Friday, September 12, 2008

New Beginning 551

Once upon a time on West Roxbury Main Street, a well-dressed businessman driving a fancy red car while giving his children gobs of candy came darn near close to squishing Chipping Camden to death.

Chipping Camden, being West Roxbury’s fattest and loudest mouse, screamed a thunderous scream and rolled all over the sidewalk on his beachball-shaped belly.

“I’m injured! I’m injured!” cried the pudgy mouse, holding up his flattened tail.

“He’s injured! He’s injured!” cried the sticky children, pointing at the mouse’s tail.

“Ssshhh! Ssshhh!” cried the fancy businessman, rubbing mouse fur off his right front tire.

Crowds gathered and fingers wagged. Somebody calling himself Mister Esquire came dashing over with a mouse-sized wooden cane. The businessman had to escape from the embarrassment of it all.

“I’ll make you a deal,” the businessman whispered to the mouse. “If you stop crying and screaming, I’ll give you this map I bought yesterday. It says it’s magical.”

Mr. Esquire ran up to Chipping, huffing mouse-sized huffs and puffing mouse-sized puffs. “Take no deal from an obviously dangerous and careless citizen without first consulting a personal injury lawyer.” Mr. Esquire looked at the businessman's clothing and jewelry and nearly had an embolism. “I see you're very seriously injured,” Mr. Esquire said to Chipping, whacking him in the knee with his cane.

“I'm in chapter 7 bankruptcy,” said the businessman.

“I see,” said Mr. Esquire. "Hmm. How much damage do you think this vandal did to your car?”



Opening: Chris Eldin.....Continuation: Bill H.

44 comments:

writtenwyrdd said...

That's really a cute beginning, I thought, although I have to admit that I do not have much (recent) experience reading grade school books. This needs pictures, though, to establish the relative sizes of human versus mouse. I figured teh mouse would have to be at least the size of a dog?

The continuation was hilarious.

ChrisEldin said...

Nice continuation, Bill H!!!
You captured the voice really well!!
LOL!
:-)

Anonymous said...

Loved the new beginning. Loved the continuation. The first sentence needs an edit: "while giving his children gobs of candy" doesn't fit into the sentence as it is now.

Good luck!

ChrisEldin said...

I have a confession--
I felt a deep, very deep compulsion to post this on BR, and Janet critiqued it--
I couldn't help myself!!!! Please forgive me!!!!!

Evil Editor said...

It says it’s magical.

I would just end the previous sentence: I’ll give you this magic map. "It says it's magical," and "I bought it yesterday" are likely to make Chipping suspect it's not really magical.

I'd put this sentence: The businessman had to escape from the embarrassment of it all.

at the beginning of the following paragraph. Then, to have the required three items on the list, remove the "and": Crowds gathered. Fingers wagged. Somebody...

Robin S. said...

Chris,

This is darling! I think you need to rework the first sentence a bit, but otherwise, love it.

Bill- that personal injury twist of yours was a scream.

EE, Janet Reid's giving you grief (on BookRoast) about having minions. Says she wants to buy some minions in New York. (And all this time, I thought I, OK, we was/were priceless.

Bernita said...

Chris, I think it's delightful!

Dave F. said...

At first I thought it was overloaded with adjectives but as I read into it, I realized it's for kids. The adjectives make it sound sound like kid talk. Make it fun. It's like a wide-eyed kids tall tale. Makes you smile.

I like EE's changes. You should make the next sentence (which is Chipping Camden's reply) a repetition. Something like:
"Magic map. Magic map. I think I will. I think I will."
It ties back to the earlier text. And it gives a "cute" feel and adds personality to the mouse who we know has to be so cute that adults die from sugar shock. And it's got that iambic shtick going for it.

Anonymous said...

love love love the name Chipping Camden

Whirlochre said...

Great for kids, and on the whole I like it.

Just a bit confused at the end as to whether Mister Esquire is a mouse and why the businessman makes CC an offer.

The 1st 3 lines of dialogue form a funny joke I'm sure kids will love — repetition with variation.

Scott from Oregon said...

I didn't like the word "pudgy" because I saw the mouse as "round and blubbery".

Pudgy is what happens to thinner folks who like beer and chocolate.

Otherwise, very cute start.

ChrisEldin said...

Thanks everybody!
I incorporated EE's suggestions, as well as taking out the attorney bit. Somebody else gave the whole thing a whacking, and I feel it's much improved!!
Prologues are tricky.

:-)

Kiersten said...

Hi Chris--I agree, I thought the businessman was an actual man until latter on. Maybe you should say mouselings instead of children pretty close to the beginning, that would clear it up.

Very cute, very fun!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add to my earlier that I keep thinking of a greek chorus of mice doggerel for a continuation:

Camden: A magic map!
chorus: A magic map? We think we see a tragic trap!
Et cetera

Plus, it makes me want to do illustrations.

writtenwyrdd

Anonymous said...

Para 2 is wonderfully crafted, para 1 not so much (if I had a red pen, would write "awk" next to it)

Problem lies in the quest for simultaneity--the flow isn't right with the placement of gobs of candy. Are you set on it being one sentence?

Also don't care for "darn" near.

Josephine Damian said...

I'm with Dave F. (as usual).

Dave F. said...

I like a Greek chorus of critters.

