Friday, August 22, 2008

New Beginning 543

The bell was going to ring high in the great Avalon Castle. A girl was running, her long strawberry-blonde hair tucked behind her right ear. Sweat dripped from her sickly, pale face as she dampened the many staircases down towards the main floor. Her fever kept ragging inside her, but she still ran to her class.

At the learning center, the apprenticeship program was in action. Students would learn the basics: mannerisms, healing concoctions, linguistics, down to reading the stars. While you didn’t get to pick your job; most thought it was better for the “Masters” to pick you. Their decisions were based on your special skills and study habits - or at least their opinion of them.

As the girl touched the door, she heard the loud gong of the bell echo the halls. The girl trembled, but just as she slammed the door open she hit an elderly priestess in gold to the floor.

With a cry of rage, the priestess pushed herself up and pointed at the girl. A fireball flew at her, engulfing her from the tips of her dainty toes to the top of her strawberry-blonde head. Fortunately, her screams were short-lived.

"So you see, Patsy? That's why we don't run into Mummy's bedroom without knocking first." She tucked her daughter in and crossed over to the other bed. "Now, Billy; I've told you before about running with scissors. Here's your story: 'Silly Teddy's Entrails'. Once upon a time . . . "

Opening: JB Keyser.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

"Oh, I'm so sorry Mistress Wigg!" she knelt by the groaning Mistress.

Other Students giggled nervously. Except for Bart, who called the girl stupid and helped Mistress Wigg to sit up.

"You know it's Decision Day," gasped the Mistress as she pushed to stand, a hand to her head, "and I've made my Decision about you, young woman. She waved a hand and intoned, "You will Serve a Star!"

The girl closed her open mouth. "Well, that's not so bad, Mistress Wigg."

"I meant the perpetually burning orb hanging in the heavens, you idiot. As fuel."



What did it matter, anyway? She was failing the healing concoctions class, having brewed up a fever-inducing potion instead of a cure for ragweed allergies.

She flunked the final and she clocked Mrs. Dumble with the door. Better to be expelled than accept the only job that was given to clumsy students with poor grades. She wasn't cut out to be a PE teacher, even if she did run like the wind.


The scrambling and chatter that usually filled the classroom just before it's beginning stilled suddenly and the girl stood there with the limp body of the priestess at her feet.

There would be no forgetting this. A wave of hideous laughter rose from the bowels of her classmates. The laughter was just as inescapable and familiar as the limp body.

Normally this would have driven her to flight. That was not to be the case today. No fever nor near death experience of the wretched priestess would stave off her desire to be here today. Today would be her recompense for all the laughter and scorn of the past four years. Today she would soar above it all and at last take her place in the hollows of favor. She had found the key to door to her future and nothing would keep her from opening that door.


"Oh, I'm sorry. If this fever would quit ragging on me all the time, I'd be able to pay more attention!"

Meanwhile the old woman in the gold robe; watched her angrily. "I'll show you ragging," she muttered, casting a quick spell that turned the girl into a pile of dirty dish towels. "Rag away," she sneered, pushing herself up and kicking what was left of the girl to the side.


There went her grace and agility badge.

Brownies was a lot easier in the old days. --McKoala

"I'm so sorry, Your High Priestessness," said the girl, offering a moist hand to the old woman sprawled on the floor with her undies showing.

The old lady slapped her hand away and snarled, "You fool, I have half a mind to turn you into a toad."

"Please, I'm so sorry, but I don't feel well right now. Whenever I'm on the rag, it makes me feverish. And, the sweat was running in my eyes, blurring my vision. I didn't see you."

The priestess scowled, shoving her false wooden teeth, which were covered with green mold, back into her mouth.

"What's your name imbecile?"

"M-Misty Rose," Celeste Darkshade's lie rolled off her tongue, the spittle mingling with the sweat dripping from her lip.

The old priestess struggled to stand, but the gold weighed her down. Celeste tried to help her, but the crusty woman shoed her away with a kick to the shin.

"You'll pay for this Misty Rose. Mark my words, you'll pay."

Celeste instantly regretted the lie, but didn't know how to get out of it. Misty was her best friend and she didn't want to get her in trouble. After astronomy class, she'd go straight to the head priestess and explain what happened, making things right.

Just then, the castle bell rang really low and the girl knew she was going to be late for class. When she walked through the door, a group of students were huddled around a classmate.

"What's going on?" Celeste wanted to know.

"She was talking and laughing," said a young man. "And, all of a sudden blood started oozing from her ears. And, she fell over. I can't get a pulse!"

"What should we do?" Celeste asked.

"The teacher ran to get help?"

"My mother was a physician, maybe I can do something in the interim," said Celeste.

The crowd parted, leaving Celeste gasping and feeling sicker than ever.

