Not quite so new

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by Mouse, Dec 13, 2011.

  1.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Ok, I know I said I was going to scrap it, and I was, but I had a better idea for the Jenn character. So this is the second draft, I guess. Yes, the stuff about Ambrose, the descriptive stuff, is still in there. It might be leading to something later, so for now, it's staying in.

    Is it more interesting now or does it still suck? :)

    ----

    Ambrose leaned over the side of the bath, grabbed the little bottle of hotel bubble bath he’d dropped on the tiles, and read the back of it. Organic extra virgin olive oil. Orange blossom absolute. Lemon oil. Titanium dioxide.

    Okay, so he didn’t know what the last one was, but he was certain that it couldn’t be anything bad. The hotel was far too expensive to have supplied him with sub-par bubble bath. He dumped the bottle onto the floor again and lay back with a sigh.

    One of the lights beside the mirror was flickering. Only a little but it was distracting. Every now and then, a flicker. He glared at it.

    “Mercer?” he called.

    Nothing.

    Huffing, he sat up, causing the bath water to slosh over the side. “Mercer!” he barked. He grumbled to himself, got to his feet, and clambered out of the bath. Soapsuds slid down his legs.

    Ambrose removed the glass shade and fiddled with the bulb as water dripped from his elbows. The shock happened so fast he didn’t even cry out.

    ***

    Man found dead at Abbey House hotel ... Jenn sighed and read through the news article, frowning to herself at the graphic descriptions of the deceased. She reached for the cup of tea sitting beside her keyboard and took a sip, pulling a face at how cold it was. Bored, she clicked on the video at the side of her browser and watched a clip of a dog on a skateboard. The video had fifteen million views. Fifteen million. Some people had nothing better to do with themselves.

    She pushed her chair back and got to her feet, taking her cup out into the kitchen and leaving it in the sink to deal with later, before returning to her desk again. Life, she thought, was incredibly dull. She stared at the screen, told herself to get on with it, then closed the browser down, knowing that the internet only distracted her. Opening a blank document, she watched as the cursor blinked.


    Write something
    , she told herself. Anything.

    She flexed her fingers and typed: Lucy Jackson kept men in her basement. Jenn smiled, pleased with her sentence. She read it again and then started to write, the words flowing across the screen. A half-page later and she was on the internet again, researching, she told herself. All writers researched. She tapped a name into the search engine and pressed enter.


    Ambrose Lawson.


    Jenn sighed as she gazed at the pictures that came up. Ambrose Lawson, actor, ex-pop star. The most beautiful man that ever lived. Tall, dark-haired and dark-eyed with pale skin and lips like rose petals. God, she wanted his babies. She grinned to herself, knowing that she was acting like a love-struck teenager. She read his profile on the actor's database. Again. He could play the piano, speak French and Italian, sing, dance... She'd watched interviews with him and wondered how he could be so handsome and so funny and so intelligent.


    There has to be something wrong with him
    . No man was that perfect. He probably hated babies or kicked puppies. Not that she had a chance anyway. She was a wannabe nobody writer and he was Ambrose Lawson. Besides, she was ugly.

    Well, not beautiful
    .

    Her ears were too big and her lips were too small. She looked like a mouse.


    "Mice are cute," she said, enlarging one of the pictures and setting it as her desktop background. "And furry..."


    She closed the windows, saved her work and admired Ambrose Lawson smiling back at her. She turned the computer off and went to sit on the sofa, picking up the book she had left on the arm and finding her folded corner.


    I should write to him
    .

    She shook her head and tried to concentrate on the book. I should write a script for him.


    "Be quiet," she told herself. She read the same sentence four times before she gave up and put the book down. Instead, she leaned forwards to grab the remote from the coffee table and switched the TV on.


    "...multiple knife wounds," the female newsreader said, looking grim and serious behind her empty desk. "The body was discovered by staff--"


    Jenn changed the channel and curled her legs up onto the sofa. She settled on a documentary about beached whales and watched it with a vague interest. She could write about whales. A horror story about whales beaching themselves for some unknown sinister reason. Maybe that would work better than the Lucy Jackson story.


    She tapped her chin with the remote, then changed the channel again.

    Tomorrow, she thought, I'll write to him.

    * * *


    Tomorrow came far too quickly. Jenn woke up before the alarm and turned it off before it could start. She got out of bed and went into the bathroom, wishing that it was Sunday again and that she didn't have to go to work. Or, more accurately, that she didn't have to go to work at the hotel. I need a new job, she thought, brushing her teeth.


