Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Beginning 281

Black rocks covered with shimmering green moss, air fresh and light with the scent of pine needles and dew-soaked grass, shadows in the shapes of continents drifting lazily beneath enormous clouds across the vast golden plain, and sun-shot trees fluttering with an endless supply of leaves. Here is a river and a stick that makes a noise when it breaks. Just ahead is something different. Not the tree, no, or the snake, no, but a pair of creatures who walk on two legs with skin that shines like the bark of a birch tree in the bright morning sun. One of them holds an apple and the other is running away. Now the other runs away, dropping the tender fruit to the ground. The snake slithers under a rock. The fruit tastes very, very, good.


The voice boomed like thunder, rumbling the earth at my feet. I looked around, startled and frightened by the sound that seemed to come out of nowhere.

"Cut, cut, CUT!"

The two-legged creatures walk sheepishly back onstage, accepting robes from the ones wearing clothing. "Now what?" says the woman to the man who shouts into a hollow cone.

The man with the hollow cone points up to the catwalk. "'God' botched his lines again!" He gestures with a black-and-gold book. "Herbert, your first line is 'Where are you?' Three little words. Verse nine. Christ, you're not even on camera; read the fucking words if you can't remember 'em. And go easy with the booming!"

"SORRY, MOE," booms the thunder from above.

"Unbelievable," the cone-man says. "Two months of rehearsal and the only one performing flawlessly is the damn bear. Again. From the top."

Everyone groans, but I am delighted. The shouting man says those words a lot. And every time he does, I get another apple.

Opening: AB.....Continuation: 150


Robin S. said...

150, your continuation is soooo good.

Kanani said...

Great continuation.

The opening sentence is cinematic in its approach. However, this is a novel. And while we can have sweeping cinematic sentences and scenes, they always have to be grounded within the pov of the protagonist (think Willa Cather or Cormac McCarthy). In this case, it sounds as though it's starting in the 3rd person omniscient, then it cuts to the 1st person present.

I'd like to see you cut through all the adjectives upon adjectives as well as the adverbs to make sure that this is firmly within the protagonists experience. "The fruit tastes very, very good" works as a sentence because it indicates that someone is there.

But the first run on sentence seems more like a camera angle.

So trim it down, getting rid of all unnecessary words. You've piled adjective on top of adjective and if this is throughout your novel, then you're going to have issues with pace.

Keep going. You can do it.

AmyB said...

The continuation is hilarious! Especially "SORRY, MOE."

I hardly know what to say about the opening itself. It's not the kind of style I prefer, but it's well written, and I'd want to read on, so I'd say it works.

Some of the images in the opening sentence were confusing to me. When we started with the rocks, moss, pine needles and grass, I envisioned a forest scene. Then we had the bit about shadows in the shapes of continents (which made me think big) and a vast golden plain, which didn't fit my existing image at all. Then we were back to the forest setting again. It's like we started on the ground, then zoomed way out, then went back to the ground again. If you're going to cover so much territory, maybe start zoomed out and then start zooming in? Or just stick with forest imagery throughout.

Dave Fragments said...

I keep looking at this and I can't understand why the author is opening with this scene. The words from "black rocks down to "when it breaks" can be deleted without harming the rest of the opening. And some how, some one, the narrator is watching Adam and Eve in Eden. So what happens next? Time-traveling interference? Retelling of Genesis? A deep, thoughtful metaphysical discussion with God? Weighty ponderings on Original Sin?
I think it's well written but not the place to open a book. Please tell me I'm wrong. I would so like to be wrong. I'm willing to be wrong but this opening doesn't work for me on any level.

The continuation is fine but the only reason that it seems so much fun is that it points up the lack of tension, action, conflict, etc in the opening. God yelling at Adam and Eve isn't action.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the clean-up, EE! It's much funnier now. :)

Chris Eldin said...

The continuation was brilliant! Simply brilliant!

And the opening was good too. I'm curious where it's going.

But it feels like you have a few different voices going on.

