Friday, March 23, 2012

New Beginning 934

To be touched by God's grace, and yet live on, is a precious agony.

Since I was in France anyway, I finally made time to visit the Devere's. The taxi dropped me off at a yellow-painted house with a stone arch around its door. I walked through the neat garden and rang the bell.

No answer for a while, but then a man in shirt-sleeves and half a jacket answered, and smiled at me, and spoke rapidly in French.

The poor bastard looked like me.

"Sorry," I said, "can you...?"

"You're English?" He shrugged fully into his jacket. "How far apart are the contractions?"

"No, it's not a baby."

His face fell. "It's very early if it's not a baby, Monsieur."

I glanced up at a sky grey with the promise of dawn. Perhaps it was. "I'm sorry, I didn't think about the time. I can come back later."

"Nonsense, I wouldn't hear of it." He stepped back into his house, and held the door open for me. "You don't mind if I ask who you are? You're familiar, but we've never met before." Perhaps he saw my ring when I offered my hand to shake, for he added, "Ohhhhh, c'est comme ça? Germain told us he'd spoken to you about our poor René. But I was expecting someone--"

"Human? You, of all people, should know we do not make a habit of openly identifying ourselves."

He pulled back, jacket unzipped. "What is this?" he demanded.

"Der Furher is in need of blood. And he insists on your presence." It pleased me to know Hitler had trusted me, of all the Vampirkorps, to carry out his mission.

He nodded. "One moment," he said. "How can I tell you are . . . secure?"

I smiled, letting him catch a glimpse of my vampirzahn. I understood his caution. With all the neoNazis, outcast teenagers, and Twilight fanatics wandering about, a vampir can't be too careful.

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

“Taller? Yes, I get that a lot.”
He stared, and I let him have a good look before I cleared my throat.

He jumped at the sound. “Pardonnez-moi!”

I nodded. “If we could see Rene….”
His face clouded and an odd little noise gurgled in his throat, and he turned, and led the way down a long hall while muttering rapidly in French.

He stopped at the wine cellar door. Metal, but with a dozen fist-sized dents protruding from the inside.
A big one. But then, this was France.

I pulled the tail of my trench coat aside and the man backed away. Perhaps it was the ammo belt draped across my chest. I tend to think it was the AK-47 hitched at my waist.
“Please, Monsieur, is there no hope?” he asked.

I unlocked the door and trained the weapon at the dark opening. I shook my head. “C'est comme ça.”


"Less hairy? I can't help it. The condition is so deeply ingrained now, it doesn't fully clear up when the moon wanes."

--Angie Sargenti

Evil Editor said...

I don't see what the first sentence adds. It sounds like one of those quotes authors stick at the beginning of their novels or chapters. Maybe you should attribute it to someone. Pope Innocent IV, or Sherlock Holmes.

P2: The first phrase suggests that you are visiting the Deveres only because you happen to be in town, but the word "finally" suggests that this visit is necessary. Also, France is a big place. You don't decide to drop in on someone who lives in Marseilles just because you're in Paris. Perhaps: As I would be leaving Paris soon, I made time to visit the Devere's. If, by "the Devere's," you mean the family or the couple, you don't need the apostrophe.

P9: "Perhaps it was." Perhaps what was what?

It's an intriguing opening. I'd read on.

I don't suppose anyone else will think "How far apart are the contractions? is referring to the part of speech rather than birth, coming as it does right after "You're English?"

Anonymous said...

Each sentence seems to change the subject or drop a new subplot on us, or otherwise start over, instead of building on what came before. The result is a jumble.

Also agree with what EE said about that first line. No need to start your story by telling us the 'lesson' we're supposed to learn by reading it.

BuffySquirrel said...

Loving the continuations. And the next word actually is, Taller :).

I had my doubts about that first sentence, too, but the novel insisted on it. Perhaps only as an aide-memoire to the novelist.

Perhaps it was too early? *quietly deletes it*

Hmm, he's used to travelling about, and he has his own private jet, so it's no trouble to him to hop from one part of France to another. Yet the reader can't know that at this stage. Hmmmm.

Thanks, EE, and continuation people! :)

Mister Furkles said...

No answer for a while, but then a man in shirt-sleeves and half a jacket answered, and smiled at me, and spoke rapidly in French.

This is minor: you have an 'and' echo in this line. You can replace the middle 'and' with: "...answered. He smiled..."

The poor bastard looked like me.

By the end of the passage, we don't have any idea what this means. Maybe: sleepy, disheveled, old, fat, bald? They're both zombies?

BuffySquirrel said...

Lol, I don't write novels to teach people lessons.

Laurie said...

