Monday, June 04, 2012

New Beginning 952

The gate opened with a squeak and slammed shut behind her. Two small faces suddenly appeared in the pane beside the door, paws scrabbling along the glass.

As soon as she pushed the door open, the two terriers barked uninhibitedly and launched themselves on her thighs. The cats sauntered along the hallway towards her, pausing to stretch their legs and yawn.

With a fluster of wings, the dragonling leapt and sailed up to land on her shoulder. He rubbed his scaly face against her cheek. “Just a minute, guys,” Andrea said squirming and unbuttoning her coat. “Down, boys, down Reno.”

She shrugged her shoulder, but Reno’s claw snagged her hair. She gasped, and the small dragon suspended upside down, hung by a single claw. He struggled and flapped his wings uselessly.

Andrea dropped her bags to the floor. She winced and clutched her hair. “Ow! You’re getting too big for this, Reno! Stay still – this hurts!”

The dogs yapped louder and the cats curled around her ankles. Gritting her teeth, Andrea steadied the dragonling with one hand and tugged her strands of hair loose with the other. Finally freed, Reno swooped along the hallway, spreading his wings to their full length.

Andrea tossed her coat to one side, and knelt to pat her dogs. The two cats pushed their way between them, chirruping and purring. “You guys must be hungry, come on.”

She straightened and took a few steps along the hall, surrounded by her furry entourage. Reno turned back towards them, and swooped Boris, the tabby cat. Boris growled and pounced up, claws bared, but the dragon flicked his tail out of reach.

Reno looked back over his shoulder and coughed a few sparks towards him.

“Hey!” Andrea yelped. “Your fire glands are starting to work!”

As if to confirm her suspicions, she noticed a few scorch marks along the plastered wall.

When she reached the kitchen she stopped short in disbelief. Reno's fire glands were working all right. The kitchen was little more than smoldering cinders of charcoal.

Andrea turned and glared at the dragonling. "Bad dragon! Bad, bad dragon!"

Reno huffed out another breath, engulfing Andrea in flame. That was pretty much the last time any of those annoying creatures bugged him. 


Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Rachel6

25 comments:

Evil Editor said...

I would put Andrea's name in paragraph 1. Otherwise it sounds like you're intentionally trying to create mystery about who this is.

P2. I'd get rid of the barking and just go with the launching. The barking probably started as soon as the gate squeaked.

P3. I assume that's supposed to be a "flutter" of wings.

P8: swooped at Boris? Over Boris?

Usually you don't drop grocery bags on the floor, as they could contain glass or eggs etc., but if those are suitcases and she's returning from a trip, no wonder they're hungry. Shouldn't she have made arrangements for feeding and to keep her house from burning down?

Must be a pretty old house if the walls are plaster, but even if it is, when you notice that your walls are scorched you don't remark on what the walls are made of. They're made of the same thing they've been made of since you moved in.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Interesting premise. Could use a haircut.

Example:

The gate opened with a squeak and slammed shut behind her. Two small faces suddenly appeared in the pane beside the door, paws scrabbling along the glass.

As soon as she pushed the door open, the two terriers barked uninhibitedly and launched themselves on her thighs. The cats sauntered along the hallway towards her, pausing to stretch their legs and yawn.

With a fluster of wings, the dragonling leapt and sailed up to land on her shoulder. He rubbed his scaly face against her cheek. “Just a minute, guys,” Andrea said squirming and unbuttoning her coat. “Down, boys, down Reno.”


Haircut:

As soon as she opened the door, the terriers launched themselves at her. The cats sauntered along the hallway, pausing to stretch their legs and yawn.

With a flutter of wings, the dragonling sailed up to land on her shoulder. He rubbed his scaly face against her cheek.

“Just a minute, guys,” Andrea said. “Down, boys.”


If you don't like my haircut, at least consider an adverb-plucking.

arhooley said...

This passage doesn't convey for me the chaos of the Happy Pet Attack, especially since the experience is dispersed across so many little details, some of which are redundant. The dragonling smacks Andrea's shoulder and it hurts, as we find out when she gasps, winces, clutches her hair, and grits her teeth. The rest of it reads like a treatment for an animation sequence. Andrea pushes the door open, squirms, unbuttons her coat, shrugs, drops her bags, tosses her coat down, kneels, pets, straightens, takes a few steps, reaches the kitchen, stops short. Do we need all these movements? None of them give much sense of who Andrea is.

Here's an uptight fop suffering an Unhappy Pet Attack:

"...[The dog] suddenly broke into a fury and leapt on my knees. I flung her back, and hastened to interpose the table between us. This proceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen four-footed fiends, of various sizes and ages, issued from hidden dens to the common centre. I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects of assault; and parrying off the larger combatants as effectually as I could with the poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud, assistance from some of the household in re-establishing peace."

Evil Editor said...

I assume this is a children's book. If not, this is a lot of writing just to show that Andrea has a lot of pets including a dragonling. An older audience might want to start when the pets are doing something more significant than welcoming her home.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

It's a lot of writing even for a mere children's book, EE.

