[The Canadian writer, blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow (not to be confused with E.L.Doctorow) suggests that his “favorite, foolproof way to start a story is with a person in a place with a problem, preferably in the first sentence” and apart from the bad spelling of ‘favourite’ I found this useful advice. I’m busy rewriting the beginning of “Vague Traces” and culling words, and I thought I’d try out a stab here and see if I get some useful feedback, honesty of course is valued more highly than politeness and the big question is “Does this grab you ?”. The two characters you meet are both minor but are pivotal to the plot, as is “the big man”. My gut instinct is that it does not flow simply enough for an opening and needs to be bashed around and simplified a bit more]
The overweight man sitting next to the window of the coffee shop ordered a second coffee and seemed to concentrating on his Sudoku. He was in fact thinking through his next move and silently cursing his lack of planning. He had parked his car at the nearby University which was having an open day, but now he needed to get into the city centre undetected and he had forgotten to plan for this. It was fairly simple these days to track cars via their own legitimate satellite tracking systems, this only required hacking into the tracking company’s computer. He assumed he was at a level of surveillance that this was being done to his car but he doubted he was being physically tailed. So it wasn’t a huge or insurmountable problem, he just needed to get into town in a way that would not be memorable should anybody come asking questions later.
“Toween… toweeen” came the cries of the urchins who acted as conductors for the minibus taxis and who were trying to drum up customers for the trip into town, and the man briefly considered whether a white guy catching a mini-bus taxi would be remarkable and therefore remembered.
Just then a Metro-Cabs metered taxi pulled up and deposited two ladies, possibly escorts on their way home. He checked to see if the cab was going to wait for them, and when he saw one of the ladies paying the driver he rushed out and jumped into the cab.
Bernard Latje was good waiter, very good in fact, and he knew when customers wanted to talk and when they wanted to be left alone. This guy had so obviously wanted to be left alone that Bernard was not surprised he left without a word, but what did surprise him was that the customer had hardly touched his second coffee and that he then climbed into a Metro-cab when his own car keys had being lying on the table. It was probably nothing, but worth remembering to tell the Big Man if he came past later. It was always better to have something to tell the Big Man, even if it turned out to be nothing important.