Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Beginning 189

"You're going to wear that page out, you know. The ink will rub off from being read so much."

Saraid started and clapped The Book closed, then scowled at her older sister. How had Ninieth managed to tiptoe in here without her hearing?

"Ha ha. Very funny," she said, trying to casually slip her book behind the cushions on the window seat where she huddled. "What are you doing sneaking around in Mama's room?"

"I might ask the same of you." Nin leaned past her and fished the book out of the cushions. "Ah, The Book. Just as I thought. So how many copies of "The Flower of Royalty" do you own now? Do you ever read anything else? I mean, it's good, but we studied a lot of other good books too--"

“Deflecting unwanted conversation is an art well to be cultivated in any situation, but especially in the confines of a royal court.” The quotation sprang to Saraid’s mind unbidden. She thought it might be on page 77, somewhere near the bottom.

Ninieth perched on the cushions beside her, one leg tucked below her bottom. The other swung up and down against the windowseat. A most unladylike posture.

"I know why you like Mother's copy best," Nin said, while allowing the book to fall open where it would upon her lap.

Saraid kept her features still. Page 32: A lady keeps her emotions to herself. She knew where the book would open: Page 93, the etching. A little sisterly bribery would shortly be afoot.

Grinning, Nin glanced at the page and read the caption. "Hmmm, the Royal Bud Opens. Do you suppose Mother would mind if she found out you were reading her copy--the one with pictures?"

"Not if I tell her I was just trying to put a name to what I'd seen you and Derrick the stable boy doing in the woods." Page 109: A lady holds her most powerful ammunition in reserve until needed most. Seeing the shock on Nin's face, Saraid used her most courtly smile full of charm and poison. Unlike her sister, she really had been reading the text. Mostly.

Now she'd have Derrick all to herself.

Opening: Marissa Doyle.....Continuation: writtenwyrdd


Leah said...

I saw Ninieth and thought Wow, this kid has ninety siblings?. Please rethink the name, Author.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked the name Ninieth. Saraid bugged me, though. Personal tastes, I guess.

This is a decent beginning, but the opening line needs revamping. It sounds a bit forced. The conflict over the books sounds off. How about having Saraid begin with something a bit more confrontational, such as "Is the light better in Mother's room, or is it the reading material?" And when she fishes out the book, she doesn't say anything about the # of copies her sister has (which doesn't make sense) but about why Mom's copy is so special (which is what led me to assume it had naughty etchings when I wrote the continuation.) Something needs to be special about the mother's copy. Perhaps it is the only copy?

This feels like the set up to sibling blackmail or rivalry. If I have that correct, then edit so that this is made more clear. The present writing is much more neutral, lacking in a focus for the tension. We have no sense of why Saraid's catching Ninieth with the book causes conflict/tension.

Also, the word huddled bothered me. It didn't fit the scene. Curled up, maybe; but huddled sounds like she's been beaten or something.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't see anything happening here other than sisters discussing a book.
That's no way to start a book.

Anonymous said...

The ink will rub off from being read so much.

Does she read with her fingers?

HawkOwl said...

All right, Writtenwyrdd! I loved the continuation. I'd totally have kept reading that. The original, no. The dialogue doesn't sound genuine at all. It also annoys me incredibly when authors give their characters names, and then promptly ditch the names for even less catchy nicknames.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have any trouble with this opening. It's not a lot to go on, but it's nicely written and potentially interesting.

Anonymous said...

Dave - Two sisters discussing a book might be a fine way to open, especially if the sister relationship is key to the plot.
I'm guessing this is YA, and the setup works for me.

Leah said...

The ink will rub off from being read so much.

Actually, after about an hour of reading, my thumb I hold the book open with is ususally sort of black.

Dave Fragments said...

Let me say a little more:
a) we know she's snuck away to read
b) we know she hides the book from her sister
c) we know it's important because the author capitalized it - The Book in line two
d)We know she has multiple copies
e) we know she is studying it all the time

My mind screams for the next sentence to say something about why the book is important, why she is trying to hide.

It's all about the book and not about the sisters (right now at least). It is not about a sisterly conversation. Not the way it is written.

Marissa Doyle said...

Author here--

Bingo, Dave. It *is* about The Book right now. This is a YA fantasy about a princess, the younger of two, who knows her eventual fate is make a dynastic marriage some day. The backstory is that after her mother's death she throws herself into her schoolwork and becomes obsessed by "The Book", a treatise on political theory along the lines of Machiavelli's "The Prince". So The Book is actually almost a character in its own right as Saraid goes off to make her foreign marriage, rigidly tries to live her life based on The Book's precepts and slowly realizes that you can't live life that way. Only much more exciting than that. I hope.

BTW, the continuation was priceless. But, um, perhaps not quite the thing for YA...

Thank you all for your comments. It's highly informative to be on this side of things.

shaded-lily said...

Great continuation!

Anonymous said...

If the opening and continuation were the same color I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.

Hopefully the "real" story is as interesting as the continuation makes this one. -JTC