    She spat toothpaste into the sink and then froze. The hairs on her arms lifted and a breath tickled the back of her neck.


    It’s too early for this
    , she thought, closing her eyes. I don’t want to see you.

    She could hear the light above the mirror buzzing, on and off and on. She felt the presence behind her. Taking a breath to steady her nerves, she opened her eyes and looked in the mirror.


    The man was pale, almost blue skinned. His blond hair was soaked to his skull and water dripped from his chin. Blood bubbles popped at his neck where his throat had been cut.


    Jenn swallowed. “Abbey House?” she asked.


    He shook his head, slowly. He didn’t speak. They never spoke.


    “Oh.” She frowned a little and then screwed her eyes shut when she felt the breath on her neck again. “Please don’t do that,” she whispered. “I’m going to turn around now.”


    She did. And when she opened her eyes, he was gone.


    Finishing quickly in the bathroom, she went back into her bedroom, put on her work uniform and went downstairs, turning the radio on so that she had something to listen to while she ate her breakfast.


    "...Abbey House hotel murder victim..."


    Jenn groaned. They were still talking about that? She didn't like hearing about murders in hotels, especially as she worked in one. She had visions of going in to clean one of the bathrooms and finding someone hanging from the shower rail. It was bad enough seeing ghosts, she didn’t need to see bodies too.


    Jenn walked to work. Sometimes she wished she worked farther away so that she had a reason to drive and therefore a valid excuse not to turn up if her car broke down or if it snowed. Last winter, she was the only housekeeper who had made it in and she'd had to clean all twenty rooms on her own. She walked through the carpark, noticing the large handprint on the glass pane of the front door before she even got there. Why people couldn't use the handle was beyond her.


    Inside, she said good morning to Simon on reception, waited patiently for the list of occupied rooms and the housekeeping key, then headed upstairs. She’d be on her own for a little while, just until a couple of the girls were freed from waitressing to come and help her.

    She unlocked the laundry cupboard and dragged the trolley out into the corridor, checking that it was fully stocked, before locking the cupboard back up and trundling down the hall. She stopped outside room six, knocked on the door and waited a brief moment, before taking a cleaning basket from the trolley and pushing her way into the room.

    She plonked the basket on the bed, even though her boss warned all the cleaners not to do it in case some fluid leaked from one of the bottles and stained the bedspread. With her marigolds on, she picked out a blue cloth, a green cloth and a bottle of disinfectant, and turned to the bathroom.

    The first thing she noticed was the toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror. The blood on the floor didn’t even register until she almost slipped over. When she saw the corpse in the bath, blond haired, throat slit, she dropped everything, staggered back into the bedroom leaving bloodied footprints on the carpet and then screamed, “Simon!

    ----

    (I might start with the flickering lights. What do you guys think?)
  2.  
    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    I really like this and I'm gripped. For a second draft it's great.

    If anything it moves a little quick but I usually find my drafts slow down as I edit them.

    A couple of suggestions but they are style rather than substance - is I'd like to actually see an interaction with Simon rather than just be told she said good morning. Maybe something like a cat or pet mouse at her apartment would also give a little more action.
  3.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Thanks, Anya. Apparently it was too slow first time round so I tried to move it along a bit.

    Not sure about how big a character Simon will be yet. May go back in and add some more interaction with him depending on that.
  4.  
    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Active Member

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    Hmm ... it is only really the third part that is too fast for me. I think just a bit of interaction with Simon will give us a bit more insight into Jen, and slow it down a little bit. I don't know how you write, but for me this is something that would fix itself as I rewrote.

    I do think the story and character are worth sticking with.
  5.  
    AMB

    AMB Advanced Muddle Brain

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    I would suggest that tomorrow came far too soon. Quickly already puts me in mind of a rush, which doesn't help with the perception of pace. Also, the alarm clock sentence feels unfinished. Perhaps add the word ringing? Or not. Totally up to you.

    I don't like this sentence. It seems like a run on. Perhaps separate her downstairs actions from her upstairs ones?
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  6.  
    J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    He's still dumping (out) that bottle...
    The shock killed him so fast he dint even cry out..
    The blood on the floor didn’t even register until she almost slipped on it.
    spretty good i think
  7.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    The only thing that made me pause meaning-wise was wondering why Ambrose was reading the back of the bottle.

