Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Beginning 76

Sentence: Tomorrow

On the day that should have been his son's twentieth birthday, Alderon found himself staring at the entrance to the interrogation chamber. He placed his hand on the doorknob; a shiver ran up his arm. He'd thought he could do this. Maybe he'd thought wrong. His son, a colleague's son, a stranger's son, they all amounted the same thing. Murder.

No-one died, but it was still murder.

Curling his fingers around the knob, Alderon forced himself to turn it. The hinges creaked, and a draught of stale air assaulted him. He hesitated; then, breathing through his teeth, he entered the underground room.

Vernian glanced up from his desk, and then rose, his movements those of a man twice his age. "Alderon." He fell back into his chair, brushing a strand of blonde hair away from his face. "I ... thank you for coming, my lord."

"What choice did I have?" Alderon said. He placed a box on the desk.

"Ah, you brought it. Good." Vernian reached for the package.

"For the last time, Vernian, I beg you--"

"Enough. I absolve you from responsibility." Vernian greedily lifted the top of the container and looked inside. He looked back at Alderon, his expression slowly transforming from avarice to rage. "I told you, Alderon," he screamed, "double pepperoni!"

Opening: Julia Ker.....Continuation: Evil Editor


braun said...

You know, I tried to write a continuation for this one several times and just couldn't. It was too confusing to me, so I didn't know where to start.

So does Alderon have a son? (what should have been his son's twentieth birthday) or not? (no-one died, but it was still murder) How can it be murder if no one died? Is this Vernian guy supposed to be his son? What is Alderon lord of?

I assume that all these questions will be answered eventually but it makes for a really confusing beginning, IMHO. You've really thrown the reader into the deep end here.

Anonymous said...

'No-one died, but it was still murder.'

I found it confusing.

Anonymous said...

Another classic continuation! Good job!

Unknown said...

they all amounted the same thing.

Not too bad. Typo in the above sentence. Watch the over use of words i.e. "then."

Your first 150 should be squeaky clean of anything that would raise a red flag.

Tighten it up -- fix the typo, and you're good to go.

snort Double pepperoni ... LOL.

Anonymous said...

I think this is well written.

The "my lord" leads me to believe it's a romance, but little else leads me to believe that... at this point.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was quite a good beginning; not perfect, but the writer had my attention and I wanted to keep reading. I'm curious as to why a lord is being interrogated, and what sort of culture he lives in that people are sentenced to a punishment that is equivalent to death, but not death; it's probably something that breaks their minds.

However (heh...there's got to be one of those, or I'm just an insipid cheerleader, right?), it was the backstory (of which there is a lot) that was engaging my interest, rather than the action. Alderon is opening a door, and it's not even a very vividly described door. I liked the first line; I thought it an effective hook to imply that his son is dead. It informs the reader that all is not right with the world, and that there might be good reason to care about this Alderon fellow. However, I do think the writer should get Alderon through that door and into the conversation with Vernian a lot faster. I felt impatient with the pace of the action, but not with the contents of Alderon's head. What he was thinking was captivating me just fine.

As a nitpick, and in keeping with Braun's comments, is Alderon's son (physically) dead or not? Because if he's not dead, then it is still his birthday.

PS - Cathy, my bet is that it's science fiction or fantasy. Probably the latter.

Anonymous said...

No-one died, but it was still murder.

This confused me. How can it be a murder if nobody died? I'm sure this is intended as a hook, but the tension of the first paragraph was enough to keep me reading. I don't think you need this line at all.

Other than that, good job. I'm interested enough to want to know where this is going.

Bernita said...

Think this is good.
Would replace the word "shiver" with a word less over-used by beginners in the romance genre..."quiver," perhaps?
Lots of questions to lead the reader on.
Makes one wonder about some form of mind-murder, some arcane destruction of the son's promise.
Don't think every last living opening has to begin with literal information.

Of course, the continuation is a hoot!

braun said...

Ugh, I hate 'quiver'. It makes me think of a cheesy romance: "her lip quivered gently." Don't do it!

Anonymous said...

"No-one died, but it was still murder."

I loved this line. I liked this opening. Given this book in my hands, I couldn't *not* read on.

Bernita said...

In that case, "shook" then, or leave it out.
Usually, one's whole body "shivers" but an arm may quiver or tremble.

acd said...

