Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New Beginning 748

Indigo selected seeds carefully from a large red paint chipped barrel in the farmer’s pantry. A few dropped from his fingers. He bent down to retrieve them. With his the tip of his nose a short distance to the earthen floor, he noticed that a variety of little seedlings had already sprung out of the ground where they fell. As it didn’t seem to matter, he left them all free to germinate. He mused that they might even enjoy a short but prosperous life before inevitably, Farmer Eldrich’s boots trampled them.

Dull and brutal were the words Indigo would use to describe his first few weeks of contracted labor where the sheep outnumbered the men and the jokes about sheep outnumbered decent jokes. At fourteen years old, he had been sent to the countryside, because it was the regional custom and because sore muscles and dirty hands would help him appreciate what he had back home. At least, that’s what his mother said.

Four days each moon cycle free for rest, relaxation, and prayer.

The words hastily scrawled on his contract a month ago, by a professional contract writer, now inspired deep gratitude in Indigo, who could hardly move for stiffness. Luckily, the old farmer was as honest and generous as he was abrasive and crude. When the day arrived for Indigo’s respite, Eldrich led the young man out to the stable, handled him a sturdy but desperately unstylish jacket and set a pack containing a plain meal from Mrs. Eldrich over top of what Indigo knew was his best horse. Then, he patted her and said, “Yep.” The farmer tromped away, because that statement well, explained everything.

Still, time away from the farm ended all too quickly, and the reality of Indigo's miserable situation settled heavily on him. There was no denying the obvious. And that made Indigo blue.


Opening: Carrie E. Bailey.....Continuation: Sean

11 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:



But Indigo was seldom satisfied by explanations allowed. He was a practical boy and only empirical and experiential evidences were sufficient for him. So the next day, and fter fetching his meal pack and setting it on the horse, he patted Mrs Eldrich and said, "oh yeah."

Turns out that wasn't such a smart idea.

--anon.



It was Farmer Elrich's best horse because the critter could balance the plain meal on his top.

Patting Mrs. Farmer Eledrich and the "yep" meant Mrs. Farmer Eldrich would Farmer Edrich to house and gales of laughter, snorts and other noises would drift out to the barnyard while the Farmers Eldrich had their afternoon slap and tickle session.

Indigo, the boy with the girl's name would go out and try and sleep using his desperately unstylish coat to cover his head so he didn't hear them.

--Bibi

Evil Editor said...

Typos:

P.1, S.4: delete the first "his." [I would also change "to" to "from." And why is his nose that close to the ground?]

P.4: "handed," not "handled."


The first paragraph isn't all that interesting. The seedlings that will inevitably be trampled are a metaphor for underpaid farmworkers and Farmer Eldrich represents Big Pharma, right?

Maybe you should start with P.3, then P.4, then P.2. P.4 can come later in the story, or nowhere.


where the sheep outnumbered the men and the jokes about sheep outnumbered decent jokes.

Change "decent jokes" to "the jokes about women."

Actually, I'm not sure the fact that the sheep outnumber the men is worthy of remark. One man for every sheep would be a lousy business model (but quite convenient for the men). But it does allow you to work in your jokes about sheep line.

Rachel said...

I don't know about this. The pace feels like it's plodding, while the subject matter seems to be jumping all over the place.

My first guess is that, because he's in the country, he escapes when the city gets ransacked and then can go save everyone. Second guess is that he meets someone interesting while he's off in the hills avoiding sheep. Either one might be a good place to start the story.

Dave F. said...

Before I looked over here at EE's blog, I was reading Agent Kirsten at PUB RANTS about her efforts to train a new reader/screener for the incoming queries.
She suggest that most rejections are caused by the author starting the story in the wrong place.
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=26791026&postID=3431430472257207607
The two main symptoms of this are:
a) backstory
b) minutiae

I see both of those problems in is opening. I read lots of great detail but no character in jeopardy or plot moving forward. I want to suggest to the author that she look at the first three or four chapters and see if there is another place to start. All of this detail can be worked into the remaining story. All of us tend to think of stories as linear but a novel isn't linear. It's full of side ventures and remembrances.

I'm a big sinner this way. I have thousands of words that no one will ever see because they are the back stories of my characters. Every so often one of the minor characters takes on a life of his or her own. Perhaps their POV is better for the plot than the hero or heroine's POV. This isn't a bad thing to do because an author should have well thought out characters. Just don't start the story there and don't feel bad about having a chunk of writing that helps you write the rest of the novel.

Joanna said...

I actually like starting slowly and getting a sense of the characters before anyone is acutely imperiled. But the wording here is throwing me off...'large red paint chipped barrel' is puzzling me (is it chipped and painter red? covered with red paint chips? etc...) 'nose..t o the floor" seems odd, and the jokes part makes me wonder if all the sheep jokes are indecent and all the indecent jokes are about sheep or... And the farmer seems likeable, except that the name Eldrich seems like a danger signal (almost as strong as "Lord Badness").

In spite of these nitpicks, I'd keep reading.

stacy said...

I'm with Dave on this. I think you're starting in the wrong place.

Can you make something explode? Or add a shark, maybe? Both would liven things up.

_*rachel*_ said...

OK, I think I missed some things in my last comment. Basically, I think you could work in a lot of the backstory later. I like the last two sentences of the second paragraph, but I don't know if they belong so close to the beginning.

It's a good juxtaposition, the farmer being both generous and abrasive, but I think you could show them instead of telling, if it works for the scene.

Dave and that article have a good point. As a matter of face, I bookmarked it this morning.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carrie,

The mc came across as a detail equal to but not greater than seeds and their container. The names didn't work for me.

Bibi

I was amazed at Agent K's post on starting at the wrong place. Main reason for rejection after the query hurdle? Cringe.

Matthew said...

I pictured Indigo as a Na'vi from Avatar.

Symbolism isn't the most exciting thing to put in your first lines. You should get us involved in the story before getting preachy (if you must).

Bernita said...

Luckily, the old farmer was as honest and generous as he was abrasive and crude. When the day arrived for Indigo’s respite, Eldrich led the young man out to the stable, handled him a sturdy but desperately unstylish jacket and set a pack containing a plain meal from Mrs. Eldrich over top of what Indigo knew was his best horse. Then, he patted her and said, “Yep.” The farmer tromped away, because that statement well, explained everything.

As this passage indicates, you have an excellent capacity for interesting character description, in spite of some awkwardness in expressing it.I like your "voice."
I agree with the others, you seem to be starting in the wrong place.
The "seedling" paragraph is entirely irrelevant; the second, though it provides some context, is not much better.It's backstory.
(Of course the sheep outnumber the men, that's what shepherding is all about.)
Does something eventful happen to him on his journey?Is he visiting some hill shrine for his days of "rest, relaxation and prayer" or is he going home and something significant occurs when he arrives? If so, you might consider beginning with that scene.

C. E. Bailey said...

Thanks for taking the time to give the detailed feedback.

I had read the advice on starting later in a story and had deleted six paragraphs before I submitted it. Still, I see that you guys are correct. I ought to start with an action scene. Biggest thanks to EE for trying to salvage it. I'll check that angle and see if I can make it work.

Indigo lives 600 years in the future during the second global dark ages where literacy has been nearly outlawed. The characters rediscover the Pacific Northwest from the South Pacific.

The Avatar comment was oddly astute. I use a lot of the Chippewa philosophy/mythology that I grew up with in this book, but not exclusively.