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Thread: Opinions on the first 2 chapters?

  1. #1
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    Opinions on the first 2 chapters?

    I'm a housewife with a little story I've been thinking of...not a literary masterpiece, but something with some twists & turns--you might pick it up at the airport on your way to catch a flight.

    Would love opinions (good & bad), if you have a moment to read.

    Thanks!

    Jack Turner pushed his chair back from the desk and glanced over at the clock on his phone. 7:45pm. He was supposed to have been at a fund-raiser at the Silicon Valley Art Museum over an hour ago. If he left right away, he’d catch the last hour—enough time to shake a few hands with the local heavy-hitters. Jack stood up and put on his jacket, heading out into the parking lot of his office building. There were still a dozen cars there and Jack was pleased—engineers hard at work meant progress, and his company had a lot to do.

    Jack got behind the wheel of his Porsche and was on the 101 in minutes; traffic was light on this early summer evening and the museum was only a few miles up the peninsula from his office. The Porsche was his gift to himself after his first startup was acquired 5 years ago, with a major payout to him and his investors. The moment that deal closed Jack joined the ranks of successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs—a smaller group than most realized. Now Jack had founded, grown, and sold two companies in 9 years--each of them for millions of dollars, making his investors, employees, and himself quite wealthy—at least by the standards of the rest of the world. And he was hard at work on his third, which he expected to be the best yet, with the usual combination of long hours and luck. Jack pressed down on the gas, watching the needle creep past 80mph. One thing he had learned: luck could be helped along in this town, and networking with the right people, much as he hated it, could create the kind of luck he was looking for.

    After handing the keys and a healthy tip to the valet, Jim was sipping a beer and kissing the cheek of Kara, the wife of his biggest investor, Walt, by 8pm. As he had expected the room was filled with major faces from the Valley. Some known all over for their inventions--or their quirks, and some quiet but powerful dealmakers, wielding hundreds of millions of dollars and essentially determining the future of technology for the country—and even the world. Kara smiled up at him, slender, blonde and young.

    “Jack, there are three women here you absolutely have to meet.” Kara, a full-time socialite, was better connected in Silicon Valley than many venture capitalists. Not quite a trophy wife, she had been a top-producing sales rep for one of her husband’s companies when she met Walt at a tradeshow in Las Vegas 7 years ago. They were a couple by the time the show was over, and within 6 months she had quit her job and married him—their age difference of 30 years overshadowed, people said, by Walt’s fortune of more than $300 million. Jack didn’t think she was the type to marry for money—she would have made a few million in stock options if she’d stayed on where she was—but he couldn’t understand her attraction to Walt. Though Walt was a close friend and one of the few people Jim truly trusted in Silicon Valley, Walt was a true engineer when it came to social skills, one who spent all of his time in front of a monitor before deciding to spend his time and his money investing in startups.

    Jim smiled down at Kara. Truth was, he had a well-concealed crush on her, intense enough that if she had been married to anyone other than his biggest financial backer—not to mention his good friend and mentor—he would have tried to do something about it.

    “You’ll let me introduce you, right?” she asked. At a dinner party a few months ago Kara had decided he needed a woman, and had been parading them by him ever since. She considered him a catch—still young at 36 and well-off, but not rich by Silicon Valley standards. Still unspoiled, she said, but with great potential. Jack looked around. The Museum was recently built and featured an open soaring entry space, with walls of glass that, at night, reflected the images of the people in it back on themselves.

    Kara was watching him, waiting for an answer. “Mmm hmm,” he murmured non-committally. “I need to talk to a few people first. Where is your husband?” Kara’s recent set-ups had tended either towards serious, intense MBA types or recent divorcees looking for a fling. He wondered what tonight’s flavor would be. He pulled out his PDA and checked his schedule for the next morning. No meetings until 9am. Maybe he’d see who she had in mind. Kara pointed out her husband, Walt, and then two of her available friends at the party. Both were in dark pantsuits—the MBA types. Jack sighed and kissed Kara on the cheek before heading off in the direction of Walt. No fun for him tonight.

    As he crossed the room Jim scanned for the other people he wanted to meet. He located the first, Grayson Downey, CEO of Francisco Networks, by a bronze sculpture on the far side of the room. Walt saw him approaching and followed his gaze to Grayson as he turned from his conversation to meet him.

    “Jack, what are you doing out of the office? We need that product in testing by the end of the quarter!” Walt laughed as he said it, but the serious undertone was not lost on Jim. Being first to market meant sending the products to key customers for early testing. Whoever got in first almost always stayed in to claim the biggest sales. His customers, the 20 biggest telecommunications companies on the planet, were all waiting for the product.

    “That’s why I’m here, Walt. I need an introduction. We’re churning a lot of hours on a few of the key protocols, but I think if we can get Francisco Networks to partner with us, we can cut development time by a month.” Walt raised his bushy gray eyebrows.
    “You want to buy the code from them?” he asked. “That’ll be expensive.”
    “No, a swap. We’ve built out a new protocol and I’ll license it to them free in exchange for the older ones they’ve already done. They’re not interested in this space, so it shouldn’t be a competitive issue,” Jack explained. Walt nodded thoughtfully. It was a risky proposition, but if Jack could pull it off, it could be a huge competitive advantage for Omega, the codename for the project.

    “I know Grayson from the golf club. I can introduce you.” Walt looked at his watch. “Let’s do this now, then you and I can catch up later.” He led Jim across the room.

    “Grayson, how’s the driver hitting?” Walt asked as they reached Grayson, a short man in his early 60s.

