Friday, January 26, 2007

New Beginning 200!

It is irresponsible to place oneself in distressing situations without proper training.

There are few things more embarrassing than dangling over the shoulder of a swaggering highwayman. If Rachel wasn’t a professional, she would have knocked him out the moment he grabbed her. Instead, she had to content herself by pounding him on the back and kicking her legs. He grunted in response to her blows, and tossed her onto his horse. “One more scream out of you, lady, and I’ll cut out your tongue,” he told her, wrapping a firm arm around her waist.

“You wouldn’t dare,” Rachel whispered in response, lifting her chin. “My father would have your head for it.”

“Your father isn’t here,” he used his free hand to stroke her cheek, “and your escort is dead.”

It is foolish to embark upon a journey improperly attired.

Rachel pushed the assailant’s hand away from her cheek and corrected her skirts. The cruel winter air bit at her skin, and she thanked the heavens he had not taken hold of her muff. “You are despicable, sir,” she hissed.

“Indeed,” the man replied; and with a grunt, he mounted the mare from behind. The horse nickered uncomfortably and shifted its feet.

Rachel could feel his warm breath on her neck as he leant forward to take up the reins. Her muscles were tense, and her heart beat out a tattoo. “This road is patrolled by the king’s men,” she said defiantly. “How far do you intend to go?”

“All the way,” he replied. “I know of a passage, narrow, dark and well-hidden, by way of which I shall take you.” The highwayman spurred his horse to a gallop, and Rachel could feel the point of his weapon brushing dangerously against her hip.

“Sir, I must warn you, anything you do to me shall incur a heavy price.”

It is unwise for the professional to commence a service until contractual matters have been agreed.

Opening: Luney.....Continuation: ril


Bernita said...

Oh. My.
I liked the beginning, but the continuation

Anonymous said...

I seem to be taking the role of Annoying Grammar Nut lately, so I'll point out that "If Rachel hadn't been a professional" would read better in that sentence. I like the thought behind the sentence, though -- it does let us know that the situation is not as it appears. I would probably ditch the opening line in italics, though.

kiss-me-at-the-gate said...

LOL at the continuation!

If Rachel wasn’t a professional

That should be "if Rachel weren't a professional". Even if you're lax with the subjunctive, you still need to use it when the statement in the if clause is plainly contrary to fact. If the statement were (there's the subjunctive again) a hypothetical or a possibility you would want the indicative in modern English, but contrary to fact statements still need the subjunctive or they sound grating. A lot of people get away with ignoring this rule, but it seems to me it'd be better to have impeccable grammar on your first page, especially since the mistake doesn't seem to be a vital part of your character's voice, just a mistake.

I liked the opening aside from that, though. I'm curious to know what happens next.

Anonymous said...

What a hoot! :o) From kidnapping to servicing in the stroke of a keyboard. Nice tie-in with "cheek." Well done!

shaded-lily said...

Author, I don't know what the first line has to do with what follows. I gather it's a quote from some kind of training manual (the one Captain Obvious hands out to his recruits?). But two lines later we're told that if "Rachel [weren't] a professional, she would have knocked him out..." so presumably she fails to defend herself not from lack of proper training but for some ulterior motive.

Anonymous said...

That grammatical mistake irritated me, too, but not as much as ' “Your father isn’t here,” he used his free hand to stroke her cheek,...'


Other than that, this beginning's as cliched as it can be, but there's intrigue, action, and emotion aplenty.

The continuation: OMG.

Anonymous said...

The story seems like it could have potential. I would read more.

I'm getting nauseous. Where's that grammarmine? -V95

pacatrue said...

Ril is a naughty naughty person. Ril, was your brilliant continuation all based on this line in the original? "He grunted in response to her blows."

I think if I ever need to write a sexy song or story in an age when sex is not to be spoken of overtly, I will contract with Ril. Queen of the double entrendre.

No, not that sort of contract!

On the original, I would love it if instead of acting competent while being incompetent, our heroine were to grab the highwayman's head and snap his neck.

Anonymous said...

Oh, are a master of sexual innuendo. Bravo.

I'm guessing the original is romance? It reads like the beginning of a romance novel to me, FWIW.

What kind of pro is Rachel? I don't see what that status has to do with it not being okay to knock out a highwayman, but it's okay, however, to pound him on the back and kick him.

writtenwyrdd said...

The only professional I could think of in a probably Regency genre was something like a Bow Street Runner. I sure hope you don't have a woman as one, though, it would push the credulity envelope.

I liked the writing and your voice, though, and I would certainly have read further to see what happens next. (I am a closet Regency addict and own every Georgette Heyer!)

Anonymous said...

I'd read further.

Cathy, another Regency junkie

Tia Nia said...

Yet another Regency junkie chiming in. I'm eager to read more. I want to find out what kind of professional Rachel is and how she handles the highwayman.

That said, I agree with the others that the subjunctive is indicated if Rachel is, indeed, a professional.

Ril, love that continuation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the omments! Particularly on the "if Rachel wasn't\weren't a professional" I THOUGHT it was probably supposed to be weren't, but it sounded odd to me. But I'm not the greatest grammarian in the world, so...I bow to greater knowledge! (Thank you Kissme, Annonymous 12:39, and Annonymous 1:01 pm...though about the stroking cheek the grammar off or is it just annoying?)

The first quote in the beginning is the chapter heading, and yes, Theo Katz it is guidelines...but not for Captain Obvious. " so presumably she fails to defend herself not from lack of proper training but for some ulterior motive." Exactly!

I fear I may lose some people's interest...(Cathy, Writtenwyrd, Tia Nia) when I must admit that this is not Rejency. (I can see where that would be assumed) It is not Romance. (I can see where you can get that, too. It's romance only in the way that it does have a love story.)

The genre is Fantasy. Rachel is a professional Damsel in Distress, out to train her hero. (Who isn't, unfortunately, as skilled as she hoped. ;)) (And it isn't the Highwayman.)

Again thank you for the kind words and the suggestions!

And Ril...oh my goodness I was laughing so hard at the continuation! I must say that is not the way it goes...but one of the lines is actually in the text. ;)

Evil Editor said...

...though about the stroking cheek the grammar off or is it just annoying?

It's off. One possible fix: change "he used" to "he said, using"

pacatrue said...

I wasn't thrilled with this opening, but the premise that luney presents in her comment of a professional damsel in distress is really, really intriguing. It's hard to see it lasting for a novel, but if you can pull it off, I'd consider buying it. Potentially hysterical.

writtenwyrdd said...

A fantasy where she's a professional damsel in distress? That could work. There have been a number of these 'turn fairy tale standard motifs on their head' novels in the past few years.

Bernita said...

Luney, it sounds like a delightful plot.

Anonymous said...

Author, great idea! I'll bet it's a good story...

...dave conifer

Twill said...

I nearly lost a keyboard when "with a grunt, he mounted the mare from behind."

I would think he would be trying to get away, instead.

GutterBall said...

HA! That continuation is pure gold!

Oh, and I hate the New Blogger. I'm starting to see the intelligence of just being friggin anonymous. This signing in every stinking time bit is a little much.

Anonymous said...

Luney said...
Thank you for the comments! Particularly on the "if Rachel wasn't\weren't a professional" I THOUGHT it was probably supposed to be weren't, but it sounded odd to me.

I tend to agree with you; though the subjunctive is the correct form here, it's not very elegant.

You could try recasting the sentence as:

Had Rachel not been a professional...


Had it not been for Rachel's professionalism...

Just a thought; others may not agree.