I'm more annoyed than intrigued by the deathless murder. You might do well to temper that: "No one died, but it might as well be murder" etc. etc.

Also, be aware that Alderaan is the planet that got blown up in the beginning of Star Wars.

Anonymous said...

No-one died, but it was still murder.

I'd like some explanation of this. Was it not a physical murder, but a murder of someone's soul or dreams or some such stuff? Explain yourself.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was compelling. The questions it raised would make me read more to discover the answers. Good job author.

Anonymous said...

acd, I thought of the Alderaan thing too. In fact, I had a whole continuation in my head involving characters named Naboo and Tatooine but I never could nail it. LOL.

That's okay, I like the double pepperoni.

The story itself, I would read on another page or so to see if things got clear fast.

Anonymous said...

I think if you are going to say something like, "No one died, but it was still murder." You need to explain it very soon after. Otherwise you will have your reader frustrated like myself and a few other folks here. -JTC

Anonymous said...

I like "no one died, but it was still murder." It intrigued me and made me want to keep reading to find out what it referred to.

I also think whitemouse's comments were right on the money.

Dan Lewis said...

The thing that's confusing me is the setting. The title and "Interrogation chamber" suggest to me dystopian sf, or maybe just police drama or police drama sf (the word "dungeon" would suggest fantasy). The three murders suggest it's a police drama. "No one died, but it was still murder" is very hard to interpret, but I'll hazard that it's sf and the title refers to a guilty sentence that encompasses all one's future, or some kind of timeless day. Vernian calling Alderon "my lord" (and the fact that two guys are named Vernian and Alderon) suggests fantasy. but this is negated by the presence of the doorknob; the modern turning version of the doorknob was invented in the 1870s. So what genre is it? I have no clue.

Is the interrogation chamber underground made out of filthy stones and mortar, or is it hermetically sealed concrete? Is it in a long-abandoned hallway with cracked tile, or a military bunker?

I have a rough time picturing how Vernian can rise with enough movement to indicate movements of a man twice his age, then immediately fall back into his chair. Some more detailed description of his movement might be in order.

Why is there a desk in the interrogation chamber? When I think of interrogation chambers, they imply places where people will be uncomfortable or tortured. So, one-way glass, flickering or hot lights, metal tables with or without dangling leather straps soaked in blood, and maybe a set of shiny, sharp surgical tools. But a desk? And what does the chamber really look like?

I think if the premise and setting were clearer, this opening would catch me.

Jane said...

I love "No one died, but it was still murder."

Yeah, it's confusing. That's the reason it's so darn intriguing! Same for the dead (or possibly not quite dead) son. As long as the rest of the scene begins to answer a few of my questions, I'll stick with the author. I don't need answers in the first 150 words.

You did have a problem with "ammounted the same thing." Even if you added the "to" here, I'd find this sentence awkward. The deaths of these people amount to murder? Or their actions? I don't think it can be the people themselves.

I'm also not a fan of "Curling his fingers around the knob." This phrase just doesn't tell us anything. We know he'd curl his fingers around the knob if he were opening the door. It just kind of slows down the narrative.

Good luck with this, author! It's a very exciting beginning!

Anonymous said...

It isn't one of those Law&Order "intent follows the bullet" thingies, is it? You know--the guy's lying dead of a heart attack, then someone comes in and shoots him, thinking he's only sleeping. It's not murder--it's attempted murder. That's the weird tangent I got onto when I read the much-debated murder line.

I'm guessing this would have to be fantasy--doorknobs, creaking hinges and draughts of stale air don't tend to come up much in sci-fi. With names like Alderon and Vernian, it ain't straight romance, either.

A shiver, a tremor, waves of cold washed up his arm, icy needles, whatever. But is it blond, or blonde? Never can remember.

braun said...

I don't feel that confusing = intriguing for most readers. Obviously you can't communicate the entire setting in the first couple of paragraphs. And of course you may want to set up at least one burning question to keep the reader interested. But this opening implicitly asks too many questions and really doesn't communicate any information at all.

I'm guessing this isn't intentional either - I suspect that the author is actually trying to communicate so much information here that none of it is really coming through clearly.

