Monday, January 08, 2007

New Beginning 182


The magic goes like this: Travel to a high place, where only the wind can see you, or stand by a watery shore: a river, lake, or sea. Then you must shout your longing across the water or into the wind--with voice, soul, and mind. If you are meant to study the magics of the world, the wind and water will carry your cry to the one magician destined for you from before birth. This is your mentor. He will answer you; he will find you; he will show you the mysteries of nature, the subtle glory in mankind.

When I fell in love with magic I went to the shore of the lake near my village. I went at night. I was half-grown, then, and felt keenly the opportunity for humiliation here--what if I called, and no one answered? To fail as a magician was beyond my power, it was fate. But to be seen to fail would destroy me.

Especially if seen by Bootch, my neighbor.

However, all my hopes were realized that night as I screamed over the water with the heart of a million dreams.

As I returned home with my cloaked magician, I saw Bootch with someone following in a hooded, shimmering robe.

"Hi, Bootch," I said quietly as I fiddled with the keys to the door, letting him see my success.

"So that was you screaming at the duck pond earlier, Chalmers. Who'd you get?"

I nodded slightly and my magician lowered his hood.

"David Copperfield," said Bootch. "Nice."

I started to grin, but Bootch remained oddly smug.

"Who's with you?" I asked as Bootch's door swung open.

The shimmering robe fell to the ground, and I watched Claudia Schiffer's nude backside twist into Bootch's place. Bootch smiled as he started to close the door behind him. "Good night, Chalmers," he said. "Oh, and have fun exploring the subtle glory in mankind."


Opening: Detritus.....Continuation: Pacatrue

28 comments:

Evil Editor said...

As with the previous New Beginning, there were two worthy continuations. The second, by Marissa Doyle, follows:


I cast an apprehensive glance behind me, squared my shoulders, and filled my lungs.

"I want to be a fiction writer!" I shouted.

***

Somewhere in Manhattan, a portly, handsome man slumped in his chair, nodding off as that second martini he'd rashly ordered at lunch snuck up on him. As sleep deepened its hold on him, he began to dream . . . that recurring dream that just wouldn't leave him alone...

"Listen, kid," he mumbled, "you're the fifth one this week. Stick to pre-law. It pays better."

December Quinn said...

I really like this opening! It has a dreamy quality that drew me right in, and I already find myself caring about the MC.

writtenwyrdd said...

I really liked this opening, too. However, the last part, "To fail as a magician was beyond my power, it was fate. But to be seen to fail would destroy me" was an odd switch in the tone for me. YOu had this smoothe and rather worshipful tone going, and then we are dropped into the narrator's worries with no transition.

You have a really nice voice going in this piece. Don't let any criticism talk you out of it; the genre needs more of this sort of writing.

Theo Katz said...

I continued reading even after I saw the word "magic," which is testimony to the quality of the writing. This genre sells, I gather, so I won't suggest that you expend your talent on a more worthy subject.

But I had a problem with this line: "To fail as a magician was beyond my power, it was fate." One, you need a semicolon or a colon instead of a comma in the first sentence. Two, I don't know what you're trying to say -- that you can't fail, or that your success or failure is in the hands of fate?

Tattieheid said...

I really liked the beginning and want to read the rest. I see what Writtenwyrdd is saying and it explains something I couldn't put my finger on, but this change of tone just drew me in further. Mind you, I'm a sucker for dreamy, vulnerable characters.:)

I loved both continuations.

Anonymous said...

I like the beginning too but was also put off by

"To fail as a magician was beyond my power . . ."

I read that to say failure is not possible which would ruin the story, wouldn't it? -JTC

Dave said...

I hate to be the odd man out but I don't like this as the start to a story. It's very personal (I was once attacked by a mystical opening).

However, my personal feelings aside. The first paragraph is good. The character speaks with a strong voice, a philosophic voice and an engaging voice. It's a little fat (but I can live with that).

The second paragraph drops the ball. I like the self-doubt that if the person calls for a magician and no one answers, then they fail. That is so human (self-doubt). But the strength of the words, the clarity of the thoughts don't match with the first paragraph. It's too analytical, too heartless.

Look at the sentence structure in both paragraphs. The first paragraph is filled with long, slow sentences, long words - stuff that creates a mood. In the second paragraph, that changes. There are a mix of long and short sentences and the mood vanishes. The sentence structure breaks the spell.

That's partially because there is too much and too little information in the second paragraph and the writer tries to create action where none need be... That might sound like a contradiction but these two paragraphs deal with the basis of magic in this novel. I can't answer why the magic sometimes fails, why love of magic isn't enough, why a mentor isn't available for everyone who summons.

The writer has to rewrite the second paragraph, to bring the idea of self-doubt and possible failure to the reader. The writer has to maintain the tone of the first paragraph in the second.

Dave said...

By the way - Both continuations are excellent. Copperfield /Schiffer is great satire and "stick to pre-law" is so true, true, true...
Good work.

Anonymous said...

