After The Madness Workshop # B-2

Welcome to After the Madness Workshop! Shelley Watters, Erica Chapman, the writers at YAtopia, and myself will critique the first 250 words of  two brave writers’ manuscripts per day for the next seven to eight days. There are four blogs joining in to offer up suggestions. Click on my partners’ sites in my sidebar to view the other critiques.

And next up is …

#B-2 1000th.monkey

I sometimes forget that crazy is relative, like how Triss’ driving seems normal until someone new hitches a ride in the backseat.

Wednesday after school, Triss drove a couple freshmen to the mall. I was fine until she spun the wheel, yanked up on the e-brake, and one kid clocked me in the head as he fought to stay upright. They were screaming at Triss to pull over, and that’s when it hit me. Is it normal to brace your elbow against the door and jam your knees against the dash?

From gripping the seat through so many car rides, I’d worn a hole clear through the stuffing and my hand was clamped around a sharp piece of metal frame. It hurt like hell, but I had enough brains not to let go until Triss stomped on the brakes, hopped the curb, and the car lurched to a stop six inches from some old guy with a shopping cart. Hopefully he’d just stocked up on Depends.

Like I said, crazy is relative. I never think about Triss’ driving until someone’s screaming at her from the backseat, but I always ride shotgun. Always have, always will.

Even on days like today when there’s a dead body in the trunk and Triss has slugged back so much vodka she can’t shift properly and keeps grinding the gears of her old, yellow Volvo sedan. The thing’s a beast, an ugly beast, even with the lopsided daisies she spray-painted across the doors one night when we were tanked up on anti-depressants and home-made sangria, both jacked from her dad’s condo.

B’s notes: This is funny, and the writing is good, but I was lost in the extraneous details. Why is he thinking about Triss’ driving and the daisies on her Volvo when there is a dead body in the back seat? Why isn’t he freaked out about the dead body in the opening? Wouldn’t he be freaked about the events causing the dead body to end up in the back seat? Or, if he was in on it, wouldn’t he be worried that the police might stop them because of Triss’ crazy driving? Is this a normal occurrence for them? I’d get that out right away. If they do kill on a regular basis, show that upfront.

Do know, the writing and the main character’s voice did hook me. And I did laugh at several things in this opening. 

Remember this is subjective and others’ may feel differently. So I’ll now pass it on to the readers to critique. Please leave your comments, and remember the rules of critiquing … be nice, which I’m sure you all will be, but I have to say it … you know.

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6 comments to After The Madness Workshop # B-2

  • I really liked this. I also kind of liked the fact that the dead body is almost casually mentioned – from reading the narrator’s explanation of how he/she has gotten used to Triss’s terrifying driving, I gathered that this was connected to the body in the trunk. As in, you can get used to anything, no matter how frightening or disturbing, if you’re exposed to it long enough. But then maybe I’m reading too much into it… Still, I really liked the opening, loved the voice, and would definitely read on.

  • I really liked this. I also kind of liked the fact that the dead body is almost casually mentioned – from reading the narrator’s explanation of how he/she has gotten used to Triss’s terrifying driving, I gathered that this was connected to the body in the trunk. As in, you can get used to anything, no matter how frightening or disturbing, if you’re exposed to it long enough. But then maybe I’m reading too much into it… Still, I really liked the opening, loved the voice, and would definitely read on.

  • @ Kat

    That’s exactly what I was going for 🙂

    Thanks, Brenda, for letting me be a part of this 🙂

  • I agree with Kat. The casual mention sets the tone. I love the voice. And I really want to know why the dead body is there.

  • I agree. I liked that it was mentioned so casually, it makes me want to know why.

  • The voice really comes through strong here. I certainly get a sense of the character, and I also like the casual mention of the dead body, as if it’s no big deal…

    However, I had trouble keeping all of the extra details straight, and at this point, I’m still unclear as to what kind of story this will be. Are the freshmen in the back seat while the body is in the trunk and they’re almost running over old guys? Or are these all separate incidents, just thrown together in the narrative to illustrate a point?

    And if your narrator is jumpy enough to have clawed a hole in the seat upholstery, clear down to the metal frame of the seat so she (he?) can hold on tighter, I’m not sure I believe that MC wouldn’t even once worry about the cops pulling them over and discovering that dead body (not to mention the drunk driver behind the wheel)!

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