Thursday, June 04, 2009

New Beginning 646

Hagai woke with a book attached to his face. He peeled it off and found his glasses where they’d fallen nearby. Page 91 of Lushita’s City was ruined. It was wrinkled by sweat, the words faded – probably imprinted on his face in reverse. Aunt Booker wouldn’t be happy with him, but who was?

With a groan, he stood and shuffled to the dresser – the only furniture in the room other than his sleep pad. He took out the neatly folded shirt and pants from their respective stacks and put them on. While he buttoned his shirt – a routine he performed slowly on purpose – he stared out the window. The suns were up already – the amber was even near peak. It was going to be a hot day. With luck, he wouldn’t have to be out in it.

Far below, the town of Providence bristled with work. Past that lay the sea – glittering blue for the most part, but beyond the reef, the water was murky, almost black. The skylers called it dark water. The worst fate for a skyler was to have their ship fall out of the sky over a patch of it. It was about the only thing nobody pretended to be brave about.

Aunt Booker’s voice hollered from downstairs. “You done buttoning your shirt yet, Haggie?”

How did she always know?

Hagai's Aunt tutted quietly to herself, and pushed one foot against the ground to set her wooden rocker back in motion. She turned back to her book: ...eager not to endure another tongue-lashing, he bustled out of the room half-dressed. With only one leg safely in his pants, he got the other one caught up and crashed to the floor...

Aunt Booker shook her head in exasperation and pushed herself to standing when she heard the thud.

Opening: Adam Heine.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

Aunt Booker raised an eyebrow. "What is that on your face?"

"This?" Hagai touched his cheek. "Just a bit of Lushita's city."

"Well go wash it off. You don't want to go around all day with 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit klatu verata nikto amet' on your face."

Just then graves all over the city opened and the dead went forth to destroy Providence.

--Faceless minion

_*Rachel*_ said...

I want a book like that!

Don't you have something more exciting as an opening? You know, a scene where something happens?

When I have time, I'll comment on the writing. Off to work!

Evil Editor said...

Looking out the wuindow to see it's going to be a hot day is okay, but using it to fill us in on dark water is an infodump.

"bristled" with work is unusual; maybe bustled?

Not sure it's worth coming up with Haggie as a nickname for Hagai. I doubt he'd notice which one she said anyway.

BuffySquirrel said...

Don't tell then show the same thing. If you're going to explain how page 91 is ruined, you don't need to tell us it's ruined; we can work it out from the explanation.

I think I'd have been more taken with this opening if the book had been physically attached to his face. That's the trouble with SFF readers--they tend to take everything literally.

He wakes up...he gets dressed...can't we see one of these skylers descending instead?

writtenwyrdd said...

You write well, but I found this to be too slow a start and dull. I personally don't find a reason to care about this guy getting dressed. If he wakes up, realizes he's got a book stuck to his face and then and looks at the sun, that's great. Maybe have him look at the skyers on the floating ships with a relevant thought. (Here he can think he is glad he won't be out in the heat like the skylers or something.) Then he goes downstairs.

But you can't spell out every detail. I suffer from this at times and it may feel like the right choice, but 99.999999% of the time, it is a bad idea. For one thing, most readers don't want or need so much detail. They can fill in the process of getting dressed just fine. And it actually throws readers out of a story to have too much telling of inane details!

So pick the details we need to set the scene (alternate world, fantasy, sf, whatever) and which begin the story.

And that continuation was priceless.

Adam Heine said...

Ever since I gave it to EE, I've been trying to figure out what was bothering me about my beginning. I figured it out right before clicking the comment link: nothing happens.

So yes, Rachel and Buffy (and anyone who comes after and says the same thing), I agree.

At one point there was a line at the beginning - a quote from Hagai's memoirs written long after all this had happened (kind of like the quotes at the beginning of the chapters in Dune) - that talked about what was about to happen to him that sets everything off. (He gets a future-telling stone from his long-dead mother).

I killed the line because it felt like cheating and I wanted to see if I could do the beginning without it. Answer: no. Not like this, anyway :-)

Adam Heine said...

"I think I'd have been more taken with this opening if the book had been physically attached to his face. That's the trouble with SFF readers--they tend to take everything literally."

That is what's been bothering me about that sentence. Thank you, Buffy.

Joanna said...

I was sucked right in and didn't want to come out. Especially liked the last sentence of the first paragraph. Also 'a routine he performed slowly on purpose", without any explanatipn of his reasons. And I actually like a slower start, so I have some connection to the character and his world before the drastic stuff begins.
I also started by thinking he couldn't get the book off.

Genre Reviews said...

Like BuffySquirrel and others, I initially thought the book was physically attached to his face.

I also initially thought Lushita was the name of the city he was in and "Page 91" (since it's capitalized) was a street name or something. Perhaps you might add "the book" to "Page 91 of [the book], Lushita’s City." On the other hand, most people don't seem to be having this problem.

The writing is generally fine, but nothing important is happening...there's no conflict or hint of the conflict to come.

Good luck.