Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Beginning 565

Janice hadn't exactly had a happy childhood, even though she came from the suburban, middle-class fantasy of a ranch house, two kids, two cars and a dog. Mother even stayed at home to raise Janice and her older brother Mott; but mostly Mother watched her soaps and drank her gin-laced tea, leaving the disciplining of the children to the children's father. And Father, a former high school football hero going to fat, alcohol and anger, welcomed the excuse to give his life's disappointments into the safekeeping of his children--very brutally and with relish.

Then the Tellulil came.

She first felt their presence when she was fifteen. That was when Mott took his still-damp diploma and ran for the nearest recruiting office, leaving Janice the sole recipient of their father's angry love.

A few weeks later, she lay in bed, moonlight streaming through the mullions to cast prison bars across the door. By that furtive light she read again the postcard addressed to their parents, but not to her. A message that said between prosaic lines he was glad to be gone, glad to ignore his sister's predicament.

"Fine," she said to herself, the card slipping between her fingers over and over and over. "It's not like we were friends or anything."

The moon's brightness seemed to wink at her, a sly acknowledgment.

She smiled in acquiescence and lifted the blanket. Yeah, the night was young, and a fifteen-year-old with Tellulil like hers could make all the friends she wanted down at Joe McKirk's wine lodge.


Opening: Writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: Anon.

17 comments:

Evil Editor said...

When you say Then the Tellulil came, I'm intrigued. When you say She first felt their presence when she was fifteen, I'm assuming you're filling us in on who or what the Tellulil are. When you drop it, I get annoyed. If you aren't going to tell us who or what the Tellulil are, at least tell us in what way she felt their presence.

writtenwyrdd said...

Hmmm. Guess I shouldn't have cut out the paragraph that told what they were. Would it help if I said we learn what the Tellulil are in the next 250 words because they kill her brother?

Evil Editor said...

Not in my opinion. When the topic sentence of a paragraph is She first felt their presence when she was fifteen, I expect the paragraph to be about that. It's okay to say it was right after Mott joined the army, but then jumping ahead a few weeks is bothersome.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I wanted to know what the Tellulil were, too. And then you went on with the postcard which had me wondering if they sent it. But no, the brother did. So it got a bit confusing. Other than that, I enjoyed it a lot.

BuffySquirrel said...

Too much tell for my taste. Can't we see how the family works rather than hearing about it?

Dave F. said...

Would it help if I said we learn what the Tellulil are in the next 250 words because they kill her brother?

In the opening 500 words? In my opinion, NO!...

The first paragraph is Janice's situation. Then you drop the line about the Tellulil and the paragraph about Janice and Mott.

You can't leave the reader hanging about the Tellulil but you cannot reveal all about them. That would be too much, too soon. You could write the entire chapter and make them killing Mott the climax of the chapter. Possibly even to the last sentence.

But at this point, you need to talk about Janice and the Tellulil. What does she feel? Does she perceive them as good or bad and after you've presented her and her feelings for a page or two or so words, then you can bring Mott back into the conversation.

However, Mott is always going to illuminate and inform the reader about the Tellulil.

Ellie said...

I get left cold by stories that open with the one-paragraph history -- though that's probably more a matter of personal taste than craft. The information is necessary to set up the opening scene of action, but there are usually more integral ways to do it than an information dump. E.g., opening with Janice standing in their perfect-looking living room, while her father, fat face red with drink and anger, laments his lost glory days and insults his daughter and absent son, while her mother sips gin-laced tea (what a great image!) and watches TV instead of intervening. Cut to Janice after nightfall, looking at her postcard ...

I think the story sounds really intriguing. I wish I could read the whole thing. I just didn't get drawn in by this particular opening.

fairyhedgehog said...

I got into this enough to be disappointed when it stopped.

I would like to know about the Tellulil now though. And I was confused by "mullions" - for some reason I thought that was only in very old buildings and I'm not entirely clear what it is anyway. I wasn't too keen on the moon winking.

I want to read more, when it's ready.

benwah said...

WW - I like the writing in this a great deal, especially the father "going to fat, alcohol and anger" and giving his "life's disappointments into the safekeeping of his children." Good stuff.

You tell us Janice first felt the Tellulil and then don't show us (yet), so I found that a bit grumble-worthy. But really, I think you could push the Tellulil off just a bit. I found the unhappy family start good, precisely because the writing was strong.

pacatrue said...

My thoughts echoed Buffy. I'd prefer to move directly into the plot and have the family history filled in by seeing the family at work.

Robin S. said...

OK- I have to say that continuation was fucking wonderful.
So good.

Hey WW, The writing is good, but I did feel the infodump blues, like buff and paca.

Love this sentence:
The moon's brightness seemed to wink at her, a sly acknowledgment.

talpianna said...

I liked it and wanted more, but I share the others concerns: who or what are the Tellulil, more show and less tell, and the like.

I did like the writing a LOT.

Jeb said...

That first paragraph is a lost opportunity to establish setting, mood, and other important factors in creating reader interest.

You could open with her clutching the postcard, or asking her parents if she could see it (their reaction, or lack of it, could show enough family dynamic to be going on with), or poring over it before the folks get home, hoping for some word of hope for herself from the brother who ran.

Then show her lonely and despairing in her room, maybe thinking of burning down the house or daydreaming of being the lost child of wonderful parents who are out there looking for her, and...

"Then the Tellulil came."

Then you can deal with how she senses them, how their arrival is going to change her life and set the story arc in motion.

BuffySquirrel said...

I agree with jeb--the postcard is a great place to start.

freddie said...

I was intrigued by the opening here, despite all the telling and not enough showing. I too felt teased by the introduction of the Tellulil, only to find them abandoned after one sentence.

I too think the postcard is a great place to start.

ChrisEldin said...

I commented on this! I guess Blogger was acting funny yesterday.

WW, agree with the advice you've gotten here. I really like it, but not that first paragraph.

Good luck!!

writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks for the comments, gang. As usual, there's always something to pick at!