Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Beginning 275

"Ow! Let go!"

A sprite giggled as it watched Lhiannan try to untangle herself from the blackthorn she'd walked into. She glared at it and carefully unhooked her white blouse from the twisted branches before brushing the leaves out of her long blonde hair. Attacked by a shrub! That would teach her not to pay attention.

She rose up into the air and looked around the glen. The craggy hills were golden in the fading sunlight, low clouds hovering at their edges. A stag stood serenely on the slope, enjoying a last patch of warmth before nightfall. Last night the Unblessed Court had been on the prowl but all was quiet now.

A smile formed on her face as she hovered near the stag. She was happy here, far away from the others, surrounded by the land she loved. Aikel would fuss at her for wandering off alone but this was where she felt she belonged. Here she was free. And here she was away from the whispers.

Or was she?

"She's nuts."

''I can't believe she got herself tangled up in the towel roll."

"Why isn't she wearing a shirt?"

"And what's she got in her hair?''

"Ewwww, gross."

The stag froze on the horizon. The craggy hills shimmered, rippled and dissolved into the weathered brick walls of Lincoln Middle School. Leanne sighed. Once again she was just a middle schooler with lunch meat in her hair.

Opening: Sylvia.....Continuation: McKoala


goblin said...

I don't need to know her hair is long and blond. I really don't. It doesn't tell me anything important about her.

I don't care what she looks like; just tell me a rollicking-good story.

I also don't care about how happy she is here in the wilderness, or how piqued she is about getting her blouse snagged.

I care that she sees imps, that a shrub "attacked" her, and that she has to deal with "whispers".

Strip out all the boring stuff and give us the story. It sounds like it could be a very good one.

If her connection to the land is important, then show us that, rather than telling us. Make us feel what she feels, or show her behaving in a manner that communicates happiness.

Bernita said...

You have some clunky bits.
Why not have her just "untangle" rather than "try to untangle."
No need to qualify the process of an action, especially since it's obvious later she is successful.
If she's caught, she must have walked into a bush - no need to tell us " she'd walked into."
You could avoid the "and then" of "before brushing" by just making it a separate sentence.
Wouldn't it teacher her to pay attention?
No need for "up into" - just "rose in."
"were golden" - consider something like "glowed golden."
"Edges" is awkward - do you need to mention the clouds at all? Or the stag-at-eve?
And "the Unblessed Court prowled" is more concise.

And couldn't she just smile instead of " a smile formed on her face?"

Robin S. said...

I think your story really starts with the second paragraph.I like it.

The first paragraph just seems set up to tell me she is a magical being, she's a blonde, etc.

Fun continuation - "lunch meat in her hair".

Anonymous said...

Erm, shouldn't it teach her TO pay attention? Not... "that will teach her not to pay attention".

BuffySquirrel said...

"to be" is a very useful verb that used to be invisible until a set of people took against it on the grounds that everything is in flux, therefore nothing can be described as "being". Presumably they will soon move on to "to have", as everything is in a state of flux, and therefore nothing can be described as having, or being had.

Or maybe we're all being had.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked this well enough, but I didn't feel the scene was clearly enough set. Go over this and consider which details distract or add to the scene, Author. In particular, I was unclear if Lhiannan was the size of the sprite or not. At first, I thought she was our size; toward the end, it seemed like she was tiny, too.

I was also unclear if the shrug actually attacked her or not. This is fantasy; so be careful what you say, we will tend to take it literally, especially in the beginning.

Dave said...

Dropping the verb "to be" is a colloqialism from PA and some other neighboring states. As in:
"My hair needs washed" or "The car needs fixed"
It's a PA Dutch construction much like the "I turned out the light" or "Put out the light"...
It is considered the hardest colloqialism to remove from speech and writing. BTW

Dave said...

oh, I also wanted to say -
I agree with Robin. Drop the first paragraph and begin with the second

ME said...

