Thursday, February 06, 2014

New Beginning 1023

Matthew Bilachi was sure that had been the best shuttle ride ever. Sure, it was the only one he’d ever been on, but he bet that nothing could compare to watching the giant ship, the one he was going to be living on, traveling to a whole new world on, grow larger and larger until it filled the viewscreen. Now they were docked in the shuttle bay, but people were taking so long to get out of the way. He fidgeted impatiently, catching his mother’s eye.

“Be calm. It’ll just be a few more minutes.” She smiled at her eleven-year old son, softening her words. Matt knew she was just as excited as he was about this journey, but she didn’t show it as much.

“But why is everyone so slow! I want to get off and go explore, Chad said there’s all kinds of amazing things on a colony ship, the one his aunt went on had a park with real trees and birds and everything!” He wasn’t entirely sure everything chad told him was true, but after all, he was the only one at their school who even knew someone who’d traveled on a colony ship before. He’d even lived on Antares when he was little, and journeyed on one of the passenger liners that regularly moved between earth and it’s largest colonies.

“You’ll have months to explore. And when we get off this shuttle you are to stay by my side, is that understood?" Now the smile was gone, and she was wearing her “this means business” face.

“But mom …”

"Okay, that's it. We're going back to Earth."

"No!!! I'll be good."

At last they stepped off the shuttle and boarded the colony ship. Matthew, of course, ran off by himself to explore. Two hours later the captain came on the ship's intercom to announce that they would would be making a brief unscheduled stop at the Gohr prison planet, Lycus IV, to drop off an unruly passenger. He regretted the inconvenience.

Opening: Lance Awesome.....Continuation: EE


Evil Editor said...

I don't see why a park with trees and birds would be such an attraction to a kid who's been living on Earth. Surely there's something more amazing than that on the ship.

Likewise, if something unexpected happened on the shuttle ride, that would be better evidence that this was the best ride ever than seeing the colony ship out the window, which the kid presumably knows happens on every shuttle ride.

Of course, as an adult, I'd rather read about the cool things than listen to the annoying kid. Perhaps the audience for this book feels the opposite.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"No 'but's' out of you mister, I worked for years to gain this transfer, and I'll be darned if I'm going to let your moon gazing keep me from meeting Sargeant Shipley at the appointed time, as I have already mentioned a thousand times, if I've mentioned it once, so, you young sir will keep marching along to my tune and if I say 'skip' you will skip, if that were the case, which it is not, but that's only because I know what an awful skipper you are and to do so would only cause me to be late--which I will not be. So, march."

Matt looked up at his mother, shut his gaping maw, and marched. He could see the landscape later. Probably.

--Veronica Rundell


His eyes grew wide just like when Chad told him those stories. "Moooom."

"I said no, and I mean it."

There was no choice, then. He opened his mouth wide, swallowing her whole. After a few seconds he spit out her purse, heels and dress.

No one paid any attention. Good. Now maybe he could find a more permissive mom, like Chad's.


"...your vibrating egg fell on the floor again. That old man is picking it up and laughing. Why do people keep laughing at it Mom? What is it?"


"But Mom..." Matthew paused knowing not to try her patience and glanced down at his ship's passport. It's title was "To Serve Man" seemed odd. When he looked up the transport ship's name became visible for the first time on the bow of the vessel.

"Hey Mom?"

"Yes Matty?" she answered.

"What's soylent green?"


"But nothing, mister." She grabbed Matthew's hand as they shuffled along the curving entry corridor, its walls painted a soothing light blue. Matthew heard distant thumps and thuds. They're probably unloading the cargo. And that brief scream -- someone must have dropped a suitcase on their toe.

A final turn in the corridor brought Matthew to an ornate archway emblazoned with the motto: Antares Enterprises - Serving Man Since 2084. His Mom stopped and stared, but Matthew wrenched his hand free and raced ahead, eager for whatever awaited.


khazar-khum said...

I wanted to smack the bejeezus out of the kid. If this is an introduction to a strange new world, it isn't working because the POV character is so annoying.

