Friday, November 12, 2010

New Beginning 805

Owen listened as his closet door creaked open. He clutched his teddy bear and held it close to him. He knew he was too old for it, but it was the only thing that gave him any real comfort anymore. It was the only thing he had left that linked to his past, a time of comfort and good memories. In the sound of the door creak seemed to be the sweep of all the events of the past year—events that had turned his life upside down and turned him from the normal kid he once was into this scared, lonely boy with no friends and no one to rely on but himself. “Knock knock,” said a voice. It wasn't a pleasant voice. But Owen knew he couldn't just keep his eyes shut and ignore the thing that had entered his room.

He sighed and opened his eyes. Might as well get it over with. "Who's there?"

The seven-foot cockroach folded itself into the little desk chair by Owen's bedside. It swung a wide flat head down at him, antennae swaying.
"Roach." Its carapace glinted in the light of a Spongebob nightlight.

"Roach who?"

"Gezundheit," said the cockroach, and laughed.

Owen shook his head and whispered to Teddy, "We'll get a better roommate next semester."

Opening: Stacy.....Continuation: Sean


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"Are you still holding that teddy bear?" said the voice. "You know what I said before."

"Please," said Owen. "Just leave me alone."

"No. My decision is final," said the voice. "You're thirty-six years old, and it's about time you got a job and moved out."

"Aw, Mom! C'mon!"


Resigning himself to the inevitable, Owen answered, "Who's there?"

"Sam and Janet."

There was no stopping it now. "Sam and Janet who?"

"Sam and Janet evening! Bwah ha haaaa!"

Owen rolled his eyes and buried his face in his teddy bear. What had happened during the past year that changed his once smart and fun-loving parents into a pair of clueless dorks? Always telling cornball jokes nobody could understand to his friends whenever they came over, embarrassing him so painfully that he decided it just wasn't worth the risk of having friends at all. Why had his mother and father suddenly turned into idiots, and why of all times just when he finally became a teenager?

--Paul Penna

He heard it creep towards his bed, this thing that was the symbol of all the forces of oppression ranged against him in these bizarre towers of brick and prefab furniture.

"Dude, you sure you don't want to come with us?" said the voice like a nasal crack of doom. "Sigma throws the sweetest parties."

Abandoning his attempt at courage, Owen buried himself deeper under the thin covers. He lay there trembling as the thing sighed and made noises of leaving.

"Fine, whatever. Why'd I get the weirdo roommate anyway?"

Owen didn't relax his grip on Teddy until the front door had slammed and the grumbling gurgles died away into silence.

God, he hated college.

--Sarah from Hawthorne

Evil Editor said...

I can appreciate your wanting to keep the specifics of Owen's past year vague, but since they are vague, I don't want to hear so much about them.

Thus I'd condense sentences 3/4 to something like: He knew he was too old for it, but it was all that remained from happier days.

Then start a new paragraph with "In" and cut: "and turned him from the normal kid he once was into this scared, lonely boy with no friends and no one to rely on but himself."

No need to tell us he's a scared and lonely boy etc. when you're going to show us in due time.

arhooley said...

I'd get the message with half the verbiage.

"Owen clutched his teddy bear as the closet door creaked open. He knew he was too old for Teddy, but the past year had left him friendless. 'Knock knock,' said a voice. It wasn't a pleasant voice, but there was no use ignoring the thing that had entered his room."

"In the sound of the door creak seemed to be the sweep" etc. made me start over a couple of times.

By the way, I'm not sure who's in the closet -- Owen, or the owner of the voice.

alaskaravenclaw said...

The "In the sound of the door creak..." sentence threw me too. You should probably go through your ms on a search-and-destroy mission for such sentences.

Another issue: we've got a scared little boy in bed clutching a teddy-bear. Who's the intended audience? If it's adults, that might work. If it's kids, mm. Maybe not.

Basically, we want our main character to be someone who stands up, back to the wall, and fights.

The little boy huddled in the bed's got Victim stamped on him. He might awaken adult reader sympathy, though.

Bran Flakes said...

Have to disagree with alaska for the first time :).

Heroes CAN start off scared and nerdy, and kids will take to them as long as they become brave and have great adventures...

After all, deep down most kids can relate to feeling scared and friendless at some point in their lives, and enjoy seein someone like them overcome those feelings.

alaskaravenclaw said...


Thank you for not disagreeing anonymously :).

I agree with scared and nerdy, but hiding... I don't know about that so much. Thinking of my current WIP, it starts out with the kid being threatened, and I guess he's not really standing up and ready to fight, but he's facing the danger and not hiding. Most the early feedback I got said he wasn't doing it soon enough.

As for #805, maybe it would work better if we had some sense that the kid is hiding from something that we'd hide from too. Not sure. It's kind of a thin line maybe.

Of course, it may be that he stands and faces the danger in the very next sentence after what we see.

Anonymous said...

Didn't make much impression until I got to the brilliant continuation.

Anonymous said...

Wait, is it my mother in law?

The vagueness feels cheap, like you're trying to make me want to know what happened to take the "time of comfort and good memories" away, what "the sweep of events of the past year" were, But I don't. I don't know Owen yet and so I really don't care at all. Then, add in the fact that there is no interesting detail, like say a time when he still could expect something more than rotten eggs for dinner, before his parents disappeared and the fat woman with the armpits that smelled like soiled linens moved in. I still might not care about Owen, but maybe I'd be a little more interested in that year.

One or the other--I have to care about Owen or be interested in what you're telling me.

vkw said...

You've repeated too many things.

real comfort
comfort and good memories

closet door creaked
door creaked

I agree with EE, the vague hinting is slowing the story and the suspense is getting lost.

Owen listened as the closet door creaked open. He clutched his teddy bear tighter. He knew he was too old for a stuffed toy but it was all that he left of his past. It is the only thing that gave him comfort these days.

The door creaked again. "Knock knock," the voice said. It wasn't a plesant voice.

Owen wanted to keep his eyes shut but knew he couldn't just ignore the thing in his room.

something like that.

_*rachel*_ said...

You start out interestingly enough... and then you dump in a bunch of backstory.

You've put us in an interesting scene. Stick with the interesting and relevant; backstory can come later.

BuffySquirrel said...

Show don't tell. There must be some way to show us Teddy's been dragged out of retirement without info-dumping.

stacy said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone.