Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Beginning 717 (Chapter opening)

The downpour drenched Minjee from head to toe. The weight of her clothes pressed against her shoulders. Mud constantly enveloped her feet; forcing her to wrench them free with each step forward; her thighs burned from exertion. Flashes of lightning guided her through the darkness. A tall, ominous mountain loomed in the distance and she spotted several patches of trees where she could possibly take shelter, but every time she thought about stopping, she could feel Master Ahn’s stare on her backside.

The rains fell heavier. A crack of thunder pierced Minjee’s ears. Thick mud clutched her shoe and pulled it off; she stumbled and fell forward. As Minjee tasted soggy earth, she accepted that she had no choice but to find shelter. Besides, Ahn and her father couldn’t possibly be still looking for her in this storm--this darkness....

* * *

Ahn threw another chicken bone into the fire. "Do you think she'll be all right?"

"She'll not melt in a bit of rain." Minjee's father began to stuff tobacco into his pipe. "Besides, she can always bend over and take shelter under that arse of hers."

Ahn choked and spit ale across the table. "You're a bad father, Yim," he said, chuckling.

Yim struck a match. "If it gets real bad, she can make a tent out of her knickers..."

"Oh my, oh my..." Tears streamed down Ahn's cheeks. "What would your good lady say, to hear you talk like that?"

"Nella? Reckon we can ask her, once she's done fixing that leaky roof."

"I don't know, Master Yim, how ever did you tame those women of yours?"

"It was simple, Master Ahn, I told them otherwise I'd sell them both to you!"

It was in the ensuing silence that both men realized a line had been crossed and their friendship would never again be the same.


Opening: Matthew.....Continuation: Anon.

16 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:



Thoughts of her family made her shiver in a bone-deep way that had nothing to do with the cold. How could such a terrible plague ravage her beloved village, as swiftly and forcefully as this violent thunderstorm? She'd heard stories of the walking dead, come to feast on the living, but never believed she'd see such horrors herself. She forced her awkward, stiff limbs to lift her out of the sucking mud and carry her towards a stand of trees. She had find a hiding place. Even if her father wasn't tracking her anymore, someone else might be.

She kept stumbling through the rain, tottering on numb feet toward the forbidding mountain that never seemed to grow closer. Her chest wracked with dry sobs. She was so tired, so alone, so scared, so hungry. Unbidden, tantalizing images flashed in her head: cracked skulls, ripe glistening brains. She pressed her hands to her face and felt the smooth planes where the dead skin had been sloughed away by the rain.

Please, not yet. I'm not them yet.

She heard faint noises: the chk-chk of shotguns, and a voice that might have been Ahn's. Minjee pressed onward through the drenching night.

--Ellie

Evil Editor said...

It sounds too listy. Too many short sentences/phrases. Those semicolons in P.1 don't work to provide sentence variety. They should be a comma and a period. We don't need this much information. Here's a shorter version that sounds less listy:

The downpour drenched Minjee from head to toe, flashes of lightning guiding her through the darkness. A mountain loomed in the distance and she spotted several patches of trees where she might take shelter, but every time she thought about stopping, she could feel Master Ahn’s stare on her backside.

A crack of thunder pierced Minjee’s ears as thick mud clutched her shoe and pulled it off; she fell forward. Tasting soggy earth, she realized she had to find shelter. Besides, Ahn and her father couldn’t possibly still be looking for her in this storm--this darkness....

Dave F. said...

The continuation reminds me of SPINAL TAP's hit song "Big Bottom"...

I think this opening is weighed down by the similar images in both paragraphs. There is the rain mentioned first, then something slightly different, and then the mud at her feet, and then shelter on the mountain, and then another person involved in the story.

It's a start/stop, start/stop effect.

Phoenix said...

So as I was reading this, I was rearranging the words/sentence structure in my head to make it into something I'd be comfortable reading. I was going to suggest a rewrite, but I thought, No, no, it's maybe a style thing. Step away from the keyboard.