    From 'One of the lights...' I thought that section was fantastic --beautifully written, familiar and really shocking (boom! boom!).

    I loved Jenn -- I love the way she thinks (and keeps getting distracted by the internet). This sentence made me pause a tiny bit:

    'She grinned to herself, knowing that she was acting like a love-struck teenager.' -- I'm not sure why exactly but it felt a little like overkill -- you've got her so clearly acting like a lovestruck teenager and then this spells it out (I know that she realises it that's the point, but I still sort of stumbled over it).

    The rest of it I liked lots. The only other thing I hung up on was this: 'The blood on the floor didn’t even register until she almost slipped over' -- so I wondered about 'she almost slipped over'. Not sure why (again) but perhaps it was the 'almost'. Would it work to say: 'The blood on the floor didn't even register until she slipped.'?

    I'm also wondering what's going on. Is the Jenn bit earlier than Ambrose's death? or doesn't she know? Has it somehow not appeared in the news yet?
  8.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    I liked it better this time, Mouse; less self absorption. The dripping elbow and the light does give it a way a little for me; I immediately think he's going to die, but maybe that's okay.
  9.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    'Quickly' in the bathroom scene? She's just seen a dead person so wants to get the hell out. Will ponder the alarm clock, ta.

    But the word 'out' isn't there. He's not emptying the contents, the bottle's already empty.

    He's going to be one of those irritating people who read the ingredients of everything to check that it's not got too many calories or e-numbers or whatnot. ;)

    Ta very much. :D I think you're right about that 'almost.'

    Thankies.

    Springs and Hex, Ambrose doesn't die. Well... he changes. I'm not sure yet whether he did actually die and now he's sort of undead, or whether this change that occurred stopped him from actually being dead. Does that make sense?!

    So he's not a vampire or werewolf or zombie, but he is now, after the incident, something else. The next chapter is from his POV.
  10.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    Wow. I was so sure he'd died. I'd love to read the next chapter, if you'd like any -- you know, nitpicking about the word 'almost'...
  11.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Cool, I'm glad you think that. I think it'll be a case of he did die, but he didn't die die. ;)

    I might put the next chapter up once I've written a bit more. Only done two chapters of it so far.
  12.  
    AMB

    AMB Advanced Muddle Brain

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    Sorry, I was unclear.

    This is the quickly I would change. I might just be an oddball, but once I hit it, the rest of the paragraph feels like a mad rush, when it isn't. Possibly because it is a rushing type word. Something like soon would prevent that effect.

    Alex
  13.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Ah, thanks Alex! I'll change it to 'soon.' :)
  14.  
    J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    And dump dumped. *)
  15.  
    hopewrites

    hopewrites Happily Ever Aftering

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    My only confusion was that you ether have two people with the same name (an actor and a not dead dead guy) or Ambrose's hair changes color.
    I like the bathroom seen, and would only take out one of the bath's in
    this sentence. maybe he leans out of the tub? ohoh a claw-foot tub! no? ok

    ps i'm with Hex in wanting very much to read more please.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  16.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Thanks Hope. I made the other guy blond to avoid the confusion*. It's two different hotels. Jenn doesn't work at Abbey House - the blond dead guy isn't Ambrose.

    Hopefully all will become much clearer in the next chapter.

    * though I really didn't want him blond as the murderer is after Ambrose so it would make more sense to have them similar looking, but I have a plan for that!
  17.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Oh, I thought he was, too. Is there any way you can distinguish them or do you want the confusion at this stage?
  18.  
    hopewrites

    hopewrites Happily Ever Aftering

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    My first assumption was that it was two guys. Because she found the one (was it just me or did he foreshadow himself into her bathroom?) so he wouldn't have been all over the news. And we only got snippets of the other murder(s?) so I felt that she was walking into the middle of a crime spree, what with all the delightful confusion about who was dead where.
  19.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    I was expecting it to be Ambrose who turned up, but the fact that the guy was (a) blond and (b) had had his throat cut (gruesomely awful way to drop in the bubbles, by the way) indicated they weren't the same.

    I honestly think that the confusion is an artifact of the excerpt length -- because things aren't resolved in this bit, our questions assume greater significance than if we were just reading on into chapter two to find out what was going on.
  20.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    probably it's my short attention span; I read it when it was getting quite late!

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