Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Beginning 110

Margaret stole a glance at her husband to check if he was really asleep. His chin had sunk into his collarbone and his head nestled against an airline pillow against the cabin wall. He had been taking pictures for hours.

She had long given up her efforts to peer around his shoulders at the scene below, and had settled back to immerse herself in a paperback novel. Now bored, she pulled her purse from under her seat and stiffly extricated herself from the cramped airline seat.

Jeff opened one eye, frowned and inquired sleepily, "Where are you going?"

Margaret froze for an instant, then turned and hissed, "I'm just going to the bathroom. Give me a break, will you?"

Jeff glared at her for a moment, an expression of warning in his eyes. He looked as if he was going to say something caustic. But he just sighed and leaned back.

He knew a secret, something Margaret was going to find out the hard way. Eyes closed, he smiled to himself.

Margaret squeezed into the tiny restroom and locked the door. She heaved herself down onto the cold stainless steel potty. A loud sucking noise and a sudden scream were muffled by the airplane's noises. But Jeff knew. He had been dreaming about the thin sheet of aluminum separating the restroom from the surrounding clouds, willing it to disappear.

Opening: Chumplet.....Continuation: Kate Thornton


Chumplet said...

Ack! That continuation is hilarious! Lurrrrve it.

merper said...


Nothing going on here. No tension, even in the last paragraph. If there's something actually happening in this scene, start here:

"Jeff opened one eye, frowned and inquired sleepily, "Where are you going?" "

And then describe what she's doing as she says her next line so people realize she's on a plane. That'll be a small little bit that can give you some tension.

And if Jeff knows something about going to the plane bathroom make it less vauge in the last paragraph(now pgph 3 if you decide to go by my editing).

But if all he's doing is getting pissed because she's moving past him, this scene shouldn't be in there.

Then again, it is a plane, and if you make that out to be a surprising revelation, then I would read on, hoping that the next paragraph reveals that there are snakes/terrorists/engine malfunction/rabid dogs? on said plane.

bunnygirl said...

And here I thought she was going to blow up the plane with her smuggled lip gloss. Bummer.

Rei said...

That continuation turned a humdrum opening into an incredible one. ;)

Don't take it too hard, author, that your opening was somewhat humdrum. Just make sure that, within the next few hundred words, you get a solid hook in. That's what matters; unless your query was terrible, I doubt most editors or agents would put the book down in this few words.

Cathy Writes Romance said...

First impression -- I'm mildly intrigued to find out why husband and wife are hostile to each other but the author's voice doesn't energize me, so I'm not likely to read too far.

Remember, that's only my impression from this sample.

I agree with merper's comment about where to start and giving us the airplane scene right away and going right into the hostility and hints at the underlying reasons it exists.

Beth said...

The last line in the first paragraph seems irrelevant to the rest of the opening. Why was it important enough to mention, but not important enough to explain? Why was he taking pictures for hours? Is he a tourist? A professional photographer?

The opening line gives a hint of some tension between them,and she seems anxious not to awaken him. Maybe even afraid of him. But her reaction at the end of the scene was more angry than defensive or placating, which is what I would have expected, given the lead-up.

anonyme said...

Umm, I hope these opening paragraphs aren't a symptom of the common problem of introducing conflict for conflict's sake. If this is a suspense I think you need to be more subtle about the hostility between the wife and her husband - surprise us with it.

December Quinn said...

Margaret stole a glance at her husband to check if he was really asleep. His chin had sunk into his collarbone and his head nestled against an airline pillow against the cabin wall. He had been taking pictures for hours.

I thought he was sleeping?? Is "taking pictures" a new euphemism for sleep? Was he taking pictures out of the window of the plane?

Kathleen said...

EE - I think New Beginning 111 got posted out of place somehow. I see it down on my screen below historical mystey openings and New Beginning 106.

Evil Editor said...

Thanks. Was saving that for tomorrow, must have accidentally hit publish instead of draft. As it's been revealed, I'll move it up in the schedule.

Chumplet said...

This is a good example of the work of a beginner. This was me, a year ago.

Now I know why my first novel is on the shelf, waaaay in the back, dusty and forlorn.

It was worth submitting just to see the continuation.

I might resurrect it someday.

xiqay said...

The dialogue/tension seems completely out of synch with the opening set-up. A couple on an airplane. He's asleep, she's bored and then suddenly we have hissing and glaring cuz she stands up to use the john?

Not interested. I would not keep reading.

Chumplet said...

Why does everything I contribute gravitate toward 'Snakes on a Plane?'

December Quinn said...

Aaw, chumplet, are you tired of the motherf***ing 'Snakes on a Plane' jokes?

Tee-hee! *runs away*

writtenwyrdd said...

Author, this could be made to work, I think, but if you got the level of drama I'd like (shouting, shoving, stuff of that ilk) you are going to change the plot significantly. Otherwise, have the argument where it is more likely for two people to have a spat. On airplanes, arguments are seriously frowned upon. They call it Air Rage and they actually divert the plane and arrest you for playing.

The more realistic interaction you show here isn't a grabber, unless you show us he's got a bomb strapped to her or something and this is a John LeCarre style book with terrorists. That would get my attention, not that I'd read that sort of book.

Chumplet said...

december, nobody will EVER get tired of Snakes on a Plane. Or Sharks Beneath a Zamboni.

December Quinn said...