Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Beginning 849

Other than his eyes, he looked no different to any other boy in this place. Just another dirty, skinny urchin plucked from the streets, and dumped on this spit of barren rock. His eyes though, they were black and almost round, but even that wasn't what made him strange. No, it was the way he looked at you, because he didn't. He looked beyond, as if seeing something none of the rest of us could see.

Maybe he did. I had never cared enough to talk to him, and I didn't wish to now.

"There must be someone else," I said to my two friends. Five hundred boys in this prison of ours, and not one was willing to join our game?

"If we can't find anyone, then we can't fight," Billy said.

Jack just scowled.

I wasn't sure who to side with. I longed to watch Jack box, but he's bigger than both me and Billy. While we were happy to be someone's second, neither of us wanted to be on the receiving end of Jack's punches. Nor did any of the other boys we knew.

"It's not worth fighting over," I said, trying to focus. "It's a game. We can't be heard talking of fighting."

Jack scowled again. "Okay. It's just a game. But maybe the most important game of our lives..."

The statement hung over us as we strove to think of a fourth to join us. A shadow flitted across us. "Denk!" I called, looking up at a tall, muscular silhouette. "Denk. You'll join our game?"


"Game?" Denk moved closer. "What game?"

We moved aside so Denk could see what was on the table. "It's called Courtroom. It's the great new game from Evil Editor. Everybody's talking about it! Each player is a famous TV lawyer..."



Opening: Xenith.....Continuation: anon.

12 comments:

Evil Editor said...

S1: different from...although it's hard to buy that he looks no different from any of the others when there are 500 of them.


500 boys "and not one was willing to join our game" implies that all 500 of them have opted out. So...did they ask the kid with the eyes to join the game and get turned down? It sounds like they're refusing to ask him. If all they're looking for is a kid willing to be on the receiving end of Jack's punches, I'm not clear on why they would be dead-set against using someone who's just like everyone else except that his eyes look beyond.

"I wasn't sure who to side with." Not clear that there are two sides to anything. Who is arguing for what?

alaskaravenclaw said...

Five hundred boys in this prison of ours, and not one was willing to join our game? was the only sentence here that rang false to me. It was too obvious an info-dump.

The rest works very well. Draws us into the story, makes us expect things. Doesn't get bogged down in description and back-story, as most openings do. Nicely done.

Dave Fragments said...

It's a bit too dense and too hard to figure out who is talking.

Anonymous said...

Kid in first paragraph sounds 4 years old. Didn't understand his connection to the later stuff. Couldn't figure why you'd start with such a long description of a a character who turns out to be, what they'd call in movies, an extra. Setting the scene with him? Could be from a different story. Or maybe he becomes totally the crux of everything and ever so important later. Here, he's acting like part of the scenery. Maybe more effective to give him something to do or move paragraph 1 to page 2 or something.

The dialogue & what follows is more informative at establishing the 'who what where & why we care wtf is going on' than what comes before. Which is, after all, the mission of page 1. Maybe dispersing the prior stuff in later text would help?

BuffySquirrel said...

I thought it was the boy who looks beyond who was the subject of the discussion.

Xenith said...

Oh me again. This one is important (it's the main thing I'm working on) but I can't get it to work. I've tried various ways to start it but it keeps coming back to this description thing. And that doesn't work properly because, yeah, there's nothing obviously odd about him (except the eyes). He's just the weird kid that no one has anything to with him, (but the main character is being pushed to go and ask in the next paragraph).

at alaskaravenclaw My main character has a reluctance to describe his setting in any useful way (he knows what it's about). I take what he gives me. I'll see if I can smooth that one out that.

(Probably I should mention this is supposed to be historical fantasy.)

Anonymous said...

Things differ from each other, not to.



Yeah, I know -- just sayin'.

alaskaravenclaw said...

There's no reason we need to know it's a jail with 500 prisoners in it at that point, is there? If you write it right, we'll know what the setting is without you telling us. (I did this with my current WIP-- did not say anything about the setting in the first four pages, then asked people to read those pages and then describe the setting to me. And they were able to describe it just fine.)

Trust the reader.

Dave Fragments said...

I think your trouble is all in the names and how you reveal them. I've only cut three words and moved the entences around while naming the kid. Your words work. It's too heavy a lift without the name or nickname. My apologies to the late, great Lee Marvin who gave a briliant instant of horror to a fun movie.

I had never cared enough to talk to Kid Shelleen, and I didn't wish to now. Other than his eyes, Shelleen looked no different to any other boy in this place. Just another dirty, skinny urchin plucked from the streets, and dumped on this spit of barren rock. His eyes though, they were black and almost round, but even that wasn't what made him strange. No, it was the way he looked at you, because he didn't. He looked beyond, as if seeing something none of the rest of us could see.

"There must be someone else," I said to Jack and Billy. Five hundred boys in this prison of ours, and not one was willing to join our game?

"If we can't find anyone, then we can't fight," Billy said.

Jack just scowled.

I wasn't sure who to side with. I longed to watch Jack box, but he's bigger than both me and Billy. While we were happy to be someone's second, neither of us wanted to be on the receiving end of Jack's punches. Nor did any of the other boys we knew.


I have this strange feeling the kid with the funny eyes is named Adolf or Josef or Pol Pot or Kim Jong Il or some other dictator in history. Quite Possibly it's Jack the Ripper (my prime candidate) or Charlie Manson or another crime figure. If that's the true reason you are trying to dance around the name, it's not working. And thus, you are having a bad time with the opening.

I think that you have to give him some sort of name for the reader to work with. The real trick is revealing the historical character at the right dramatic time. Obviously, something is special about the boy with the strange eyes.

Anonymous said...

Naming a character when they enter, or not naming them is a clue to the reader as to the future importance said character will have in the story. Not naming the kid is like saying, oh, here's some random kid that'll never get another mention. Naming the kid is like saying, yeah, make a note of who this is, he's big in this story.

Xenith said...

alaskaravenclaw: I don't have much confidence in readers this time around. Also not all the confident in the writer, who I think is avoiding things. You might be right. Maybe I should put up 4 pages somewhere and get some input

Dave: Don't worry, he's a just a very ordinary Jimmy. I think the MC thinks giving people names makes them ordinary.

(Grumbles that "different to" is quite normal British/Aus informal usage.)

Anonymous said...

Grumbles that "different to" is quite normal British/Aus informal usage.

Oh, it's an informal paragraph? Fair enough, then. Carry on.

;)