Friday, September 21, 2007

New Beginning 367

My sister charged into the bedchamber, her candle flickering and nearly extinguishing from her haste. She smiled at me and I jumped up from my sewing – not that I’d done a stitch of course.

“Did you see him?” I asked.

“I don’t think they saw me,” she said, still catching her breath.

She enjoyed keeping me in suspense, but I was impatient.

“Just tell me! Did you see him?”

“Oh yes, and you will be pleased. He is young and very handsome.”

That was a relief to me. I’d imagined all kinds of ogres. Now that only left Anna to secure a good match. Although for her, they lined up around the earldom.

She set down her candle. “I even heard his name.”

“I know he is Sir Richard of Roxbury.”

“Sir Richard Mortimer. Of Roxbury.”

My heart felt like it dropped down to my feet, and I must have looked ill because Anna turned ashen, led me to the bed, and looked ready to call in the physician at any moment.

“Oh no,” I said. It was all I could get out. In that instant, I knew my life was going to be a nightmare. But perhaps, a delicious one.

My heart fluttered like a trapped bird as I rested my head upon my pillow. Sir Richard Mortimer of Roxbury. Oh, what sweet trepidation. When first I learned of the intended match, I had feared the worst: Sir Richard Featherstone of Roxbury, that balding, impotent cad; or Sir Richard Givvens of Roxbury, a lisping, effeminate fop of no earthly use to a woman in her prime. But Sir Richard Mortimer -- young, handsome and virile . . . I would soon be getting the best Dick in Roxbury.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

“Not to worry, my dear brother.” Anna patted my hand. “I will sacrifice myself upon this altar.”

The heat of my anger flushed my face. “Oh no, sister dear. I would never ask that of you.” No one was gettng between me and Sir Richard Mortimer.


Sir Richard Mortimer, the very gentleman who would lay down with a swineherd's issue if it fetched him a good laugh and a stout brew. How would I know this? Well, that is a tale.

--Bill Highsmith

"But you've worked so hard on your R's," Anna said, stroking my back. "They've gotten ever so much better."

"Richard of Roxbury," I said again, concentrating intently, but still it came out as "Wichud of Woxbuwy."

Anna forced a smile. "See? That sounded terrific."

"No, it sounded tewwible. There's only one thing to do. After the wedding, we're moving to Dunstable and I'm going to start calling him Dick."


After all, what girl in the land hadn't heard the tales of the delectable Roxbury Sausage?


"It won't be all that bad," soothed Anna. "He only changes on the full moon. And think! You can take some of his hair for your embroidery."


It wouldn't be the last time I got Roxbury and Cadbury confused.


Bernita said...

Hmm, think your stitches are too tight in some places and too loose in others.

Dave said...

This is the essence of your scene.

My sister Anna, still young enough to be the spy of the family, burst into my bedchamber and hid behind the door.

“I saw him. I saw your betrothed. He's young and handsome."

I frowned and set my sewing down, determined not to play into my sister's eagerness for me to marry. Promised in marriage to a nobleman I've never seen. I’d imagined disaster -- old men with ear hair, homely men, bland men, harsh men who wished to rule women, and drunkards. Anna had her lover but I, being older, had to marry before her. My heart dropped. I must have looked ill because Anna turned ashen, led me to the bed, and made me lay down.

“I even heard his name, Sir Richard Mortimer of Roxbury. You should be happy, sister."

“Happy?” An arranged marriage to a man I never met. I couldn't possibly be happy.

I always tell people to cut the excess. Even in my version there's excess. Explain Anna's eagerness with her sister's reluctance - not a flickering candle.
She doesn't want to marry a strange man. His name is unimportant. His looks (at this time) are unimportant. she doesn't want an arranged marriage.

And I gave you a little gift. You can boost {AHEM, what the hell is her name} the narrator's change a little bit by making her say "I couldn't possibly be happy. " Then we can watch her change of heart. As the opening stands now, we know she's going to jump into this guys arms, rip off her clothes and (YIKES) have her way with his naked and handsome body. What a slut. What a cavein to shallowness. Make him fight to earn her, even if she sees him and he's Prince Charming, make him earn her. Yes, you're writing a teeny, tiny bit of Taming of the Shrew, but isn't that what makes interesting characters?

