Monday, July 09, 2007

New Beginning 312

The air held energy. It played across Barry Andrews's arms as he turned west off Unser Boulevard and braked to a stop. A metal gate blocked access to New Mexico's Petroglyph National Monument.

"Tough luck," Martin said from the passenger seat. "Sign says it's open until five." He checked his watch. "Missed it by ten minutes."

Inside the gate, beyond a dirt parking area and a bulletin board covered with maps and information, the trailhead waited. The narrow path was completely unremarkable, yet Barry felt like a five year old boy seeing a puppy for the first time. He needed closer. Looking past the trailhead to a ridge of black volcanic rocks intensified the attraction.

Barry drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. "The parking lot is closed, but the trail is open." He turned off the Subaru and stepped outside.

Martin shouldered open the passenger door and groaned getting out. "Why do I let you talk me into these things? These rock sketches aren't worth a hike, you know."

"Just wait. You'll see." Barry launched himself up the trail. The trails held dirt, and it played across his shoes like a party invitation.

"We've got two hours before sunset, you know." Martin huffed a little from jogging to catch up. Black basalt surrounded them in rough spikes. No petroglyphs. At least not yet.

"No problem. We just have to reach the top of the trail by then. Then the Mothership can beam us up."

Martin stopped in his tracks. "Look. I told you I didn't swing that way. That anal probe game was a drunken, frat house mistake."

Opening: Bump in the Nght.....Continuation: writtenwyrdd


Anonymous said...

Anal probe: Larry King interview?

Bernita said...

"The air held energy" does not entice me as an opening line.
I understand you want to get the protagonist's name in up front and set the scene - and your prose is smooth and clean - but, for me, this falls flat.

writtenwyrdd said...

"The air held energy" was also a turn off for me. YOu could simply start with "Barry turned west..." and it would work just fine.

The prose is smooth and clean, as bernita mentions, but it is very choppy sounding. Have you read this aloud? The rhythm is the same, the sentences all subject-verb-object. Also, we don't have any tension yet, so this is a bit blah. Nice enough writing, just no hook yet.

"Rock sketches" was problemmatic for me. Took me a couple of readings to make an educated guess you were referring to petroglyphs.

I am not certain, but I think I know the park you speak of, and the rocks are dull gray and that amazing red. Not black. But I couldn't say for certain. However, I am pretty certain that when the gate closes the parking lot, the entire park, including trails, is supposedly off limits without permits to camp.

Kate Thornton said...

Great continuation!

I like anything that starts out with petroglyphs, but the characters did not engage me from the start. There's a good opportunity here to use a spectacular setting, though.

Anonymous said...

This feels like unneeded set-up and a geography lesson. I suspect you could begin with the actual unexpected event. When in doubt I always fall back on Elmore Leonard's advise: don't explain nothin'!

Bump in the Night said...

Great to know thoughts and how the first words struck readers (or missed).

Writers are in trouble when they like their own line, and I was partial to "The air held energy." Ain't it the way?

Thanks for the comments (and continuation) writtenwyrdd. I lived a mile from that park for a couple years. You must be thinking of another place. Definitely black rocks, no red. No camping. Just a short trail, and all they worry about closing at 5 is the parking lot.

Thanks again, all.

Robin S. said...

Hi author,

You know, I think this would work well if it began with the third paragraph, although I'd take out the "puppy" sentence if it were me.

I really like the sentence "The air held energy". I think I knoqw what you mean - there are places and times where you feel the air is different. I think inserting this sentence a little later in the beginning would be good.

I'm guessing "he needed closer" was gonna be "he needed to be closer".

Anonymous said...

I read "Unser Boulevard" and said Hey, Albuquerque, cool! Robin just made all the suggestions I was going to make, so...what she said.


Bonnie said...

I'm going to go against the majority here and say I liked this a lot, pretty much as written.

I wasn't quite sure whether to take the energy line literally. I thought it a little odd that Barry didn't seem to know they were cutting it close on closing time. But nothing major.

Anonymous said...

I like the first line, and most of this passage. I was feeling like a little bit more showing rather than telling might be good in the third paragraph. And I did wonder where the POV would eventually wind up or if it would stay in 3rd Omni the whole time. But I thought these things because I was reading for them, which is, of course, a different exercise than reading for fun.

Hmm ... the clip art: petroglyphs, pteradactyls. They do share a lot of the same letters, I guess.

none said...

"The air held energy" reads to me like there's an electrical storm coming. In which case, they should stay in the car!