I should have titled this post, "A Staggering Work of Selfish Indulgence," or something of the like.

What follows (attached) is the first chapter of my novel-in-progress, the one I've alluded to a couple of other places on here.

What I'd love: Reactions.

Is there enough here to propel you to chapter two? Is this even remotely in the ballpark?

What ballpark, you ask?

I came out of an undergraduate creative writing background. I had hopes of becoming George Saunders. Or Donna Tartt. Or I dunno, somebody with skills and saleability. But somewhere after college all I found myself reading was the C's -- Coben, Connelley, Crais. And then I was on to Burke, Hamilton, Krueger, backtracked to Parker and MacDonald, etc.

Anway, the ballpark...

I'm aiming for published. Popular (if not in reality, then at least in terms of where I'm filed in the bookstore). Genre. Mostly I'm just aiming for agented, right now, if I'm honest. Let the will of the universe fill in the blanks from there.

Enough preamble. Anybody so generous, so free, so bored...they wanna take a look?

I'll repay your generosity in a manner of your own choosing...!

- Scott Hess

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Loved it, Scott. Fast, funny and not a bit boring. If I were to pick this up on a bookstore, I'd probably buy it...
Holy Mother of God...did I write that post for you? And you're serious?

Unreal. Just what I needed to hear. It's so hard to work alone like this, to have no idea whether I'm on the right track, or on a track at all.

Thanks for the indulgence, RGB, not to mention the praise. Anything I can do to be helpful in return?
I'm with Rob. Snappy, engaging, funny. You took a chance with your first word, because there's a risk people will take it as a lurid attempt to grab attention with naughty words. But then you sold it. Nice job.
Absolutely serious. It reminds me of the books I used to love when I was growing up, all that stuff by Richard Prather and M.E. Chaber, with a little bit of Westlake thrown in. If you can sustain this for 400 pages and keep the story moving, I think you'll have a winner.
Wow. I'm aiming a little on the hard-case side of things, but didn't know I was actually hittin' it. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.
Hey Scott,

I read it and liked it. The writing's funny, and you've got an interesting and compelling start. The MC is someone I want to hang out with, get to know better.

What I'd suggest, though, is less telling and more showing. To some degree, you spend time telling the readers stuff they can figure out from the action and dialogue. You also repeat yourself a bit. You don't need to tell us more than once that he likes to enforce politeness. In fact, let him say it, give us a story as a good example (to show us what you really mean) and then we'll understand.

One thing I recommend, if you're not already in one, is to find a writing group. They can be invaluable for helping smooth out the little stuff like that.

Good luck with it!

Now, for my foot rub...
Meriah, thanks a ton. I really appreciate your comments and your time.

Yeah, the showing/telling thing. Probably the greatest single piece of advice in all of creative writing. Will try to ferret out more of the latter in favor of the former. Thanks. Will also try to eliminate redundancy and repeating myself. Heh.

As for a writing group, I'd welcome the right one in these parts (Chicago). What I don't want is to end up in a group full of lunatics and beginners. Been there, done that. Granted, this tan pot may be finger-pointing at some pale kettles. But you know what I mean.

Can't 'zactly pull off the foot rub, of course, but would be happy to find some substitute. (Is there any real substitute for a good foot rub? Never mind.)

Again, much thanks. Very generous.

- Scott
Scott, I have a writer friend in Chicago (last I checked). Want me to check with him and see if he can recommend a writing group, or a good way to find one? The right group can be an amazing thing. The wrong one - I've been there, too - a complete waste of time. You might also consider an online group, which I've had good luck with.
I've always maintained that, unlike screenwriting, rather than Show Don't Tell, novels are actually Show AND Tell. And in this case, since you have such an engaging voice and an engaging character, the telling is fine.

But, yes, as the story goes on, you'll definitely have to get more into the showing side. I already assume that's what you'll be doing.
I tend to roll my eyes when people say "show, don't tell." Storytelling is all about telling, after all. It's just a matter of finding the right balance. That's a difficult thing, I cheerfully admit.
I read it and liked it very much, too. I would definitely keep reading. Love the
self-deprecating humor. I agree that you could tighten up the action a bit--set up
the conflict with the red-faced giant, and then dispatch him, a bit faster. Then get us back to
what we're really interested in, which is your main character's crumbling world, and the problems he faces. This is TOTALLY just IMHO, but I also had a suggestion for the opener--if you move the opening profanity so that
it follows "...those were the good old days.", then the profanity would serve as a natural break
that would start off your gym scene. And I think that using your second line to open the story would be as strong as the profanity opener, if not stronger. You might also find a verb that parallels "climbing" in that line to indicate what the protag is facing. So, for example, instead of saying On the morning my life fell apart," could be "On the morning my world crashed," because crash is the oposite of climbing. Oh, and somewhere in the gym scene, give us a sense of what's going on in the environment around these two characters. Are there people around who are reacting to this profanity-spewing guy as well? Phew! All this just my two cents, just like we give in our writing groups!
Kathryn, thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I really appreciate it. I'll try your idea for changing the opening. As for the pace...I know what you mean. Sometimes I'm guilty of enjoying watching myself write. A no-no!

Again, thanks!

- Scott

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