At any rate, we have the protagonist (?) musing on a situation we don't know about in a setting we don't understand and then meeting someone whose relationship to him is not clear. It's a lot to chew on.

Beth said...

I thought this was one of the better openings we've had here lately.

This bit, though--

His son, a colleague's son, a stranger's son, they all amounted the same thing. Murder.

No-one died, but it was still murder.

--was too coy and obscure. It threw me out of the story rather than pulling me in.

And the name Alderon made me think of death stars and exploding planets.

But otherwise, I'm curious and I'd certainly read more.

Anonymous said...

My comments (without reading others, so sorry if repetitions. And sorry if completely out of the loop!)

I don't get it.

I loved the first sentence. You immediately grabbed me with the loss by Alderon of his son. And "interrogation chamber" has a nasty sound to it. Reeled me right in.

Didn't like the sentences "He'd thought he could do this. Maybe he'd thought wrong." But I was still there, reading away.

Then the next bit-his son, a colleague's son, a stranger's son... WOW! Now you've upped the ante and I'm so intrigued. And when you say "murder" a chill goes down my spine.

AND then you lose me completely with "No one died but it was still murder." Sorry. murder requires death/killing. The tension has been upset. The logic has been upset. The reader has been upset.

I try to get back into it--hoping there will be something to fix this glitch quickly.

We're back with Alderon going into the interrogation chamber. Okay. I'm back with the story.

Then we get to Vernian. Seems like a POV switch. And I DON'T CARE ABOUT VERNIAN acting like a man twice his age. I want to know about Alderon and his problem. And telling me he's "my lord" doesn't do it.

So I think you can really write well. And the first paragraph is dynamite. (But fix the small typo--amounted TO the same thing). But then it's too disappointing, too confusing.

I'd probably keep reading because I really do want to get back to Alderon's story.

Leah said...

It sounds straight dystopian sf to me. Not all sf has automatic doors. Some is set in primative conditions in the far future.

McKoala said...

I like the first sentence - but should or would? The rest of the paragraph confused me. Who? What? Where? I just couldn't follow it.

I thought of 'Alderaan' too.

Anonymous said...

As it stands this one sends both fantasy-signals and modern-signals to me, and I'm a little confused--but intrigued enough to read on. The "nobody died" mystery does not bother me at all.

I think that if I encountered the passage in a book with cover art, back cover blurb, and in a genre section, I'd spend a lot less time wondering when it's set and what genre it is, and would like the opening even better. We're seeing these rather out of context.


Anonymous said...

Okay, this one is mine. Cheers for the thoughts, minions (and rest assured, I'm kicking myself for allowing a typo in. Not a good start, was it?).

Genre? Fantasy. But (there's always a but) I think it may be a slightly odd setting for fantasy. The technology level is early to mid 19th century. A doorknob. Of all the inventions to be pulled up on!

No-one died, but it was still murder.

Well, I've certainly provoked a reaction there. Good. In this world, there is something worse than death. The people who said magic and death of the mind were on the right track (btw, bernita, I love the phrase mind-murder!). I like acd's suggestion (No-one died but it might as well be murder.), but it would be out of character for Alderon. As far as he's concerned, it is murder.

Is Alderon's son dead? Short answer yes with an if, long answer no, with a but.

whitemouse, your comment about the nobility has put a smile on my face. In this story, noble status under the law is a different thing to being born noble. Several characters have that status conferred on them; several others have it taken away.

Double pepperoni, brilliant. I find this especially funny because Alderon's a vegetarian, and Vernian likes to give him a hard time about it.

Once again guys, thanks. This has given me a lot to think about.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and about the name, thank you. I knew it sounded familiar, but I haven't watched Star Wars in ages. I already had reason to change it; I think the bets are in now. Back to the naming lists.

Anonymous said...

Probably a minority opinion in the extreme, jfk, but the name Alderon reminded me of Darkover, not Star Wars.

Anonymous said...

I love this opening, really grabbed me. I'd definitely read on.

However, there's a few things I'd consider changing. First sentence is fantastic, by the way.

I'd get rid of "Maybe he'd thought wrong." It's implicit and you've set it up so well, giving the line actually detracts from the writing.

Missing "to" as in "... all amounted TO ..." in first graph.

I don't know why you've hyphenated No-one. Is that a genre thing?

Minor changes all, great start!