I agree -- I think it would be more powerful to end that paragraph with "What if I called and no one answered?" But it's a minor quibble in a nicely written beginning.
-mb

a mystical opening said...

I'm still watching you, Dave.

pinhead said...

I like opportunity for humiliation.

I am certain to be in the minority, but I would prefer if you started with the second paragraph up until the "... and no one answered?" Then I'd stick in the entire first paragraph, but maybe give it a little trim (Dave's right that it's a tad chubby). Then I'd start in with a new paragraph with the remainder of your opening ("To fail...").

Also, I thought that "where only the wind can see you" seemed a bit over the top, especially for the down-to-earth nature of the rest of it. Trying too hard to add mysticism to make it sound more important.

Read out loud thus:
The magic goes like this: Travel to a high place or stand by a watery shore: a river, lake, or sea. Then shout your longing with voice, soul, and mind. If you are meant to study the magics of the world, the wind and water will carry your cry...."

The way you've got it now, you say "wind and water" (or some variation) three times in the first three sentences.

Also, something that didn't bother me when I read it but feels like an annoying itch now that I've noticed it: You have two colons in the first sentence. Is that even legal?

HawkOwl said...

The way you've got it now, you say "wind and water" (or some variation) three times in the first three sentences.

All the better. Anyone knows that three times is the magic number.

I'm pretty much with everybody else on this. Great, except that weird sentence at the end. I'd read more.

Kate Thornton said...

Okay - *TWO* continuations to love! Nice work, Minions!

I got a kick out of the opening, too - I like magic stories.

blogless_troll said...

theo katz, your hostility towards magic can be overlooked, but the "Hot Tones" pop-up generated from your blog is a little crass. Spend that nickel I just made you wisely.

Bernita said...

Wotinhell is "the subtle glory of mankind"?
Think I would have to see more to decide if this was neat philosophical ground-laying or just a wad of airy-fairy generalities.

Theo Katz said...

blogless_troll, to make a "Hot Tones" pop-up appear on my blog is beyond my power. Some offended magician must be out to get me.

blogless_troll said...

My apologies. But I hope you've learned your lesson.

batgirl said...

Brilliant continuation! The other two are good fun as well. Though, Marissa, wouldn't it be more heart-rending as 'I want to be published'?
The opening is very nicely written, smooth, evocative. For my tastes (which are only mine) the setup verged on the portentous, though saved by not having Portentous Capitals of Destiny scattered through it. And I stumbled at 'the one magician destined for you from before birth'. The logistics involved just wouldn't work for me.

gitor said...

I think there's an echo in here.

I liked this beginning, too. Which is interesting, given all that's been said about what makes a good opening--get to the action, don't use long sentences, avoid "set-up." You seem to do all of that, and yet it works.

I think you've touched a small part of every human heart's desire and longing for a special kind of magic, the kind where we do yell our longings into the wind.

I didn't like the sentence "To fail as a magician was beyond my power, it was fate." That means his failing is fate? That's what we have to look forward to? And being seen failing is worse than the failing itself? Well, possibly, but ...

Perhaps you mean something like "whether I fail is up to fate."


-------
Continuations--LOL. I liked them both, but have to say, Bootch is a great name for a neighbor!

flica said...

blogless troll

I went to theo katz's blog and got no pop-up.

So either you two have a lovely little scam going to get the rest of us blogless trollers to warp on over there (nice blog, btw, Theo Katz), and I should sue you for false advertising?!

or you're just lucky.

(Oh, You might think something like this-maybe I have a pop-up blocker? But I don't. I get pop-ups all the time.)

Now back to work.

McKoala said...

Intriguing start. I like it. Neat continuations too.

writtenwyrdd said...

There really is a pop up at theo katz' blog. Might be your service provider is using a blocker of some kind, flica!

blogless_troll said...

Yes, flica, you caught us. And we were so close too. Only six million, nine hundred thirty-eight thousand and two more clicks and we could've retired. But you've blown the lid off our scam. Thanks a lot.

And in case you're wondering, I bought a piece of Bazooka bubble gum with my cut of the profits.

kiss-me-at-the-gate said...

I went to theo katz's blog and got the pop-up. For what it's worth.

I really liked this opening, except for the previously mentioned confusing sentence. Depending on what comes after this, I think I would really like this book. Kudos, author.

Theo Katz said...

OK, I guess it's not a magician out to get me; it's New Blogger. This is all rather embarrassing.

bonniers said...

Meh. Doesn't grab me, but that doesn't mean it's bad. I'm just not into stories that are about how fate runs our lives.

I thought the line about fate said he was doomed to failure.

Anonymous said...

"Especially if seen by Bootch, my neighbor."

Hilarious transition from opening to continuation!

whitemouse said...

Ya know, I quite liked this! The first paragraph is backstory, but it's interesting backstory, and the second paragraph immediately sets up some tension, with the reader wondering what's going to happen next. Good work, Detritus! (Is that name a Pratchett reference, by any chance? :-) )