    “Oh, just fine, I played with Carl Zimmer last week and the greens are looking beautiful. Jenny and I are playing on Saturday if you and Kara want to join us.” Grayson looked at Jack and then back at Walt. “But I don’t think this young man wants to listen to our golf stories. What can I do for you?” Walt introduced the two men, rattling off Jack’s recent business successes.

    “I know he’s made you a lot of money,” Grayson interrupted Walt. “I should have invested in the last one with you. But now I’m not sure why he wants to talk to me. The way I see it, we could be competitors.” Walt smiled.

    “I’ll leave it to Jim to convince you otherwise. I have someone else I need to find here.” Walt was scanning the room, an inveterate networker, but, Jack thought, a little less at ease than usual. His eyes stopped on someone standing well behind Jack and he shook hands and was off.

    Jack began his proposal for Francisco Networks, walking Grayson through it carefully, trying to focus on his pitch and ignoring the sounds of the party as people swirled around them. Grayson was quiet, nodding from time to time and asking insightful questions, as Jack sketched the details of the swap. As he finished explaining the technical architecture of the joint software, Grayson put up a hand to stop him.

    “I don’t need the details of the project. It’s an interesting proposition. We would want a non-compete guarantee from you, as you would from us.” Jack nodded in reply. “On the matter of intellectual property ownership, though…” Grayson trailed off.

    Jack stepped in. “Each company maintains ownership of their own code.”

    “Fine. Good. It’s a deal.” Grayson held out his hand to shake on it. Jack clasped the other man’s hand, marveling at how quickly the older man had made the decision. As Jack took a deep breath, relieved to have so easily reached an agreement, the doors to the outdoor sculpture garden flew open and Walt stumbled through them into the room. He held his hands to his chest; blood gushed from between his fingers. Immediately there were screams as Walt fell to his knees, struggling for air.

    Jack ran over and kneeled by Walt, pushing against his chest to try to slow the red flow. Walt grabbed at Jack’s shoulder, pulling him down towards his head. “Kara,” he said, coughing up blood.

    “Don’t try to talk, Walt. Kara’s coming.” Jack answered. Jack could hear her coming through the crowd that had formed around them, yelling at people to get out of her way.

    “You, you take care of her.” Walt managed, and then coughed.

    “Walt, what happened?” Jack could see Walt’s eyes fading and hear Kara screaming as she reached his side. Walt’s skin was white and clammy and as Jack pushed against his chest the bleeding slowed. Walt’s pulse, at first thumping against Jack’s hands, was dropping and then gone.

    “What happened?” Kara was beside him, her hands on Walt’s face and shoulders, shaking him. Jack reached over and covered her hands with his.

    “Kara, stop it. Stop. It’s…it’s over.” Jack didn’t know how else to say it. The blood had pooled around them. Kara was moaning, “No, no no” as two friends gently helped her up and away from Walt. Jim leaned back on his heels, his pantlegs wet with blood. He felt foggy, numb from shock. This was about the last thing he would have expected tonight.

    Chapter 2

    Curt pulled into space #37 at his apartment complex, listening to the coughing fit from his muffler as he turned the car off. He’d had to pay the mechanic a hundred bucks to get a passing grade on the emissions test. The car needed more work than it was worth, but it only needed to last him a few more weeks, and then he’d buy any car he wanted. He had his eyes on an Aston Martin Volante.

    He pushed open the door to his apartment and stumbled through the living room. Old circuit boards, empty hulls from computers, pizza boxes and dirty laundry were strewn around. The chaos continued in his bedroom, with sheets coming untucked from the end of the bed. Fully dressed, Curt climbed into bed, and pulled a blanket up to his chin. In moments he was in a deep, motionless sleep, making up for a week of insomnia. Killing Walt had been hard, but finally it was done. He slept through till the next morning when, through the thin walls of the building, his neighbors’ alarm clock beeped him awake.

  2. #2
    Grand Nagus Vada Dagon's Avatar
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    Hello Lurkieloo,

    I'm not some great literary editor of any kind just a reader and a writer. I only read the following lines and have to say I gave up.

    Jack Turner pushed his chair back from the desk and glanced over at the clock on his phone. 7:45pm. He was supposed to have been at a fund-raiser at the Silicon Valley Art Museum over an hour ago. If he left right away, he’d catch the last hour—enough time to shake a few hands with the local heavy-hitters. Jack stood up and put on his jacket, heading out into the parking lot of his office building. There were still a dozen cars there and Jack was pleased—engineers hard at work meant progress, and his company had a lot to do.

    Jack got behind the wheel of his Porsche and was on the 101 in minutes; traffic was light on this early summer evening and the museum was only a few miles up the peninsula from his office. The Porsche was his gift to himself after his first startup was acquired 5 years ago, with a major payout to him and his investors.

    My first comment is there is no need to use Jack's name over and over again. Especially within 100 words of eachother.

    How about starting the scene without using his name (using a little intrigue and make us want more). Also, I am not a fan of overtly explaining scenes to people I get kinda bored, I want to know what is going on.


    For example this section
    Jack Turner pushed his chair back from the desk and glanced over at the clock on his phone. 7:45pm.

    Do instead

    Pushing his chair back and glancing back to the clock on the phone - 7:45pm.

    I would omit the second sentence and let people know where he's driving to once he's in the car. I would write like this

    Pushing his chair back and glancing back to the clock - 7:45pm.
    If he left now he’d catch the last hour of that fund-raiser; more than enough time to shake hands with some heavy-hitters.

    Please know that I'm not the one writing the story and I'm just making suggestions on what I would like to read. I'm sure you have a story just keep plugging away.

    Good Luck
    And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
    Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
    There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
    And evening full of the linnet's wings.

    The Lake Isle of Innisfree
    William Butler Yeats

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