Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Beginning 562

I rolled my eyes.

Well, okay, technically I don’t have any eyes. But the intention was there—if I had eyes, I would have been rolling them. The setup was just so tacky. Way too many candles filled the room with smoke and the few lights were draped with filmy red cloth. She had even thrown in some fancy, flowered pentagrams this time.

Really—pentagrams? Give me a break. Clearly this was a low-rent establishment, and I hated that Rose’s was the only service that saw fit to call on me so far. I was better than this, better than Rose and her ridiculous showboating, better than her cheap, boring customers and their cheap, boring lives.

Yet, here I was. I could have just ignored the summons. But I’ll admit it felt good to hear my name again. And besides, even if the work wasn’t interesting, it was still something. What can I say, writing was my life. Too bad I died.

"She comes!" someone whispered behind me. Probably Rose herself, wearing her black nylon hooded robe decorated with silver stars that she'd carefully hot-glued on the hem. Carefully, because otherwise the nylon would melt.

"Mwa ha hahahahaha-a-a-a!" I chortled. May as well give her and her cheap, boring customer a good show.

"Put the manuscript in the center of the big pentacle," Rose said in her whiskey growl, "and read the exhortation! Quickly!"

Hurried scuttling behind me. I turned slowly, emitting a few puffs of black smoke just for fun, and drew in my breath in a deep, hissing gasp. Then I spoke: "What is the word length of this manuscript which I, Miss Snark, have been summoned to read?"

Opening: Kiersten.....Continuation: Marissa Doyle


Sarah Laurenson said...

Oh my! Ghostwriter has become Miss Snark. Oh my! LOL What a great continuation.

Hey K. Still love this. I'm thinking a lot about the no eyes thing. It leads me to believe that this thing is not even remotely human. Not sure you want to give that impression.

I love the voice. I think it's a bit easy to use cliches with this one though. Something to be careful of.

Anonymous said...

I rolled my eyes too.

I like the idea, but this comes across to me like trying too hard.

Try opening with something more solid, like "The seance was so tacky it made me embarrassed to be summoned."

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

* * *

Rose shook her head. "Sorry about that. This happens to me every time. Wouldn't you rather just pay cash? Most people prefer to. I swear, it's like this damned Bic has a mind of its own. Thanks, that'll do nicely. Oh, don't forget your pants. And, uh, these..."


So I coalesced in the pentagram made of flowers (synthetic flowers; she couldn't even bother with real roses, the cheapskate)and made the obligatory obeisance.

"Salaam, Madam. I have come as you commanded," I intoned, hands pressed together before my chest. When I straightened, she was grinning and clapping her hands excitedly.

"Oh Goody! I knew you would come, Sheherezade!"

"How may I serve you, Madam? This time." She missed the sarcasm. She would.

"Listen," Rose said, licking her lips nervously. "I was going to submit something to Evil Editor. I need your opinion. How about 'It was a dark and stormy night'?"


Evil Editor said...

I didn't like the no eyes either. Is the speaker just a formless entity whose thoughts we can hear?

I'd also drop: What can I say, writing was my life. Too bad I died. You've made no connection between the scene and writing, so it makes no sense at this point. You could change it to When you're dead, you have to take what you can get.

Or save it till after we know the narrator has been summoned to do some writing.

Kiersten White said...

Thanks, Sarah ; ) And I agree with you and EE on the eyes--sometimes I try to be too clever for my own good.

The premise of this short story is that she's a ghostwriter--literally. She's summoned to "possess" (in a manner of speaking) people who want their memoirs written.

However--it's actually on hold anyway, now that I have a new idea for a book. I'll definitely come back to it though, or work on it if I hit any blocks with my book.

Mostly I'm just happy that EE found so little to criticize! What a great morning ; )

Kiersten White said...

Also, cute continuation! Thanks, Marissa ; )

writtenwyrdd said...

I rather liked the first 2 paragraphs. It set the tone and gave us something about the character.
A bit too much rambling on without action for me, though. If you intermix the action and dialog with the observations it will pull in the readers.

And I agree about the "it was still something. What can I say, writing was my life. Too bad I died" going away. I already got it that she was a ghost being summoned.

Whirlochre said...

This is a quirky spook who sounds like it's going to get into a lot of trouble — perhaps with the elder spooks.

Liked the eyes, but, yes — the ending wasn't needed.

Worth coming back to.

Anonymous said...

I like the voice in this story. The pacing is a bit slow, but that may have more to do with timid writing than pacing. Try killing the extra words and see if it picks up.

for example:

Instead of - She had even thrown in some fancy, flowered pentagrams this time.

Maybe - She even threw in some fancy flowered pentagrams this time.

Over all, I found the idea of a ghost as a ghostwriter very appealing. Can't wait to see the finished product.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a pretty cool idea, Kiersten. I didn't immediately connect with the ghostwriter connection either. But, if "ghostwriter" is in the title, then this wouldn't be an issue. It wouldn't hurt to say "I'm a ghostwriter" in some manner in the opening, though.

--Bill H.

talpianna said...

The lack of eyes and the pentagrams made me think that it was a demon being summoned, not a ghost. Perhaps a classical dæmon of inspiration? One who has, unknown to the summoner, gone over to the Dark Side and will inspire the writer to perpetrate something horrific--like a certain Code?

Anonymous said...

I immediately thought of Bartimaeus, which begins with the summoning of a demon, from the demon's point of view. That's some stiff competition.

Tintin said...

I was likewise reminded immediately of the beginning of The Bartimaeus Trilogy. While this is well-written, I can't help but immediately compare it in my mind with Stroud's opening--and since those books are some of my favourites ever, this one has to be damned good for it not to feel like a pale shadow of that. If the voice was significantly different sounding from Bartimaeus' snark, or if the story opened on something vastly different from a summoning, I would react more favourably, I think.

none said...

I hate it when the second sentence of something contradicts the first sentence.

This isn't as egregious as "The world ended on (whenever it was)," followed by, "of course, it didn't really end", but it's in the same vein.