Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Beginning 504

I wish I didn’t have to tell my story in the first-person. To be honest, I wish I didn’t have to tell my story at all. My one hope is that my tale will somehow reach you. When it does, please don’t judge me. I am not crazy, paranoid, nor manic. I am simply a twelve year-old girl about to be executed for a crime that I did not commit.

I have been convicted of Murder in the First-degree. Yes, my killings were deliberate and premeditated. Yes, I feel no remorse for killing them. Yes, I would kill them all over again.

There is one problem; however, murder is defined as killing a human being. The Monroes were not human, they were vampires. But the prosecutor didn’t care about that. He had my fingerprints, my motive, and most important of all, my confession.

You might ask yourself, “How did they give the death sentence to a child?” Well, there’s sort of this “Technicality” as I like to call it. You see, I was born in 1896, officially making me 112 years old.

My name is Cleo. I am a vampire and a vampire hunter. This is my story.

Saffron stared despondently at the collection of pressed flowers on her desk. Oh, why did she always get assigned show and tell on the same day as Cleo the Overachiever?

Opening: R. Lyle Wolfe.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

The men in the white jackets looked at each other.

"I can't believe it,Tal," the first one said. "Zombie cows, the nexus of time travel itself and sundry other wacky delusions never heard of before...and now she falls back on vampires?"

The second one nodded. "I know, Ril. It sucks when the idea well runs dry. Those stories are all that makes this job worthwhile"

"I guess we'll just have to recycle some of the old babble and submit it to Evil Editor's Openings. Change a few names and no one will know the difference."

The patient in her straitjacket rolled her gaze over them. "Fucking squirrels. Fucking squirrels!"

"Damn," ril muttered. "Now she's got Tourette's."


As I stand here on the gallows and you, the families of the dead undead observe me, I hope that by telling my story I can... Hey! I'm not fin--


“And that's a wrap,” Bob said. His voice carried through a speaker from behind the glass into the studio.

“Muahaha!” Half way through my evil laugh I switched from voice over guy, to plain old Harry who does voice overs for trailers. “Hey, Bob. How many of these, a vampire turns out to be a vampire hunter, stories have we done?”

“Uh, don't know. It's got to be like a hundred at leas....” Bob let go of the mike button early cutting off the last letter, but I got the gist.

“Can I get something to drink in here? My throat's dry.”

“Sure, Harry.”

Bob leaned back and I saw his lips moving. A second later and intern left the sound booth.
“Bob, can you loop it through again?” I said.

“Sure.” Bob pressed a button and made a circle in the air with his index finger.

I turned around. I wasn't sure about the narrator speaking directly to the audience, it always comes across as a one man play, but that's the way they wanted it. And humans putting a vampire on trial seemed so wrong for a period piece. You had to ask yourself, didn't most humans back then try to kill vampires?

“Here you go sir.”

The intern had crept into the studio and was handing me a bottle with a straw in it. I checked the label.

“Oh, negative,” The intern said.

I looked back at the screen which was playing the end of the trailer. It paid the bills, but I didn't have to like it.

“Bob, the next one we do, no humans. They've been extinct for years. I want to do something contemporary.”

“Sure, Harry.”

I sucked the red liquid up the straw. Synthetic wasn't the same, but it's all there was.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know Ann Rice was a minion.

fairyhedgehog said...

I like akabrady's twist.

I also like the original. It really makes me want to find out what's going on.

Evil Editor said...

P.2: I'd remove the third "Yes." You're listing what makes your crime murder in the first degree. That you would do it again isn't part of the criteria. Maybe a semicolon after "them" is better.

P.3: Delete: There is one problem; however,

It's not really a "problem." And "however" doesn't make sense.

If killing vampires isn't murder, how was she convicted? If killing vampires is murder, why does she say she's being executed for a crime she didn't commit? Was there a judge, jury, defense attorney?

p4: Delete "yourself." It's you I might ask, not myself. Delete "sort of." I'd also delete
"officially making me 112 years old." If you're afraid we'll think it's set in 1896, you can say "I was born 112 years ago." Your way says the same thing twice.

