Monday, January 05, 2009

New Beginning 591

A door crashed, shaking the three-room house. Marian cringed as the brush her sister held yanked her head back. She barely heard the door slam shut again, overshadowed as it was by the accompanying rough voice. "Where's my hot breakfast?"

Terra moaned. "Why in the Rift couldn't business keep Hayden away until after Courtship?"

Marian snatched the brush from her sister's limp hand and shoved it in the single dresser drawer. "Hurry! You don't want another one of Father's talks."

"He's not my father."

"All the more reason he'll turn on you. You don't want your tinker showing up while you're nursing a black eye." Marian's stomach clenched as she pulled on a long tunic. Had falling in love dampened Terra's fear of Father?

Terra waited by the door, gnawing on her lip. Marian gave her older sister's hand a squeeze.

Mother's soothing murmurs carried to them through the clatter of pots and pans in the other room.

Marian turned back to the looking glass and examined herself in the tunic. "No, this won't do," she said to her reflection.

"You don't understand either!" Terra pouted. "You're just like father. Listen, there's something . . . I mean, I'm not--"

Her sister's words cut off abruptly as Marian slipped off the tunic and turned to face her. Terra's face, handsome rather than pretty, wore a strange expression as her eyes took in Marian's nakedness. Then Marian noticed something else she hadn't anticipated--her sister's tinker. It seemed that Terra was firmer than Marian ever expected.

Opening: Mary.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Cringe means
1. to shrink, bend, or crouch, esp. in fear or servility; cower. fawn.

Which is okay if she's cringing because father is home, but it sounds like she's cringing because of the brush pulling her hair. Also, it's not clear from the wording whose head is being pulled back.

If the tinker is not the guy courting Terra, I would think Marian would be more concerned about the guy who IS courting Terra seeing her with a black eye than the tinker.

feywriter said...

Thanks for pointing out confusions. The tinker IS the guy Terra is courting, by the way.

Evil Editor said...

Then is it likely Marian would speak of her sister's beau as her tinker rather than by name? Not saying it's ridiculous, just asking.

feywriter said...

I was trying not to confuse the reader with too many names on the front page.

Dave Fragments said...

When I read that the "door crashed" open, I don't think slammed. I think kicked in. It's the wrong image for a rough father demanding breakfast.

And I live in a small house (only about 1100 square feet) and my TV/stereo shakes everything and I can hear doors slam all over. My point is that a three room house is so small, how far from the door could she be and still be unseen? It's that type of detail that's pulling me out of the story. I mean, what does this house consist of? Two bedrooms (Mom/Dad and shared sisters), a kitchen/dining room and an outhouse?

Also, there are six people in 150 or 200 words. Mother, father, Terra, Marian, the Tinker, and Hayden. And their introductions are scattering the action. We open with two sisters doing their hair and a door slam/demand. They we hear about Hayden. Then we go back to the Father and find out he isn't the father. Then we're back in the bedroom where we find out about the black eye and a new love. Then we meet Mother, who is going to sooth their father. Our movement as a reader is frenetic. A reader is juggling six characters.

I would start in the same place, with one sister hearing the father enter and leave the main room and say to her sister "Father's on a rampage" and the reply can come "He's not going to be please with my black eye." This is where you say that meeting her lover (either the tinker or Hayden or someone else) with a black eye is lousy luck.
And I would give the room a threadbare appearance with a single dresser that acts as vanity, a closet, two beds and clothes hanging on the back of the door. But I would stay in the room for the opening. I wouldn't introduce too much outside the room.

Then maybe go to the mother's soothing tones calling them and the statements about Hayden and guardianship of the father.

And now that I'm thinking about the text, this is ambiguous:
"Why in the Rift couldn't business keep Hayden away until after Courtship?"
It creates the wrong mystery. It's not concise. Is Hayden her love? Is Hayden merely a betrothed and she has fallen in love with another? Is Hayden just a complicating factor and not a lover? Is he buying out her Father's farm or house? Be careful of statements that lead to questions like that. Is the father disturbed at Hayden for dating his daughter?
Hayden might just be a distraction for all involved (At this point). If that's true, then it's the father who's being put upon: a) his Daughter is meeting her love, b) she's somehow got a very unladylike black eye and c) Hayden is distracting him from his fatherly responsibilities.

Well, I'm not sure if any of this helps. It's just my thoughts today. Take em, or leave em.

Evil Editor said...

I thought Hayden WAS the father. It's not the number of names that's bothersome, it's the number of characters. We can probably do without mother for a while. If Hayden is the father, caling him by both names is confusing. As it may be confusing when the tinker shows up but is called by his name. Unless someone says, "Hi John. How's tinks?"

Dave Fragments said...

I was trying not to confuse the reader with too many names on the front page.

Well think of yourself as one of the sisters and what your conversation would be while combing your sister's hair or having it combed by your sister.

And (sorry to ask this so bluntly. Please don't take it as being nasty or rude) if you thought too many names was bad for the reader, why wouldn't too many unnamed characters be bad? Trust that little voice when it says "too many names" in side your head. We meet two sisters doing sisterly things, then we learn that father is on a rampage and they talk about why he is on a rampage. Good place to start, just how does that conversation occur naturally as it introduces the sisters to the reader?

