Thursday, May 28, 2009

WIP Excerpt

(For my facebook friends: WIP= work-in-progress.)

I think that's the first time I've started a post with a parenthetical.

On my Post-It: Start more posts with parentheticals. Also, refer to them as "parentheticals" instead of "parenthetical phrases." Sounds hipper that way.

So I've run out of ideas for the blog. I've interviewed the only two authors I "know." I've written so much about my love of chocolate milk that I am now beginning to sour on the topic. (Go 'head and groan. See if I care.) It's like when I was in middle school. My mother packed my lunch and everyday it was the same. In my brown paper sack would be a salami sandwich in plastic wrap, a bundle of chips, and a cookie. Yes, I grew up in Mayberry.

Every day I would eat the cookie and chips, toss the sandwich in the trash, and bum thirty-five cents from John Phillips so I could buy a soft pretzel from the A la carte. Mom knew nothing of this and continued to pack the sandwiches because, as she said years later when I finally fessed up, "I thought you liked them."

I did, about three thousand salami sandwiches ago. For the record, I haven't had a salami sandwich since sixth grade. I'm pretty sure the same thing will never happen with chocolate milk, but it seems as if writing about the beverage has lost some of its initial appeal.

Where was I? (Rereading...) Oh, and I've nearly exhausted my collection of disgusting poems.

So I guess I'm down to posting parts of my WIP. I'm not a huge fan of doing this for the following reasons:

1. By posting a portion of your WIP you are essentially saying to the world, "This is the best I got." Because who would post something they think is crap? Then, when people read it, (if they're anything like me) they say, "Pssh. That wasn't too good. I can do better than that. That dude's never getting published." And even though I can't hear them say this, I fear the vibe might somehow make it through the wonder that is the Internet.

2. Stephen King says you shouldn't show your first draft to anyone until it's done. And I tend to think Steve knows what he's talking about.

3. It's kind of lame. The last refuge of the idealess blogger, if you will. (And I won't blame you if you won't.)

What I do not fear is someone "stealing" my idea or scene or whatever. I've always found this notion laughable. First, do we really think our ideas or so breathtakingly original that other writers are going to forsake their own WIPs to write our story? Second, do we really believe someone else could even write our story? I've read Because of Winn-Dixie probably six times and even though I know the book by heart, I could never recreate it. Third, ideas are cheap. It's execution that counts.
____________________________________________
So here it is, without any context whatsoever:

Lauren staggered to her feet, and scampered around the room, but there was nowhere to go. The room was circular and made entirely of stone. A single tiny window allowed scant sunlight. There was a door, but it was between Lauren and the man. Escape was impossible, so Lauren balled up her fists and adopted a fighter’s stance.
“I’ll kick you,” she said, her eyes falling to the front of his maroon running shorts.
The man hadn’t been moving very fast, but now he stopped. “I just have to tie you up until Dr. Freemantle gets here. We can’t have you running off now, can we?”
“I won’t run off. I can’t! There’s nowhere to run. Please, don’t tie me up. I’ll just sit right here on the floor. I won’t move. Just don’t tie me up.”
“You promise not to cause trouble?”
“I promise.”
“Well then, you’re going to have to say the Promise Oath.”
“I’ll do it. I’ll say whatever you want me to. Just please don’t tie me up.”
“Okay, the Promise Oath. Repeat what I say: I promise.”
“I promise.”
“I promise.”
“Did I do it wrong?” Lauren asked.
“No, that’s how it goes, you have to say it twice.”
“Why?”
“For verification. You can blame it on a man named Harmonious Crabapple. Back before Load was incorporated, Harmonious took the Promise Oath, only back then you only had to say ‘I promise’ once. Harmonious promised to feed his neighbor’s cat while the neighbor went on holiday, only Harmonious didn’t like the cat on account of it was always killing the mice that lived in Harmonious’s field, so when he took the oath he gummed up his words a little bit and after his neighbor came home to find his cat dead, he confronted Harmonious, but nothing could be done because technically Harmonious hadn’t promised. The garbled words freed him from responsibility. Caused quite a stir. So now you have to say it twice. For verification.”
Lauren had many questions but considering the man still held the rope, she thought it best to simply say, “Oh.”
The man said, “We have to start over. Ready?”
“Yes.”
“I promise.”
“I promise.”
“I promise.”
“I promise.”
“To do what I just promised.”
“To do what I just promised.”
“And if I don’t.”
“And if I don’t.”
“Then I’ll be labeled a Promise Breaker.”
“Then I’ll be labeled a Promise Breaker.”
“That’s it.”
“That’s it.”
“No, I mean, that’s all. That’s the oath.”
“Oh. What’s it mean to be labeled a Promise Breaker?”
“Just what it sounds like.”
“Is there a punishment or something?”
“Of course there is. Wouldn’t be much point in taking the oath if there wasn’t.”
“What’s the punishment for being a Promise Breaker?”
“Guilt, for one.”
“Guilt?”
“That’s right. You’ll have a guilty conscience.”
“That’s it?”
“You ever have a guilty conscience?” the man asked.
“Sure. Everybody does sometimes.”
“Not me.”
“Don’t you feel guilty for kidnapping me?”
“No.”
“Well, you should. If you can’t feel bad about something like that, then you’re a horrible person.”
“It’s nothing personal. I’m just doing my job.”


9 comments:

Monica said...

oh i do like excerpts. i like this. in no context whatsoever. (parenthetically speaking)... whatever that means. I'm rooting for Lauren.

Anita said...

I love everything about this except her name. People have a lot of trouble with the name Lauren. You are probably very attached to the name at this point, so I won't take it personally when this book ends up on my shelf with "Lauren" in it 9,000 times...or was that "Laura?" or "LauREN?"

Really, this excerpt ROCKS!

And, yay, word verification is "press"...as in "Press on with this rockin' manny!"

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

I like this quite a bit, especially the part about the "twice" thing. And yes, I'm copying it and pasting it into a new Word doc. It's mine now. Gone forever from PMM's idea filing cabinet.

I also hate it when writers freak out about their ideas being stolen. You are totally on target, it is the execution. Plus, hasn't everything already been done before in one way or another? It's how you do it, not what you do.

Myra said...

I totally read this and saw it as a movie scene. Awesome stuff, bro! More, more, more!

Word Verification: flatchik

Really? Do the people at Blogspot have NOTHING to do?

And, I tried to find you on Facebook and was unsuccessful. Unless you live in New Zealand.

Big Plain V said...

Dear Mr. Murphy,

I want to tell you, with all sincerity, (not being nice because I'm a guest on your blog or anything) that this was a thoroughly fun and well written little scene. I now want to read your entire book. In total serious honest-ness (and I'm not just saying that because I'm a guest on your blog), and I think you have very nice hair (okay, now I'm being phony-polite).

I had "fartmess" for word verification on Vivi's blog yesterday.

Anita said...

So I was feeling really bad about the whole Lauren thing and came back to see if anyone had called me a witch or something similar. Nobody had and I was leaving without commenting, but my Word Verification is "taphick," which for some reason has me giggling and I had to share.

I love the flatchik and fartmess. I actually had anita the other day and had to look over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't being punked.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Anita--I wouldn't feel too bad. I give practically no forethought to character names and usually end up changing them anyway.

LindaBudz said...

Oooh, I'm totally stealing this. You'd better write fast or you'll find it on the shelf at B&N before you can say "whohn" (my word ver).

Tina Lee said...

Totally enjoyed your excerpts. I don't usually like them so much (because I'm generally in a hurry), but yours drew me in. It is very fun.