I dunno. I got dis feelin’, ya see? Like, sometimes I start a story. Ya know? An’ da autha thinks it’s so important for ya ta listen–and dat you understand. Ya know? Yeah. So, he, well, he tells ya stuff that doesn’t really go no where because he’s workin’ up a head o steam to get to da point. Ya know what I’ mean? But you keep listenin’ cuz da way dis guy is tawkin’ you know there’s sometin’ interestin’ coming. I’m just sayin’.

You’ll have to excuse my fooling around with dialect, but, that was my immediate reaction to this first page I’m critiquing today.

Now, please understand that this first page has actually intrigued me with the narrator’s voice. I know this character dislikes public speaking even though he’s in front of a huge audience, and he is reunited with a mountain of a man from whom he wished he had  the chance to run. Even the few misspellings and wrong word choices were surmountable. My biggest concern is that from this first page, I have no idea what is going on.

No Who? (Well, two guys with gangster-sounding names.) What? Nope. Where? (A stage somewhere.) Why? Nope. When? Nope.

Again, it all can’t be delivered on the first page, but I’m lost. I want to know much more. I feel like I was asked on a blind date and all I have to go on is a fascinating voice over the phone. Otherwise, I’m in the dark.

That said, I’d take a chance on that date—cuz’, ya know? Sometin’ tells me I’d find a diamond in da rough here. Ya know what I’m sayin’?

So, hook me, baby. Don’t need much. Perhaps spend less time telling me about the voice Nicky hears in the crowd. Maybe, let him hear it, then  spend a few sentences telling me why Nicky wants to run. That way, when they embrace in that bear hug, I can be screaming, Run Nicky! Run!

Kudos to the author for the courage to share. I would read more. Tell me what you think.

Catalina Eddie

THE CROWD ERUPTED. Dominic Bellagio grasped a microphone and waived his appreciation to his audience. Hating public speaking, Dominic’s subsequent expression of appreciation was perfunctory and terse. Once completed, he offered a final waive. Just as he was about to leap from the stage, he picked out a familiar sound coming from the audience. A sound he hadn’t heard in years. Right away, he couldn’t believe it. Didn’t want to believe it. But there it was just the same. There was no mistaking Eduardo Catalanos’s big hoarsey laugh. Too late to make a run for it. Catalanos had plowed through the crowd, shoving people aside, as if they were little children. Now he stood at the edge of the stage grinning up at Dominic.

“Hey, Nicky! NICKY!” The big man shouted, arms opened wide. “How’ya doin’, bro?”

“Hey . . . uhhh, Cat. Wow! CAT!” said Dominic. “It’s . . . it’s been a while . . . buddy.”

Dominic jumped from the stage and the two men wrapped each other in a bear hug. His friends called him Cat; anyone else knew him as Catalina Eddie. An imposing sight—six-six and two-eighty-five—two coal-black eyes gleamed from a smiling face. To his credit, he looked a cheerful person. In truth, he was far from it. Favoring black, he was dressed in a simple black tee shirt and matching karate pants. His body was solid and tight.

“So, Cat . . . whaddaya been up to the past three years? Least it seems like three years since . . . since what was it now? Cartagena, I think it was. Huh?”

“Yeah, Nicky. That’s about right, bro.”

5 thoughts on “WHAT’S THIS STORY ABOUT?

  1. I might read on but a few spots pulled me out. These are things that a good beta reader might catch, hopefully.

    The word WAIVED is used more than once & is misspelled. Should be WAVED. Also, there is a dangling participle in sentence 3. His “expression of appreciation” can’t hate public speaking.

    Later in the submission (at the explanation of the nickname CAT) is a semi-colon. I’m not a fan of that. As a reader it pulls me from the story. The two sentences can be separated & don’t need that punctuation anyway.

    I can’t believe I’m commenting on grammar, spelling & punctuation. ME! So not like me, but there it is. My first beta reader was really great with grammar. My goal was to learn from her until she couldn’t comment any more. That dangling participle reminded me of her. Good times.

  2. Hating public speaking, Dominic’s subsequent expression of appreciation was perfunctory and terse.

    This is narrative summary. It’s telling. It’s not setting us in a scene. So we don’t really know or care about Dominic.

    If you start off with him actually giving a speech, halting, nervous … whatever. A disturbance happening. Show us this, get us in Dominic’s head, then let the scene unfold. This will also give opportunity to ground us, as Kathleen was looking for.

  3. First off, you cannot waive, or wave, your appreciation (a word that is repeated eleven words apart, btw) to an audience. You can only wave in appreciation to an audience.

    Second, as JSB mentions, we’re not in Dom’s head really. The author doesn’t have to have him give a speech to put us there. This section just needs to be flushed out more. Something like:

    Dominic Bellagio latched onto the microphone, his life-preserver. He was a duck on a pond, feet fluttering underneath the still water, struggling to keep afloat. The round of applause was dinning. A standing ovation. Wow. He hadn’t expected that. He relegated himself to a perfunctory wave.

    Then the scene can move forward to Dom seeing Eddie. The dialogue for that encounter needs smoothing still. I get that Dom is supposed to be uncomfortable seeing Eddie, but abusing the ellipsis isn’t the only way to go about conveying that. Don’t be a one trick pony. Throw in an em dash. Maybe interrupt things with some of Dom’s internal thoughts. Drop some of the exclamation points too. It’s overkill. And never write in all caps unless you’re using an acronym. Consider:

    Now he stood at the edge of the stage grinning up at Dominic, arms opened wide, a behemoth. “Hey, Nicky! Nicky! How’ya doin’, bro?”

    Dominic jumped down from the stage, a bit apprehensive. “Hey uh, Cat. It’s–it’s been a while . . . buddy.”

    Cat engulfed him in a bear hug, damn near squeezed the life out of him.

    Generally, I’d say this isn’t a bad start. I wouldn’t read on as of now, but, after a little more work, I probably would.

  4. Grammar issues aside, I liked the voice. It hints of a Good Fellas and Sopranos vibe and makes me curious.

    As the other commenters said, in current form, it is rough, but has promise.

    I agree, open with a bit of dialogue or something else evokative. Don’t tell me the crowd “erupted” (cliche anyway), consider instead having him speaking to the crowd, maybe with an awkward joke (I dunno what is gonna hurt worse, my having to talk or you having to listen to it) and other gestures to still the crowd.

    Leap from the stage? What there are no stairs?

    I think you mean horsey laugh, but even that isn’t a real good choice.

    Otherwise, a lot of telling and describing of Catalina Eddie (you can probably leave out that he has two eyes, unless he doesn’t) rather than showing and having Dom experience it.

    Still . . . there is an interesting thread here.

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