You have an omniscent, formal voice in the first sentence. Then the second sentence is way too short and is a bit confusing (Here is a river and a stick..)--this sentence gets smothered by the previous one.

Then you start talking to the reader (Not the tree...)which feels like an informal 3rd person voice.

Then in the last part you switch to first person.

The story sounds intriguing, though.


Evil Editor said...

Regarding the POV of this piece, for those who didn't visit the opening when it was first posted, the title is Adam and Eve and the Bear. I think it's safe to say we're in the bear's POV.

none said...

Well, if we are in the POV of a bear, it's a very human bear.

pacatrue said...

I love the continuation, 150! Christ, it's so fucking good!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the POV info, EE, because my best guess was the snake.
I can't Bear it when a bunch of really beautiful nouns are strung together, create some truly lovely imagery, but must be denied access to sentence-land because there is no verb. So sad. Some might call it unOriginal sin.

Rocks . . . moss; air . . . grass; shadows . . . plain and trees . . .leaves (verb) in Paradise.

eXcellent continuation. Hearty guffaws cause my kitty much alarm.

PJD said...

Huh, I didn't have any problem at all with the POV or cinematic nature of the opening. I thought it flowed very nicely, revealing that we're in Eden at just the right pace. I would not recommend cutting any of it.

What I'm not sure of is whether the narrator (the Bear, we now assume) actually eats the apple to find out it tastes very, very good. I assume it does, which makes me very curious where this is going.

My only little quibble is that if the Bear knows the names of everything else, wouldn't he (she?) know the names of Adam and Eve? I mean, the egotistical nature of Christianity says that Adam was created in God's image, and wasn't it Adam's job to name all the creatures? Of course, this is a nit and it doesn't interfere with the writing. I rather like the opening the way it's written now.

McKoala said...

Mixed feelings on the start. Lovely description, but I also felt the need of a bit more focus in that first line - for me what would have made the difference would have been knowing how the narrator experienced/felt these things (which would have prevented the confusion I also felt as to the POV/narrator). Lovely writing, though, and I'd probably read on to find out wtf was going on.

Fabbo continuation!

Anonymous said...

Obviously this is revisionist history. Or revisionist creationism. In this alternate universe, the bear eats the apple (yummy fruit) and is the one endowed with the knowledge of good and evil. "What have you done?" is God rebuking the bear. The snake must rectify the mistake and set his evil plan back on track.

Can the once-simple bear -- now turned into an alarmingly cunning beast -- thwart the devil's plan and keep Adam and Eve safe in paradise? Maybe not. Because when Adam and Eve naively try to thwart the bear's attempts to save their souls, all hell breaks loose and hilarity ensues.

Or so I envision.

Like amyb, I'm a bit at a loss about the opening itself. Except:

The first sentence seems too sophisticated a thought for the bear compared to the other sentences. How would a bear that's filled with wonder when hearing a stick break know what a continent looks like to make the shadow comparison?

And why the sudden shift from present tense to past tense? For me, that was pretty jarring.

Excuse me now while I go off for a spot of honey and a good scratch against a tree.

Anonymous said...

How come Adam and Eve are always portrayed as white people? If they were walking around buck naked and comfortable, then the Garden of Eden had to be somewhere sunny, and that means melanin.

Ahem. Anyway. Awesome continuation!

I'm mostly going to agree with others regarding the beginning.

The writing is really nice!

However, the POV issues confused me and wrecked my enjoyment of the really nice writing.

And the snake was my best guess for apple-muncher also, although I realised this didn't make any sense in terms of the creation story.

Anonymous said...

How come Adam and Eve are always portrayed as white people?

Because God loves white people best.

Or maybe because the Church was established by white people and has been run by white people (particularly white males) ever since. Many of those white males enslaved people of other races.

The Church does not have a history of diversity and inclusion. You might as well ask why Eve is always portrayed as a woman and not as a gay man.


Anonymous said...

well, duh, Anon 2:15, because if Eve were a gay man

There'd be NO people at all!