The desert breathes. The wind is the breath of the desert, and the curve of every dune is the back of the wild living thing that the people of the desert – Sonia’s people – claim it to be. The wind buffets Joshua Tree Hold continuously, seeking out chinks in its heavy walls, kicking grit into people’s faces, whipping the sleeves of Sonia’s tunic. Sometimes the wind rises and sometimes it falls, but today the wind was rising.
Sonia ignored the bustle of the people below her rushing to bring their belongings inside in front of the incoming sandstorm. Her mind was occupied elsewhere. Climbing the steps of the hold’s outer wall was no easy task even under good conditions, and she was trying to do it one-handed: her other hand was clapped to the top of her head, holding her bonnet in place.
The steps breathe. Their rickety creaks are the breath of the steps and every inch higher is that much closer to the head of the living thing Sonia's people claim it to be.
Sonia lost her balance and toppled down, face first into the living, breathing grass. The curve of every insect is the feet of the thing that the people of the desert claim it to be.
Joshua looked down from above. "Sonia, you doofus. That's what you get for climbing one-handed. I told you it's boys only in my tree house." Sonia ran crying into the house.
Her mom breathes. Sonia's whines and cries for the tenth time today are the straw that breaks the camel's back, and Joshua's Tree Hold is no more.
Opening: The Green Cat.....Continuation: whoever
Once on top of the wall, her bonnet fluttered seductively, letting her know it was up to the job and ready. The rising wind whipped at her tears as she recalled how the others made fun of her dreams, how they ridiculed her for trying to emulate her hero.
"No Flying Nun, my ass," she muttered. Sonia made a final adjustment to her bonnet and leaped.
Plummeting from the hold's outer wall, the Joshua Trees looked like giant clawed hands thrust up from the earth to catch her fall. Unfortunately, none grew near the hold.
--Bump in the Night
Sonia hestitated. "Grandpa! Grandpa!"
No answer. Ululant winds thrashed the sky, coating it with brown grit. There was no difference between sky and ground.
The brays of terrified goats mixed with the wails of crying women.
"Grandpa!" Sonia called, one last time. At last, a struggling old man with a cane grabbed the hold's outer wall.
"Help me, Sonia," Grandpa pleaded. "Help me."
Sonia's fingers twitched. Her eyes narrowed. "Where's my dress Grandpa?"
Sonia turned away. She stomped into the Joshua Tree Hold, threw her bonnet on the floor, and wept.
I quite liked the first paragraph - and felt quite let down by the second.
I wrote an opening like this once upon a time. I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced white bread. EE's minions beat me about the head and neck. It went from 800 to 350 words and was so much better for it.
It's New Beginning 48 and all the remarks are pertinent to this opening. It includes the revision.
You write rapturously extravagant prose about the "living desert" when you should write the story. I wrote elegant prose about an autumn day and neglected the story.
All that living desert stuff should be inside the story, not outside introducing it. It should come from the character's attitudes, actions and dialog.
Don't bonnets come with strings?
I felt the tense change was awkward, here. Why not pick one and stick with it?
When I read "Sonia's people" and "Joshua Tree" I thought she might be Anasazi, but "tunic" didn't really jibe with that, and her "bonnet" really threw me. And I really wasn't sure what a "Hold" was supposed to be, but I went with def. #50 Archaic a fortified place; stronghold. So I would expect a big payoff, rather quickly, plot-wise or action-wise after having had to work so hard to get through these first 2 paragraphs. If the author can't (won't) spark my interest in the next two paragraphs, I'd probably put the book down.
No pictures form in my head as I read this. Not a one. I'm a hundred miles away looking down the wrong end of a telescope and I don't care about what I'm seeing.
The first paragraph doesn't match the second.
In the first, there's so nice imagery that sets a mood.
In the second, we have slightly too long sentences about someone going inside. Exciting, not.
Agree with Me, something attention getting, not necessarily exciting has to happen very soon.
So far it looks like the start of a Big, Fat Fantasy. If that's what is is, I guess you're doing all right. If it's not, then you might need to rethink how to start it.
This just isn't for me, but if it's any help the tone of the first para is so different from the second that in my head they don't belong together. The tense change didn't help.
Your first sentences are beautiful. I really enjoyed the image of the dune curves as the back of the wild living thing.
The second paragraph is fine, but it feels a little like a letdown after the first. The tone and the feeling are different fromn the beginning words.
I'm thinking you're still working on findng the voice that fits the story you are telling and t he way you want to tell it.
The first paragraph is very romantic and full of pretty language, and it doesn't work to start the story. The second paragraph is jarring when it follows the first.
I have to agree with Dave's comments. This lovely prose can be reused later on. You can also rewrite the opening to keep the same tone, but it will need to incorporate elements of the second paragraph with the first, and probably will be the proverbial lead balloon when you get finished.
You might try reading Tanith Lee if you like an omniscient pov with poetic language. She does it rather well.
Hmmm. If the first para were italicized, the shift in tense and tone might not be quite so annoying.
I thought the first paragraph was beautiful, but agree it might be saved for later.
Artsy openings were a new experiment for me.
Whoever - thanks for ripping that first sentence up for me. That was hilarious.
Yes, something big does happen soon. There's a huge sandstorm coming, and the sand will turn into little bits of projectiles so fast that they're lethal.
I'm still working on that transition thing. Maybe I'll start the action at a different point in the story. Thanks a lot, everyone!
Post a Comment