Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Beginning 609

Tony made a bet with the entire fifth grade class. If he didn’t steal Mr. Chance’s magical map by his eleventh birthday, he was going to wash the kindergarten toilets every day for the rest of the school year.

Some kids said that was desperate. Suicidal. Just plain crazy!

But Tony was a rule-breaker.

Nevertheless, Tony couldn’t ignore the Legend of Mr. Chance. This top-secret notebook lay hidden on the back shelf of the Watson Elementary School library. The Legend of Mr. Chance filled every page. Except the last one. Tony planned on writing the ending himself.

He stood in the library, skipping his dreaded math class, and quietly re-read the pages:

The Legend of Mr. Chance

Mr. Chance had only one purpose in life-to make miserable little kids even more miserable.

Little kids who laughed at his shiny bald head and big bulging belly.

Little kids who hid his glass eye under his wig collection.

Little kids who barged into his magic shop and messed up the fake vomit display.

"And little kids who fall for my notebook trap!" Smiling, Mr. Chance tucked Tony into his velvet purse, where no one could hear him scream. Then he unfolded his map on the floor, stepped onto its center, and returned to his shop, where the stew pot was already boiling.

Opening: Chris Eldin.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

Tony glanced around the empty library and flipped the cap off his pen. Turning to the last page, he wrote:

But most of all, Mr. Chance hated Tony, who stole his magic map!
"Huh," Tony said loudly, breaking the library whisper-only rule. "That was easy. Guess it pays to be the only literate fifth-grader in the school."


Little kids who couldn't aim right, or who thought it funny to stick poop-covered tissue to the walls.

Tony rinsed his cloth again in the bucket of cold, gray water and vowed never, ever to make another bet.


Thinking about all those gruesome things Mr Chance had done to kids over the years, Tony quietly put the book back on the shelf. He was a rule-breaker, and that meant he could break the rule about honouring his bets.


Little kids who were never heard from again after they messed with Mr. Chance. Sure, rumor had it that one boy had been found years later in a Guatemalan sweat-shop, but who would want to take that chance.


But Mr. Chance had one weak spot. When he himself had been a miserable little kid, he'd only been happy reading about the great adventure of the daring rule-breaker named Tony. Tony made a bet with the entire fifth grade class.


"Little kids who skip math class and don't have a library pass," growled Mr. Fate, the math teacher. "Let's get you started on those toilets, Tony."
"Oh no you don't," yelped Mr. Luck, the school janitor. "My union specifically forbids the use of unpaid volunteers for any task that can be performed by a union employee. No contracting out!"
"Can we have some quiet, please?" said Ms. Destiny, the librarian. "And what's this unauthorised material, Tony?" She flipped pages. "I can't see the schoolboard approving this. Mocking the differently-abled, mention of vomit, no, really, not a chance."


Evil Editor said...

It's not clear what the connection is between the notebook and the map. Where's the map, and why can't Tony steal it while ignoring the legend of Mr. Chance? Is the map's location in the notebook?

In what way is the notebook hidden? It's on the library shelf, and Tony seems to have had no trouble getting it.

What happens if Tony wins the bet?

I don't like "Tony was a rule-breaker." No rules have been mentioned. How about "risk-taker"?

none said...

This is too compressed. Give the story some room.

(also, in my experience, kids don't honour their bets, so, la)

Dave Fragments said...

This is cute and adorable. I like it as an opening but I think parts of it get in the way of the story and the effect.

The map and notebook seem to be the same thing. But, I'll bet they aren't. So the paragraph beginning with "nevertheless" should come after
He stood in the library, skipping his dreaded math class, and quietly re-read the pages.

I'd also throw out either But Tony was a rule-breaker. or the preceding sentence. I think both of them are gilding the lily. You can have some kid tell him he's crazy, suicidal or desperate later in the story or Tony can call himself a "rule breaker/risk taker" (nods to EE) later in the story.

Try those changes and see if they work for you.
Start with the opening paragraph, then place Tony in the library reading the notebook, then what the notebook is, and then invent some internal dialog for Tony to read the contents of the notebook.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I must be, like, 10 edits behind on this, Chris ;o). I'm still mourning the demise of Wink.

Not knowing which way this has morphed, I'm wondering if maybe there doesn't need to be a prequel to Tony's adventures. One that introduces Chipping and Chance, with a kid who's in there to frame THEIR story. Trying to fit all the backstory about those characters into what seems should be Tony's story feels a little awkward. But as I haven't seen more of this than the last opening and this one, I could be way off base...

