Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New Beginning 255

Shivering, Ki'vahn burrowed deeper into his torn cloak and cursed the people who captured him again as his stomach growled, loudly. He knew better than to ask for anything, though. It would only result in another beating. The one he got for refusing to drink what they tried to pass off as water was more than enough; breathing still hurt.

After drinking that water, he didn't remember anything beyond waking up in the dark with a pounding headache, just like the one he had the first time he awoke in this tiny cage. He had tried to unlock the door with his mind, then, only to find his powers gone. Apparently they had clipped his ears before dumping him in here.

Ki'vahn gingerly touched his ears and sighed. He supposed he should be grateful they had done it while he was out cold. The pain would have been excruciating, had he been conscious.

He strained to hear outside his cage, with all of his will, eagerly, though; voices sounded. Ki'vahn leaned up against the bars, just like he did with the last cage, for which they beat him, before. They were coming. The door opened, and in walked a man in a white coat, apparently, holding a syringe.

"Stay back!" Ki'vahn shouted. "That last injection made me commatose. Keep away, or, I'll destroy you, with my mind, ear-cutter!"

The man ducked his head back into the hallway. "Julie, can you page security for me? I don't think he's going to take his haldol willingly today, either."

Opening: Anita Dapperens.....Continuation: Rei


Bernita said...

"He had tried to unlock the door with his mind, then, only to find his powers gone."
Think that might be your opener - sans "hads," of course. Several which you may eliminate and still keep the timeline straight.
Try not to introduce contradictions/confusion early, such as the water business. Was it water or not? Seems it's drugged water, but it IS water, or so you say immediately after.
People tend to read literally until they are acclamatized to your style and find this sort of thing irritating.
"pass off as water" is unfortunate from another perspective - made me wonder if they offered him urine.

BuffySquirrel said...

I agree with bernita--this is starting in the wrong place. Lots of exciting stuff seems to have happened before the start, but nothing much is happening now. If you have action in your novel, start with action :).

pyyixrbd said...

I'm not clever enough to pull it off, but I was strongly considering trying a continuation where the chick from Bewitched is in the next cell griping that they cut off her nose. Ears=magic gave me the visual of a hippo happily wiggling his ears to make himself fly. You may want to save that element for after we get to know and care about the characters, rather than the first page.

Just a humble opinion.

Dave said...

If this novel were a WW2 or Vietnam story, then this would be the middle part of the book where the hero GI is tortured in a bamboo cage by the nasty, vicious enemy.

Anonymous said...

Dave: You mean a Chuck Norris script?

Dave said...

No, not Chuck Norris. Old B&W movies and pulp adventure stories in tabloid-like magazines. There is a genre of pacific war stories that are similar - hero goes into battle or on some CID mission, gets captured, tortured in a bamboo cage, is rescued or escapes and seeks revenge on his captors. I guess Norris fills that bill with comic-book regularity.

There's important story before and after this scene that might make a more dramatic opening to the book.

Also, we all know that getting your ears docked is painful. There's no need to say that. It's obvious. More to Kivain's problem (rather than his mental relief) is that he can't perform magic. Now he has to use his physical wits to get out of this cage.

The only reason that we find out about his ears is because he can't open the cage with his mind. We quickly find out he can do magic but we don't know who he is, or how athletic he is, or how resourceful (McGyver-like) he is. He might be an earless middle aged, fat, forty and flatulent, gray-haired toothless curmudgeon. Or he might be a budding Harry Potter or Eragon. But earless, so no glasses - contacts maybe.

Perhaps the author should focus on his feelings when he discovers he lacks the ability to do magic rather than his relief at no pain when the magic was take away.

Cayendi said...

Thank you, Rei, for that continuation. I could totally see it :)

I like your idea for the opener, and I'm already thinking about how to make that work.
As for the water ... good point.

Thing is that I thought I started with the action. But I now see I didn't.

The ears=magic is a very important thing in the novel (hence them being clipped), so saving it for later is not an option.
He can't fly though ;)

Ki'vahn is not earless. He's an elf, and only the points of his ears have been cut off, but thank you for the image of an earless elf :)
And thank you for pointing out my superfluous comment about clipping ears being painful. Sometimes I tend to point out the obvious. I need to work on that.
I agree with you on the feelings when he realises his magic is gone, though he's in pain and not necessarily thinking straight, which also hinders any idea of escaping ... just yet.
Not that he needs to, since he'll be rescued in about two paragraphs, give or take.
As for your presumption there is more important information before this scene ... I see it as mere backstory. To me this scene sets the mood for the rest of the story.
But from all your comments it is clear it still needs some work.

Thank you all, for your tips and comments. They've been helpfull :)

sylvia said...

Too much, too fast. This could be your starting scene in my opinion, but not if you are going to spend it explaining backstory to us.

How he feels is one thing, explaining why he feels the way he does about everything is another.

*wanders off to rewrite her own stuff having spotted it in yours*

McKoala said...

Love the ear clipping; like clipping wings. But wouldn't he feel the pain before realising he couldn't do magic? I found this hard to read - something with the continuity/timeline, I think, 'cos the writing itself is fine.

Nice continuation!

AmyB said...

I think the content here is fine; I don't think there's anything wrong with opening in a prison cell. I've read several good books that started that way.

The opening sentence reads awkwardly because it has so many clauses, all expressing different concepts. I think you might want to break that into a couple of sentences. Also, "the people who captured him" is bland. Surely he has an idea who's captured him? The rebels? The guards? The--I don't know--something from your book with a proper name? You've got space for a free setting detail in that clause; you might as well use it.

Also, he wakes up in a cage, tries to open the door and fails, and then realizes his ears have been clipped. (a nice, though grotesque, detail!) Wouldn't his ears still hurt from being clipped? Might that not be one of the first things he notices when he wakes up?

Redfox said...

Hah! I guessed he was an elf - I've been reading this kind of stuff for waa-aay too many decades :)

Something my own beta-readers pointed out when my protagonist's ear was "winged" by a would-be assassin's bullet - ears bleed a lot. OK, so he's an elf, but a little real-world verisimilitude is always good in fantasy, as an anchor for the otherworldliness. Either there's going to be a lot of blood or they've cauterized the wounds, in which case the pain would be the first thing he noticed on waking. I doubt they'd spare any fancy-schmancy healing magic on a prisoner...