Perhaps as anyone writes a storybook, there's a bunch, gang, passel, or whatever of cute critters peering from behind walls and around corners and doors to see the action. heartwarmingly adorable critters.

I think the Brits call it Panto...

ChrisEldin said...

But, the businessman is a man.

I'm confused...

ChrisEldin said...

SHould've said this in the last post, but WW, your chorus made me laugh out loud!

benwah said...

I thought this was quite cute and well-written, although I'd echo some of the man/mouse/size confusion. Mister Esquire had a mouse-sized cane? So does that mean Mr. Esquire is a full fledged human with a toothpick cane? A bit of clarification would be nice. Enjoyed this.

freddie said...

This is a great beginning. Cute!

The continuation made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Oh believe me, I had a lot more drafted out which I deleted (and you should be glad).

ww

Kiersten said...

Ah, couldn't figure out if he was supposed to be a man, or if it was a community of mice.

Nevermind then ; )

writtenwyrdd said...

Okay, after reading the entries more carefully, I am confused. Are all the characters mice, then? We definitely need pictures. That would fix all confusion.

ChrisEldin said...

one mouse, everyone else is human.

is it really confusing? I need to work on this...

Phoenix said...

EE, Janet Reid's giving you grief (on BookRoast) about having minions. Says she wants to buy some minions in New York.

Hey, I can be bought! Ooh, I could be a double minion - like a double agent. Playing editor and agent off one another... Oh, drat. Don't need a double agent to do that, do you?

Chris: I'm just waiting until more people have their say about the NB, then I'll come along and side with the majority and lament how everyone else said it before I did.

talpianna said...

Well, Mr. Esquire is a lawyer, so he'd have to be a rat.

The businessman might be a pack rat.

writtenwyrdd said...

Well, I assumed initially that there was one mouse, whose tail was squished, and the rest were people. But all the comments confused me. (It's not an uncommon situation, mind.)

Steve Stubbs said...

I normally don't read anything that adult, but my sense is, the writer has a good future. This is very well done. And as we know from J.K. Rowling's experience, mature adult fiction can do very well in the market place. Tell him (or is it her?) very best of luck.

mb said...

If it were me, I'd start with Chipping Camden first, then the businessman. I'm assuming Chipping Camden is the main character.

ChrisEldin said...

I was just about to get busy with EE Shorts, but stopped here first.

Thank you everybody for taking the time to comment!! It means a lot!

Dave, I like your suggestion, but I haven't done it yet. I want to see if I can incorporate without losing the cadence I have.
And the Greek Chorus still cracks me up....

:-)

Julie Weathers said...

Janet Reid is buying minions? What's the going price for minions these days?

EE, do you ever publish fantasy? Epic fantasy?

Evil Editor said...

Ah you have a question you feel only an editor of epic fantasy can answer. By now you should know EE knows all about everything.

Julie Weathers said...

"Ah you have a question you feel only an editor of epic fantasy can answer. By now you should know EE knows all about everything."

Actually, I was wondering how much Janet was paying for minions. However, after due consideration I realize I could only be your minion. Even if you hated fantasy I would still be yours.

You lucky guy.

Julie Weathers said...

Actually, I do have a question. What would you consider an acceptable word count for epic fantasy?

Evil Editor said...

If it's a trilogy, each book should be approximately 87,824 words. If it's a stand-alone I don't see how you could call it epic if it weren't about 110,000.

Julie Weathers said...

If it's a trilogy, each book should be approximately 87,824 words. If it's a stand-alone I don't see how you could call it epic if it weren't about 110,000.

Good grief. I'm not even sure it's possible to get it down to 87,824 words unless I cut it in half. What if it's a quadilogy?

Evil Editor said...

I had this same conversation with Tolkien. Finally got him to split the first book of his trilogy and make a separate book called the Hobbit. Worked fine for him.

freddie said...

Hmm, if you had this conversation with Tolkien, EE, you're a little older than I thought.

Julie Weathers said...

"I had this same conversation with Tolkien. Finally got him to split the first book of his trilogy and make a separate book called the Hobbit. Worked fine for him."

You made me laugh. Truly you are all knowing.

Dave F. said...

Regarding Tolkein's Trilogy, if you pay attention to the movie, you can see where the adaptation left about half of the words in the three novels.

In Fellowship, Tom Bombadill is left out of the movie. he accounts for many words that are not essential to the story but only add color.

In Return of the King, the movie drops the final chapters on the Harrowing of the Shire and a bunch of rigmarole that adds another chapter.

One might say that Tolkien didn't have to write those chapters or include them in the trilogy. But that's backseat driving, hindsight and pure retro-vision.

Dave F. said...

Also regarding book length.
JK Rowling's first Harry Potter - the Philosopher's Stone - is the shortest book in the trilogy. The final book is so long they are making it into two movies just to tie up all the loose ends from the previous six books.

Julie Weathers said...

Chris this is one of the best openings I have seen in a very long time. You've had EE, the minions and Lady Janet comment on it so there is nothing more I could add of worth. However, I did want to say how much I enjoy this.

Julie Weathers said...

Dave, I've been looking at this pretty closely and the only chapters I can really afford to chop do have important information in them. I haven't found a way to seamlessly introduce the information yet, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.

The problem with a complex plotline and mystery is so many clues are planted along the way it's hard to decide which one you can get rid of.

I think mainly I just need to judiciously prune line-by-line.