I read this several times over at Openings. Each time I pictured her with little fairy wings because of the "sprite" cue and the terms "rose up" and "hovered". So I was surprised that the contin. didn't have her fly around a little.
Is the shrub attack foreshadowing something?
I agree with those who ask for more action. She must have moved from the glen to the slope if she is now nearer the stag.If my imagination is working correctly, she must have moved, or am I picturing this thing all wrong? Or is the reader given the requested action and animation, whoop-de-do in the next few sentences?
"teach her not" stopped me in my tracks, but I forgave quickly and moved on. I read this more than once because I liked the idea of Lhiannan floating around in her little glen;your 3 paragraphs definitely placed me right there with her. Now what?

sylvia said...

LOVE the continuation! Just perfect. In fact, I want to read the rest of Leanne's story now!

To be or not to be? I guess I'm word blind to this text -- I don't see the missing be. I'm not from PA so it must be a mistake.

Bizarrely, the story originally started with "She rose up into the air". On the initial edit, I thought, "something should be happening and I need to show who we are talking about" and I added the first paragraph. Clearly it shows.

Same with blonde -- I realised at some point that I was confused about her hair colour so I decided "blonde it shall be!" and went through the text looking for references. I guess I went over the top with that one. (I'm still not sure her hair isn't brown, if you want the real truth).

In my head it was something along the lines of "That'd teach her to daydream whilst walking along the path" but the negative in there clearly doesn't work. I'll rephrase.

sylvia said...

Some might be interested that you have already seen her die.

pacatrue said...

I just wanted to concur with Dave on "My hair needs washed" being a dialectal thing. It seems to be a German / Dutch transfer and extends across the upper Great Lakes from Pennsylvania all the way at least to Wisconsin. I don't remember it when I lived in Minnesota, but you start having the Scandanavian influences when you get there. It does indicate the home of the speaker just as distinctly as "He was fixing to do that" or "I might could do that" marks the South. The author will have to decide if that's alright or not.

As to the content of the original opening, I liked it overall. I would have kept reading. However, the author probably can streamline productively as others have already indicted.

writtenwyrdd said...

I've lived in eleven states now and many of them managed to pick up colloquial speech patterns without noticing. Here in Maine it is dropping the plurals on things, as in, "Give me fifty foot of rope." It goes on long enough, you don't notice you do it, or even get occasionally confused as to the correct usage.

sylvia said...

Er, I still haven't worked out where I did it!

Someone make quote the sentence, preferably with flashing red letters. It may be regional and I'll happily 'fess up but I honestly can't see what I did! Undoubtedly because I know what I meant to say rather than what I said...

McKoala said...

Bernita's advice is very sound on editing to make your text more more concise and immediate, but is this the right place to start your story? There's little action, although, admittedly, that might all change in the very next para and that would be fine!

BuffySquirrel said...

My comment about "to be" was in response to bernita's suggestion that "glowed golden" would be an improvement over "were golden". Depends how fond you are of alliteration, I guess :).

What all the rest of the comments are about, I dunno.

Does that clarify anything? I have no idea! lol

The problems with "that would teach her not to pay attention" and "attacked by a shrub" may be pondular, as I had no difficulty with either :D.

Bernita said...

Yes, Sylvia, the snark was for me.

BuffySquirrel said...

Just call me SnarkySqrl!

sylvia said...

Bah, I did check yours for the missing "to be" as well but didn't see anything wrong with "glowed golden" either.

I'll stop staring confusedly at my Word document now, at least!

SnarkySqrl has a nice ring to it, I think. ;)

This logging into blogger every time is starting to get on my nerves, what have they broken?

Bernita said...

I'll just call you "Pot," Buffy.

ME said...

Hey Buffysquirrel!
Where did you find that neat term "pondular"? I can't find it in six dictionaries. What does it mean?

Anonymous said...

I think pondular has to do with being "across the pond" and having language usage differences- but I could be wrong.


sylvia said...

I thought it was a great term! And in itself pondular, from that response. ;)

(I also think that I'll have to make a decision about anglicisms, the fun bit is spotting them!)

ME said...

Still pondering "pondular."
Term not found in 12 resources, including several on British Slang.
What dictionary is it in?

Evil Editor said...

She made it up. It means exclusive to only one side of the pond. The pond being the Atlantic Ocean.

BuffySquirrel said...

Credit where credit's due--I think one of my friends actually did the making up. It'll get into the dictionaries eventually :D.

ME said...