And please, I hope he isn't the "oh darling, your such a wonderful girl, I kiss your feet, adoring type of jerk..." If I were a girl and a guy did that to me, I'd plunge a spiked heel into his brain and put him out of his misery.
Give him a little spine.
Have him say something really unromantic like "I hear your hunting and cooking skills make up for lack of beauty. Your father made a fair bargain for $$$." WOWIE! Would that get the relationship off to an interesting start.

Anonymous said...

I like this beginning. It moves well. You get a good sense of what's going on. You get a feel for the characters - a bit - though you only assume they're both female given the setting.

Not sure how many Sir Richards there are in Roxbury that she has no idea it could be Mortimer.

This line:
Now that only left Anna to secure a good match.

hangs me up every time I read it. Maybe because I'm used to seeing 'then' after 'now'? I don't know, but it's a constant show stopper for me.

I would keep reading, but I'm not sure for how much further. It doesn't look like it fits my choice of genres, but it might given the medievalish flair.


I wrote this one said...

Thanks for comments so far.

Bernita, if you could possibly elaborate I would appreciate it. LOL.

Dave, thank you and yes Sir Richard is a big time jerk who treats her like crap. She actually doesn't mind the arranged marriage, it is him who is in love with someone else and feels great resentment to her. She starts off optimistic but is soon beaten down by her constant humiliation in the face for his great love for another woman. There is also history there between them (not romantic) that makes things interesting between them.

Anyway, I have had a hard time with the beginning. Maybe this isn't it?

Any help appreciated.

jjdebenedictis said...

I thought this was a good beginning. There's certainly tension and the scene gets us quickly into the story.

I would definitely keep reading to find out more about Richard Mortimer.

Evil Editor said...

I see no problem with this being the beginning. It's a bit odd that the narrator knows the name of her betrothed is Sir Richard of Roxbury, but that it apparently has never occurred to her that it's Sir Richard Mortimer of Roxbury. It sounds like she knows who Sir Richard Mortimer is, so why didn't she make the connection sooner?

I wrote this one said...

Hi EE...she didn't make the connection sooner because when she knew him before he was not "Sir" anything "of" anything so she didn't make the connection that this man was the same one she knew of. Richard Mortimer is a name she does recognize though. She does wonder if it is really the same man, but when she sees him it is indeed him.

I wrote this one said...

Thank you Sarah and jjdebenedictus, thanks for the encouraging comments.

Evil Editor said...

This being the opening, the readers don't know this. How long till we find out? You don't want us thinking she's an idiot for six chapters.

Also, how big a deal is it to get knighted in the time period? If becoming Sir Richard of Roxbury is a major event, news would travel fast in his circle of friends and former friends. I grew up with Paul McCartney, and when Queen Elizabeth knighted him, my phone was ringing off the hook.

Dave said...

I think it's a perfectly good beginning. Don't be afraid of writing it. Put words to paper and if it doesn't work, put more words to paper.

Bernita said...

I think this sort of beginning in this sort of genre allows for a little more scene description. It's tight to the point of bare machinery.
What kind of sewing? Did it drop to the floor? Where did she set the candle? What did the sister do to prolong the suspense?
Show us more.
Other nits: why not "my" bedroom, not "the" bedroom?
Should it not be "left only Anna"?
The heart-dropping and Anna turning ashen paragraph strikes a contrary note. If the narrator is so discombubulated by the news as to cause her sister to help her to the bed, she is unlikely to observe her sister's complexion. It's as if you didn't want to say "I turned pale"( because one does not seen oneself) and came up with an ashen sister as a compromise.
I LIKE it as an opening scene. Just feel you've pared it down too much out of fear of being accused of "over-writing".

AmyB said...

Well, I'm going to be contrary and say I think it's overwritten :). For example, I think the line "She enjoyed keeping me in suspense, but I was impatient" is telling us something we've already been shown through the situation and the dialogue. I don't think "and nearly extinguishing" is necessary in the first line, nor is "to me" in "That was a relief to me." And I think the amount of description here is fine for an opening; presumably there will more of it further in.

I like the content--it's a good hook. I'd read on. I was confused about why "Sir Richard Mortimer of Roxbury" was distinct from "Sir Richard of Roxbury."

Bernita said...

Amyb, those were the lines I thought of when I said some stitches were too loose.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'm with bernita, I actually do not think there is enough scene setting here, but overall I thought it was an effective beginning that read well.