I agree with Anonymous who says it jumps around, each sentence changing things. But I would put up with this at the beginning of a book - I expect to have to work a bit at the beginning when everything's being established. I presume things settle down once we're a few more pages in.

I would keep reading.

ril said...

I finally made time to visit the Devere's.

Not convinced that apostrophe belongs there.

"Sorry," I said, "can you...?"

Thinking that should be an em-dash, not an elipsis, if his question is being cut short rather than fading away...

You're familiar, but we've never met before.

If the visitor is familiar, how can he be so sure they've never met before?

Perhaps he saw my ring when I offered my hand to shake, for he added...

Objection: speculation -- not a big fan of this sentence. Doesn't feel right. Would rather Frenchie was seen to be glancing at the ring or something -- show don't tell?

Can't see the name "René" without thinking of 'Allo 'Allo. Sad, isn't it?

PLaF said...

I enjoyed this. I wondered, “Who is this bizarre person roaming the French countryside and visiting people at the crack of dawn?”
A few things left me confused however.
The opening line: though there is only room for a fraction of the opening chapter here, I did not see a connection between this line and the events immediately following it. This leads me to believe it’s not the right place for it. It might find a nice home at the end of the chapter, but it just sort of sticks out here.

The poor bastard looked like me: what does this mean? Is the MC only wearing shirt sleeves and half a jacket, too? Do they share physical characteristics? Could they be related somehow? It’s a good line because it indicates the MC is sympathetic to this harried little man, but I need to know a little more about this connection.

Lastly, there are, a lot, of commas. Like speed bumps on the highway, they were slowing me down. I'd read more but I might get annoyed and have to set the book down once in a while.

150 said...

Would keep reading after the opening. Would keep reading after the continuation, too.

Anonymous said...

To be touched by God's grace, and yet live on, is a precious agony.

To be honest, looking back on your ealier opening, you seem to be overly fond of this type of platitudinous decoration in your writing. You might want to reflect on that.


BuffySquirrel said...

They are related, yes.

Anonymous said...

The God thing opening sentence goes flat with no follow up in the opening. Therefore why mention it. I know, the book told you to.

It's too contrary - he looks like me. Brother/twin/cousin or worn out?

It's too early unless it's a baby?, but do come in. Before the door answerer sees the ring?

Who would show up at a stranger's house and knock on the door at dawn? If the knocker is speaking English no need for the question.

If the guy has his own plane a limo would be waiting at the airport for him I suspect. People in those circles tend to do that. If we don't know he has a jet, we can at least know he rode in a limo to wake up the Devere household.

All I'm getting is a start with little info or clues as to what is going on and why should I care.

Anonymous said...

Who would show up at a stranger's house and knock on the door at dawn?

Wonder if that might be the, uh, point..?

BuffySquirrel said...

A limo? Lol, no. Not this guy.

Anonymous said...

Uh, if it is, make it clear.

BuffySquirrel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wilkins MacQueen said...

I'm with Evil. Cavalier type of approach. I suggest nailing it down harder. There's a vagueness I'd like to see replaced by clarity. Don't have to tip the hand. Some idea why the mc showed up at that hour unexpected and was welcomed in would be more enticing to me.

I'm afraid the ms will have the same sort of holding back.

The first line doesn't seem to fit what follows.

Maybe start further in?

BuffySquirrel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xenith said...

(Squirrel's friend to whom she usually grumbles has run off to play on a tall ship, so she might be a bit stressed. Ignore her.)

Anonymous said...

Not to worry. Many beginning writers go through this adjustment as they suffer the reality of objective critique.

Pedestrian writing doesn't necessarily mean unpublishable, as some recent blockbusters will attest.

We can seek solace in the fact that not everybody likes everything in exactly the same way. Otherwise, there would be even fewer published writers.

BuffySquirrel said...

Yes, it's all Xenith's fault. I knew it wasn't mine, anyway.

Xenith said...

Many beginning writers go through this adjustment as they suffer the reality of objective critique.

You know, you're a bloody idiot.

Not that I expect this comment to get published. I hung around in this place for 5 years trying to offer useful suggestions, but the ignorant know-it-alls that finally got to me. I certainly had more constructive things to do with my time.

(And yes, I only came over here because BuffySquirrel tells me to when she has something up. And yes, I'm obviously biased in this case. But gah.)

Anonymous said...

Ah, two peas out of the same pod.

Thing is, there's really only one way to react to critique, no matter how facile, ill-informed or self-serving it might appear: say thank you, take what's useful, and move on.

Arguing with the ignorant know-it-alls (i.e. people who may have a different opinion than mine own), is a losing game. Trying to show then how much smarter you are than they, equally so.

So, gah right back at ya.