Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New Beginning 35

I had two choices. I could close my eyes and pretend the bucket of bolts wasn’t the size of Mississippi’s mosquitoes. Or I could keep my peepers open and fixed on the horizon to better visualize my safe arrival on terra firma. Truth to tell I was already using all the mental energy at my disposal to will the damn toy plane forward. And it was working. We were still arrowing through the ether. So I kept my eyes glued on the misty blue distance between the pilot and the passenger in the bucket seat. I didn’t blink.

Its size was the reason I was right behind the pilot, that and the fact that I’m 5’ 10” and shop in the plus-sized departments of online stores. Can’t have the fatties in the back, weighing down the tail. Might never get lift off!

My fault, though.

Her words were interrupted by shouts from the cockpit. "Get that cow in Seat 1 to move to the other side of the aisle."

"Yes sir, Captain," replied the navigator. "Why? Are we going in circles?"

"No. She's talking on her cell phone and I've heard one cliché too many."

Continuation: Dave Conifer


HawkOwl said...

Couldn't agree more with the addition.

Bernita said...

Liked this!
Sounds like fun.

born_liar said...

I can't tell here if the impression of a talkative character who likes to speak in cliches is intentional or not.

If intentional, it's effective. But after a few pages of this narrator I might be too annoyed to continue unless something interesting happens fast.

Anonymous said...

Very well written. I'm guessing that the author has filed union grievances in elevated diction, married a neurology resident at Mt. Sainai and knows how to handle a Japanese sword.

Anonymous said...

I think it is pretty entertaining but agree with bethany that something should happen soon (I get the impression that it will). -JTC

Jane said...

I'm not bothered by any cliches in this piece. Yeah, I know "bucket of bolts" technically is one, but it's got some voice behind it, and some of the other writing is fantastic, so I'm not worried about the book being well written.

What does bother me is a slight sense of disorientation. It started with "I could... pretend the bucket of bolts wasn't the size of Mississippi's mosquitos." I'm not sure how to take that. Mississippi's mosquitos are (I think) big, in comparison to most mosquitos. But they're small, in comparison to most planes. So, is the author telling me to think big or think small?

Also, "arrowing through the ether" stymied me. Top notch phrase, but because it's page one and I'm not well-oriented, arrowing through the ether could mean flying in a space ship. Or in some sort of ship that navigates another dimension. Admittedly, this piece suffers from being on EE's blog, where I don't know the genre, or all the info that would be on the cover of a real book.

It wouldn't take much to fix these issues. Just one sentence or two that roots us a little more clearly.

Good luck with this, author! It's very well written.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know a woman could have one peeper, let alone multiple peepers.

Kanani said...

Sometimes the best way to say something is to be straight forward and take care with colorful language. It's difficult to tell where the narrator is -- "bucket of bolts" in the same sentence as with mosquitoes doesn't necessarily tell me you're talking about a plane. What I see is literally "a bucket of bolts." When you toss in "toy plane," and "ether" it almost sounds like you're having a dream.

You could use bucket of bolts if you put it in the same sentence as plane.

Such as, The old cessna was a bucket of bolts, hardly worthy of storage , let alone flying.

Thanks for tossing this out there. Good luck with the rewrite.

Dave said...

From the song -
Jeepers creepers, where'd you get those peepers, jeepers, creepers, where'd you get those eyes...

Composed by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer

Also a 2001 horror flick about a creature that takes human body parts from teenagers (why would any creature want the elderly)...

fanevr said...

Here's how I read the first paragraph:

Somebody from Earth is carrying a bucket of bolts through space, being pulled by a toy plane that she controls with her mind, trying to land on some planet. There is a tiny pilot in the cockpit of the plane, and somebody else sitting inside her bucket of bolts.

Is it just me?

Racy Li said...

you said it fanevr!

Elvira Pepperdine said...

Yeah, I read the second sentence about six times before I finally decided to see if the subsequent sentences might help it make sense. They kind of did, but seriously, you don't want your reader saying "WTF?!" that early on. You just don't.

magz said...

Kudos, Oh Author. It seems all the nits being picked so far all have to do with plot development...

In a 150 word peek! Dear Readers, allow just a smidge of room for creating detail; even those raised on soundbytes and TV usually give it till at least the first commercial before deciding that there 'aint enuff happenin..'
I would read on, intrigued by a smooth style even if there were no backcover blurb or plot-clued cover to guide me into synapsis.

WTG Author, and cute n clever continuence too.

Kanani said...

"It seems all the nits being picked so far all have to do with plot development..."

In 150 words, we can hardly even begin to look at plot.
What most of us are looking at is the writing alone.
-Is it clear?
-Does the imagery precisely convey what the author is seeing?
-Are the examples (metaphors or similes) appropriate?
-Does the narrator have a voice --be it first or third?
-Can we offer help beyond saying, "tighten it up?" Can we show them how by being specific?

The inconsistencies that show up in the first paragraph are likely to happen throughout the book. Plus, if a majority of those posting have the same general remarks, then just think what an agent will do when they have to reread a paragraph to grasp the meaning. They'll toss it aside.

This isn't T.V. We don't have visuals to clue us in, we only have the strength of the writers words. Therefore, the writer has to take time to craft their words to accurately convey what he or she is seeing.

I think the comments thus far have been honest and not at all impatient or drubbing the author as you feel.

kis said...

I dunno, 150 words is not a lot by any definition. Maybe we should switch to 250 words + 100 for the add-on. Although, by the end of 250 words, things might not be ambiguous enough for those really funny continuations...

Frainstorm said...

Maybe I'm not the target audience because I was confused from the outset. Without a reference point, I'm thinking the bucket of bolts is, well, a bucket of bolts.

Call me slow, but that's what I'm reading.

Once I go back and re-read it, now I get that it's an airplane. But this time the analogy confuses me. I'm gathering it's a small airplane, but I'm also assuming that a Mississippi mosquito is scary big.

And this is only the second sentence. I think we need to be grounded (okay, pun intended) a little before we take off (but not intended this time).

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

. . . I could close my eyes and pretend the bucket of bolts wasn't the size of a Mississippi mosquito.

It was the s on the end of misquitoes that did it for me.

But I thought the second paragraph was hot!


Jeb said...

Any 1st-paragraph sentence that I have to read 3 times to figure out (in this case, that Our Hero was IN the bucket of bolts, not holding one in his lap) will almost guarantee I won't find one in the second paragraph... because I won't read that far. Sorry.

The first paragraph is all you have to orient a picky reader to the setting, the character, and an action/emotion that makes it worth their while moving to the second paragraph. Don't fill it with 'voice' at the expense of substance.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kanani. You've got to be clear at the start, leave the metaphors for later.

Grab the reader and hold on, bring in the writing skills by all means, but not right off.

Rob R

Nikki said...

Is 'to better visualise' done intentionally?

I'm not convinced.

I thought the main character was a toy on the first reading.

bucket of bolts - peepers - terra firma - truth to tell - ether - eyes glued = too many clichés for me. If the character is meant to talk in clichés, I think you need to reveal a little more about the character at the beginning, so that we know that it's intentional. I'm not convinced that it's all part of the voice at the moment.

I am slightly interested in why she's in the plane, but in a bookshop I'd skim till I found out, then put the book down.

AnonyMe said...

Hi people - thanks for commenting on my piece. For those of you worried about the cliches - yeah, actually she does think in cliches - too much time spent absorbing modern pop culture and too much effort at assimilation - the whys and wherefores comes out later in the plot. PicAxe - thanks - removing the plural works for me.