Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Beginning 1026

1. Negotiation

‘So, Alice, let me get this straight,’ said the stranger in his deep, captivating voice, ‘you don’t believe in God; am I right?’

Alice nodded enthusiastically, as if the stranger had asked her if she liked double chocolate ice cream topped with roasted hazelnuts. ‘I’m more correctly an agnostic, rather than an atheist, though. I don’t think that a god exists and even if he does, I don’t care. I just ignore him.’

The stranger cocked a dark eyebrow. ‘Do you now? Fascinating!’

Yes! Alice could see that she had impressed the charming stranger. He talked with an accent. A Frenchman, for sure – or maybe a Russian? And how old was he? Twenty…or forty perhaps?

‘And I assume you don’t believe in the Devil either?’

Alice laughed heartily. ‘Of course not! I chose a long time ago not to believe in such fairy tales.’

‘Sweet girl! Thank you, thank you very much! I wish there were more people like you around.’

Alice blushed at the compliment, although its meaning skipped her. ‘What did you say your name was?’

‘I didn’t,’ replied the stranger with a smile.

She glanced again at his dark, somehow threatening eyebrows, his intense, smoldering eyes, his strange haircut. And then she saw them.

The pointed ears.

'Oh my GAAAAAAHHD,' she squealed. 'You're a Vulcan!'

Opening: Barbara Agabiti.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"What say you hop up into my car, little girl. It's getting late and your parents must worry."

Alice considered the stranger's offer for a moment, then climbed off her tricycle and into the plush interior of the vehicle. The air inside was warm and smelled of toffee.

"Have some Turkish Delight, dear Alice," he said in his melodic voice.

Just then the White Witch rapped her icicle wand upon the window. "Sorry, Jehosephat. Aslan's Mark is on this one. She's due to stumble into Narnia in a few years." She slipped one strong frigid hand round Alice's arm and tugged her back to the street. "Come on, gel, time to toddle home. I hear there's treacle tart on with tea."

--Veronica Rundell

The stranger lifted his cape and revealed a half awake anaconda.

"I've never seen one of those before," Alice said.

"You haven't?" the stranger said.

"What's his name?"

"Larry, and he's so intrigued with you. Come over here and meet him. He'll believe in you if you believe in him."

"Okay." Alice skipped over to the stranger.

After a few hours of petting, the stranger, who was no longer a stranger said, "do you believe in Larry's power?"

"Yes," Alice said, and fell asleep beside her fifty thousand year old fallen angel.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

1. As the continuations pointed out, Alice is clearly too stupid to live.

2. Do you have a point? A message? If so, lose it post haste. Nobody wants to read a story with a message even if it's a message they agree with.

3. An agnostic isn't a person who doesn't care about whether God exists. Granted Alice is too stupid to correctly define agnostic, but look it up anyway, what the hell.

(Hint: the root is gnosis, knowledge.)

Evil Editor said...

This doesn't strike me as a conversation you'd have with a stranger in the produce section. Possibly a hint at where they are would help.

He asks if she believes in God (capitalized). I would have her respond in kind: 'I don’t think that God exists and even if He does, I don’t care. I just ignore Him.’ It's not like he was asking about Thor or Aphrodite.

I'm not bothered by A Frenchman, for sure – or maybe a Russian? But as she obviously isn't sure, maybe: He talked with a French accent – or was it Russian?

Not clear why he says, "Thank you, thank you very much!" If a stranger thanked me enthusiastically for saying I didn't believe in the Devil, I would be suspicious. I would think, How does this help him? He must be...a demon!

A smart demon would limit his reaction to "I wish there were more people like you around," without all the gushing.

I'm interested enough in what's going on to continue reading, if only to find out if there's a logical reason this conversation could be taking place.

khazar-khum said...

It reads like an interview as Satan's intern, going bad. I'd keep reading, just to see how dumb she is. I don't think that's the reaction you want.

Veronica Rundell said...

Hi author!
So, I got an ICK! vibe. Alice's mannerisms and speech felt very childish to me, hence my strangers with candy continuation.

I agree setting is important here. Where are we? How old is Alice? Why is she having such a conversation with a stranger? It felt very contrived, and geared toward parable, as Alaska noted.

Just some thoughts...

Mister Furkles said...


A few minor comments:

1. Well, it’s just me, but I don’t like hazelnuts. Could you make it more tempting?

2. I don’t see how Alice could mistake either a Russian or French accent for the other. Maybe Swiss for German or east European for Russian.

3. Is Alice nearly blind or very young? “Twenty … or forty” does not make sense to me. Maybe “Thirties or forties”. But a twenty-year-old looks nothing like a forty-year-old.

4. I would change “… more people like you around.” to “… more people like you.” The emphasis of the first seems to be on local while it is more on Alice in the latter.

5. “…replied the stranger with a smile.” Really? Is this the stranger with a smile as opposed to the twenty-seven strangers with frowns? Should be “…the stranger replied with a smile.”

These are really minor but an agent may stop reading from three or four minor things. It is so competitive.

A major thing for me is opening with dialog, absent context. Pick a few very popular novelist and read the first pages of some of their books. How many start with dialog without context?

And unlike EE, I’d be far more likely to read on if there were an illogical reason for the conversation.

Also, pay particular attention to Alaska’s #2. Last year, I read three novels by writers who were trying to score political points. The plots were transparent from the first few pages, the characters had the depth and color of monochromatic paper dolls, and I lost interest in two of them. Two of the novels, not the paper dolls—I don’t play with paper dolls. Not the day my big sister slapped the tar out of me for playing French Guillotine with her paper dolls.

Barbara said...

Gosh! It’s not good, is it? Looks like I’ve made a mess!
Thank you guys for your help

Evil Editor said...

It's not that it isn't good. It's no worse than what usually comes through here. We just point out possible problems so that you can fix those you agree need fixing.

_*rachel*_ said...

Bahahaha, that continuation!

We've got some interesting characters here, and I can already see a bit where it's going. My main quibble is the "enthusiastic" in the second paragraph. Her brightness about the whole thing is intriguing, but something about the wording made me think of a panting puppy. The following analogy is also nicely descriptive--but combined with the fact that we can see what's up and she doesn't, I think that's why people are thinking she's dumb or childish instead of perky.