Monday, January 07, 2008

New Beginning 425

Hannah waited. She waited until after she’d stepped onto the plane, trying not to stare at the kimono-clad flight-attendant who welcomed her with a bow. She passed through the smell of coffee brewing and the wide aisle of first class to seat #48A, stopping once while a Japanese businessman stuffed the overhead compartment with his raincoat and sealed it inside with a loud claaack. Hannah waited until after she’d tucked her roller bag under the seat in front of her and her handbag under the armrest, pulled out her Ipod, unwrapped her pillow and blanket, and sat down. Seat belt fastened, she closed the shade against the setting sun, fit the pillow in the crack by the window, and unfolded the blanket to reveal a simple but elegant pattern of red and white fans. As she stared at the design in her lap, her eyes filled, morphing the fans into a pink blur. Unable to wait any longer, Hannah leaned back, shrouded her face with the blanket, and cried.

The climactic release cleansed her soul, though the tortuous self-imposed delay had nearly destroyed her. But even now, in this relative state of bliss, Hannah was not comfortable. There was more to be done. She removed the blanket from her lap and refolded it. She pulled the pillow out of the crack by the window and set it out of the way, yet still within reach. Her Ipod she returned to her bag so the Japanese businessman wouldn’t nick it, and the bag she repositioned under the seat in front of her. She unbuckled her seat belt; but now she would have to maneuver past the three-hundred pound Samoan who had taken the aisle seat, and that would likely involve speaking, something along the lines of, “Excuse me, please.” And then he would have to unbuckle his seat belt and stand up. And then there would be more walking. And waiting. The thought of it all filled her heart with unbearable dread. Overwhelmed, she rebuckled her seatbelt and peed in her pants.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: blogless_troll


Sarah Laurenson said...

Ah. Nice one, Blogless.

I like this. I like how the setup moves the story along. You get action with the description so it's not stagnant.

I'm debating if it's a bit too tame for the emotions or if it works well as is. If the color in her cheeks is heightened - redder because holding in such emotions creates a lot of heat in the body. Should she be sweating a little?

I don't know. Something to tie us a little closer to her experience of boarding the plane and waiting to cry.

I think a little bit of such description here and there will make it more 'real' to the reader. Or maybe the surprise of her tears is better.

*sigh* It's Monday morning and I can't decide.

I'm also thinking white space would be nice. Can this be broken up into more paragraphs to make it easier on the eyes?

Good job!

pacatrue said...

Just one thought. I've only flown Japan Air (JAL) once (great, great experience) back in 1992, but none of the attendants were in kimonos. They were immaculately dressed, young, and attractive, but in skirt suits. If the author knows from experience otherwise, that's cool.

Nancy Beck said...

Great continuation - and that's why I didn't care for this opening.

Nothing happens.

Some woman boards a plane, gets to her seat, and messes with her Ipod and pillow. Meh. Sorry, author, doesn't do anything for me.

I suspect this story starts somewhere later down the line. Maybe already have the woman in her seat, as we really don't have to see her getting on the plane (haven't most readers either actually gotten on planes or seen stuff like that on TV?). Then something happens, either someone starts talking to her, someone spills hot coffee on her crotch, she jumps up and into the flight attendant who turns out to be a man in drag or something...

But what you've got here isn't drawing me in. Sorry.

AR said...

No, I totally get this. It's only a few words - how much information can you get in? For a book it's a great beginning. All you need to know is that a woman really needs to cry but she has to wait until she can get on the plane.

Come on, what girl isn't wondering what the heck happened? Husband died? Bad period? Evil editor turned down her three thousand-and-forty-third query letter?

McKoala said...

I liked this. I was able to read through the detail, thanks to the foreshadowing that something was coming. Also, I think it's very well written - and hooray, lots of different senses are used.

'clack' might be enough; closing the compartment is a quick noise.

Blogless' continuation is, however, hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is kind of a non-event on my scale, too, and I can't tell if she's just all gloom-and-fussy-ipods all the time or if she knows there's a ticking time bomb in her bag that's going to blow up the plane on page 2, or what. Good continuation.

Robin S. said...