My impression has always been that to get published, you have to write tightly. To get published in kiddylit, you have to write a helluvalot more tightly.

arhooley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Evil Editor said: "...when you notice that your walls are scorched you don't remark on what the walls are made of."

Huh?... How do you describe a scene if you can't say what things are made of? By this rule, would something like "...the brick wall lay in ruins..." be overwritten?

Sign me: Confused in Lower Alabama

Evil Editor said...

To get published in kiddylit, you have to write a helluvalot more tightly.

My point was that children might enjoy reading a scene about puppies and kitties and a dragonling welcoming home their mistress, but adults might prefer to join the story during a more exciting scene, like when an intruder breaks into the house. Tight writing is desirable for any audience.

Evil Editor said...

How do you describe a scene if you can't say what things are made of? By this rule, would something like "...the brick wall lay in ruins..." be overwritten?

The "rule" has nothing to do with what things are made of. It has to do with whether what it's made of is relevant and whether it would have been remarked upon by the POV character.

Note that the first paragraph doesn't read: The white wooden gate opened with a squeak that sounded like a rabbit being tortured and slammed shut behind her. Two small faces suddenly appeared in the 12 by 60-inch pane beside the wooden Victorian door, paws scrabbling along the beveled glass. That's because we don't need that much information.

If your character is a realtor showing a house, she may remark that the walls are made of plaster. If your character just discovered that a dragon has burned her walls, the walls she looks at every day, she's unlikely to remark on whether they're plaster or drywall.

Use adjectives sparingly; otherwise readers will get sick of reading them and ignore even the ones that matter.

vkw said...

I didn't like this until Evil Editor pointed out it could be a children's book and then I went that "makes sense." Therefore, it makes even better sense to thin it a bit as AR suggested.

My only thought about this was imagining how my animals greet me when I come home. The dogs begin barking the second they hear the car door. A few come to the door, a few either stay on the couch or stand apart from the dog rush. The cats look bored from a distance and elevated position.

I would quarantee if the cats tried to worry the pack by approaching the door there would be unhappy cats because the dogs don't want their pecking order messed with especially when alpha female comes home.

Of course, my dogs are bigger than terriers and I have more than two.

I also thought the dragon would have taken the cats out by now. (I know I shall not ever own birds or rodents for this very reason. On "I'm bored days", I've jokingly suggested we could get a bird and make bets on how long it survived and who would get it. This would be cheap entertainment. This usually shuts down the whining rather quickly and rewards me with a glare.)

But perhaps dragons in this world are kinder than cats and dogs in our world, more intelligent and can discriminate between cat food and cat-mates, or just more obedient and maybe they are vegetarians as well.

AA said...

Here's a quick tightening-up edit:

The gate opened with a squeak and slammed shut behind her. Two small faces appeared in the pane beside the door, paws scrabbling along the glass.

As soon as she pushed the door open, the two terriers launched themselves on her thighs. The cats sauntered along the hallway towards her.

With a flutter of wings, the dragonling leapt and sailed up to her shoulder. He rubbed his scaly face against her cheek. “Just a minute, guys,” Andrea said squirming and unbuttoning her coat. “Down, boys. Down, Reno.”

She shrugged her shoulder, but Reno’s claw snagged her hair, and the small dragon hung suspended by the single claw. He struggled and flapped his wings.

Andrea dropped her bags to the floor. “Ow! You’re getting too big for this, Reno!"

Gritting her teeth, Andrea steadied the dragonling with one hand and tugged her strands of hair loose with the other. Finally freed, Reno swooped along the hallway, spreading his wings to their full length.

Andrea tossed her coat to one side, and knelt to pat her dogs. “You guys must be hungry, come on.”

She straightened and took a few steps along the hall, hindered by her furry entourage. Reno turned back around, and swooped at Boris, the tabby cat. Boris growled and pounced up, claws bared, but missed the dragon.

Reno looked back over his shoulder and coughed a few sparks towards Boris.

“Hey!” Andrea yelped. “Your fire glands are starting to work!”

Looking around the walls, she saw faint scorch marks on the plaster.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Vkw, don't tell me-- you're a dog musher, aren't you?

I dunno, the voice just feels off for kiddylit to me. You can certainly open a children's novel with an adult character (see Potter, Harry and Baggins, Bilbo) but if you do, the voice tends to be humorous. I think we're looking at bigpeoplelit here.

vkw said...

Dear Anonymous,

It's too detailed. the writing is bogged down with too many details that the writing has become boring. There is too much detail describing mundane, uninteresting details. It's okay for young readers because they need, think and tell stories from the very beginning to the very end. First, I woke up, then I got dressed, then I saw mom in the kitchen, I kissed her good morning, then I ate fruity loopy sugar cereal, then I got my backpack, then my mom drove me to school. . . .adjectives are used to discriminate between things, my red coat vs my blue coat. AR will probably tell me if I am wrong but that's what i learned in Child development.

The beginning is a list of over-described things and actions.

