Thursday, April 09, 2009

New Beginning 626

Her hand was shaking, the quill felt alien in her hand. Something wasn’t right. She didn’t have any idea what was happening to her. Raquel’s surroundings were beginning to swirl into a dream-like haze, and she was falling. It was like she wasn’t a part of her body anymore it seemed as if she was just floating above watching herself fall to the floor and sink into unconsciousness……

She awoke later in a white room fastened to a stiff wooden chair; her hands and upper body bound with a stiff rope. She was trembling, and all her muscles felt strained and stiff. What was going on she thought? Everything was still foggy and her brain wasn’t focusing well. Before she could panic or even think about doing so, the metal door swung open to reveal Rueben.

“Oh,” she sighed. “Thank the gods you’re here. I was so scared!"

"And rightly so," said Rueben, his voice deep and firm. "You violated the most sacred law of our world. You had to be bound lest you harm yourself in your passing madness."

"I know I shouldn't have," she sobbed. "But I need you, Rueben. Everything about you fills me with longing. Your tender heart, your rough exterior, your..."

"Stop!" he said, rearing up on his hind legs and looking her in the eye. "That cannot be. Mortals may never walk the same path with the Porcupine Shamans of Givlush. Now let me find some antiseptic and I'll get that quill out of your hand."

Opening: MaKayla Rutt.....Continuation: John


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Rueben was Raquel's best friend since grade school. Named after the famed sandwich by his Behomian Jewish parents, Rueben was a trivia expert on the subject of musical shows, and a gifted natural when it came to fashion. He stepped into the room, his characteristic, lop-sided grin lighting up his face.

"But," Raquel said, "what are you doing here?"

Rueben shrugged and held up a can of paint. "Thought I could add a little color."


“I’m not surprised,” Rueben answered, his face melting like wax.

The room around them began to glow, and text floated over its walls in Edwardian, size six. The curves of the letters swirled and whirled dizzyingly around her.

“Come,” said Rueben, his voice echoing and blurring. “You know you want to join us.”

AAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!! Raquel woke up in bed, and her hands were clenched tightly around her stuffed dog. She sat up, trembling, and stared at the blank room.

As the walls began to glow again, Raquel promised herself that she would never again read EE’s blog before bed—the temptation was too great.


"Don't be afraid," Rueben replied.

"But... But why are we here? Why are you here? And why am I tied up like this?"

Rueben smiled. The same old reassuring warmth. "Don't worry," he said. "It will all become clear. Don't you remember? It was I who gave you the ancient Quill of Agnofen. That is what brought you here. It is your destiny to become our Queen. You are the only hope to save our world..."

"Really? Me?"

Rueben grasped her hand. "No," he said, "not really. This is all a dream. You'll wake up soon and find you're just another chick-lit chick panicking about being thirty and unmarried. Sorry."


She didn't know what brought Rueben here, but he was just what she needed: wry, but heavy -- full of beef. Quarter-Swiss, he was always well dressed and dependable, though he could be a handful when toasted. "Get me out of here," she said.

"You stupid lady," he replied. "Vhy are you here? You always get yourself into zese messes. Dummkopf!"

Raquel scowled. Fucking sour Kraut.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Interesting beginning. It does leave me wondering what's going on.

The repetition of certain words stands out for me and distracts me some. Two hands in the first sentence and three stiffs in the second paragraph.

I'd read on for a little bit to see if it really drew me in.

Evil Editor said...

Mechanical problems: Paragraph 1, the first and last sentences should be two sentences, or should have their clauses separated by semicolons.

P2: the semicolon should be a comma. The second sentence should have the question mark after "on." Just delete "she thought."

Also, it's very wordy. I'd start with Raquel waking. We learn nothing in paragraph 1 except that she was holding a quill. In P.2 you describe the chair, the rope and her muscles as stiff. If the rope is as stiff as the chair, it would be difficult to tie someone's wrists with it.

I don't believe people think about panicking.

Once you make a point, move on, don't keep looking for new ways to say the same thing.

writtenwyrdd said...

The good thing about this beginning is that it does drop us into the middle of the action. Passing out and awakening tied to a chair is a crisis indeed!

However, the beginning is supposed to grab the reader and pull them into the story. This beginning isn't quite there yet because the scene isn't described at all, making it a big old white room.

We begin with Raquel presumably writing, and presumably either in a fantasy world a la somewhere around Renaissance tech level or in the historic past. There aren't enough details for a reader to feel comfortable assuming either, though. It's pure guesswork. So strive to anchor us to a particular place and let us meet Raquel before you have her pass out. It's okay to take a little space to do that.

