Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Beginning 328

Just let me tell my story. I will tell it my way, not hidden within some narrative of your choosing. I will speak directly.

I am Onagh. I have titles and a clan but they matter little to me. I, who should have been smothered in the womb, was born. I, who should have been outcast, was protected.

And now that I have come of age, I am an embarrassment. My father believes I should be grateful, that I owe him something, because he gave me my life. I disagree. He should have taken my life at the start, that he failed to do so does not put me in his debt.

What am I? I am a throwback, a malformation. My skin is unnaturally dark as if I were dirty from the inside out, my body plump, my eyes disturbingly empty like a dewdrop on the grass. I'm told I have no soul.

If you are interested in meeting Onagh, please dial 4945 followed by the pound sign now; or press star for other compatible singles in your area.

PartnerMatch. Pairing the world off one couple at a time.

Opening: Sylvia.....Continuation: ril


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

Welcome to Onagh the musical!

I got bad looks, brother.
I got humpback, sister.
I got rhythm, I got music
I got my looks
Who could ask for anything more?
I got daisys, in green pastures
I got my gal
Who could ask for anything more?

Old man trouble
I don't mind him
You won't find him 'round my door
I got starlight
I got sweet dreams
I got my gal
Who could ask for anything more ?


Dave Fragments said...

I like the idea of the opening but I think that paragraph 4: (What am I? I am a throwback...) should be the opening. I think that the two current first lines are "intentions" ... and intentions make lousy story. I would rather you not explain the opening in the first lines, just start the story.

You could use the second paragraph as the opening lines, if you wanted. It's just that "I have titles..." is a weak and unemotional second sentence. The next two lines are dynamite. The "smothered" and "outcast" lines reach out and grab a reader in a way that "titles and "clan" don't. However, be careful because already you are saying that Onagh should have been "abandoned" at birth twice (paragraphs two and three).

I like this opening. It's courageous and bold. It just needs to be tightened up.

And RIL, I didn't know you used my dating service!

Anonymous said...


This opening should have come with a "Warning! Do not read unless you are wearing adult diapers."

OMG! I don't know why that tickled my funny bone so much! It was just the somber seriousness of the opening and then Ril's continuation. Oh that was the best! That is classic!

Ok! So about the opening. I thought it was a very good idea but was uncertain on its execution because it felt terribly heavy handed at times. I love the first paragraph but am not crazy about your second. Don't like the sentence with the titles, you should take that out. I like the rest but all the "I's" that I know you used for effect, was where I felt it was heavy handed. I like the third paragraph because now we are learning something about my boyfriend Onagh. And that last paragraph, Woo!, boy is he a hottie! But I have a problem with someone describing themselves as having eyes "disturbingly empty like a dewdrop on the grass." Why would he say "disturbingly empty"? That sounds forced and wrong. And dewdrop? OK, so is my man Onagh really a girl?

Robin S. said...

I like this. I really like how it reads, and I like 'Just let me tell my story' as a first line. For some reason it made me think of 'Call me Ishmael' - yeah,I know 'I am Onagh' is the first sentence of the following paragraph, but I was already at Ishmael before I saw Onagh...

And this continuation is fucking hysterical. I'm so happy I'm working from home today, so I could laugh out loud and not have to pretend I was choking instead.

Anonymous said...

I like the beginning and how it ends with "I have no soul," nice way to tie it in.

LOVED the continuations. I'd date him. ;)


pacatrue said...

Nicely done, ril.

Sylvia said...

Oh damn! Yes, Onagh is female. I'll sort that out.

The continuation was hysterical! I loved it!

I was worried it was too heavy-handed so I'll work on that -- but great to have such specifics pointed out to me! She's very angry and that should show, but not to the point of making you dislike her from the start.

I also agree that "disturbingly" needs to go. The empty bit matters though (her eyes are grey).

Ali said...

Well done. I love the voice, I didn't think it was heavy-handed at all. (I mean, it was, but it was supposed to be, right?) It took me back to another era, so if it's contemporary then it might be too much. I did think it was a male, though. And I think the disturbingly empty eyes would work better if it was part of the "I'm told" bit, unless she truly is disturbed by the emptiness in her own eyes, which seems unlikely.

Kate Thornton said...

Great continuation, ril!!!!

Robin S. said...

Wow, good catch, ello.

I didn't see the girl thing at all.

AmyB said...

This opening is similar to the opening of one of my (not yet submitted) short stories. I have a love/hate relationship with my own opening, and thus I have too much baggage to give an accurate reader response to this one.

I will say, though, that I was totally surprised to discover the narrator was female. "Onagh" sounded to me like the name of a male barbarian type (like Conan!).

Last sentence of the third paragraph looks like a run-on to me.

I liked the fourth paragraph a lot. This sounds like an interesting character. I think the paragraph would read better without the word "disturbingly." The "dewdrop on the grass" analogy is nice, but it makes me envision the eyes as truly empty, with no pupils. Can she see?

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, I read Onagh as a female from the start. I wonder if it's because Onagh sounds like a Gaelic girl's name to me?

Anonymous said...

Oh, by the way: I know you're going to rewrite this anyway, but don't be afraid of the semi-colon; it could really help you out here.

Anonymous said...

I read this earlier in the day, but before I could comment I had to put some distance between me and Ril's continuation. Da bomb, Ril. Da bomb.

