Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Beginning 704

Phone call to the courthouse in Claverton…”Is this Judge August Pendragon?”

“Speaking.”

“This is Father Walter Valesquez, priest of the church of St. Thelonious, Grody’s Point, near Cape Canaveral in Florida. I have worked with the Little Angels of Our Lady Adoption Agency. I am afraid I have some serious news for you.”

“What happened? Who are you?” now alert, upright in the chair, “Did something happen to Min? Or Daniel?”

“No, Your Honor, this is in regard to your daughter Sophia, and her parents.”

“Is this a joke? I’m her father, if you’ve done anything to Sophia, so help me-”

“Sir, please!” the voice urged, “This is no joke! I’m sorry, this is no easier for me than it can be for you. I am fully aware of Sophia’s status as your legal daughter. I am calling in regard to her natural parents.”

The Judge went rigid. “No….no…dear God, no…not Sophia….”

“I never thought I would have to make this call, Your Honor. But I am forced to tell you these new facts regarding your daughter.”

"Very well. But first, refresh my memory by telling me all the background details very clearly and slowly, as though I knew nothing of them."

"Yes, Your Honor. Well -"

"And while you're doing that, you can use my real name, which is Bob."

"Very well. As you know, Bob..."


Opening: Panda Rosa.....Continuation: Steve Wright

18 comments:

Aimee said...

The continuation kills me, it's great! But it makes a point.

Anonymous said...

Steve has nailed it. A lot of AYNB here...

Anonymous said...

oops, should have been AYKB, of course.

Anonymous said...

You lost me at the first sentence. Phone call to the courtouse in Claverton...

It's like a note to yourself. Maybe if you used a colon. But still. Odd. Why not say the courthouse phone rang or something less note/sketch-ish?

Same for the now alert, upright in chair. It's just not working for me. It sounds almost first person-ish but then you say the judge went rigid.

Also, the no no dear God no not Sophia sounds like a weird response to "I'm calling about her natural parents." I think "what about them? makes more sense.

And, as noted hilariously in the cont., you've got to find a better way to work your info dump in.

Evil Editor said...

Get rid of these two paragraphs:

“Is this a joke? I’m her father, if you’ve done anything to Sophia, so help me-”

“Sir, please!” the voice urged, “This is no joke! I’m sorry, this is no easier for me than it can be for you. I am fully aware of Sophia’s status as your legal daughter. I am calling in regard to her natural parents.”


The first one makes no sense. When someone says "I'm calling in regard to your daughter Sophia," why say "I'm her father"? He obviously knows that. And why suggest that a priest has done something to Sophia? There's no indication of that. And why say, "Is this a joke?" At least wait till you know what the priest has to say before suggesting he's joking.

The second one contains info the judge already knows, so work it in subtly later when the priest is giving the judge the new facts. You may not need to work it in at all, as it may be fairly obvious what the situation is by the time we hear the new facts.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Listen to the others about the content; some of the things you've written, and where you've written them, don't fit.

But I love the style of this. The narration is so terse and tense you've got me reading, even if it is a bit confusing. I especially love, "now alert, upright in the chair," for how it tells the Judge's reaction without wasting words.

The writing here caught me. I'd definitely read on.

Eric P. said...

Brilliant continuation; I'm cracking up at work. And really there's not much to add. Captain Infodump strikes again!

Steve Wright said...

I sympathize with the need for info-dumping - but you're shoehorning in information here, and it shows. Never let the reader see your shoehorn!

As a result (I think) the dialogue reads a bit stiff and unnatural, and it gets too fraught too quickly - I can't read this and hear two people really speaking to each other. (And that opening line is just weird. What is it, a stage direction?)

Still, it seems like a good point to open - establishes some characters in a dramatic situation right off the bat, which is a good thing. A bit more conviction in the dialogue, and I'd certainly read on.

Stick and Move said...

Pretty much everything about the opening has been, and the continuation hits the nail on the head.

Ah, the continuation! Brilliant, Steve. Right up there with Blogless and RIL. Excellent!

John said...

Another place that could be cut is when the priest introduces himself. If the judge has ever heard of the church or the town, then all you'd need is that one name. If he hasn't heard of either one, there's no need to include them at all. The priest could say: This is father Walter Velasquez. I'm a priest working with Yard Apes R Us Adoption Agency in Florida...

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

Steve, great continuation!

This could just be me, but when I first saw this I read "Arthur Pendragon," and was expecting some kind of modern King Arthur and the Knights (Justices?) of the Round Table. Regardless, August Pendragon is a lot of name.

Anonymous said...

I thought of Arthur Pendragon immediately as well. I was excited!

Dave F. said...

An opening has to grip the reader's attention. What this opening says is that something has happened to the birth parents of an adopted daughter of a sitting judge.

I think this is the wrong way to reveal something. I'm not sure because the decision requires the knowledge of the story from beginning to end. I am guessing that the entire story turns upon whatever makes Sophia different. If that's the case, then this is the wrong place to start. This is Franz Kafka in Metamorphosis saying that one morning Gregor Samsa woke to find himself transformed into a giant insect. That's big drama.