Hi author,

I really liked this. I read it through without pause - the language builds on itself beautifully. I'd read on.

I liked it over on the openings page, and I couldn't think of anything funny I'd want to do with it. But blogless, you sure as hell did. Good one!

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

"They're going to make me eat sushi, I just know it!"


Hannah had known her choices were few and far between when she decided to become a mail-order bride, but it had never occurred to her, she would be marrying a sumo wrestler.


Anonymous said...

I'm still laughing at the continuation. Blogless, that was pure genius, my friend.

I liked this opening. It flowed smoothly and pulled me right into the plane with her. I like Sarah's suggestion about maybe a little sweat. I knew McKoala would like it as soon as a smell wafted by, and I liked it, too. I'd keep reading, confident that something dramatic is about to be revealed.

Evil Editor said...

Sorry, I forgot I was commenting on these, been so long. I think if you're going to begin Hannah waited, it's better to get to what she waited for more quickly. Something like:

Hannah waited. She waited until she’d boarded the plane, until she'd moved past the kimono-clad flight-attendant and through the first class cabin and on to seat #48A. After she tucked away her roller bag and fastened her seat belt and closed the shade against the setting sun, she could wait no longer. She unfolded her blanket, buried her face in it, and cried.

If you want all that info in the opening, I'd ditch Hannah waited and a few phrases here and there:

Hannah boarded the plane, nodding at the kimono-clad flight attendant who welcomed her with a bow. She passed through the smell of coffee in the first-class cabin and on to seat #48A, stopping once while a Japanese businessman stuffed his raincoat into the overhead compartment.

After she stowed her rollerboard and her handbag, she pulled out her Ipod and unwrapped her pillow and blanket. Seat belt fastened, she closed the shade against the setting sun, fit the pillow in the crack by the window, and unfolded the blanket to reveal a simple but elegant pattern of red and white fans. As she stared at the design, her eyes filled, morphing the fans into a pink blur.

Hannah could wait no longer; she leaned back, shrouded her face with the blanket, and cried.

It's still got some flab. If I were going with the long version I'd lose the Ipod and the pillow in the crack by the window.

Anonymous said...

Author here. (I think my first post got eaten so I'm trying again!)

Loved the continuation. I must find a place for the Samoan on that plane!!

Thanks for all the comments, pro and con. I worried this opening was too "tame" - good word Sarah, especially for YA.

I was trying to convey the fear and trepidation of a young woman about to embark on a adventurous year living and studying in Japan.

Maybe I'll start the story further along with her post-cry conversation with the Japanese couple who sits next to her.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I think Hannah waited is a great first line. It's what kept me reading as long as I did. The reader is having to wait right along with Hannah. But once she sat down, I was expecting something more than her settling in like normal with her iPod and blankie. I was ready to skip ahead to find out what she was waiting for.

That was my reaction reading this cold. However, after reading your comment, Author, and that you're trying to convey Hannah's fear and trepidation, I have to admit that's not at all the feeling I was getting from this opening. At this point, the crying could be about anything: her dog died, her boyfriend broke up with her, she's upset about leaving where she is, she's upset about going where she's going, she got a B in math class right before spring break. She's being brave about not crying in public is all I'm getting from this, and not whether she's sad, regretful, scared, or what-have-you.

Nice writing. Nice atmosphere. Just not quite evoking the proper expectation for the reader. But I see you're already thinking about starting the story a little further along. Play with it a bit. I think you're instincts are good!

Robin S. said...

Hi Author,

I still like it as is. Looks like the "votes" are all over the board on this one, with four of us enjoying it just as it is - so, I guess it depends on how strongly you feel about your opening, and the audience you want to reach with it.

Anonymous said...

Robin -

Your comments are always perceptive and supportive. Potty mouth or not, I'm glad you're on this blog.


Robin S. said...

Thanks, Author,

That was a really nice thing for you to say.

(And...don't tell anyone, but I'm actually not all that nasty. Not most of the time, anyway.)

Kanani said...

Look for repetition of words.
"Hannah waited." "waited" "Hannah waited."

Go through and cull any excess words and make it move and the scene more clear.

Keep going. Thanks for sharing.