Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New Beginning 75

"Fire the cannons!" shouted Captain Zachary Knight. The British frigate was gaining on The Fair Maiden.

"On an English frigate, Cap’n?" Zach’s First Mate, Briggs, held onto the rudder wheel with a death grip, angst drawing the fleshy parts of his face together. "Let ‘em aboard, Cap’n," he pleaded. "When they sees we ain’t got the duke’s sister they’ll be on their way, maybe even give us a trifle for our trouble."

Zach rubbed the stubble of his beard and considered his options. "Briggs, the only reason they haven’t sunk us with their cannons is because they think we have the duke’s sister. When they find her onboard, they’ll take her and hang us."

"But we don’t have ‘er, Cap’n." The First Mate shook his head, denying the possibility.

"Ah, but we do. I coaxed the lady onboard with some laudanum whilst in Dublin."

“Uh oh. That was the duke's sister? The boys threw her overboard two hours ago, Cap'n. Recreational activity and all.”

“Crap,” said Zach. He pulled the lobe of his ear and again considered his options. “Time to break out the dress, wig and ladies’ shoes, Briggs. You have some acting to do.”

Briggs’s face tightened further, so tight it looked like he had only one eye. “We’ll not find such things aboard ship, Cap’n!”

Zach blushed. “Check the captain's chest in my quarters. And not a word about this to the men, Briggs."

Opening: Cathy Leming.....Continuation: Allison Morin


Anonymous said...

Fortunately it's too late for coffee, or I would have spit it all over my computer screen. That continuation is FUNNY!

Anonymous said...

That continuation made me choke on an apple.


Anonymous said...

The original 150 words is pretty good; it's quite funny, and I'd certainly read on. The line about the laudanum was certainly a good hook.

Rei said...

[quote]"But we don’t have ‘er, Cap’n." The First Mate shook his head, denying the possibility.[/quote]

My recommendation: Pull up your story and start reading over it. Every time you find something like this, fix it.

What's wrong with this? You're repeating yourself between the dialog and the narration. He verbally denies the possibility, and then you reiterate to the readers that he's denying the possibility. This is a big no-no.

Search out your dialog. If you repeat information that a reasonable person could deduce, delete it. It doesn't need to be as obvious as your initial example. Take the following text:

"So, what's your name?" John said inquisitively, looking at Sue.
"I'm not telling you," said Sue. She got defensive.
"Why not? I'm a good guy," John said.
"Yes," Sue said sarcastically, "I'm sure you are."

This is bad writing. This part would be better as:

John looked at Sue. "What's your name?"
"I'm not telling you."
"Why not? I'm a good guy."
"Yes, I'm sure you are."

The emotions/styles of speech are obvious from the text. Even if they weren't to a few readers, their imaginations will readily fill in workable possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else get a craving for Cap'n Crunch cereal while reading this?

Anyway, I did enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was odd that the Captain shouted, "Fire the cannons!" then, a paragraph down, began to consider his options. I liked the writing, though, and liked the set up. That laudanum line's a real kicker.

Way to go!

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit troubled right up front. I can't tell if our good cap'n Zach is guiding The Fair Maiden or the English frigate. Is he gaining or trying to get away?

Sure, it clears up soon after that, but I'd fix it in the opening paragraph. If an agent is looking for a reason to say no, and my money says that's exactly what they're looking for, you've quickly given it to them.

As for the story itself, I'm very intrigued. Would definitely read further. In only 150 words, I've already fallen in love with the two characters.

Er, I better watch my phrasing based on the continuation, which was a gem.


Anonymous said...

This opening doesn't work for me. (and I'm writing my comments first, without looking at others, so I'm not influenced, which I'm susceptible to).

In the first paragraph, I can't tell if Captain Zachary Knight is the captain of the British frigate or The Fair Maiden. No need for this confusion (although it is cleared up quickly--I had to re-read the beginning of the next paragraph twice to make sure I had understood).

Briggs' dialogue sounds just like Smee's on the Disney animated version of Peter Pan. (and I'm sorry to say I'm familiar with it, having children who love such stuff). Didn't like it. Didn't sound authentic to me (although I have no basis whatsoever to know what would be authentic!) But I just can't get past the cartoon character sound of it.

There are too many beats in the dialogue. By adding explanations at every turn, the dialogue is heavy and boring, without the zest and tension that could be there if written better. And the beats seem to be used to prop up the dialogue (because you know it's not so good?).

