Sunday, July 30, 2006

New Beginning 21

"What the hell was that?" Jack, one of the men in Papa's crew, peered up at the tall pines.

Sha'na sat in the upper limbs of a Ponderosa Pine, fighting to stay blended. Our feelings display as wing colours, and I could readily imagine her trying to remain invisible while plagued with conflicting emotions.

"Don't know," Papa said. "But if Mrs. Walker hears you swearing she'll take it up with Fletch. You know she hates swearing."

"All I said was 'Hell.' It ain't so bad a word as I could say. . ."

"Yes, but you . . ." In mid-sentence papa ducked. "What was that?"

The flutter of Mother's wings made him search the sky, but she wasn't there. She stood beside him but remained invisible. It's hard enough to blend into a background with one predominating colour. Mother managed to be unseen among the shifting patterns made by their movements -- the patterns of their plaid coats and of the thick carpet of pine needles.

It was obvious from the way Mother blended with the plaid that she was in her Scottish mood. Fiddlesticks, that meant Haggis for our evening meal. The last time we ate the stuff, my wings turned vomit-coloured.

"Holy crap, d'ya see that thang, Papa?" Jack yelled.

"We'll deal with that later." Papa reached for his belt buckle. "First we got to learn you a lesson about that swearing."

Opening: Rachael de Vienne.....Continuation: Lynn


Anonymous said...

The horror of PLAID!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to stop reading at the second sentence of the second paragraph..."Our feelings display..." This change in POV/voice that was totally jarring.

Reviewing (from what little I know and anybody can feel free to jump in here and correct me).

first paragraph 3rd person objective/limited? (papa seems to be the POV character).

Second--could still be Papa, but then then it changes from third person to first person plural (voice)- and from Papa to author/narrator/participant (member of the winged chameleons) POV.

3rd to 5th paragraphs-back to Papa's POV.

6th paragraph--starts with Papa's POV, but then switches to mother's, I think (and the sentence starting "It's hard enough..." totally threw me off this story).

I would not keep reading, despite the somewhat interesting premise.

Evil Editor said...

It could all be from the first person singular point of view of the narrator, who is one of Mother's children/creatures. Sha'na being the narrator's sister. The paragraphs of dialogue are merely reporting what the narrator/child/creature hears from below. This assumes the narrator/creature knows the characters are called Jack and Papa, but he (or she) could have heard their names.

none said...

That's all true, EE, but it is confusing to have so many names thrown in at a point where the reader is actively trying to find out who the protagonist is. Is it Jack? Is it Sha'na? When I hit "our" I was completely thrown, as it's impossible to identify its antecedent.

Bernita said...

I read it as first person POV.

Evil Editor said...

When I hit "our" I was completely thrown, as it's impossible to identify its antecedent.

"Our" refers to Us Chameleodactyls.

Anonymous said...

I'd leave out "Our feelings display as wing colors," while leaving in "I could readily imagine..." The former is obvious within the 150 words, so smacks of not trusting your reader enough.

I thought it was all 1st person POV, which leaves me with some questions. Are Mother and Papa of the same species? Except for the names, it seems like Papa is a human logger or something similar. And how is the POV character perceiving Mother and Sha'na, if they are invisible? Better vision than Papa? In that case, "invisible" is the wrong word. Some other sense? If so, let us know here.

I want to know more about these people, but so far there seems to be some confusion over what the reader can and can't figure out on their own.

Beth said...

POV definitely confusing at first. I thought it was Sha'na (argh, the dread curse of fantasy novels: apostrophe'd names), because the phrase "fighting to stay blended" sounds like it's from her perspective. But the shift to "our" (horribly jarring) reveals a first-person POV. However, the confusion remains--all the conversation flows between other characters, while the narrator remains an observer. It's not clear whether s/he is watching secretly or is an active participant in this very strange encounter.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the names, beth, sheesh! -JTC

Anonymous said...

I'm another reader who had a hard time picturing what was going on in this opening. That strikes me as one of the difficult things about fantasy: you're trying to build a world and orient the reader within it while introducing characters for whom the world is perfectly ordinary--all while opening at an attention-getting moment of conflict.

I got disoriented for the same reasons others mentioned. In the second paragraph, I found it confusing that the narrator knew where Sha'na was but at the same time had to imagine her there. I'm guessing that there's some way that the narrator can perceive the invisible creatures that the others can't, but that's only after stopping to think about it--which, of course, you don't want readers to have to do. Why can the narrator perceive the inivisible Sha'na and Mother while Papa, who's presumably the same sort of creature, can't? And who the heck are Fletch and Mrs. Walker? (I couldn't decide whether Mother and Mrs. Walker were one and the same; some people do refer to their spouse that way.)

Anonymous said...

I found this horribly confusing, I have to say. I have no idea what's going on, who's related to whom, and who the POV character is. As other people have commented, the sudden switch to 'our' is horribly jarring and pulled me right out of the story. As it stands, there's no way I'd want to read any further. Sorry :(

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

It might help to know that the working title is Pixie Warrior. That Sha'na is a pixie is established in the next few sentences and in a brief prolouge.

Robert (papa) and Sha'na (mamma) are just that. The "voice" is Sha'el, their eldest daughter.

The point of view is first person. Obviously, that part of the story before her birth is a twice told tale. She's telling what her parents have told her.

A few chapters are on Crapometer. You will have to search the archives.

As you can tell, chapter one is my problem chapter. It's better than it was, and still not what I want.

Thanks for your comments.

Daisy Bateman said...

In that case, I would only call Sha'na "mother" and leave the name for later. As it is, you definitely get the sense that they are two people (or pixies).