Thursday, April 19, 2007

New Beginning 262

"Out of the way!" rang an imperious voice. "Make way, make way!"

Alcyone stepped aside, rubbing her eyes tiredly, as four slaves bore a lady's silk-hung litter down the street. The servant announcing their passage, a man clad in black-and-white livery, glanced over Alcyone without expression, though his lip curled at the pair of ragged wharf-children behind her. They gazed back, distinctly unimpressed.

Alcyone nodded at the wooden chest the two children carried. "You can set that there, thank you," she said, pointing to the doorstep beside her.

"Yes, seri," said one. He and the other -- who might be a young girl, beneath the dirt and rags -- laid Alcyone's small chest of belongings on the stoop. "Anything else?"

"No, thank you." She handed each a copper five-coin and watched them trot away, returning to the riverside docks. A griffin's cry rang overhead.

With the realization that she had finally arrived, the energy drained from Alcyone’s body. She slumped down and perched on her simple wooden box and watched the griffins circling in the gray sky. Damn it, she thought. So this is what it's come to. I promised mother, before the consumption took her, I’d be something in literature. A feisty female detective, or a deep literary cipher or a ruthless queen. But this? A damsel in distress in a fucking fantasy? Hot tears needled her eyes. At least I’m not some cheap romance wimp, or, God forbid, Chick Lit.

“Make way! Make way!”

Alcyone watched as the servant led the ornate litter back along the street. Ooh, nice curtains, she thought. Laura Ashley taffeta?

Opening: Spartezda.....Continuation: ril


Anonymous said...

The beginning was good. The continuation was great.

Robin S. said...

This continuation is a riot.

stick and move said...

I knew before I was half-way through the continuation it was RIL. Status quo awesome.

The opening is interesting, I like it. Perhaps a bit heavy on the descriptives. "Tiredly" in the third sentence might be an indicator of prose heavy on adverbs. It's hard to tell in this short sequence, but it's something you might want to consider when revising. Good work on both counts!

Tia Nia said...

I really like this opening. Already I want to know whether the two kids come back, what Alcyone's story is, why can't she carry her own small chest of belongs, whose stoop has she landed on.

If there is any way I can read the rest of the piece (short story, novella, novel, whatever it is), I'd love to have the opportunity.

fantastic continuation. Self-reference is one of my favorite comic devices. Masterfully done.

whitemouse said...

Everyone like this? Huh. Sorry, but I didn't.

First of all:

- "Out of the way!" pretty much implies imperiousness.
- Rubbing one's eyes pretty much implies tiredness.
- Travelling in a silk-hung litter pretty much implies a lady (or a rather fey rich man.)

That is to say, you've got a lot of unnecessary words in here. Start trimming the fat out.


What's the point of of this scene? Nothing interesting happens.

Figure out where your story starts, and begin there. At what point does Alcyone realise she has a problem to solve? That's the moment that might make me interested in reading further.

McKoala said...

Definitely an interesting start. Some point of view/logic issues, though. The children seemed unrelated to her; then she nodded at them without turning. Just some clarification needed I think. I'd rather feel her eyes scratchy with lack of sleep, than be told she's rubbing them. I like the way that the griffin is introduced, and I love Ril's continuation.

sonnethead said...

If the servent and the 2 kids don't have significant roles later on, I would sacrifice descriptions of them in favor of a little more setting. The griffin's cry suggests a strange land, but I'd like something before that.

back o' the head said...

And she either sees the children's expressions behind her, or omniscient VP lurches on scene for a moment and then heads off again to be with the griffins.

Xenith said...

Not picking on whitemouse :) Just thinking that one person's "unnecessary words" is another persons "clarifying the situation"

"Out of the way!" pretty much implies imperiousness.

I say "Out of the way!" a lot, and i don't usually manage imperiousness. Annoyed, frustrated, impatient, sure.

Rubbing one's eyes pretty much implies tiredness.

I'd have though dust actually.

Travelling in a silk-hung litter pretty much implies a lady (or a rather fey rich man.)

Or a tourist or a place where no one walks if they don't have to or a place with really muddy roads or...

Not to say there might not be a better way to handle some of those, esp. the tiredness. Personally, I think the first paragraph would work better as:

"Make way! Make way!"

Reminds me of the way officials repeat a command over and over to get people's attention.

Bernita said...

I really liked this first time through - clean writing.
Then I got picky, though I argued myself out of some of them.
"Make way" struck me as right - "Out of the way" did not.
"Imperious" is fine - many street clearers would repeat their orders in flat,bored fashion.
Don't care for "tiredly" - "wearily" might read smoother - and I don't think it is redundant, she might have grit in them.
I assume she has hired her chest carried because it is beneath her station to lug it herself.
But there does seem to be a couple of physical location problems caused perhaps by an apparent pov switch.
"A griffin's cry rang overhead" is a great line.

whitemouse said...

Just thinking that one person's "unnecessary words" is another persons "clarifying the situation"

*nods* You have a point, Xenith. I think the thing really bugging me is that the author tells us, rather than shows us, what is going on.

I think the writing would be more powerful if s/he forced our imaginations into gear by implying more about what's happening. There's nothing wrong with using a word like "imperiously", but it's a missed opportunity. There's always a way to paint the scene more vividly than with a dialogue tag.

I agree that the line about the griffin is great. Unfortunately, I barely made it that far because everything that preceded it seemed flatly descriptive and a bit pointless in terms of action.

M.W. said...

Both the beginning voice and the griffin's cry "rang" -- it was jarring to read that descriptor for a voice saying "out of the way", but it did fit for the griffin. I don't think the line "rang an imperious voice" adds much at all. It would be a stronger opening without that. I agree on the "tiredly." There has to be a stronger verb or image that can convey her exhaustion without tripping the reader up.

Also, the line "The servant announcing their passage" is cumbersome. Could he just be "the herald" and I think the line "distincly unimpressed" is a little weak. It is more of a telling phrase. Show the reader what they looked like and the reader will deduce that they were "unimpressed."

The beginning image is good. But a tightening of the prose will make it stronger. The continuation...well, I did chuckle.

writtenwyrdd said...

This isn't bad, but there is a discontinuity with the litter and the dropping of the chest on the stoop. The woman has already arrived; why are you having her stand there and watch a litter go by? I suggest you integrate the action so that she's tellign the kids to put the box down as the litter goes by and make the litter relevant. If it isn't, cut it out of your beginning.

ADditionally, while I liked the griffin's cry being mentioned, it felt like a non sequitir where you have it.

I'd have read further.

Spartezda said...

Hi, all!

Thank you for your kind words and good critique-points; I really appreciate it.

And Tia Nia---I've only just started this story, and have a bunch of other projects going on, so I don't know when I'll get back to it. But thank you so, so much for the enthusiasm and encouragement. It was a lovely thing at the end of a difficult day.

*And* I got a continuation by ril. I feel honored.