For there, on the floor, with her auborn locks wrapped in an attractive braid upon her head like a crown, was her best friend, Misty Rose.

"What have a done?" She cried, then fainted.


Evil Editor said...

P.1: Raging, not ragging.

The amount of sweat that falls in the time it takes one to run down a staircase is unlikely to be so great that it dampens the staircase.

P.2: There's gotta be a better place to work this in than right in the middle of the tense scene you've set up. This paragraph should be where at last she reaches the door, relieved that the gong hasn't yet sounded.

P.3: Use "she" instead of "the girl" in sentence 2.

Actually, I don't like "slammed" or "in gold." I would change sentence 2 to: She shoved the door open, knocking an elderly priestess to the floor.

Anonymous said...

Glaringly improper use of semicolon in para 2

writtenwyrdd said...

There are a number of spelling and punctuation errors in this that distract from the actual story telling. You might want to brush up on that sort of thing, Author.

As EE notes, this is a tense scene and a good starting point. But the problem I find with the whole piece is that the emphasis is repeatedly misplaced in the presentation. Showing us details is good; showing the wrong ones that do not emphasize the problem are not.

An example is "the girl trembled, but just as she slammed the door open she hit an elderly priestess in gold to the floor."

The important point is that she knocks the priestess down. This is bad because the priestess has some power over the girl's future. But you open the sentence with the girl's trembling, a misplaced conjunction (but) which implies the following phrase is subordinate to the trembling, and then you bury the priestess being knocked down with extraneous detail (elderly, in gold, just as she slammed the door).

If you said "She shoved the door open, knocking an elderly priestess to the floor" the emphasis is on the important point, that the priestess got knocked down, which is obviously a Bad Thing with consequences to follow.

Overall, you have a good starting point and you have the main points here. You just need to keep revising.

Whirlochre said...

There's too much of an irritation factor with this one for me.

The 2nd para is an intrusion. The info does not seem important enough to warrant splitting your narrative in half.

By the third mention of 'the girl', I wish you'd hurry up and tell me her name.

Whoever she is, surely she hits the elderly priestess (smack) and knocks her to the floor?

Having just edited out para 2 on my WP, named the girl 'Sarah' and tackled the ragging, the narrative flows better and I'm more sympathetic to 'the girl'. I like the wasy she has her hair tucked behind her right ear and maybe I'm interested in what happens after she collides with the priestess.

Sarah Laurenson said...

You've got a good start here, JB. You definitely write better than I did when I was 17.

Some things to consider:
It can be more helpful to have a trusted reader help you edit your piece before you submit it anywhere. That way, you can get feedback to take you the final step towards a finished manuscript rather than feedback showing you spelling errors.

A critique group can speed you on your way to major improvements in your writing. This can be face to face or online. Since you seem to be in the YA genre here, I suggest checking into SCBWI and seeing what's available in your area. Although not everyone likes critique groups.

I hope you keep writing and keep trying to figure out this crazy business.

Brenda said...

Is there a specific reason why you start her out as "a girl"? If not, I'd use her name so the reader may associate with her faster.

Robin S. said...

Hi JB,

Sarah mentioned your were a 17 year old writer - and I don't know how Sarah knows that, but as she doesn't just toss stuff into the wind, I figure she knows it somehow.

I wanted to tell you I'm impressed that you put yourself out there, or here, really, to get feedback, and I'm also impressed that you're writing already. Good for you.

Hopefully you can find a creative writing class around that's not operated by one of those simps whose sole purpose in life is to turn everyone into a one-voice show. There are some good writing teachers out there that know how to bring you along in your own voice and in your own way, and I hope you find one of them.

Your story opening needs some 'tightening', for lack of a better word, and it doesn't read to me as though you've quite found your own style yet - which would be a natural thing in your progression.

I'm good with the girl in your opening being called 'the girl', by the way. I'm operating under the assumption that you have a reason for waiting to tell the reader the girl's name - and I'm fine with waiting, both for the name, and to find out why.

Hope you stick around.

WouldBe said...

The bell was going to ring high in the great Avalon Castle.

The bell was about ring high in the great Avalon Castle.(Gives a little more urgency.)

A girl was running, her long...

An mage apprentice was runnning, her long... (This establishes her gender and very briefly gives enough back story to delay paragraph two, as others have suggested. I don't know if 'mage' is the right word here.)

Her fever kept raging...

Her fever raged... (You've established the continuing action twice with your present progressive tense use. The past tense is more active and effective at this point.)

...slammed the door open...
(I've never heard that phrase and it sounds odd to me; I've only heard 'slammed the door closed')

Good luck.

Bill H.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Hey Rob - it's from the 'normal' query where EE asked her to confess she was Jack-age 14 and she replied she was a 17 yo female.