Then EE went and rewrote it way better than I would have and validated this isn't just an issue with your style, Author, but with the way the scene is presented to the reader.

You have some nice details; now your job is to make them more accessible to your audience.

Matthew said...

Thanks EE. I'll study your version until the proper lessons are ingrained in my head.

I know what you mean, Dave. I had an inkling that the two paragraphs were too similar. Your comment changed that inkling into a certainty.

I didn't even realize I put a semi-colon after feet--I missed the comma key again and periods are nearly invisible to me. The semi-colon after forward was my bad, though.

Dave F. said...

I actually have a dreadfully bad habit when I write of describing things twice. I make a point and then repeat it in different words in either the next sentence or a few lines later. I've learned to recognize it when I edit my stuff.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Now THAT is a first-rate continuation!

I'm not sure you really need the first paragraph.

Mud constantly enveloped her feet[comma]....

Anonymous said...

Everyone is right - too listy

The ominous mountain could barely be seen in the distance, shrouded as it was under the bank of black clouds and pouring rain. Minjee was drenched from head to toe and and thought about stopping. But she didn't for even now she could feel Master Ahn's eyes on her back.


(does she feel Master Ahn's stare on her butt or her back? because there is a difference and one is kind of perverted and awkward or at least familiar, the other more likely and professional. Anyway. . . )

Thunder pierced her ears and lightning broke the sky just as thick mud sucked off her shoe. She stumbled and smacked the ground hard with her face. Spitting mud from her mouth, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and relented. She had no choice but to find shelter. Besides . . .

(mud clutched her shoe . . not soggy earth. mud is more wet and clutchy. soggy earth is what you get after you water your lawn too long - squeechy and cold, regrettable waste of water and a bit annoying but you get to keep your shoes)

In my mind . . .

Phoenix said...

Oh, hi Matthew! Sorry, I read this while working and glossed right over your name as Author on the first read. I knew I recognized the name of the protag from somewhere ;o)

Asian-influenced myth is hot right now. You've got a good story line behind all this. Now just to smooth it all out a bit...

Jeb said...

There could be a good, ominous opening buried under all the verbiage. Pare down until only the vital plot elements - who, where, a hint at why - remain, and then add back an adjective or two for atmosphere.

Matthew said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Yeah, I need to cut down on the adjectives. EE showed me the way by eliminating the TMI passages and words like ominous. Now I have to scan the rest of the novel for similar problems. I need to learn to recognize the problem that Dave pointed out as well.

Hey Phoenix, I was away from the blog when your opening and face-lift were posted, so I'll give you my comments now. Ahem...

Opening: Loved it--especially the description of the animal.

Query: I like the concept, but the query was overloaded with back story. The most important thing, to me, that was missing was an identifiable character. The characters didn't come in until near the end.

Phoenix said...

Thanks, Matthew! Chris pointed out the 'character flaw' in the query, too. I'll work on fleshing out the protags a bit.

Anonymous said...

I actually like this, and as we know this anon does not like much.

While EE's edits are good ones, I think it may be too succinct. Some sections need expanded too.

Bernita said...

"eyes on her backside" is OK for me if they are actually climbing at this point, but I'm not sure they are.

sylvia said...

It sounds too listy. Too many short sentences/phrases. Those semicolons in P.1 don't work to provide sentence variety.

I knew something was not-right and I knew I'd read something of my own that had the same not-right feeling to it. I'm thrilled to see this solution and off to apply it myself!

Anonymous said...

I have something nagging at me. Teeny thing here. Very small. Each time I read "thunder pierced her ears" I wanted it to be something else - thunder deafened/numbed/percussed/burst/pounded/dynamited/... Very tiny point, but each time I reread the pierced ears I got a visual of an arrow through the skull or some kind of loud ear rings (caught myself trying to imagine what they would look like - thrice over) and that took me out of the flow.
I enjoyed the opening and continuation very much, just that pesky piercing rubbed my mind's eye into something that didn't fit.. But that could be me... Good stuff.