Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Beginning 472


Jerome whirled to deflect the sword thrust with his rapier. Soon the last attacker lay in a pool of blood on the cobblestones. The lanky man scanned the street for threats before he stomped over to where Kit huddled behind a rain barrel. "Why the hell are you still following me? Did you think I was out for a pleasure stroll and wanted a child for company?"

Kit shook her head so hard that her braids flew. "No, never thought that." She couldn't understand why her brother wanted her to follow this mean fellow, but the man fit the description he had given her. She frowned. "You are Jerome, right?"

Jerome gave a bitter laugh. "Yeah. I'm out to avenge my father, and it's dangerous to be around me. So why are you still hanging about? I don't need your help."

Kit gave him a reproachful look.

"What?" Jerome peered at the little girl. "Do you think with all my years of training, I still need the protection of a ragamuffin?"

Kit scowled and shook her head until her eyes rattled. "No, never thought that."

"Then why, little girl, do you follow me?"

She narrowed her eyes and took a deep breath. "My brother said to find you and tell you he misheard; your father's okay, the Smythe boys didn't do 'im in, they just beat 'im at Gin. His bad."

Jerome looked at the bodies sprawled across the cobbles. Bugger.

Opening: Deborah K. White.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

'Cos I'm better at fighting than you are.'

Jerome tried puffing up his chest but it was no use: he still looked scrawny.

'Not,' he said, feebly.




Kit picked up a bloodied dagger from the cobblestones and grinned till her teeth bit at its glinting edge. Jerome edged back, waving his rapier tentatively like a stick of rhubarb.

'Huh! You're stupid like the rest of them to think a girl can't fight. Let's play for cuts - and first slice at the next assassin.'


"Your mom said to get back home now."


"She told my brother you haven't been feeding your dragon and she's gonna give him away."

"Goddammit!" Jerome stabbed at a nearby man. "I'm busy out here!"

"Okayyy." She turned and skipped off. Maybe, if she was fast enough, she'd get there in time to take Jerome's dragon.


"Someone killed my father, too. A tall, dark stranger named Montoya, who smelled of patchouli and chicken tetrazzini, told me you might know something about that."
Jerome cursed lustily.
"Know something about it? Who was your father? I've seen a lot of men die, kid."
"His name was Gimp. Gimp the
Chef. He used to be one of the finest sword-makers in all the world, until he fell out of favor to the king. Later in life, he became really well-known for his borscht. And he was a heck of a prep cook. Do you know anything or not?"
"Sure, I know something. I know a lot of things. I know that I was searching for the man who killed my father, and the trail led straight to Gimp the Chef and his little daughter Kit. Poisoned with a bowl of gumbo that was a swimming pool of botulism."
Kit's braids stiffened in amazement. "You killed my father? Prepare to die!"
"If you are the daughter of the Gimp the Chef, you killed my father! You prepare to die!"
Suddenly, the tall, dark, odd smelling stranger poofed onto the scene.
Rapiers drawn for their incipient battle, Kit and Jerome whirled as one when they sensed his presence.
"Wait! I have a better idea!" Shouted Jerome loudly?"
"What's that?"
"Let's kill the author!"
Kit's braids jumped for joy.
"But we have to think of a better way to kill him than by sword. Death by sword is far to honorable for a fiend like him."
Kit thought for a moment. "Boiling oil?"
They bodily picked up the stranger and carried him into the nearest restaurant, their battle cry rang out as if it were coming from one throat, "In you go, Montoya. You killed our fathers, prepare to fry!"


The last attacker tugged feebly at Jerome's ankle. Jerome pushed him away.

"What do you want?"

"A good death," the attacker said, through spits of blood.

"A good--" said Jerome and Kit together.

The attacker propped himself up on one elbow. "This is my only appearance, and I haven't had chance to tell you all about my rotten childhood. Nor my reasons for being put on the wrong side. The least you can give me is a paragraph to die in."

Jerome raised his rapier.

"I'm revenging my father's death, not--"

"Can't I at least have a few lines in which to tell you MY death will be avenged, then? One line?"

Kit folded her arms and sighed. It was going to be a long day.


Kit gave him a reproachful look, one not drawn from the hurt of a child, but the aggressive scorn of a Sentient. Her braids hardened as the bed of blood which would have been his without her warning danced transparently behind his eyes. He felt naked.


...and held out the small piece of paper in her trembling hand.

"You left without paying for your double tall, chocolate mocchachino with extra marshmallows, whipped cream and nutmeg; and a giant blueberry muffin."

Jerome started guiltily and transferred the rapier to his left hand, blood still dripping from it's tip, then patted his pockets looking for coins, knowing that she wasn't going to have change for a twenty.


'Mom says it's past eight o'clock and it's time for bed. Plus next time you come for a sleepover with my brother you're not allowed to bring your pirate sword. Now, who's going to go and give the Bates the bad news about their decapitated garden gnomes?'


"Hold out your hand. No. No. You're not left-handed. The other hand." Kit scowled. She was beginning to understand her brother's cryptic message. "Six fingers. Inigo is so looking forward to meeting you."


"My brother told me about you," Kit said.

"Really." Jerome lowered his sword and glared at the little girl.

"He said my ma told my Aunty Ethelene that that Jerome could really give a girl what she wanted; even if she couldn't get it from my pa."


"I want a pony."


Evil Editor said...