EB said...

"I wish I didn't have to tell my story in the first person." Then don't.

That first paragraph ends on a confusing note. The tone is not one of a 12 yr old girl. (And not merely for lack of exclamation points and emoticons.) Three paragraphs later you confess to actually being 112. So you're not REALLY 12. But it's taken a few paragraphs to get there; a few paragraphs I kept rejecting because of the tone/age discordance.

If the prosecutors are mortal, they would presumably be unaware of the "technicality" of your true age and therefore would be punishing a 12 yr old...which strains credulity.

Or they're vampires as well, in which case the 12 yr old persona seems just a dodge. If you're writing first person, we've got to trust you as the narrator (at least at first). That doesn't mean you need to tell the truth, but if I'm already questioning you, I'm not likely to read for long.

I apologize for being salty. Maybe it's the jackhammer outside that's making my windows vibrate. Or maybe it's simple vampire fatigue.

Dave Fragments said...

I think that you want to get to the money line sooner rather than later.
"I'm Cleo. I'm a vampire and a I will not rest until all vampires are dead. This is my story." (something like that).
Or maybe I'm Cleo. I kill vampires because I'm cursed to be one."

I think that you can have the same dramatic effect without all the extra words. Anytime someone says "to be honest" two things happen - i) Mostly likely they lie; or ii) they tell the truth which is unwanted. Cleo is doing neither.

Why don't you start out with "You should know that I am not crazy, nor a maniac. I'm a 12 y/o girl convicted of killing the Monroes. I don't deny it. I have no remorse and if given the chance, I'll do it again.

I don't agree with the opening line of "I wish I didn’t have to tell my story in the first-person." because if Cleo is going to tell the story, then she shouldn't apologize for doing so. She apologizes for "first-person," begs for the reader to listen, laments at even having a story. Yawn. We all have a story.

As for the prosecutor, there's a logic problem there - Cleo says he has her motive, confession and fingerprints. If her confession is "I killed them because they were vampires" then she's going to a psychiatric hospital and not death row. Her motice is to rid the world of bloodsucking undead. That would also not get her the death penalty. Padded cell, rubber room, lots of counseling, maybe. There is something else operating here that is much more dramatic than what you are saying. Figure it out and bring it in as Cleo's opening.

Dave Fragments said...

Let me say one more thing about the truth - If you want to see real fear in a person's eyes, in the middle of a difficult situation say "DO you want the truth? The absolute truth?"

No one wants to hear the truth, the unvarnished, hard as nails, flesh-tearing, soul-searing truth.

That's why as soon as someone protests "I wouldn't lie about that" or "I'm telling the truth" we know they are going to lie.

none said...

I thought vampires were already dead.

Sylvia said...

I also didn't like the apology beginning - I guess I feel like my narrator should be burning with desire to tell me what is going on. If not, then why bother? It might help to know who "I" am in this context and why you wish the tale to reach me. I suppose at this point I'm waiting to be told why I care.

Loved the continuation :)

Stacy said...

I feel like you're concentrating a little too hard on setting up the paradoxes as a hook. The protagonist is 112 but looks 12, s/he committed murder, but not really, etc.

I'd rather read a challenge than an explanation that the narrator is not crazy, paranoid, nor manic. Something more like Listen to my tale and judge for yourself. You'll see. Part of the story, I think, is revealing how the narrator doesn't commit murder.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked this and would have read on. That opening line should go, though. The other nits people have didn't really bother me.

Stacy said...

Yeah, what writtenwyrdd said. That too.

We never get why the narrator has to tell this in first person. Who else is going to tell the story?

Whirlochre said...

Whatever this summons in the 1st para, it dispels in the rest.

But, whatever — you've got me.

