Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So Could I Maybe Ask You A Favor?

Hey peoples! New banner quote! Hopefully kinda slightly maybe a little difficult. On to today's post. Er...ok, so ages ago back when I had maybe two readers I put up a prologue thingy I was working on because when I'm not spewing nonsense on here I am actually trying to be a legit writer (the shock!). Anyway, it's a shitty prologue, don't go looking for it in the archives (I'm going to go delete in case you're one of those "don't think about purple elephants!" "I'm thinking about purple elephants" types) the point is I'm working on a new story and now that I have actual readers and stuff, figured maybe I'd post a bit of it because my biggest issue when working is this thought that I'm writing a ton of pages and getting all down and it turns out to be crap. It's hard for me to separate what's actually crap from what's just me being weird.

So yeah, be my objective...thing, and tell me what you think. Does it grab your interest? Is it retarded? Do you want to read more? Should I never do this again? Let me know. The background: Currently untitled and still in the early stages this is planned as a supernatural sort of parody-noir. Detective fiction but with demons and juvenile humor. Something like that. Here's what I've got as an opening so far, I can't figure out how to format it for the blog so all the paragraphs are chopped apart which is annoying but shouldn't mess with the flow or whatever:

Ellis had known that Barnabas would give him crap for going to the group meeting. His typical sneer had crossed his face as he cackled, “A support group? For cigarettes? I knew you were a precious a little girl, but I didn’t know there were enough like you to make a whole group!”
Ellis had rolled his eyes, stolen Barnabas’s Ipod and gone on his way. Ok, maybe a group meeting for people trying to quit smoking was a little much. But he’d tried time and again over the years to quit with no success.

The gum? Nasty.
The patch? He’d ended up wearing about twelve at a time.
Herbal remedies? Ha. Not even close.

It was just so easy to keep smoking rather than do something about it. But Ellis was getting older, older than he’d like to admit anyway. And as his job didn’t grant him much of a lifespan as it was, there was no reason to make it even shorter by continuing to suck the nicotine stick. So he was going to the group meeting, figuring he’d find a bunch of people going through the same issues. Well, not exactly the same but close enough that he might get some better support than Barnabas, whose idea of a helping hand was one making an extremely rude gesture.

He pulled his battered old car into the parking lot, taking a moment to smooth out his shirt and adjust his glasses. Ugh, glasses. Just another part of getting old that Ellis wanted nothing to do with. Still, it was either be blind, wear glasses or fiddle with contacts and there was far too much eyeball poking going on with that, and also a weird childhood fear from a story he had heard where someone’s contact shifted to the back of their eye and could not be removed. So glasses it was.

He walked into the community center and found the room, a box of doughnuts and a carton of coffee in the center on a little table surrounded by twitchy, nicotine-deprived individuals.

Why is it always doughnuts and coffee? He wondered as he took a seat between a jowly man and official-looking businesswoman who already had four empty Styrofoam cups scattered around her feet. Why can’t it ever be something different, like tea and crackers? Or milk and cookies? Gin and sandwiches? Ok maybe not.

Ellis knew the group leader the instant he walked in. Maybe walk wasn’t the appropriate word. He bounded in, with a bright blue polo shirt and a grin that was loud enough to wake the dead.

“Hey guys,” he started exuberantly, “So glad you all could make it to the first meeting. My name is Andy and let me just say that I am so glad you all have decided to take an active step onto the road of an addiction-free life here at Smokers Anonymous. So glad.”

I wonder if he’s glad.

“Anyway, to start things off, we’re going to go around the circle, say our names and what it is in our life that we think is keeping us from quitting,”

Why, Ellis thought, do they call it Smokers Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous or whatever if the first thing they always make you do is say your name to everyone?

Andy pointed to a bored looking boy who couldn’t have been more than seventeen or so. He stood up and shrugged.

“My name’s Darren Jones and I used to smoke weed but now I’m broke and all I can afford is cigarettes. I’m running out of cash but I need to smoke something. My dad’s just such a pain the ass, the only way I can put up with him is if I can have a few drags but then Mom found my stash and won’t let me play Xbox unless I come –”

“That’s plenty, Darren” Andy interrupted, “let’s give someone else a chance.”