You might remove "still" from "Why the hell are you still following me?" It suggests they encountered each other earlier, in which case one wonders why Kit couldn't have asked him if he was Jerome then.

"I'm out to avenge my father" is more info than Kit asked for, and more than I would expect him to give. Unless it's a comedy.

Chris Eldin said...

LOL at the continuations! There's a heap of them!
Buffy, that is good. Laughed out loud at Whirlochers too.

This dialogue felt contrived: "Yeah. I'm out to avenge my father, and it's dangerous to be around me.

There's nothing really wrong with this opening, but I don't know what emotion I'm supposed to be feeling. First there's someone in a pool of blood. Then there's a kid describing MC as a mean fellow.

writtenwyrdd said...

Loved that continuation! Fitted in perfectly with the original.

Author, this has some good stuff in it, but I think it's not your real beginning. This is a bit too in media res, I believe. Perhaps either drop that first line and describe the situation a tiny bit more in the following paragraph; or move the action to the end of the fight (and the consequences) or earlier and to the reason for the encounter. Personally, I think that if you want to start at this point in the story, at the end of the fight would work much better, because then he can turn to the kid and ask why she's still following him. That would be your opening for backstory and set up. The point being, the kid's important and she's following him. He's in a fight for some reason. As a reader I want these disparate elements tied together fairly quickly, because I cannot just make an assumption in this situation.

writtenwyrdd said...

BTW, my favorite continuation is anon's. Hi-larious.

Dave Fragments said...

When I first read this opening, I wondered why Kit was sent to follow a man she barely knew (she has to ask his name) when he's being pursued by attackers (assassins)? What kind of a brother sends a younger sister out into that danger. Or is there less danger than one dead in the first 40 words.

Jerome is the "lanky man" of the subsequent sentence. That made me stop reading for a second. Why did you name him when he repeats his name later? "The lanky man whirled to deflect the sword thrust... A few swift strokes and the attacker lay in a pool of his blood on the cobblestone... He scanned the street for the person who spoke the warning.
Also, you have a second chance later to describe his physical appearance when Kit thinks about the description her brother gave her. So you can use his name and move "lanky" to that point.

I assume we are in her POV. Kit, the young kid. And the reason I say that is that you discuss her brother's instructions to her. So, Kit (hiding behind the barrel) watches the attacker sneak up on him. Warns him. She watches him whirl and dispatches the attacker. He didn't see her. We don't know if he was aware of his attacker. But he gets the chance to tell her when he first sees her and yells: "Why the hell are you following me? Did you think I was out for a pleasure stroll and wanted a child for company?"

Now she's frightened and pulling back like kids do. Now it makes sense that she says stupid things like "never thought that" and "You are Jerome" ...
Now how does he react to her question? "A bitter laugh" is cryptic. Why is he bitter? Does a kid know bitter from other emotions? ANd his statement is too much information because ... she's just a child? He might not want to reveal he's out to murder someone to a kid? He wants her to go away? She's attracting killers to him?

I only know what you say earlier - she doesn't understand why she has to follow him just that her brother ordered her to do it. So she does and she warns him. She doesn't even realize that she might be the reason for the attacker having found him. But he's not grateful for the warning, just mad at her following him. Her POV is that of a child.

Whirlochre said...

EE has spared my blushes by editing my continuation. If I remember correctly, I had Jerome down as the girl's brother - which makes me the #1 citizen of Dumbkopf Central.

That said, I still think there's some confusion between Jerome, 'the lanky man', 'her brother' and 'the mean fellow' that may extend beyond my personal stupidity.

But - I like it. Kit's got spunk and she uses it to drain Jerome's. I'd be interested to find out where this one was headed.

Wes said...

I was confused by unattributed dialogue, giving the appearance of not starting with the POV character, and the interpretaton that more characters were in the scene.

We don't know who yelled "Behind--!". Presumably it was Kit, but we don't know. Here would be an excellent opportunity to show what she is thinking and what is at risk, and this would also enable you to start with the POV character. Otherwise we go thru a paragraph about Jerome and start assuming he is the POV character, when in actuality, Kit is the POV character. It is also possible to think that the "lanky man" is the "last attacker", but it's unlikely. Since "Behind--!" is not tagged, it is possible that five characters are present: whoever yell the warning, Jerome, the last attacker, the lanky man, and Kit. Sure it's unlikely, but the reader shouldn't need to work so hard to sort it out. All of this creates confusion which can easily be fixed.

Also an opportunity for tension is missed by having the last attacker done in with no description of the stuggle.

Best wishes

Robin S. said...

Oh, crap - the continuations are good. The chosen one with the 'my bad' is a scream.

Anonymous said...

"In you go, Montoya. You killed our fathers, prepare to fry!"


I liked Buffysquirrel's cont also. Very 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern'.

As for the NB proper, you need to establish point-of-view immediately and let the dialogue & interaction rise out of that character's worldview & emotions. Readers like to know whose shoulder they're peering over, and a single-character PoV is almost always more engaging to the reader than omniscient is (even if the author slides into the big O once the reader is hooked).

Anonymous said...

The chosen continuation is friggin hilarious. EE, is that you? Kinda sounds like you.

Agreed with the comments on the opening. Nice to start with an active scene but the POV is difficult to assume.

Deborah K. White said...

EE and everyone, thanks. Your comments were helpful. Changes have been made. :)