Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New Beginning 183


The massive red sun rose over a rocky red mesa of steaming pits and dusty craters.

Thin, dry clouds rolled across the sky. Silvery lizards skittered around the rocks, slipping from hidden cracks and snatching insects from the air. Here and there, cacti and patches of razor-sharp grass peeked from beneath outcroppings or rose tenaciously from cracks in the rock. A dry wind brushed the edge of a canyon.

Eight dark shapes swept over the canyon's edge and dove into the crevice in a single fluid curve.

A man's voice barked from the front of the formation: "Devil Eight, left to survey basking terrain, Devil Six backup! Go!"

Two of the shapes broke away. The rider on the left cast a salute back at them before they spun out of sight.

They careened deeper into the canyon. Thousands of feet below the surface, the crevice widened suddenly into a cave.

Rich, copper-hued walls glistened all around them, while a fecund smell rose from the damp cave bottom. But this was not a sight-seeing tour; they had but one objective.

The advance scouts continued on, even as the cave tapered to a nearly impassable corridor. A few tight turns and they caught sight of their target: an immense, pulsating sphere, filling the passageway ahead.

“There it is!” the leader shouted. “Full ahead! We have to break through the outer surface if our mission is to have any meaning at all!” And with that order, they surged forward, the survival of their race in the balance.



"I don’t know . . . ” The Literary Review editor looked across the table at his colleagues. “Maybe we do have a winner here; it’s certainly the first time I’ve read a sex scene from the sperm’s point of view.”


Opening: Detritus.....Continuation: ril

26 comments:

pacatrue said...

Very well done, ril. I lol'd as they say. However, when you re-read it from this point of view, what exactly are these silvery lizards, and what are they doing in there?

As for the opening, I liked it just fine. My only reservation is I kept thinking I was reading a Star Wars novelization. If you take the rebel fighter chat above the Death Star and stick it on Tatooine, it seems you end up with this beginning. The association is strong enough that I expect a gigantic worm to live inside the cave they are flying into.

But still, I liked the writing. Let's see if anyone else had that association. If not, then don't worry about my randomness.

qrofz said...

Oh, ril--LOL, just a great continuation.

Author. Too much rosy description (purple prose).

What's "basking terrain"?

And the opening has a very generic feel--like we've all been here before.

Good luck.

Evil Editor said...

what exactly are these silvery lizards, and what are they doing in there?

Typical Homo sapiens-centric question. Who knows what one would encounter in the nether regions of this creature?

roach said...

The first two paragraphs work overtime to set the scene but the moment the eight shapes show up the writing seems to go opaque.

The man's voice made me thing perhaps these were winged-men shapes, but then the reader is told they are riders, but what they are riding isn't described. I'm left scratching my head wondering what just happened as they split up and head out on their mission.

ril said...

...what exactly are these silvery lizards, and what are they doing in there?

You've clearly led a sheltered life. I'm fortunate that my mother was good enough to explain to me exactly what certain women are like -- down there.

Marissa Doyle said...

In the nether regions of which creature, EE? I'm with pacatrue on this one. Cacti? Razor sharp grass?

Hmm. Alternate lifestyle, perhaps.

It was a tad on the purple side, though. Space western.

Wonderwood said...

I'll beat Dave to the punch (maybe) and make the comment that the opening is "flabby". It provides good imagery, but you can slice some adjectives. An example: "Thin, dry clouds rolled across the sky." You can cut "dry" without harming the imagery. Also, you use "red" twice in the opening line; it's usually best to avoid redundancy. The image of "red" is already in our mind from the sun, I'd drop the second use of it.

"Here and there, cacti and patches of razor-sharp grass peeked from beneath outcroppings or rose tenaciously from cracks in the rock." You could cut "Here and there" without losing anything.

Overall, not too shabby but it needs some pruning, IMHO. The continuation was excellent. I've yet to see ril fall flat. Nice work!

ril said...

I've yet to see ril fall flat.

Actually, ril often falls flat, but fortunately EE consigns my frequent failures to the trash, unseen, and only picks the occasional one that "hits the mark". For that, I am grateful.

whitemouse said...

Can you chop those first two paragraphs, and work the descriptions into the action instead?

This is a slow start to a book, and not just because it starts with scenery. I'd like to know if these people have a problem on the horizon that they're going to need to resolve. Right now, they appear to be out for a routine Sunday drive.

At what point do things start to get uncomfortable for these people? Start the story there.