Now, if the intent is for him to be a whiny, hateful child, then congratulations--it works beautifully.

Veronica Rundell said...

I struggled with the sentence length, and, erm, punctuation-style...and errors, ahem.

Rather wrong-footed me from the get-go.

I think the voice is a touch off. I want to feel awe and impatience from Matthew, I don't want descriptors like "impatiently" I want to feel impatient right with him, or to sense his impatience without being told his emotional state. Essentially, don't tell me how he feels, show me...

You need some tension. Some ants in the pants squirming. Some litany of questions about his new digs, new schedule, new life--even if only in his head. Not sure how old the kid is, but his impatience tells me young.. Middle grade or less, is my guess, but the style-- again with the long sentences--gives me a sense of being "talked down to" or talking down to the audience.

Best of luck...

Dave Fragments said...

Chad should be capitalized.
I can live with the kid being impatient.
I'd just cut about a third of those words.
And I would hint at what is to come.

Evil Editor said...

He's eleven. It's in paragraph 2.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I had the same reaction as khazar-khum to the boy, and I'm a middle grade author.

It's a voice problem. If this is MG, you're talking down to your reader. If it's not MG... you're still talking down to your reader.

Respect your character and your reader as equals, take the mother out of the scene, and start again.

Mister Furkles said...


Pleonasm: use of unnecessary or redundant words in a sentence. It is not a grammar error. It is not a usage error. They are okay in dialog if your characters talk that way. They can be used to aid voice. But you have too many pleonasms:
Sure, ever, that, whole, and larger, just, as much, But, entirely, after all, before, even.

P1S1: ‘that’ can be a pronoun, adjective, adverb, or conjunction. Replace ‘that’ with ‘it’. Then the sentence reads more easily.

P1S2: OMG 47 words. If you must have such a large sentence, break it up with em dashes:
It was the only one he’d been on, and he bet nothing could compare to watching the giant ship--the one he would be living on and traveling to a new world on--grow until it filled the view-screen.

P1S4: Veronica is right: “fidgeted impatiently” is a ‘tell’. Imagine you’re watching a stage play and the actor must convey his emotion by action. What does Matt do that makes you think he is fidgeting and impatient?

Dave is also right. ‘Earth’ is capitalized unless you mean ‘dirt’. And Chad is capitalized even if he is a ‘dirt bag’.

P3S2: You should start a new paragraph between ‘explore’ and ‘Chad’. Matt stops talking about slow passengers and starts talking about Chad. Put a period between ‘ship’ and ‘the one’.

P3S3 & S4: Two more long sentences. Cut words and get to the point. Also ‘it’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’ while ‘its’ is possessive. Professor Brains, Washington State University, has a website with something like 3000 common usage errors. Editors and agents are annoyed by usage errors. We all make them, but get them out of your novel.

Echoes: You use some words too often, e.g. ‘everything’. Mix it up.

Biggest problem: Waiting to disembark from a crowded passenger vehicle is boring. Veronica is right again: there’s no tension. Start your novel with a different scene. Separate all of the scenes and find three or four that are interesting, and then pick one.

Don’t be discouraged. Writing a novel is hard. But the writing is all craft. You can learn craft. It isn’t like talent. I can’t sing and no amount of work will ever make me a singer.

Anonymous said...

I think it might be a bit harsh to view Matthew as irritating. The opening line did not draw me in, so I dont think I got to know him well enough to feel a anything about him, really.
I felt the enthusiasm in the opening line was forced. It felt forced because it was told, then the next line, which modified it and might have been meant as a joke, fell flat. All because it's told and we're outside of Matthew, not in his head.
As a reader, once we're in the action and know the character and care about what happens, the occasional line like that might be forgiven or overlooked. But as the opening line...nope.

My advice is to rework it. Experiment with ways to show us Matthew's enthusiasm and excitement. Hey, he's just had a flight on a shuttle and is about to board a colony ship, surely there would be lots of opportunities for sensory descriptions and action there!