Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Beginning 775

Lydia exhaled sharply through her nose as she dropped the pencil for the third time. At least she’d had the sense to pull the sheet up over the arm of the hospital bed so the things she dropped couldn’t roll to the floor. But between the pain and the medicine and the tiredness that came from not sleeping well because people kept interrupting to make sure her muddled old body hadn’t embarked on any new forms of malfeasance it was hard to keep track of where her own hands were, let alone six colored pencils. And of course it wasn’t the pencils she was really thinking of now but the light-soaked petals of the flowers massed on the table by her bed. She wasn’t trying to draw the shape of each petal exactly, just to convey both the close profusion of the petals and the spaciousness given them by the light.

Even back in Greece, in the beginning, when she said that she took up sketching because her camera kept malfunctioning, that was only half of the truth. When it didn’t overexpose her film the camera captured the shapes of things, but it lost the space that surrounded them.

A hesitant cough brought Lydia back from her reverie. "Sorry," Lydia said, and gave a thin smile. Focus, dammit, focus. "This is so simple, really..." She turned the page back in her notebook, gripped the pencil in her trembling fist and scrawled a wavering line across the picture. "I'll make the first incision here, and--"

Terrence stared up at her from the bed. "Y'know, Doc -- I'm kind of having some second thoughts about this whole vasectomy thing..."

Opening: Joanna Hoyt.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

And then there was that object. At first it appeared to be a harmless flaw--white, almost like a flicker of light--until it appeared in another photo and then another.

Lydia rifled through all of her photos and noticed this white obtrusion striking downward like lightning or a sword. And then, in the papers, she read about how each of the subjects in her photos had died some horrible and mysterious death. Like the man whose head was lopped off by a pane of glass, and the woman who fell over the balustrade and cracked open her skull.

Then she realized the pesky little boy following her around, eyes as black as his hair. She'd always thought he was a little creepy, but now she understood he needed to go away--a long vacation six feet under.

Lydia woke up in the middle of the night, shook her head, and flipped off the TV. She decided first thing that morning she must stop watching the Gregory Peck Film Fest after Fajita Fridays in the nursing home. Boy was she ever going to miss To Kill a Mockingbird.


Evil Editor said...

I don't like:

And of course it wasn’t the pencils she was really thinking of now

The reader isn't wondering why Lydia is obsessed with pencils, so there's no need to tell the reader she isn't.

Something like: She picked up the pencil--violet--and focused on the light-soaked petals of the flowers massed on her beside table. would be preferable, I think.

Other than that, it may not be as exciting as Lydia flat-lining and the doctors rushing in with the crash cart, but if the goal is to introduce a key character, it does the job.

Dave F. said...

You're writing is stepping all over itself in that first paragraph. One problem is that I think there is a missing punctuation mark after malfeasance. If there isn't, the sentence is too long. Another is that hospital beds have rails on each side and not arms. I've never seen a hospital bed with arms and I've been in and out of enough of them.

I'm going to suggest that you revise and not use the verbs "was" and "have or had." Replace them with verbs that have more action to them. There are five sentences in that first paragraph and they are:
Lydia exhaled,
she'd had,
it was,
it wasn't,
she wasn't.
That verbage is sucking the life out of your story.

"The exact shape of the petals didn't matter to Lydia. She drew the profusion of color in each petal and the spaciousness of flower in the sunlight coming through the hospital window."

_*rachel*_ said...

You know, I like this. It captures well the perspective of an artist and (as far as I know) an old woman.

But that is one loooong sentence in the first paragraph.

vkw said...

I have to admit I didn't like this beginning too much. I think that the third sentence of the second paragraph was too much.

I didn't like "and, of course, it wasn't the pencils she was really thinking of now but the light-soaked petals of the flowers massed on the table by her bed."

How do you explain this? I'll try and I'll probably not do this well. You separated yourself from the reader by telling us what she was concentrating on without telling us.

No longer concerned about the lost pencil she now only saw the . . . .

Gives the reader a warning of a shift without separating us.

Even the word Malfeasance separates us from your main character it's a word that distances us. It would be more embracing to say, "Between the agony of the (injury, cancer, arthritis, etc) and the medicine and the exhaustion from being awakenend every two hours by the nurses checking on her condition, it was hard to keep track of where her own hands began, let alone the six colored pencis."

just my ideas.

BuffySquirrel said...

Yes, yes, remove all the useful verbs from your opening. Definitely. It won't matter if you dislocate your reader in time or anything.

Dave, if you want to be taken seriously, learn the difference between your and you're ffs.

I like this. It's flawed, but it brings Lydia to life.