And so it went, around the circle as Ellis fiddled with the strings of his jacket hood, tying them in knots and thinking about Barnabas laughing at him.

Not all of us can put whatever nasty crap we want into our bodies because we don’t have a proper liver or set of lungs. Bastard.

Ellis knew he was just being a grouch because he was thinking Barn was right and that this was a waste of his time. But before he knew it, the caffeinated businesswoman was standing up and announcing that her husband just made her life so stressful that cigarettes were the only way she knew to relax because she refused to drink. She plopped back down and poured another cup of coffee. Now Andy was looking expectantly at Ellis. He sighed, pushed his glasses up his face and stood up.

“My name’s Ellis Raine and I think I keep smoking because it helps me deal with the stress of my job,”

He went to sit down but Andy held his hand up, “And why would you say your job is stressful, Ellis?”

Ellis shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, hands stuffed in his pockets.

“Well it’s very demanding, you know? Lot of long hours, kind of dangerous really. I have to deal with a lot of nasty people who I’d rather not see on a day-to-day basis,”

The businesswoman nodded sagely as though she understood exactly what he was talking about. The Droopy Dog looking man on his other side simply snorted. Again, Ellis moved to sit back down and again Andy flashed him a toothpaste ad smile that said “Don’t even think about it.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier for you to find a less demanding job rather than continue to suffer from this stress and your addiction?”

Ellis chewed his lip, he had hoped to keep his personal life separate from his job in this instance but apparently that wasn’t happening.

“It’s a little more complicated than that. I mean, it’s a family business sort of thing. My father did it before me and I have this, like, obligation to keep-”

“Are you in the mafia?” Darren interrupted.

“What? No!”

“What,” began Andy, in what he thought of as his “soothing tone” but really just sounded like he was a bit slow in the head, “is your job, Ellis?”

Ellis cleared his throat. He coughed, fixed his jacket strings and went for a few more throat clears.

“I, uh, I fight monsters,”

Andy’s grin shrunk by a few molars as the rest of the circle stared at Ellis as though he just claimed to be the pope or Oprah.

Jowly finally spoke up. “What?”

Ellis shrugged helplessly. “I hunt monsters, kill demons, and generally eradicate unpleasant creatures,” he attempted to crack a joke, “the benefits are crap,”

No one laughed.

Andy rubbed the back of his neck, eyebrows knit together in confusion, “you can sit down now, Ellis.”

The group meeting had been a stupid idea.


“So it never occurred to you to lie to them?” Barnabas asked with a smirk. “You could’ve said you were a bounty hunter, ‘cept you look like such a bloody weenie,”

The two men were sitting at the kitchen table in Ellis’s apartment. Barnabas lived elsewhere in some mysterious location, which was just fine with Ellis, but was constantly over anyway, even when there wasn’t any work to be done, which was Ellis was considerably less fine with.

He punched Barnabas in the arm in annoyance.

“I’m wiry! It’s less noticeable than giant muscles, it gives me the element of surprise” which was a dirty lie but whatever.

As he said this he drew himself up to full height – which was still a good three inches shorter than Barn. Ellis resented the physical differences between him and his work partner. Ellis was a man of average height, average build and average looks. If you discounted the fact that he spent most of his time fighting supernatural evil he was an almost painfully ordinary person. Barnabas, on the other hand, was six feet tall, darkly handsome, English and built like a steel door. He was the farthest thing from an ordinary person, mostly because he wasn’t really a person at all.

Ellis tried to ignore him but Barn continued on, “Or maybe a repo man or something. Hell, you could’ve just said that yeah, you were in the mafia. Which is cooler than what you actually do,”

Ellis shrugged defensively. “Whatever, they got over it. Darren wanted to know if it was anything like World of Warcraft and Andy just kind of ignored me the rest of the time. Which was better, really. Anyway, I learned some useful tips for making quitting stick this time,”

“What, like not stashing extra cartons around the house?”

How does he know I do that?

