Monday, February 05, 2007

New Beginning 208

The only time Alexis stopped reading was when we were hiking up to the camp site for the overnight. We all knew what that meant. If she wasn’t reading, she was talking, babbling. Asking us if we knew that the clouds actually were flat on the bottom. Picking flowers to count the petals and muttering about a “Figaratchi” sequence. It was so bad that Evelyn, who normally wanted us to all walk farther back, away from the teachers, told us to speed up.

“Ugh, she’s such a freak,” Evelyn said. Evelyn had decided we should go on the overnight, even though normally she hated the outdoors. “We don’t want to get stuck behind with the losers whose parents didn’t let them come,” she had said.

The teachers told us to pick tentmates on the hike up. I knew Evelyn would pick me, but I still felt relieved when she motioned me over at the top of the hill. She had also picked Brianna and Jessica to join us. I hated them. Their parents let them paint their nails and stay out until 9:30pm. It was hard to make sure Evelyn liked me best when they were around. Or even liked me at all.

I hated being at this school. I hated the cliques and the constant popularity contests and trying to hook up with the right people. That night, when everyone was supposed to be sleeping, I awoke from a fitful dream to find a shadow leaning over me. It was Alexis. Everyone else was still asleep. “Jesus, Alex,” I whispered, not wanting the others to wake and catch me talking to her. “What?”

“The Great Bear,” she said. “Ursa Major. You can see it as clear as anything. It’s incredible. Come and look.”

“It’s the middle of the night. Like, who’s interested? Show me in the morning. Go back to your tent, and stop being such a geek.”

“Sorry, dad,” she said, and slinked away. That was the last straw. I was done being a teaching auxiliary. I’d been happier when I was a professional assassin.

Gridofsky barely had time to flinch as my bullet entered his left eye, ripped through his brain and blew his skull out at the back. This felt good: satisfaction in a job well done. Gridofsky had given his last algebra pop quiz, and it only cost the Phillips kid a week’s lunch money.

Now, where were Brianna and Jessica? This next hit was on me.

Opening: Leah.....Continuation: Anonymous


E.S. Tesla said...

Lovin' the cont.

Beginning didn't do much for me...

they're campnig? I have no idea what this is going to be about, and if it's about the troubles of high-school or whatnot, what's special about THIS camping trip?

writtenwyrdd said...

I thought this beginning was fine. Perhaps not the "grabbiest" one ever, but given it's just 150 words, I'd definitely read further.

I think the voice is pretty good. I felt like I was that kid who wasn't sure where she stood. (Oh the horrors of being in, like, sixth or seventh grade!)

Bernita said...

A bit choppy?
First we get out mouth set for Alexis and then we're left hanging and wondering when Evelyn intrudes.
Evelyn is obviously like that, but I'm not sure the opening itself should reflect a character list.

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

I liked the beginning. The voice is great.

shaded-lily said...

I liked this beginning, too.

Dave Fragments said...

The first time I read this, I was puzzled by the voice. Someone (boy or girl, I don't know) talks about Alexis, a nerdy student (Fibonacci series are mathematic things).
Then Evelyn emphasis how odd Alexis is.
Now I expected to go back to the speaker, but -- not a chance.
The third paragraph drops Alexis completely and we get Evelyn, the persnickety (I didn't say bitchy) leader.
Throw in Briana and Alexis - they might be bad girls who paint themselves up like hussies in fingernail polish - And the narrator decides that maybe he or she isn't liked.

Also if "parents didn’t let them come," is taken at face value, those kids aren't there. How can they be stuck with someone who is not there?

I don't think this opening helps tell a story. I think it confuses.

Evil Editor said...

How can they be stuck with someone who is not there?

They'd be stuck with them if they didn't go on the hike.

writtenwyrdd said...

See, I read this and understood that the narrator wasn't Alexis or Evelyn, but the nameless "me" at the end of the third paragraph.

Perhaps the author might introduce our narrator earlier on, or clarify this situation.

Still, I liked the voice.

Dave Fragments said...

I'm still puzzled. Perhaps it's the scientist in me. Perhaps it's the cold.

So Evelyn was forced to go on the trip and camp out. OK

I think I missed that bacause the author says "we don't want" instead of "we didn't want".

