Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's All In The Voice

Time for a spot of fun.

I'm participating in the It's All In The Voice blog hop. Here are the first 250ish words of my WIP. It's adult contemporary fantasy, titled: PIGMENTS.



Chapter 1 -- Black

I need a tattoo.

Jeff Graham looked at his watch. He’d been standing across the street from the Voodoo Tattoo for an hour. He’d chosen it not by reputation or recommendation, not even by its most recent Health Code inspection, which he got from a guy at work who knows a guy. He chose the Voodoo Tattoo because he liked the way it sounded.

Jeff leaned his back against the wall of the Java Jive and ran his hands down his sweater vest, smoothing out invisible wrinkles. A white T-shirt poked out underneath­.

The legal age to obtain a tattoo was eighteen. He’d thought on-and-off about getting a tattoo, but once he turned eighteen, the possibility became real. Now, ten years past that point, he was still debating.

Jeff shook out his hands and made them into fists—opening and closing them several times. He pulled off his sweater vest—no Argyles or stripes, just a solid blue as per the interpreter’s dress code—folded it once, and hung it on a bike rack in front of the Java Jive. Guys with tattoos don’t wear sweater vests.

An envelope made from heavy textured paper fell out of his back pocket. He snatched it up and he stuffed it back in.

He pressed his back against the uneven brick of the coffee shop, put one foot on the wall and propelled himself toward the Voodoo Tattoo only to halt at the curb.

11 comments:

Janel Gradowski said...

My first thought was, "Huh. A guy in a sweater vest getting a tattoo? Why?" Nice hints that he isn't as nerdy and meek as the sweater makes him seem, because he has to wear if for his job. Also seems indecisive since he's thought about getting the tattoo for 10 years. A very compelling character.

Patchi said...

I like this. The character is interesting and the internal thoughts seem purposeful. I'm wondering why he needs a tattoo and why he has waited so long.

I don't think you need "The legal age to obtain a tattoo was eighteen." Maybe just add "It was legal." after the second sentence in that paragraph.

Alec Breton said...

My first reading of this is that the envelope contains money, not for the tattoo, but is for some kind of a "payoff." Otherwise there aren't too many clues to the person, other than he doesn't seem to fit well in his world.

Donna said...

You're writing about my ex-husband! That's who I saw in this scene. Of course, I'm sold...

In terms of voice, since the title of the book is Confessions of a logophiliac (which I assume is the same as a logophile), I'd expect you to have at least one cool/odd word in the description of him. I realize he's chosen the tattoo parlour based on its name (and the coffee shop has a cool name, too) but for deep POV, there could be an unusual or alliterate or... something word/phrase in the description of him. Just a thought!

Heather Webb said...

Okay, you had me at sweater vest. LOL. I like the juxtaposition of a dude wearing one (and smoothing out invisible wrinkles) and going in for a tatoo at a Voodoo tatoo parlor!

My only advice here is to look out for repetitive phrases. The whole turning eighteen section comes off this way.

Also, I'd like a stronger nod to the fantasy genre that you're writing in in the first 250 words. We get a tiny little sense of it with the referral to a dress code and "the interpreter", but I'd like to see a bit more.

Chris Todd Miller said...

@Heather
I agree. The fantasy elements are slow to surface, however, there is something I left out. Before each part, a new color is introduced. I left this part out because it's the section header to part one. I think it helps strengthen the fantasy elements:

Black
Natural black pigment is made of magnetite crystals. Magnetite is readily available. It’s acceptable. It draws no suspicion. As ubiquitous as the coffee bean, so is a black tattoo. The keepers of the old ways eschew magnetite for bone black. Culled from the long bones of animals and the tusks of elephants, bone black forges a feral connection. The skin not only receives it, but after a taste, longs for it.

Heather Webb said...

Oh la la! I love the color snippet. Nicely done and way to wham us with foreshadowing.

Rebeca said...

I used to rent an apartment on the LES from a pretty well-known tattoo artist who had his parlor on St. Mark's.

I agree with most of the comments previously mentioned, and I'm intrigued how you'll use color in the story. I definitely want to know what happens next and what his interpreting job entails.

KrisM said...

My first thought while reading was lack of strong fantasy elements, but in reading through the posts, looks like you've addressed that in the heading. Like the guy POV.

Jennifer Lyn King said...

This is a very compelling and interesting character, and it's clear you've thought this opening out. I really like the voice and would like to read on. Great opening!

MBee said...

I've often said that first line myself! Sadly, I rarely have the funds to go through with it, but I've been there! haha

I do like the vest bit and wondered if he was perhaps a hipster of sorts, but reading further it seems that's not quite the case. The interpreter part definitely stuck out for me because all I could think was "since when do interpreters have uniforms?" but it tipped me off that this is probably not our typical world (and re-reading that it's fantasy proves my point).

Agree with others about the repetition of age. I'm not sure that part is needed at all, but if nothing else, it could use some polishing.

I'd definitely keep reading.


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