Sophia is not human. Sophia has inherited some dread disease that will kill her within days. Sophia is a space alien. Sophia is the goddess of death.

Where do we go in chapter two? We know nothing of the mundane life of Sophia. You've shoehorned in a step-mother and brothers and sisters. Did they have a happy life? Are they rivals? Perhaps they are all adopted.

There is a scene in the past, somewhere in the past, lurking in the past where this secret is revealed either at the birth of Sophia or at the adoption. It's like that cheerleader in HEROES who discovers she was adopted and her mother is a firebrand, a drunk and quite possibly a crack whore. It is not wise to start the story there. The reader needs some normalcy and a few scenes of the mundane.

But surely Sophia suspects something. After all, strange things happen and she's a bright girl.

Now to point two: But I am forced to tell you these new facts regarding your daughter.”
I have one of those secrets. The discussion I hope I would never witness of be a part of. Thankfully, the parties had that discussion without me. Even now, it is a secret so troublesome that I would still not mention it. My point is that this is a writerly construction that doesn't exist in the real world. I sometimes refer to the old times as when relatives who have passed on were alive and youthful and hid "THE DREAD FAMILY SECRET."

YAWN!

Typically this was Uncle Tom's son who had the kinky hair and tanned complexion or Aunt Sissy's girl who was the only redhead in the family.
Aw craparino, what a bore of a family secret.
Or the son who now works in Miami Beach's "Jewel Box Revue" as a dancer. Or the Aunt who thought they were all such lovely girls on that stage... We now have movies and musicals about men who wear frilly clothing or take it off on stage.

My second point is that Judge Pendragon already knows the dread family secret. I would find it more reasonable for the caller to say that the secret is out. And of course, that might destroy the Judge in the first chapter. Maybe not. This wouldn't be the first novel where some fatherly figure died in the first chapter and the protagonist has to figure out who did it.

You need to set the scene and build the tension up to this call.

Adam Heine said...

That's the best continuation I've read since I starting following EE.

Anonymous said...

>>>Phone call to the courthouse in Claverton…”Is this Judge August Pendragon?”

I think will be okay, I mean that you're readers will forgive you for it, if the writing that follows isn't so vague. But Pendragon? Really?

>>>“This is Father Walter Valesquez, priest of the church of St. Thelonious, Grody’s Point, near Cape Canaveral in Florida. I have worked with the Little Angels of Our Lady Adoption Agency. I am afraid I have some serious news for you.”

TMI and vague. Gut this. "This is Father Valesquez. I work for blah blah blah. Your daughter is demons spawn." (Your holding this detail back because you think its the "dun dun dun." Its not, its the hook. The mystery is how or why she became Satan spawn (and what her father is supposed to do about it?)

“What happened? (Is this really the first logical question?) Who are you?”(After that mouthful about who the caller is,this doesn't make sense)

All of this>>“No, Your Honor, this is in regard to your daughter Sophia, and her parents.”

and this>>“Is this a joke? I’m her father, if you’ve done anything to Sophia, so help me-”

and this>>“Sir, please!” the voice urged, “This is no joke! I’m sorry, this is no easier for me than it can be for you. I am fully aware of Sophia’s status as your legal daughter.

and this>>>
“I never thought I would have to make this call, Your Honor. But I am forced to tell you these new facts regarding your daughter.”

= "I am calling because Sophie's birth parents (want her back??) are demons turned zombies. I afraid your whole family is at risk.”

>>>The Judge went rigid. “No….no…dear God, no…not Sophia….”

Or " Your nuts, I'll fight this, I'm not giving her back (anything logical)"

********************
Judge Pendragon hung up on the priest. He told his secretary to move his trials, and went home for lunch. Everything seemed fined until he discovered Sophie with her head buried in his wife's stomach, gnawing on intestine and speaking in tongues.

"Oh shit, you really are a zombie and demon spawn," he said.

"Like duh," she replied. "What did you think was wrong after I ate Min?"

Judge Pendragon shrugged,"I figured you were just a dragon."

"What the hell are you talking about?" She said.

"This," he said and turned into a dragon. "I've been known to eat a human or two myself when the urge arises, but your my first zombie slash Satan spawn dinner," he swallowed his adopted daughter in a bit, then burped. "You'd taste better with some pepper."

The End.

Panda Rosa said...

Okay I confess, I am the author and I started writing this scene "from the inside out", from an image that occurred to me, one I wanted to expound upon. Yes, there is a secret to Sophia's past, a most vital one, it just did not come at once.
As for "Pendragon", I ran across the name years ago, and liked it.
FWIW, there is also a reason it's the church of St. Thelonious.
Thanks for all the feedback.

BuffySquirrel said...

Way too much like The Omen.

Xiexie said...

Buffy stole the comment right from my typing fingers.