BTW - I'm in an editing mode today and I've already ripped apart and rewrote over 300 words and two scenes out of one of my stories. That's since lunch. Last night was worse for the original story. I found such raging, stupid junk in my stuff. But that's what editing is all about. And your stuff is nowhere near as bad as my first drafts (That's meant to be nice and not snarky. Please don't read it snarky.).

feywriter said...

E.E. is right, Hayden is the father.

{i}I mean, what does this house consist of? Two bedrooms (Mom/Dad and shared sisters), a kitchen/dining room and an outhouse?{/i}

Exactly. The girls are in their room, Hayden/Father slams the front door.

I'll have to find a way to cut down on all this confusion. The suggestions are appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't read much further; it's somehow all expository without telling us anything useful. The other minions are doing a better job of explaining that, so I'll leave them to it.

I do want to point out that Hayden is a very modern-sounding name (for good reason: and that put me a bit off too.

Good luck!

Jodi Ralston said...

There are some interesting bits in here, with the courtship and rift, but I got confused, like I'm trying to catch up but can't. I'd have an easier time keeping Marian and Terra apart if they had some description, either physical or otherwise, for instance. But otherwise, it sounds quite interesting.


Chelsea Pitcher said...

Terra called him Hayden because he's not her father. Right?

I wonder if this confusion could be cleared up by making Marian react to Terra calling him Hayden, either with words or a facial expression. Or you could possibly put "Father's" in italics in the line, "You don't want another one of Father's talks," so the reader can grasp that Marian is correcting Terra.

I had no idea what "tinker" meant but maybe that is just me.


"You don't want another one of Father's talks" and
"You don't want your tinker showing up . . ."

Seemed a bit repetitive to me. Maybe it's just in Marian's nature to constantly tell Terra what she does and doesn't want, but I wonder if there's a different way to say it the second time. Maybe something like, "The last thing you need is to be nursing a black eye when your tinker shows up." Or something to that effect.

I like the name Terra spelled that way :)

Xenith said...

I'll have to find a way to cut down on all this confusion. The suggestions are appreciated.

It might help to develop each idea a bit more before going onto the next one. Also, some sense of where and where would help the anchor the reader. It seems SFnal-- modernish characters in an unusual/made-up setting.

As examples (so I'll be picky):

A door crashed, shaking the three-room house.

That doesn't tell us anything about the house, other than some indicator of size. It could mean low-income mass-produced or it trendy inner city or hand-built rural getaway. Decriptive words have to add details or they're not doing their job.

She barely heard the door slam shut again, overshadowed as it was by the accompanying rough voice.
This is a somewhat distanting sentence, as in we're not really in her head. Which is fine, it does seem to the current trend for point of view but if you can get into her head, and filter everything through what she perceives, you might find yourself picking up more telling details.

That aside, you can this sentence down to the relevant point and have: A voice roared.

"Where's my hot breakfast?"

Why hot? Has he been given a cold breakfast when he wanted a hot one?

Now stop there and don't bring in anymore character, with or without names. Just tell us something more about who and where and when. Not backstory, no way, but flesh out what you already have. Give us some telling details. Spend a few paragraph with just these characters.

jaz said...

I took the cringe to be from the door slam/entry of psycho father thing, but the "as" does create one of those simultaniety problems. Even if you were cringing in response to something else, a good hair pull will snap you right out of it. Particularly if your hair is long enough for someone else to brush.

Is no one going to comment on the continuation?? I thought it was hysterical. But maybe that's just because I was already wondering what the hell a tinker is.

Xenith said...

Tinker, tailor
Soldier, sailor...

Do people really not know what a tinker is?

Dave Fragments said...

one fixes metal things, one sews, one fights and one sails the seven seas.

It's a child's counting rhyme in England. A old one, too.

* When shall I marry?
o This year, next year, sometime, never.
* What will my husband be?
o Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich-man, poor-man, beggar-man, thief.
* What will I be?
o Lady, baby, gypsy, queen.
* What shall I wear?
o Silk, satin, cotton, rags (or silk, satin, velvet, lace)
* How shall I get it?
o Given, borrowed, bought, stolen.
* How shall I get to church?
o Coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, cart.
* Where shall I live?
o Big house, little house, pig-sty, barn.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

No, we're pretending to not know what a tinker is to irk you.

All in a day's work, my friend. All in a day's work.

writtenwyrdd said...

This reads well, if not perfect, but the suitor being a tinker really made me laugh. My understanding is that tinkers were not well thought of historically, not particularly trusted, and definitely not the sort of fellow you'd want a female relative to marry, because their life was so iffy and they traveled all the time. What woman would want to live in a cart or a wagon and not have a home of her own to keep?

Now, I could be totally wrong on that front...

talpianna said...

WW, the reference to "the Rift" makes me think that this is SF (the term is often used in intergalactic discussions), so a tinker might be a more important and valuable person then--perhaps the only person who knows how to fix the indispensable thermonuclear binnacle.