his watch, the recognition of a convenient seat, the question in mime - "Is this seat free?"

She responded with a brief glance and nod and a slight personal space withdrawal from a stranger. The paper fell from a careless grip as the young man hitched at his trench coat. He apologized. She waved a hand in a think-nothing-of-it gesture and continued to scribble on her notepad.

Cocky young prick, thought Steve, too tricky for a safe hand-off - not good; clumsiness always draws the eye - also not good. A newspaper not good for this time of night, magazine would be better. I'll burn his balls for that on critique.

The trainee gathered up his scattered sections of The Ottawa Citizen and sat back with a smug face.

And froze.

~excerpt ends~


spyscribbler said...

Okay, I like a lot! (I want more of your voice, though.) :-)

Maybe, with your worry about writing it in first person, what you're really worrying about is a lack of depth in your POV? An ability for the reader to put themselves in your POV's shoes that we sometimes get in first person?

One of the things I have to look out for during editing are such words as "thought," "watched," "looked," etc. Those words have a distancing effect to the reader. If we avoid those words, we pull the reader deeper into his POV, even in third person.

For example, with:
LaViolette watched the body language critically as the young agent ambled through the seating area, newspaper in hand: a glance at his watch, the recognition of a convenient seat, the question in mime - "Is this seat free?"

Maybe try to see if you can just show he's watching. Start with "The young agent ..." and then instead of telling us that he's critiquing him, why not just go ahead and have him do it:

Well done. Professional. Even his mentor would have been proud. (Of course your voice would be better, LOL, and this is a great opportunity to give us a quick tidbit of backstory without us noticing it.)

How do you think it would work to lead with this sentence? "Sooo...that's my contact?" asked a voice at his shoulder. "Nice ass!"

I think third person works well for this. Whatever you think, but I think you just need to go deeper in third.

And I want more of your voice! *pout*

Oh ... oopsy. Do you want suggestions, LOL? I'm entirely too fond of my own opinion. :-)

spyscribbler said...

(Sorry, forgot: "His young agent ..." would be even better.)

I can't wait for more, though! This story is something I'd definitely be excited to read!

Gabriele C. said...

I'd say keep the third person. In first, you would lose the other POVs besides Damie's and that would be a pity. It didn't feel distanced to me, but then, it's the sort of third borderline omniscient I write all the time.

And don't try several first person POVs, I hate that. ;)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Spy. I appreciate and seriously consider any and all opinions.

LaViolette is a bookend character, I don't particularly want the reader deep in his shoes.

Bernita said...

I won't, Gabriele!
Considered and dismissed that method quickly.
I'll provide a first person variant tomorrow.

spyscribbler said...

Oh, that makes sense, Bernita! This is why I'm not much into critique groups; there's no context, LOL.

"it's the sort of third borderline omniscient I write all the time."

Gabriele, I've been wondering if we're going to trend towards more omniscience in the next few years.

kmfrontain said...

It's lovely, Bernita, but be warned, however poetic it is, you will be picked on for writing "Black it was". I get picked on for doing the same. I'm acused of Yoda-ing. The poetic effect doesn't seem to matter to the one's who dislike it.

And again, I say, it's lovely. Wanted you to know I really mean that. The POV comes out fine, very clear and very detailed.

Bernita said...

I thought omniscient and/ or close third was the standard default, Spy?

I value that, Karen. Thank you.

Never thought of that internal thought pattern as "poetic" though.
I had Steve noting her clothing as a trained observer and also checking off the fact that she had worn what she had said she would (automatic verity point).

Gabriele C. said...

it could well be. There are often waves in taste, and after a wake of first person and tight third person books for the last years, multiple and omniscient POVs may gain popularity again.

I would be glad for it's the POV that comes to me naturally. The only other POV I've written is first present tense in some short stories. :)

ORION said...

I loved "black it was"! the trick (I think) for un-yoda-ing (I invented a new word) is to have the character occasionally have that type of syntax other places and only that character... but yanno you might not want to listen to me as I am a SF / Fantasy neophyte.
I DO love your writing Benita and think spyscribbler has some cool suggestions.
You mean I'm NOT brutal?
My reputation is in shreds.

anna said...

Of course we can't get much of a feel of character in such a few words but I too like it. Love the black bit, took a little bit of dislike to your character for not letting the woman with kids get the seat. While I like it in 3rd I think we will get more feel for your Damie in 1st.
way too soon to tell though.
Looking forward to it in revised edit

Bernita said...