Ellis sighed with his mouth closed, so it sounded like a growly hiss. “I am not in the mood right now,”

“Aww, does baby need his cigarettes?”

Actually yes, Ellis was dying for a smoke but he refused to give Barn the satisfaction. Instead he got up from the table of his tiny kitchen and headed downstairs to the bookstore he lived above that was his day job, tossing sarcasm over his shoulder. “You know, I’ve let you stick around out of the goodness of my heart! And you just abuse my kind and giving nature!”

Barn rolled his eyes to the ceiling, “You’re a regular Mother Theresa, only I don’t think she bitched as much as you do,”

Ellis paused at the door, “Keep it up, Barn. Keep it up and see what happens. Maybe I’ll let it slip to that maniac priest that he’s been right all along that there’s something funny about you. I bet he’d practically wet himself at the opportunity to exorcise a real live demon…even if that demon is just a cuddly little imp,”

Ellis heard Barnabas mutter something along the lines of “Sodding meatbag son of a bitch” and closed the door behind him with satisfaction.

So yeah, it's still kinda rough and stuff. I have an idea of where it's going and all, I'm just not sure if it's worth pursuing or if it's stupid. That's where you people come in. Lemmee know what you think and hopefully I won't have just made an idiot out of myself (which is different from any other post, how?).

'Night, I'm off to sleep, and by sleep I mean stare at the ceiling til about 3 or so. Insomnia!!


  1. Ocean's Thirteen. Now let me read this piece of work you got going on here. Back in a jiff.

  2. Alright, girly. You got something here, that's for certain; style, tone, and a lot of spunk. I like it. But this is not your beginning. This is just a draft. If you want to get serious, just press on and write the next few chapters without looking back at this. Then decide if this is even going to make it into the cut, or if you need to rework it. That's what writing is all about. Write it. Rewrite it. Scrap it, and write it again. By the third or fourth writing, you'll have a much better idea of the pieces you're playing with and how to make them fit better. Just don't rely on feedback from readers to keep you going. If you're really serious about getting helpful critique and criticism, go to Urbis.com. I sent you an invite.

    Keep writing!

  3. I love it, the premise and all the (ahem) snarkiness and shit, but why didn't he lie about his job? That just sounds unreasonable.

    I wrote a thing once. Except the entire structure was tragic, the story painfully boring at the middle, lot of vagueness and purple prose. I mean, I wrote it one night after a bout of insomnia going for three days straight, but still, it was kind of horrible.

    Therefore, you should commend yourself, what with your coherent storylines and engaging writing style. Damn you.

  4. Jacob: You miserable bastard! HOW DO YOU ALWAYS KNOW?!?! Choose your picture :p

    Thanks for the Urbis invite and the criticisms. It is really just a rough mess right now but I was curious if people found it interesting enough for me to press on or if I ought to scrap and try something else, thanks again!

    Simon: Yeah, insomniac writing is a crapshoot. There is a reason he didn't lie that does get mention in the next bit right after his conversation with Barnabas that has to do with his family history, being brought to find weird shit normal and also just being too honest for his own good. thanks for the comments!!

    Kid: Dude, totally! Gotta do my grocery shopping first though >_< WE HAVE NO MILK!!

  5. No picture this time. I'd rather see you take that 5-10 minutes and spend it on this thing right here.

    Here's a thought: Introduce a main character who isn't part of the monster hunting squad but gets sucked into it to show things from his/her perspective. The protagonist suffers from paranoia because he feels like someone or something is always after him. Nobody believes him, of course, and he's taken up smoking to calm his nerves. His overbearing wife makes him go to SA to kick the habit (she doesn't believe anyone is out to get him, either). And that is where he runs into Ellis who openly claims that he hunts monsters.

    Ellis (and company) might actually know about the protagonists situation and came just for him, or it could be purely coincidence. Either way, the protagonist decides to reach out to Ellis and seeks his help. His problems may really be worse than he thought, and we learn about everything through his eyes.

  6. I actually do have a character in mind for that (because the reader always needs an in lol), they just didn't factor into my current version of the beginning, and they do meet at SA


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