Friday, August 11, 2006

New Beginning 65

The Midnight Diaries

Ms. Price stands in front of our class, arms folded, and waits. Nobody dares to move. Twenty-two pairs of eyes stare unblinking at Ms. Price. All twenty-two pairs of lips remain sealed. And all twenty-two sets of arms and hands rest neatly on their desks. Except mine. My eyes turn downward, and I feel my right arm fight off gravity and rise into the air as if a puppet master is gently tugging it upwards with a string.

Classmates squirm in their seats. A cough. The weight of my arm sends pain signals to my brain as though I am holding the entire class up in the palm of my hand which, in a strange way, I am. It is so quiet, I can hear the second hand on the wall clock in the back of the room as it tick tick ticks a lap around the dial.

“Mr. McCallie.”

“Ms. Price, don’t punish the whole class. I have finished the assignment!”

“Well, finally,” Ms. Price says.

I open my backpack and take out a pair of eyes, of lips, of arms and hands. I arrange them neatly on my desk. At last, we have twenty-three complete sets.

Classmates sigh in relief.

Whew. I might just get an “A”!

Opening: John Frain.....Continuation: Allison Morin


Anonymous said...

That might be my all-time favorite continuation, great job!!

Anonymous said...

Loved the continuation!

I think the "tension" went on too long in the original. Would rather it move along so we can find out what's happening. The reluctance of the children is quite clear - and then it's clear some more. And it's still clear. BUT WHY?

Anonymous said...

loved the original. perfect.

Anonymous said...

I think the continuation was great. But, it may be an indication that the author over did it with the 22 pairs of eyes, etc. Of course, it could be that the author is doing that intentionally. -JTC

braun said...

That's a good one, although I'm sad my continuation didn't get used.

It involved nudity.

Anonymous said...

A bit too much repeatition in the opening for my liking, although I can see the effect the writer was going for.

Kathleen said...

I liked the first 150 word opening. I thought it definitely set up the atmosphere.

Is the whole story going ot be in the present tense? that can be difficult to pull off. Good luck.

Bernita said...

Two paragraphs, what, 10 seconds? Moves from the class in general to the particular.
Not too long for me.
One assumes the mystery will be at least partially solved in the next sentence or two.

PJD said...

Liked it. I like the tick tick tick of a lap around the clock, in part because kids still run laps at school. The only quibble: How old are these kids? 2nd grade? High school? I began building my mental scene around a 4th grade classroom, but I don't want to have to tear that classroom down and build a new one when I find out later that it's actually 10th grade.

Also, the construction of "sends pain signals to my brain" seems odd. Can you tighten that up?

Overall, good tension and setup. Can't wait to read on and see if he's in trouble or if he's volunteering. (If he's volunteering, I hope it's not yet another spelling bee story.)

Rei said...

Wow, and to think that I was criticized by a reader for having, in their words, "parts of people's bodies doing things without them".

When you think about it, it's fair criticism. I'd have a person reading a book, and their eyes would scan the words, and their hand would wait impatiently at the side to flip pages. The person is passive. You want active people. Besides, it can create funny mental images if the reader isn't ever fully with you, as we saw in the continuation.

Now, perhaps you only do this on the first page. Just be careful, okay? :)

Anonymous said...

I like it, I'd keep reading. I suggest you omit the "weight of my arm sentence", since it doesn't add anything. Keep in mind that less is more.

I get the impression the narrator is about to confess something, but what? Do tell.

I agree with pjd that the scene implies younger, rather than older, students.

Anonymous said...

I think my palms actually go sweaty when I noticed my 150 was up on the screen.

This is kinda fun. I think I'll write 150 more, see where it goes.

Ironically, it is a 4th or 5th grade class. This kid's 12 anyway. And although the first draft of the story was past, I rewrote it in present and I think it works better this way.

Rei, it's an interesting point about having body parts do things. I confess, it doesn't end after the first 150 words, I continue that through the novel. A good friend of mind lambasted me for it too, but I shrugged him off. Maybe I should re-think it.

Thanks for the comments. Braun, I'd love to see your nudity addition, although it likely wouldn't work in a mid-grade novel. I'll dry my palms and keep reading. (Hope that doesn't sound wrong!)

Anonymous said...


He is volunteering in a sense. Taking the hit for someone else in class. And thanks for the tightening remark. I'm going to look at that line.

virginia, I'm thinking you may have the same problem as pjd with that sentence. I hate to omit it because I like how he describes holding up the class (both by keeping them after school and by letting them off the hook) in that same sentence.

Thanks, minions. I'm loving this, EE. You're all right.

McKoala said...

I like this; the length is fine for me. Only...if his arm is going up then there are not twenty two sets of arms and hands on the desks. His arm gets painful very quickly - how much of a wimp is he? Perhaps it should just feel heavey, as though he is holding up the class.

Anonymous said...

The first time I read this, I was so busy counting I missed the point entirely. On the second read I became intrigued.

Kind of cool . . .

Anonymous said...

Ironically, it is a 4th or 5th grade class. This kid's 12 anyway.

If he's 12, then he'll be in grade six or seven.


Sherri said...

The repetition of the 22 this and 22 that; the hand going up on its own...The tone reminded me of Douglas Adams. Is that what the author was going for?

The continuation had me roflol

Anonymous said...

I loved this -- it flowed seamlessly and sucked me right into the story. I wouldn't change a thing. In fact, it was so compelling that I found the continuation jarring, not amusing.

Good job!