Thank you.
I agree, Orion, that a repeat would cement the usage if there were objections.
It's not an unusual speech pattern though.

Regarding the use of |"he thought," "looked" etc., I also agree that such can often can be eliminated. I hesitate to do so at the very beginning because I think the reader needs a chance to settle in, so to speak, and don't mind/may require a few directionals to steady themselves on the escalator.

Not at all. Just your fair opinion. I plan to implement a number of your suggestions.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Anna.
Damie decided she - or national security - needed that double seat more than the mother and her kids.

spyscribbler said...

I just say that because I haven't seen much omniscience in non-speculative/fantasy genre fiction lately. Everything seems to be in deep POV that could may as well be in first person (or it's actually in first person).

Let's just say I was tickled by Neil Gaiman's omniscient POV because it's been ages since I'd read any.

But that's just what I've been picking up lately ... there are so many books out there! It's a good question. While I'm at Borders writing this week, I'll spend some time browsing the thriller/suspense section.

raine said...

I like this very much!
Like the sense of her, the fact that she 'walks like a warrior', and I liked that she did not hesitate to grab the seat, etc. She's an interesting character in a few short words.
You'll be hard-pressed to beat this in first person, methinks.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Nice, crisp writing. I loved this line:

Tres chic, he thought, but she walks like a warrior.

This is sharp. I look forward to reading more.

ORION said...

Benita: Not to change the subject but...

A couple of us opted to post our successful queries on our blogs:

There has been interest in doing this. We will try to get a couple more of our emerging author friends to post theirs. Remember they have to be tailored to you but these may be helpful.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Raine.
I must say I'm not happy with the first person draft I'm working on just now for this scene.

Stewart, thank you ...dear me, what a neat last name for a writer.
There's other stuff in the archives.

Thank you, Pat.
I'm sure more people than I will check those out.

writtenwyrdd said...

This is good writing, Bernita! I liked "she walks like a warrior" and the cross eyes bit. Some humorous tones, but still it's not taking the situation lightly.

I didn't like the guy's name, though. It seems pretty, um, lavender, ya know? How about LaVolette, or something close to the original?

I would think that, presuming the rest is as good, you can sell this one easily!

PS, I'd have sworn that picture was Mucha's. Really a nice bit o' art.

writtenwyrdd said...

PS I liked the pov you used. You can't go wrong with 3rd limited, really. But I liked this guy, so I hope to see more of him later. If you are just using him to intro the protag and he never shows up again, that would take away from the work as a whole.

Again, this is great.

Jeff said...

This is good, Bernita. I'm ready to read more of the story.

December Quinn said...

I really hope you don't take this out of third. I mean, the first you'll post later today will probably be excellent, too, but I still think you should keep it.

I didn't have any issues with "Black it was", I got what you were saying right away. rang one of my bells. It's a bell because I do it myself all the time, too.

Inspector Steve LaViolette, of the National Security Branch, felt momentarily startled. Had she deliberately crossed her eyes when they met his?

He felt? An emotion? Try not to use "felt" unless you're deliberately removing us from the character. (Like if someone is in shock, they might feel someone touch their hand.)

Like I said, it's just because I do it so much and have gotten dinged for it so many times now, it jumps right out at me.


Their eyes met. Were hers deliberately crossed? What kind of agent was this?

or something along those lines.

I love what that moment says about her and him, which I think is another reason why it leapt out at me. It's such a charming little moment, her insouciance and his buttoned-up reaction to it, I hate to see it lost.

Can't wait to see more!

Bernita said...

Hee. There is a real "Steve LaViolette" I learned, Written, but he runs a black leather bar in New Brunswick or something like that.It's a genuine French-Canadian surname.
Thank you.
It could be a rip-off for all I know.
LaViolette does show up, here and there, later.

Thank you, Jeff. I have to resist the urge to plant the whole thing on the blog at times.

You're right, December. Bothers me too. Chose it instead of "was." Will come up with something. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I read this after today's first person POV rendition. I was surprised to find not one the pov changed from first to third, but also the character! Wow!

I still like the first person pov better for the feistiness of the woman, but this one it is a more extended view, but that happens all the time when changing pov's.

Bernita said...

"also the character!"
If you mean what I think you mean, we get to her third a little later.