Anonymous said...

I'm with pacatrue on this one. Cacti? Razor sharp grass?

I'm guessing that Ril is maybe giving a nod to The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award: an award given annually to the author who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel.

Dave said...

As for my prediliction to say too many words. I am as ruthless on my writing as I am on anyone else's...

1. I'm a chemical engineer. I see things two ways - real and unreal - black and white. If you don't need it why do you have it?
2. Today I cut my story "The Automaton" down to 2780 words (24% reduction). I proofread the crap out of it.
3. My story "Amphora" was yesterday's edit. I only cut by 10% (down to 3300 words).

bunnygirl said...

This feels cluttered with adjectives, but I think the repetitive sentence structure is the bigger problem. Nearly all your sentences follow a similar pattern of "this happened, that happened," with a whole lotta adjectives going on.

For example: The massive red sun rose over a rocky red mesa of steaming pits and dusty craters. Thin, dry clouds rolled across the sky. Silvery lizards skittered around the rocks, slipping from hidden cracks and snatching insects from the air.

Let's see what we can do to trim a few adjectives and mix up the sentence structure: The sun rose red and massive over a mesa of steaming pits and dusty craters. As thin clouds rolled across the sky, lizards skittered around the rocks. They slipped from hidden cracks, snatching insects from the air.

Or something like that. Be careful about making sentences sound too similar in tone and rhythm. It makes your prose sound choppy, which is fine for some purposes, but not for a sweeping description of a landscape.

I think this has potential. You have an inner eye for detail, so now you just need to make it flow.

Bernita said...

While I agree there are a few extra words like the first "dry"; you don't need "patches", and would prefer another verb than "peeked" I think this is an excellent beginning.

Anonymous said...

I guess we do need to vote next December after all. This was another brilliant continuation!

Dave, very interesting post. Pretty cool points.

Author, I like what you wrote and i'd read more. But maybe a little too much description? It reminded me of that old typing exercise -- "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."

"The massive red sun rose over a rocky red mesa of steaming pits and dusty craters." That made me worry right off the bat. But I like the story and am interested in the eight dark shapes...

...dave conifer

Anonymous said...

I agree with wonderwood (typing that "name" gives me the creeps for some reason) and totally disagree with whitemouse. I think the scene opens well with the discription -it paints a good picture for my mind. It is not as though you are describing every bit of plant life in vivid detail a la Cold Mountain. -JTC

blogless_troll said...

I agree about the adjectives. The verbs you use are strong enough to carry most of the description. The biggest problem I had with this was the "thin, dry clouds." I'm no scientist, but aren't clouds, by their very nature, er, NOT dry?

Tattieheid said...

I agree with bernita. It's a good beginning (subject to minor changes) and I would read on a bit to see where it was going.

I loved the continuation, totally unexpected but appropriate and hilarious.

horror said...

Silvery lizards are alien sperm.

Anonymous said...

Between this and 182 (also mine), I'm impressed and grateful that the minions pretty much agree on what needs to be changed. Thanks for all the input--and the continuations made my day.

-Detri

bonniers said...

It seems rather odd to say this about a passage with so much description, but -- it's vague. Are we on a distant planet, or only the southwestern US or desert Australia? Are the riders human or demonic? They could be just a patrol flying in formation, but maybe Devil 6 is meant literally.

My overall impression is the Nazgul flying into Tatooine. Not a good impression.

Kate Thornton said...

Reminds me of science fiction - I'm a space opera fan, so that's a good thing.

Ril - you've done it again!

~Nancy said...

OMG, that continuation was brilliant! :-) (It certainly wasn't what I was expecting!)

I liked this. Even though there's debate about starting out with description, I felt it was necessary here.

I'd read on.

~JerseyGirl

Rei said...

I'm with qrofz. Too much purple prose.

Anonymous said...

ril, I'm trying to decide whether you have or haven't seen Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Six...

Cathy Writes Romance said...

I get the author's purpose, creating imagery for a harsh, sweltering world. In this case, I think wordiness could work, but stewp/stoup it up... a little meandering.

The sun, massive and red, rose over a rocky mesa.

I'm having trouble with a visual for dusty and steaming all in one landscape.

Wonderwood said...

Fear not, JTC, it's just a word. It happens to be the name of the community in which I live (for the massive live oaks and mystical Spanish moss) and I just like the sound of it. The sexual innuendo is just a bonus ;-)