I would like to see the writing in this opening more "personal". For instance, instead of "Some kids" in the second paragraph, maybe intro the kids from his class:

Jimmy the Geek pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and declared the plan, "Desparate."

"Su-i-ci-dal," Sara pronounced, wagging her finger on every syllable.

"Crazy!" Nathan's big head bobbled back and forth on his skinny neck. "That's just plain crazy."

Do 10-year-olds-going-on-11 consider themselves "little kids"? I think maybe "miserable little kids" works, but perhaps lose the "little" after that once? And ditto EE's questions.

I'm interested to see where this goes ... this time ;o)

Anonymous said...

Clean toilets instead of whom?? The janitor? Why make a bet that punishes the loser but the winner gains nothing. I don't believe the fifth graders have to clean kindergarten toilets. I would have stopped reading at this point because it doesn't make sense.

batgirl said...

Not my kind of story, but there's a nice light tone to it, reminiscent of The War Between the Pitiful Teachers and the Splendid Kids.
The opening seems a bit ADD, and could perhaps do with less telling and more showing.

batgirl said...

Oh, yeah, and love K's continuation! The velvet purse is a brilliant touch.

fairyhedgehog said...

I loved the first two sentences: they set the story up perfectly and I was drawn right in.

The next two paragraphs felt jerky and after that I got confused about where the notebook came in.

I think this is going to be a fun read.

Chris Eldin said...

Wow! I didn't know I was up!
This was a first pass...so some of this has been addressed...

Will be back later when I can talk. But Thanks!!!

(Do like "Risk Taker" much better.)

Chris Eldin said...

Hi, This is the beginning as I have it now...

If he didn’t nab Mr. Chance’s magical map by his eleventh birthday, he was going to scrub the kindergarten toilets every day for the rest of the school year.

Some kids said that was crazy. Zany. Cockamamie! ((I worked for two weeks on this sentence, trying to find a combination of words that sounded musical together. I hope this works..))


EE, Thanks! I definitely like 'risk taker' better! And the rest of your questions are answered mostly in the first chapter.

Buffy, the pacing slows down in the second chapter, then picks up again. I wanted the first chapter to be active, and I think it works from the feedback I've gotten. But thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!!! I agree--that pace is tiring if carried too long.

Dave, you always have nice things to say, and I want you to know I appreciate that. Thank you....
I will give your suggestions a try and see how they sound.

Phoenix!! An agent who read the full told me to kill Chipping. It was a bloody mess, but there you go.
:-) I LOVE your suggestions about the kids, and it was actually something I toyed with. But I'm judicious with names when I write. If I mention a name, there should be some other relevance to the story. Plus, as is, there are several characters in upcoming chapters, so I like to remain tight with Tony, and his nemeis, Fat Chance.
And you are spot on!! "Little" was one of the first deletions I made. Kids do NOT think of themselves as little kids, LOL!!!

Thanks for everyone's thoughtful comments and criticisms!!!

Chris Eldin said...

Wow, I'm really needy today.

Could I post the next part? It goes like this:

In short, kids who farted and burped and sneezed and coughed and did all sorts of gross things. Kids who wanted a little more freedom from their parents and a little more sugar in their lunchboxes.

Mr. Chance enjoyed his purpose in life. His daily checklist included:
• Spray two boys with girl’s perfume
• Chop off the ponytail of a girl wearing a pretty pink dress
• Switch the homework of a kindergarten kid with the homework of a fifth-grader
• Throw pies at six kids wearing braces
• Throw mud at seven kids with brown hair

You can probably guess by now, Mr. Chance did not attend the School For Treating Kids With Kindness.

Would like to tap into the creativity of the minions and see if they can add to the checklist...

batgirl said...

Chris, as mentioned, I'm not the target audience for this, but I'm having some difficulty getting an idea of Mr. Chance as a character. Apparently he runs a trick and joke shop, but first he's a grouchy curmudgeon who hates kids and wants them out of his shop (and how the heck do kids get hold of his glass eye?) then he's a prankster playing tricks on kids on their own ground. I know the trope that the grouch is really just a big kid himself, but usually that's a reveal later in the story, not thrown in right off.
Too much conflicting information in too short a space for me. Is there a reason why you can't say up front that Chance runs a trick-and-joke shop or whatever? Who he is in Tony's world?