Monday, March 26, 2007

New Beginning 245

The dying sun spilled its light on the walls of the forbidden palace, turning the even, grey stones to beaten gold. On the high battlements, bathed in the fading warmth, Nestor propped herself up on one elbow and raised the spyglass to her eye.

She scanned the horizon in lazy swoops, considering the best way to remove the skewtle stains from her second-best kirtle. A cool breeze tickled her neck and blew a lock of sweaty hair across her face. She sighed. The sun was nearly at the horizon, soon she would be off-duty and could take a much-needed bath.

A dark smudge on the distant plain caught her eye, and she fiddled with the spyglass until the image sprang into sharp focus.

“Hedera’s tits.” Nestor scrambled to her feet, almost dropping the spyglass before she thrust it in the band at her waist. In moments she was down the rope ladder and sprinting along the deserted inner corridor. “Captain,” she yelled. “Captain!”

The Captain rose from his repose and adjusted his minkle. "What noise is this?"

Nestor retrieved the spyglass from her waistle and handed it to him. "They're coming this way! I saw them. On the horizon."

The Captain scrambled up the rope ladder and focused Nestor's spyglass. Sure enough, they were there, two distant dots on the horizon. "So . . . " he said. "At last." He leaned over the gankle and shouted, "Hedera! Come out of the bedchamber. I think we've found them."

Opening: Caitlin Macdonald.....Continuation: Anonymous


Dave Fragments said...

I worked for a MAN named NESTOR. I always thought it was a man's name.

I'm going out on a limb.
I'm not a big fan of odd names and odd objects (whatever kirtle and skewtle are). I know that reading that novel is going to take more effort than I sometimes want to put into it. It's the same with a trilogy. I tend not to buy them. I just don't want to invest the time and effort when I can read another novel and be done in a day or two.
I put "Eragon" down on first look because of the names.
Sorry, that's just an opinion.

This is a good start fo a fantasy adventure. It's a little wordy. I'm not sure thatyou need all the detail in the second paragraph. We know the sun is setting from the first paragraph. You used "bath" and "bathed" for two different meanings to close to each other. It sounds pedstrian. Change one to a synonym.

"Propped on an elbow" sounds like she's in bed. Maybe leaned is a better word, perhaps steadied or balanced?

And the continuation is fun.
Wandering mammaries, ooooh do they make house calls ;)

Bernita said...

Nestor denotes masculine for me too.
Otherwise, though one might pick at a word or phrase here and there, I liked it.

Robin S. said...

I like this. I think it's a good entry into the world I'm entering as the reader.

I had to look up kirtle, skewtle and hedera. Found kirtle, couldn't find skewtle.

Found hedera, and got a good laugh at the "tits" continuation.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was fine although Nestor = masculine in my mind also. "Kirtle" is appropriate, but it's no longer common English so the text will be more accessible to readers unfamiliar with medieval clothing etc if you first use the word in a context that provides more clue what you're talking about. But if the whole book is thick with period references, that might become annoying to your fans of historic novels who probably don't need the help. It's hard to balance the needs of general vs genre readers. You might have to choose one audience and never mind the other. Good luck.

Gone said...

I enjoyed the story and wished I could have read more!

I agree with many of the above post, Nestor sounds like a man. Usually when a male name is given to a female, there is a story behind it...or the parents just really liked the name. Either way, since the word her follows it, it worked ok.

Rei said...

Love the continuation. :) As for the story, it's too early to tell whether I'd like it or not.

none said...

This is too adjective heavy for my taste--and no I don't go around arbitrarily suggesting that writers remove all adjectives from their work. Consider taking out a few of the ones that merely describe.

The dying sun spilled its light on the walls of the forbidden palace, turning the stones to beaten gold. On the battlements, bathed in the fading warmth, Nestor propped herself up on one elbow and raised the spyglass to her eye.

I have no sympathy with readers who are content with a nickel vocabulary. There's always Jack and Jill books for them, after all.

Anonymous said...

This starts out pretty slowly.

That's not necessarily a problem, but it's pretty hard for me to care about Nestor's stains and sweatiness, given that I just met her.

She's also not doing anything interesting yet. Things appear to start moving there at the end, but I'd rather the story began at the interesting bits and filled me in on the scenery later. My opinion is that the story would be improved if you shaved the first two paragraphs off entirely.

I would read on, but I'd also put the book down if another non-plot-forwarding (i.e. dull) episode occurred in the first few pages. I'd assume the pacing of the rest of the book was also going to be slow.

