Monday, March 05, 2007

New Beginning 234

The sea foamed at the shoreline while the wind carried the mist up the hillside. The breeze shifted, startling a small robin from its perch on an oak tree. The young woman watched it dart into the forest, seeking refuge in the thickness of the trees. She shivered and pulled her cloak tight around her. Usually the trip from Fairedge to Port Rallos took half a day. Fairedge was primarily a fishing village, but Port Rallos was where most of the trade occurred and Port Rallos was closer to the pearl beds. The pearls from Rallos were highly sought after. With the storm brewing she had been delayed by busy fisherman trying to get their business finished for the day. This storm would be a big one, the energy in the air made the hair on her arms stand up and she clutched the small container of trench in her hands.

“Fascinating, lady. So this is the right road? This is the road to Port Rallos?”

The young woman nodded.

“That’s all I asked.”

Marge wound up the window on the little Fiat. “Jesus, Herb,” she said, “either they don’t speak English at all, or you can’t get 'em to shut the freak up. And look at this weather. ‘Let’s go to Europe,’ you said. You didn’t say it was the arse end of Europe. You didn’t say it was some little cat turd of an island in the middle of God knows what ocean that gets rained on twenty-four hours a day and stinks of fish from coast to coast. Didn’t mention that. And what the hell is a container of trench, anyway?”

Herb steered the rental car around a deep pot-hole. “Hmm? What was that, dear?”

Herb played dumb, but he knew about the mystical powers of trench. More importantly, though, he knew Rallos was home to the legendary dragon-slayer of Rarj.

Opening: Rashenbo.....Continuation: ril


Anonymous said...

I think the writing is good and moves well. I would read more of this and give it a chance to go somewhere interesting. -V95

Beth said...

Description and backstory are deadly ways to begin a novel. There's no tension, no conflict. We're not let inside the nameless woman's head, so we have no idea what she's feeling or what she wants. This opening rambles from one topic to another (the weather, the traffic, the pearl industry, the weather again), but it never focuses on even a single conflict that would make it interesting. The only burning question I have is...what on earth is trench?

Try again. This time, introduce a character with a problem, something we can relate to. Something that intrigues.

Bernita said...

I'd be willing to read a little further to find out what "trench" is. But. This beginning does meander.

Robin S. said...

Hi Rashenbo-

Was this another one of your collecting-dust openings? Hope not, but I'm guessing so.

I'm not in the camp that believes action has to be in the first paragraph of a story or novel. I like a little time to breathe and settle in, as long as the writing is drawing me into the world being created, and the writing is well done, so I expect more well-done writing to take me somewhere with it.

And I think this does the job - talking about the pearls being highly sought after, the young girl with a cloak who has needed to travel, the storm coming - " the energy in the air (making) the hair on her arms stand up" - it might be a little tightening would help, but I think the mood and the picture have been set up pretty well.

But what the hell is trench?

ril, I love what you did with that question!

Anonymous said...

"...what on earth is trench?"

Apparently it has suspense or at least raises curiosity.

shaded-lily said...

The first hint we have that something interesting might be about to happen comes at the end of this long, long paragraph, and that's when you mention the approaching storm. It might help if you mention the storm (if it really is important) and the energy in the air before you give us the geography/industry report.

I'm willing to give stories time to develop but I need the writing to draw me in. I found this prose rather generic and cold, e.g., "The sea foamed at the shoreline while the wind carried the mist up the hillside. The breeze shifted..."

"a small robin...dart[ed]" -- I have the feeling you're assigning random adjectives for the sake of specificity. Mature robins are all the same size, and the juveniles don't fly very well. [/robin rant]

A nameless character -- well, that's just a pet peeve of mine, but on the other hand it contributes to the impersonality. And then we wander on to a dry report on the local fishing and pearl industry. I'm afraid not even the mysterious container of WTF would keep me reading. (small container = Chinese food?)

The continuation can be accounted for only by divine inspiration.

Dave Fragments said...

I have to agree with some of the other comments. This is a dangerous opening. It's all description. It seems disorganized. It doesn't describe the "dark and stormy night" but it gets close.

The reason the continuation works so well is that it introduces danger and suspense. And that may be the key to using an opening like this. Create a little "evil" in that description. Or add one element that is skewed against the grain.

If this were a movie, you would show the scene in earthtones, grays and dismal colors. Then one thing or person would be in brilliant red or orange to call attention by its contrast. Do that in words.

Trench is almost that "red" but the author can do a bit of tweaking to bring it forward.

Marissa Doyle said...

Another brilliant continuation!

I heartily agree with all of the previous posters' trenchant comments.

I also noticed a comma splice in the last sentence--they're my pet peeve, so I had to mention it. Sorry.

Theo's right. Start with the storm. You can feed the other info in bit by bit over the course of the chapter.

And good luck!

Anonymous said...

Continuation: A+

Opening: I would have devoured this when I was eleven or so. It's kind of refreshing to read an opening that actually mentions where the action's happening. I'd probably keep reading now to see what was up with the pearls etc.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Now I feel eleven. which isn't a bad thing at my age. -V95

McKoala said...

Stop with the Port Rallos! Once is enough, honest. Oh, OK, maybe twice. But we know where we are; trust us a little. Trench, now that's another question.

I didn't find this to be a very exciting opening; and that's nothing to do with what's happening, but with the position of the description. Maybe you could think about starting with the woman, show fear or concern, something to give us tension and get us into her head, and then move to the description from her perspective?

Lovin' Marge!

Twill said...

I would buy the story from the continuation. The start, not so much.

The writing is not bad, it just presumes that I'm going to be interested in a village's raison d'etre while watching an anonymous robin and an anonymous female before a coming storm.

What is missing is action by the young woman. She is pulling her cloak around her, but the author failed to mention that she is running (striding, trudging, whatever).

Get tighter into her POV and it could work fine. She is finally getting past the last fisherman going the other way, or whatever. She sees the robin. Etc.