After the first sentence you go all vague and say, out of literally nowhere because it's the second sentence, 'something wasn't right.' That was where you should give us something concrete. What wasn't right? If it's a noise, if she doesn't feel well, if she pricks her finger on a spindle and then doesn't feel well--you need to give the reader something concrete when the problem begins.

As a suggestion, you might avoid generic or vague nouns. Strive to be specific and replace things like "something," "everything," and "surroundings," and avoid use of "to be" as much as possible to avoid a sense of passivity.

Keep at it, though. Revision is how we improve.

Wes said...

Good start and great continuation. The posts have useful tips. Keep at it. You'll get there.

Dave Fragments said...

Think of what you are asking the reader to do here. You set a scene where the character is writing and passes out (mental image #1) and then you reset the entire scene to her being tied to a chair (mental scene #2). That's quit a lot in a short two paragraphs.

If the quill has something to do with the swoon or passing out, then keep it in. Otherwise, it's a useless detail taking up words. THe only way I would keep the quill is if it were magic and responsible for the swoon. If what she is writing is responsible for making her swoon, then you have to tell the reader that fact. She might be writing a forbidden text or a magic spell. In that case, the writer needs to know.

As for paragraph two, I really, really do not like stories that open up like Bobby from DALLAS waking up and saying it was all a dream. The character wakes in a strange place and her head spins, everything is foreign. There's not enough mystery in that to make me read on. Sorry, that's my opinion of that type of openings.

That's not to say junk this. Together these paragraphs can work but there has to be a solid reason in the first for her to pass out. By a solid reason, I mean something the reader can latch onto and take into the second paragraph.

I agree with EE, don't say things over and over.

Beware of things like this: What was going on she thought? Everything was still foggy and her brain wasn’t focusing well.
That's a clear thought in a brain that's still foggy. How about She cleared the fog from her brain and wondered what happened to her.

Rueben barging in a screaming that she shouldn't try to write with a cursed quill or she shouldn't hand copy state secrets, etc... would be exciting. I hope there's something like that coming up.

Dave Fragments said...

Now I'm least certain that this comment is anything more than just my pet peeve, so take it with a grain of salt..

This seems to be a set in a non-modern age. The "quill" -- Modern ages don't use quills.

And to my mind, the word "alien" distracts. Try foreign or unfamiliar or peculiar. This is because I do not believe that people who wrote with quills used "Alien" and we moderns us if to mean little green men with big heads and buggy eyes.

And then there's the Out Of Body experience -- the OOB. That's a modern idea of death what with the white tunnel and the floating above. If this is a pre-modern civilization, they might think of the OOB in terms of the spirit flying above or the angels floating around them or some entity more spiritual.

This might just be me. It's tough to say stuff like this based on 150 to 200 words. And besides, I'm trying not to get ready for the periodontist. I'd rather be elsewhere today.

none said...

So far, your character has no agency. I guess that's okay if you're writing for teenage girls; anyone else might not care for a character who's continually acted upon, however.

batgirl said...

I know this is petty, but it's really, really bothering me.
The name is spelled Reuben. (from the Hebrew Re'uven)

A few punctuation errors that you'd want to correct before submitting. Missing comma (I'll spot you the last sentence of the first paragraph, since she's falling unconscious) in the first sentence of the second paragraph, making it read as if the room is fastened to the chair, and in the 3d sentence of the same.

I know I do this a lot, but I recommend a read-through of the Turkey City Lexicon:
for 'White Room Syndrome' and 'begin fallacy' in particular.

Since this is a picky spelling & punctuation post, the law requires a minimum of one(1) embarrassing typo or other error within it.

Mary Stewart said...

Methinks you've got white room syndrome, a la Turkey City Lexicon. Hence my continuation.

I think you could trim a bit--the She didn't have any idea sentence, for one, and some of the falling.

Whirlochre said...

etc all here — partic EE's comment about panicking.

And can you lose the three stiffs? A Zombie Marx Brothers attack I don't need.

What I think you have here is a potentially good opener that needs a review.

I'm intrigued by the quill, for instance.

And then suddenly — manacles.

And — a saviour (presupposing some grim horror/villain that will test their love/kinkynightsin).

As WW says, it gets us into the action, but for me, the hasty arrival of presuppositions about floating, sinking and fog distracts me from the quill. If you could be more specific about the fog, I'd be happier.

_*rachel*_ said...

Um, that Greg should have been Rachel. I'll use my own computer next time.

I think a few more details--flesh out the fuzzy sleep and white room into something more interesting--would make the whole thing sound less foggy.

writtenwyrdd said...

Yes, in case I did not make it clear enough, we need to know why she passes out.