The next 850 words are critical — have you written them or is this a Test 150?

Julie Weathers said...

Aside from some of the suggestions already made, I have nothing to add tonight. Maybe tomorrow. However, I like the premise about as much as anything I've read in a long time.

Anonymous said...

I personally can't stomach the pretentiousness of Anne Rice's first-person vampire narrators, but she's exceedingly widely read. Are you sure you want to invite comparisons in which your undead prose will undoubtedly suffer eternal damnation?'

none said...

Umm, a lot of books are told in third person, I believe :).

Anonymous said...

It's such a great premise that it's already been written at least 300 times.

Julie Weathers said...

It's such a great premise that it's already been written at least 300 times.~

I read on an agent's blog recently about how she never wants to see another fantasy query about evil bad dude trying to take over the world.

I have evil bad dudette trying to take over a kingdom, which I assume is overused and old. I just have to believe the magic is in the storytelling. I guess we'll see.

ril said...

Did I mention that Cleo is a time-traveling, zombie cow who discovers that she is the "great wizard"
foretold of in the prophecies of an ancient Egyptian race of astroplane-traveling, omnipotent dung beetles?

That old chestnut?

Dave Fragments said...

Lyle, You have an intriguing opening. It's not perfect and that's nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, asking other for help is nothing to be ashamed of. So don't worry. When you get big and famous we aren't going to sit with our mai-tai or margerita, and point and giggle at you "We knew him when"... Honest, we won't. We'll sit on the other side of our computers and giggle as your YouTube flickers on the screen and quietly turn green with envy.

1. In para 2, I should have said, "I'm being executed for Murder in The First Degree."
Yeah, but my comments would be the same.

2. The Prosecutor successfully convinces the jury that vampires are not dead. Nor are they the living dead. They are suspended lifeforms much like glass is a suspended liquid.
MY stars, that's a huge leap in the law. It works, but be careful of when you explain it. It's going to take a huge chunk of exposition to present the philosophical arguement.

3. Cleo is writing her story down for her younger brother whom she's never met. It's a letter, more or less. He is 88 years old. She would like to write her story in the third-person in order to create a disconnect between herself and her actions. (Did I use herself correctly?)
Well that a tone and style issue. This is the opening letter, perhaps a few simple words would help.
"My brother, who I have loved these many years and yet did not have the privilege of sharing life with. My hope s that my story will reach you after my execution... Whatever they tell you, I am not a murderer. I am a vampire humter. I live to remove that scourge from the face of the earth... etc...
What I am is more than what the say. I am your sister, yes, born (112-88=24) years mother gave you life and made a vampire (X) years ago.

Something like that.

Robin S. said...

R. Lyle - we ARE the group. The best one.

Get to know a few people - stick around - and then you'll know who to ask when you're ready. I've done it - and so have many others.

You're already in the right place- just keep writing - keep reading- and stick around. It will fall into place for you- if you have anything like the experience I've had.

Julie Weathers said...

RE the writing group for a manuscript critique:

The writers workshop is what you want. You have to ask for permission to join it for the privacy of the authors. It's a critique exchange program.

I took my suspense, DANCING HORSES, through it. I had an agent for it at the time, but after taking it through the workshop, it really wasn't even the same book they accepted. It was amazing how much it improved.

Anyway, if you need an indepth dissection of your work, that is the place.

Not that I am trying to syphon minions away. One of the sysops there is a minion and references to things going on here get linked there.

Some people, like me, just need a lot of thorough hammering to get things right. I really ought to take an English course or a writing class someday.

((EE, if you would rather not have other sites mentioned, just slap my hands(not hard, I'm delicate) and don't post this.))

batgirl said...

Ummm ... glass isn't a liquid, suspended or not. It's an amorphous solid:

Online writing workshops I'd recommend include The Online Writing Workshop (duh!)
and the Share Your Work forum on Absolute Write:

Sorry about all the links.