Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Beginning 1045


Allie pushed through the dense woods with the sun dipping low in the sky. She puffed out white mist with every breath in the chilly air. Dead leaves crunched under her feet and bare tree branches swiped at her sweatshirt like bony fingers.

She pushed her straight blonde hair behind her ears and glanced around for the boulder where she’d left her bike. The huge rock sat off to her left. “Finally.” Allie raced over and grabbed the dented handlebars of her rusty yellow bike.

A light flickered in the distance and she glanced that way. The streetlight on the old road next to the woods blinked a few times then zapped to life.

“Oh man. I’m late again.” Allie sat on her bike and put her feet on the pedals, ready to push off. A car engine roared, getting louder by the second. She glanced back at the road. Hardly anyone used Skelley Road anymore and Allie wondered who it was.

A dark colored car pulled over and jerked to a stop. A man got out and strolled to the back. His figure glowed like a ghostly silhouette under the streetlight. She couldn’t see his face, but something about him seemed familiar.

He popped open the trunk and stared inside. Then he rested his hands on his hips, as if admiring whatever was in there—maybe his first deer kill of the season.

Allie grimaced at the thought. But why would he bring a dead animal out here? It had to be something else.

The man dragged a body from the trunk, a male body, his face slack in death. The driver dragged the body to the side of the road and poured something over it before throwing a lit match. Allie caught a brief glimpse of the driver's muttonchops in the bright flame. Laughing, the man climbed back into his car and drove off.

Allie approached the body. She recognized him--that famous thriller author whose picture had been in the paper. Grabbing her phone, she quickly fluffed her hair into place. No way was she going to miss this selfie! 



Opening: Dottie D. .....Continuation: khazar-khum

6 comments:

Evil Editor said...

P1: No need to tell us "in the chilly air" when you've already shown us with the white mist puffs. If we want to nitpick, I can figure out from the leaves crunching under her feet that the leaves are dead and the branches are bare.

P2: No need to say "of her rusty yellow bike"; she was looking for her bike, and she grabbed handlebars. If we need to know the bike is rusty and yellow, you can describe it when you first mention it. As you're already overloaded with adjectives (dense, white, chilly dead, bare bony, straight, blonde, huge, dented) I think we can do without rusty and yellow. We know that a boulder is a huge rock, so you might go with "it" instead of "the huge rock."

P4: Get rid of "She glanced back at the road." In my opinion it would be unusual for a kid to wonder who's driving a car. Either she would recognize the car as belonging to someone she knew, or she'd assume it was a stranger.

P5: I'd add "of the car" to "strolled to the back."

P6: Hard to buy her theorizing that he pulled over and popped the trunk to admire a deer he killed. At least she realizes it makes no sense in the next paragraph. I don't see putting hands on hips as a sign that someone's admiring whatever's in his trunk anyway.

Get rid of some adjectives. No need to tell us the road is old; we can deduce that when you tell us no one uses it anymore. If the cops ask her to describe the car, they're gonna want something more specific than "dark-colored."

davefragments said...

One of the best books on editing I've read was Stephen King's "On Writing." It's worth the money and the time.

You are sapping the life from your text with its wordiness. I'll use these two paragraphs as examples:
She pushed her straight blonde hair behind her ears and glanced around for the boulder where she’d left her bike. The huge rock sat off to her left. “Finally.” Allie raced over and grabbed the dented handlebars of her rusty yellow bike.
A light flickered in the distance and she glanced that way. The streetlight on the old road next to the woods blinked a few times then zapped to life.


I would have worded this as:
She saw the rock where she hid/left her bettered yellow bike. Pulling her hair back in a pony tail, she rode out of the haunted wood. The streetlamp on the old road flickered and came on full. A car waited, engine running, driver standing at the trunk.

Don't be afraid to cut or rearrange that drastically. Remember, the reader wants to get to the most important event of the opening.
You want to get to the description of the man opening the trunk and disposing a body. You want to have the reader note that the man can't be identified but the body can be. Then when the driver throws the man over the cliff, you have your setup.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dave about the adjectives.

I don't know that there's any reason to watch the man opening the trunk. Have her whiz by on her bike just as the driver is pulling the body or whatever it is out of the trunk. If she's going fast enough, considering the hour and lighting, she could be out of sight before realizing what she saw, which could also explain why she doesn't recognize the man. If she needs to follow him, she could always circle back to get a better look or something.

Also, does she normally talk to herself? The few bits of dialogue would probably work better as thoughts.

Anonymous said...

"She pushed her straight blonde hair behind her ears" is close to one of those tropes like a character looking in a mirror so the author will have an excuse to provide a physical description. We're inside Allie's head at this moment, so her hair is tickly or hanging in her eyes or wet with sweat, not straight and blonde.

Also, "the huge rock" is a too-obvious way of not saying "boulder" twice in one paragraph. EE's fix works.

AA said...

You've over-adjectived, I'm afraid. Not everything in your writing needs to be straight, blond, rusty, chilly, ghostly, bony or whatever. It's so distracting I can barely focus on what's going on.


Take a page from Hemingway.

“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life.”
― Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Dottie D said...

Thanks to all who left comments. I appreciate your time and energy to help me make this better. Especially to EE for having this site and for making me laugh at my own work. Awesome!