By the way, I knew what a kirtle was, and Hedera is obviously a goddess, so "skewtle" seems to be your only overtly made-up word here. That didn't strike me as excessive; feel free to leave the odd words in.

However, "skewtle" did strike me as intrusive. The reader doesn't really need to know the protag has a stained dress, so that line seems like an excuse to toss in some throwaway exoticism.

Kanani said...

I think it's fine, except that you have some verbs and adjectives that sound dramatic, but sloppy.
"Dying sun" "lazy swoops" "fiddled with."

Try going with the direct. Tell me it's dusk and the last of the sun's rays hit the grey stones. (leave out "even."

Also, check through the sentence with the skewtle and the second-best skirtle. If all of us had to google skirtle and none of us know what a skewtle stain is, then you've got a challenge.

Your readers here are contemporary readers trying to make sense of a drama that takes place in and around the time of the Tudors. So find other ways to bring us up to speed with the idioms and vocabulary. Was the kirtle heavy? Wool? Black? Did it wrap around her waist? In other words, make sure we know you're talking about a dress. Same goes with "Hedera's tits."

Other than that, I think you've got a good start. Try using more direct action and cut down your words.

Keep going. Good job!

Xenith said...

She scanned the horizon in lazy swoops, considering the best way to remove the skewtle stains from her second-best kirtle.

Once I stopped wondering why she was swooping over the horizon :), this looks like something shoved in to try and establish the setting, but it doesn't work. Skewtle seems something of a smerp and it makes the piece feel like a generic fantasy story written after reading too many generic fantasy stories. The descriptive opening doesn't help there.

If the point is, she's thinking on other things while checking the horizon, make it more obvious. Direct thoughts even. With less adjectives, too.

Anonymous said...

I liked this opening. I thought that it was pretty efficient in establishing the setting and the scene. I'm not from the camp that seems to hold exposition in such contempt. As a reader, I'd rather have a picture in my mind of the scene before the action starts. Done with skill, it only takes a couple of sentences; the key is economy of words.

Author, you wasted some words in the first two paragraphs. You've established the image of the sunset in the first sentence, no need to pound me over the head with it two more times. Twice maybe, but if so, not in the same paragraph. "Lazy swoops" could be changed to establish a better image; "swoops" doesn't work for me. I had no problem with the name Nestor, and if someone can't wait two words to establish that it's a female, fuck 'em and send 'em to a doctor to get some medicine for their teensy weensy attention spans. Trim some needless detail from the first two paragraphs and I really like it.

Loved the continuation! Brilliant!

GutterBall said...

Heheheh. Hedera's tits. Great continuation.

Author, it's your book, and the cool thing about writing books is that you get to pick your lexicon. But you might keep in mind that other people have to read your book. People who enjoy your genre won't have any problem with it, but you're not likely to hook anyone outside that genre if you start out with kirtles and skewtles. As the continuation shows, it's too easy to poke fun at the "tles" endings and call everything by them.

However, it did provide for a hilarious continuation!

none said...

Not all of us had to look up "kirtle". And even if we had, we don't all of us think that learning new words is a drawback.

Please stop suggesting that others shrink their vocabularies to fit the one you stopped working on in high school. Please. Just. Stop.

Robin S. said...

stick and move said - "I'm not from the camp that seems to hold exposition in such contempt" - neither am I. I think that may bring the total to two. Oh, well.

buffy squirrel- I enjoyed looking up the words- I used to keep a dictionary with me when reading something new - now I don't need to, with Google so handy.

But I see what you mean. Sometimes the emphasis here seems to be more on minutia than the prose.

Bernita said...

Agree loudly with Buffy.

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

I like this opening. Didn't have trouble with skewtle -- I'm confident you'll explain if it's important, and if not, I can guess.

The opening exposition gives a nice sense of place and character, too.

Anonymous said...

Author here...

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the time it takes to write them. Loved the continuation.

Nestor as a name stays - I just like it. Didn't think it was particularly masculine, but perhaps that's a cultural thing(I'm Scottish)

Skewtle is the only made-up word in there. Looking at the comments it does seem a bit out of place. (There is no "Skirtle" in my tale BTW!) Hedera is actually a latin plant genus (Ivy family), but in this context she's a goddess.

We get to the action in short order, so those fiends amongst you who demand dead bodies in the first 150 words don't have to wait TOO long.

Thanks for the encouragement, shall take all the advice on board.

Caitie x