Sylvia, I, too, read Onagh as being male. There's a patriarchal feel here because of the focus on the father and that "he gave me my life." Coupling that with the titles and clan of patriarchies and coming of age and it seemed natural to consider Onagh a guy.

I really like this, too. Just three tiny nits:
* semi-colon after 'start'
* "malformation" - just don't like this word or its arrhythm in the sentence; maybe "aberration" instead, but this is purely subjective
* "I'm" as a contraction in the last sentence when you've avoided contractions till then

But hey, when I start correcting grammar (which I generally studiously avoid doing in my comments) and nitpicking word choice, you know I'm reaching.

I will admit that by the time I read "What am I?" the ending of Spider-Man 1 was flashing through my brain. I guess it was the self-assessment and the rhetorical question that gave me the same sense of cadence. Not a bad thing at all, but maybe another reason I put a male voice to this. Funny what things we begin associating, eh?

Keep up the good work for another 89,850 words and you might have something here...

Anonymous said...

I'm just reading The White Wolf's Son by Michael Moorcock, and one of the main characters is a little girl named Oonaugh.


McKoala said...

I have no desire to learn anything more about either Onagh. Not my style. Great imagery in that last para, though, apart from the dewdrop - that sounded attractive to me and I don't think that was what you were going for. (I assumed she was female and Irish, although that usually has two 'o's).

Chris Eldin said...

I'm just reading this for the first time. Very interesting to assume it's a male POV. I did that too, probably for the reasons Phoenix listed.

Ril--frickin hysterical!!! Thanks for the laugh!

I really, really like the voice. But I'm going to need a story soon, or I'm out.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'd start with "I am Onagh. I, who should have been smothered in the womb, was born." But I'd add the answer to the question, born what?

The pacing is a bit too plodding. I swear, reading this, I feel a dolorous chanting in the background like a funeral dirge sung by depressed Gregorian monks.

Sylvia said...

Oonaugh is almost certainly the same name with a different transcription - yes, it's Gaelic. I'm having a hard time shoe-horning a reference to her being female ... I don't like it coming as a shock to people but it looks so obvious if I try to get it within the first three paras.

The dewdrop can be pretty, depending on the viewer. So might Onagh, although that wouldn't occur to her.

I'm not sure about aberration but the contraction definitely shouldn't be there. I wanted the full stop after the first sentence to keep it staccato. This might be an issue by the second para with the rewrite and dropping of the clan/titles. It really depends on whether I find a way to insert her gender in between there.

Her story is around 6000 words, I'm trying to push it to 10k. It's one of 5 "parts" of the Faerie Dream, each with a different narrator.

Evil Editor said...

I'm having a hard time shoe-horning a reference to her being female

You could add "who wanted a son" after My father, . . .

Sylvia said...

[the real continuation - it breaks into story immediately]

The weakness of my father allows me to live and now he wishes to send me away.

We were at the standing stone when he told me. "There has been an offer," he said, staring off at the horizon as if that might lessen the impact of his words. "There is a young prince in the northern isles who needs a companion. His father hopes that it will settle him down. He is, apparently, prone to thoughtfulness."

I wasn't sure what this meant, I still do not know. The realization that he was telling me for a reason, not to try to fill the silences between us, dawned on me only slowly.

"You think I should go." The words sounded bitter but I did not mean it that way. His own personality flaws had left him with this dilemma: what to do with the princess who may never be queen. I then stated the obvious. "You do not believe he will ever rule?"

Robin S. said...

Hi Sylvia - I'd say, reading the continuation, that the 'problem' is solved - just leave the gender-free opening words, as it becomes apparent soon enough that Onagh is female. For me, not everything needs to be apparent and laid out on a platter in the first 150.

Anonymous said...

Or, "I, a girl who should have been smothered in the womb, was born."

I had no idea she was a girl. It changes the whole tone, doesn't it, and I prefer it when I hear it as the voice of an angry woman rather than an emo man.

The continuation was killer. Word ver: Ril ftw!

Chris Eldin said...

I agree with Robin. And I like the opening the way it is. Thanks for showing the continuation. This looks like a good read.

Anonymous said...

How about "I am Onagh, daughter of xxxxxx..."?

Or does that then conflict with I have titles and a clan but they matter little to me?

Anonymous said...

Of course, an agent would already know Onagh is female from the query; a reader would probably know it from the back copy before opening the book.

Maybe know need to try and solve a problem that wouldn't exist in the "real" world...

(So ignore what I just said before...)

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that, as a mother who has carried six children in her womb (not all at the same time, thank God!)that just the idea of a child (even a really awful, Damian-type bad-seed child) being smothered while STILL IN THE WOMB makes me A) decidely uncomfortable and B) thinking that it probably wasn't such a picnic for the mom either. Just me.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was a bit disturbed at the description, since I am Onagh.

Oonagh, Oonaugh, all refer to the Faery Queen of Celtic mythology. It is a Gaelic name, and it has been passed from mother to daughter in my family for quite a number of generations. Additionally, Onagh's hair is red and eyes are blue.

Based on the various folklore that red heads are "evil" or somehow touched, the "smothered in the womb" works well. Not many princes would want to marry a red head.

So there you go. Onagh comments on Onagh. Quite ironic.

Sylvia said...

Onagh commenting on Onagh is VERY cool.

Her hair wasn't red but it will be now.