Why did the dogs suddenly appear? "suddenly" implies surprise. I would think they expectedly appeared. Because if my dogs did not expectedly begin to bark, I would suddenly begin to freak out knowing something absolutely horrible happened and would beginning imagining the worse - carbon dioxide poisoning or the dogs were purposely let out by an evil someone or their was an intruder in the house who has killed my dogs and is waiting to kill me)

Anyway . . I was side-tracked there for a moment. There is too much detail of mundane unimportant details for adult interests.

If this scene was for an adult book it maybe should start with,

"Andrea saw the scorched wall and realized that Reno's fire glands were maturing."

khazar-khum said...

vkw, if the baby dragon was raised by the cats & dogs, he'll think of them as family. Either as family to snuggle with, or as soft, tasty family.

I stumbled at 'suspended'. Wouldn't hung be as good?

sarahhawthorne said...

Heh.

I liked this. Definitely agree it could use an edit but the idea is there.

To continue Alaska's trim:

Reno’s claw snagged her hair. She gasped as the small dragon suspended upside down, struggling and flapping his wings uselessly.

“Ow! You’re getting too big for this, Reno!”

The dogs yapped louder and the cats curled around her ankles. Gritting her teeth, Andrea steadied the dragonling with one hand and tugged her strands of hair loose with the other. Finally freed, Reno swooped along the hallway, spreading his wings to their full length.

“You guys must be hungry. Come on.”

She stepped along the hall, surrounded by her furry entourage. Reno looked back over his shoulder and coughed a few sparks.

“Hey!” Andrea said. “Your fire glands are starting to work!”

Anonymous said...

Children aren't interested in reading mundane unimportant details either.

Evil Editor said...

That's why there's so much content in Dick and Jane.

Dave Fragments said...

I like this. It just needs to be tightened and polished up.

Raising a pet dragon always get my interest. I'd give the first chapter a read to see what the conflict will be.

BTW - she wouldn't be he first person to come home to a mess created by a pet. And I'm not talking a wet spot or a lump. I'm talking an entire newspaper and a paperback book chewed into bits and scattered around a large room to create a sea of white. Look at me, I had fun all day, his little wagging tail said. yeah, right, sure...

Anonymous said...

Dick and Jane-- hm, I'm not finding that on the children's bestseller list.

Rachel6 said...

Everybody's pretty much hit the points to be criticized, so I'll swoop in with the praise.

I really liked the idea of a dragon as a house-pet; I also liked "dragonling".

The mention of fire glands, and the implied puberty or whatever you call it, got me wondering: just how big is this dragon going to grow?

Mister Furkles said...

Author,

The good:

Mostly, people liked it or you would not get so many comments.

I like the voice.

The gate squeak made me see an old house in some disrepair with an overgrown yard.

The way you introduce the pets makes it easy to visualize the scene.

I like the little dragon.

I hope Andrea is a witch in an old house but in the modern world. I also hope it is a adult urban fantasy.

The bad:

How does she unbutton her coat while still holding the bags? Does Andrea have four arms?

It does drag with too much detail after the first three of paragraphs. I would eliminate all or nearly all of paragraphs 4 – 9. Then include something about the fire glands starting to work. And proceed directly to an inciting incident.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Caught my whimsical side.I readied my self for goth house/creatures (squeaky gate) then was pleasantly surprised with the airiness. Lovely surprise with the dragon. I too feel "suspended" affected the beat of the sentence. Hung upside down is fine. All easily fixable.

Clear voice, hope it doesn't get written over/out.

I'd read on.

Anonymous said...

Woah - thanks for the wonderful input, EE and minions. Very useful indeed.

Yes, it was a very rough draft, sent in response to the empty queue. My first drafts tend to be wordy as I paint a picture for myself. The word-count shrinks in each subsequent wash.

I have no idea whether it's MG, YA or whatever. I tend to write first, categorize later.

It was inspired by a GTP I wrote a little while ago - the damsel who saved dragons. In this set-up, Andrea works at a sanctuary for dragons. They need saving due to the macho pretensions of trainee knights who wish to kill one for their rite-of-passage - despite this practice being outlawed.

When dragons start getting slaughtered within the sanctuary, Andrea, (who can shift between worlds), saves an infant of an endangered species and hides him in our world, until she can figure out how the sanctuary was breached. She has built a life in both worlds thanks to a love interest here. And... I haven't figured out what happens next.

But thanks to the interest, I'm inspired to spin it into a longer tale.

PS, EE, I did mean "fluster" of wings, to give the impression of a wild scurrying by an infant still grappling with the best way to use his wings.

Evil Editor said...

I'm afraid you can't count on readers catching on to your new meaning for fluster when the word is so close to one that makes more sense in the sentence. They will all assume you spelled flutter wrong, and if they're reading your first page in a bookstore, there goes that sale.

Rachel6 said...

I enjoyed your opening. I was intrigued by "dragonling". And then I read your comment to EE about your plot.

Need somebody to give you feedback on the rest of the manuscript?? Because I would LOVE to read that!