And it's already established that the kids walk behind the teachers (And not with them, not anywhere near them). Evelyn tells the girls to walk closer to the teachers so they could avoid being with Alexis, the nerdy loser. OK

So when Evelyn says "We don't want to get stuck behind with the losers" then I think Alexis, the nerdy loser. Then the author adds the clause "whose parents didn't let them come" ... (They aren't walking the path if they never came, are they?)

Color me puzzled.

Evil Editor said...

She doesn't say “We don’t want to get stuck behind with the losers whose parents didn’t let them come,” while hiking. She had said it, back when she was explaining why she was going on the hike, even though she didn't like the outdoors--so they wouldn't be stuck at home with the losers whose parents wouldn't let them go hiking.

Dave Fragments said...

Uh OK. A flashback sentence.
I missed it.

I'm still puzzled about who is talking. I know more about Evelyn than the narrator.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Dave, the opening confused me, too. This part in particular:

“We don’t want to get stuck behind with the losers whose parents didn’t let them come,” she had said.

Stuck behind, where? It sounds like they're at a camp and some of the campers go for an overnight hike.

We start with the narrator talking about Alexis, then she (I'm assuming the narrator is a she) switches to Evelyn, then introduces Brianna and Jessica. I'm going to assume that Alexis comes back into play fairly soon, but it isn't clear what her purpose is in this short excerpt. The second paragraph doesn't seem to serve any purpose, either, but since the opening is only three paragraphs total, it's hard to say. None of the three paragraphs seem to connect to give any indication of where the story is going. The only thing we really know is the narrator is insecure in her standing with Evelyn.

McKoala said...

Whew, EE and Dave. Author, if it's any help, I did understand that Evelyn's speech was being reported from earlier. Not sure that you need that para at all, though.

Great continuation!

Anonymous said...

I had to read the sentence a second time to catch the "stuck back with the losers" bit, but I LIKED this opening.

I'm interested, especially when it came to this sentence: "It was hard to make sure Evelyn liked me best when they were around." You hooked me.

Brenda said...

Wow. I read it three times and I still didn't get it until I read the comments. I'm 100% with Dave. I kept thinking, "HUH?!?".

I like the voice. Like another said, it's not very griping. Is this where the action starts?

Dave Fragments said...

Critter's is an online critique group that I've looked at. I haven't tried it yet.

I like the way you write. It's great for teens and teen situations. I think you need to practice some. We all need to practice (so don't think that's a putdown). Think about writing third person. Don't do first person. Another thing, try writing a story with only two people in the scene and make it mostly dialog.

Stephen King has a good book on writing called "On Writing."
Ursula Le Guin also has a good book - Steering the Craft.

writtenwyrdd said...

Yesterday's comment got eaten by blogger. In it, I said I didn't have a problem with the fact that the narrator isn't really introduced. I saw that she (presumably a she) was talking about other people. It isn't until the end of the 3rd paragraph that the mysterious "me" is mentioned as a clue, though.

Perhaps the author might consider cluing the readers in to who the narrator is earlier on.

Still, I liked the voice and didn't really have a problem with it.

shaded-lily said...

Author, FYI, another on-line critique group is Critique Circle.

McKoala said...

Dave, don't forbid anyone from writing first person! Third is great, but so is first. There's a time and a place for that too. Everybody needs to find their own voice.

batgirl said...

Absolute Write has a Share Your Work forum, password-protected. You can go in and read the critiques and see if it's the sort of thing you'd find useful.
It might be worth checking out because it doesn't require a specific commitment of reviewing in return, and it's multi-genre.

I liked the voice, and would have read on to find out how Alexis and Evelyn are going to intersect.

Brenda said...

Gotta agree with McKoala on that. Although I don't like first person that much, I can't imagine the Stephanie Plum series written any other way. Sometimes, it definitely works in fabulous ways.

Twill said...

Dave - is for critiquing scifi, fantasy and horror.

Primarily short stories and novels.

Anonymous said...


You might want to check out the Internet Writing Workshop (

I'm a member, and it has been helpful.

They have several categories to post and review in. They do, however, require that you actively submit (twice a month, I think).