The first mate seems silly, whiny. Not manly. Better to use "said" than "pleaded." Said is a word that is transparent, pleaded jumps out.

It's hard to imagine that the captain actually hid a woman on board the ship without the first mate knowing. If the Captain didn't trust the first mate, whom would he trust?

The accented language of Smee, I mean Briggs, drove me batty. (Contributed to the sound, which I mentioned not liking above, but also to not liking to read it with all the apostrophes.)

The whole conversation seems contrived for the sole purpose of giving us, the readers, set-up/background information.

And the sentence "I coaxed the lady onboard with some laudanum whilst in Dublin" does not seem like a seaman's voice. Not even a Cap'n's.

Sorry. I wouldn't keep reading.

Bernita said...

In spite of a few problems mentioned above, such as the dialogue reinforced by excessive explanation and the confusion as to "what ship", I liked it.
A nice tone that raises delightful possibilities of engaging rogues.

Anonymous said...

I really liked this opening. Thought it was quite funny and very quick to read. I howled at the continuation, dribbling tea down my shirt like an infant. Always loved men in drag, ever since catching my first episode of MOnty Python.

I like the opening line, perhaps reword the second line (you have frigate twice in a row) to show his vantage point from the Fair Maiden catching sight of the naval ship (it is the navy that's after them right? or is it the duke's personal armada?). That would help the questions about which ship he is captaining.

I didn't have a problem with the dialogue but I don't think that Zach would rub his bear and consider his options while he is telling his first mate that there are no options. It would work if he were pretending to consider his options - which would be funny.

Anyway, I liked it. Must be the PIrates of the Carribean kick I'm on.

Anonymous said...

Pirates of the Carribean kick...

Me too! I love Johnny Depp in that role. Whew!

Anonymous said...

I think this has great possibility and the consistency of suggestions shows that just a few tweeks would help.

ADORED the continuation.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Jim lad, this 'ere be a Johnny Depp/Keira Knightley rollickin' romance on the 'igh seas. Clear up the nitpickin' an' ye've got yersel' a winner, arr.

Anonymous said...

"Fetch me red shirt! Wait! Make that me brown pants." said the Captain to his First Mate. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Now that I've managed to stop the involuntary drooling that plagues me at the mere mention of Johnny Depp, I want to say that I liked this as well. A little confusion doesn't bother me in the first 150--it's nearly inevitable when you start where the action is. And if the author took up valuable time and space to set the scene, I'm guessing there'd be no shortage of complaints about how explainy it is.

I don't have a particular problem with the Briggs/Smee thing, so much as I did with the choice of names--Briggs seems too overtly ship's crewman-ish, and Knight is, well, too chivalrous. I'm assuming that Knight is going to fall in love with the drugged-up daughter of the duke. Please tell me her name isn't Felicity or something equally atrocious.

I can envision a scenario where an educated and possibly upper-class man might be captain of a ship, so I didn't have any issues with his diction. I did wonder why the cannons were not firing right after the captain ordered them to, though.

The continuation? Well, let's just say I'd be turning my next-door neighbor's head if I hadn't lost my voice two days ago.

Anonymous said...

kis -

In A PIRATE'S REWARD, the heroine's name is Lady Jillian Hayes, the Duke of St. James's sister.

Yes, the pirate captain is(was) a gentleman and the second son of an Irish lord. He's kidnapped his brother's bride (because his elder brother--the heir--is gay and Zach is expected to impregnate her anyway).

The cannons are not firing because he's a piss-poor pirate captain and his crew a rag-tag team of idjits (and they are scared).

Jillian is not unhappy she was prevented from marrying, as she wants to be a nun!!!!

I'm surprised this was so well liked. I consider it "fluff," but the kind of fluff I like.

HawkOwl said...

Well if it's any consolation, I didn't like it at all. All other problems aside, it sounds like a landlubber telling a pirate story. I like my sea stories told by sailors. Plus I have this sneaking suspiscion that you spell "forecastle" with apostrophes, which I hate.

Anonymous said...

Hell, anon, there's nothing wrong with fluff. It's the perfect thing to read when your three-year-old is grossing your other kids out of existence by showing them all his bum. It's also the perfect escape from a sinkful of dirty dishes. Non-fluff requires effort and concentration, and 90% of the time, I have none.

A world without fluff would be a hard and angular place. :)

And Hawkowl: I prefer my fantasy tales to be written by actual wizards and trolls, but alas, there seems to be a dearth of such people who also aspire to writing. ;)

P.S. F'o'r'e'c'a's't'l'e. :D