Friday, May 22, 2009

New Beginning 642

It was three weeks before I left for boarding school when I said to my mom, “I dreamed I was standing in the doorway of an airplane. We were up in the sky, and everybody was yelling ‘jump-jump-jump!’ But I didn’t have a parachute.”

We weren’t packing yet. Mostly tossing all the stuff I didn’t use anymore and wasn’t taking with me. So when I was actually gone, my room would be clean. Or maybe a guest room. I wasn’t sure. I don’t know why I said that thing about the airplane, because up until then, we’d been having a pretty good time.

She had been teasing me about the fact I’d written I LOVE AARON SHARPE about a thousand times on this old notebook I’d found under my bed. I told her I couldn’t care less about the guy. AARON SHARPE had failed his driver’s license test two times this summer and would be taking the bus to high school next fall. And anyway, there was a lifeguard at the pool this year that was completely hotter.

So I went from my notebook to Aaron to the hot lifeguard to my dream, and that was when Mom got all flaky and distant.

"Keep tidying. I'll be right back," she said, and skittered off like a frightened deer. I shrugged and stuffed some old Cosmos into the trash bag.

"We need to talk," Mom said a few minutes later when she came back into the room. "That dream? I know you're almost grown up and going to boarding school, and I know you'll get all sorts of pressure, but you don't
have to have unprotected sex, just 'cause all your friends are telling you it's cool." I could feel my eyes widen and my jaw drop. "There are ways to keep a boy interested without giving him everything . . ." That was when she held up the carrot.

There's nothing like BJ lessons from your Mom to ruin a special Mother-Daughter moment.

Opening: anon......Continuation: anon.


writtenwyrdd said...

That continuation is hilarious!

This opening is interesting and I liked it; however in paragraph 2 you have glaring grammatical errors. The second sentence is a fragment that doesn't work. Yes, you can get away with fragments if they make sense. This one doesn't. Just use a comma after yet and you're good to go here.

With the mention of the dream you imply to readers the mention of the dream is going to have consequences. In paragraph 2 you further this implication. Yet in paragraph 3 you appear to switch focus to an irrelevancy, the doodled-upon notebook. I think you should be dealing with your implication that mom will react to the dream mention, perhaps by saying something along the lines of, "it won't be so bad you know," as the implication is that this is about boarding school. (And your mention of how her room is being cleared out also implies that the kid is feeling pushed out of the nest, abandoned or similar, which raises other questions and works to hook interest.)

The continuation latches onto the implications, too.

I would recommend that you delete paragraph three because it doesn't serve your purpose.

Overall, this is a nice hook and nice opening. I liked it a lot!

Evil Editor said...

I'm not sure you need:

Or maybe a guest room. I wasn’t sure.

She's not leaving permanently, so why would she think that won't be her room on vacations/holidays? And if it was being converted to a guest room, odds are she'd have been informed of this already so she could take down her Jonas Brothers posters.

I don't see why the failed driving test matters if she's going away to boarding school. It's not like they'll be carpooling, or like she'd be suffering the humiliation of dating a guy without his license. She won't be seeing him at all.

Dave Fragments said...

I think you muddled the message.

I like the first paragraph. It's intriguing. Obviously jumping out of an airplane without a parachute is a metaphor for going of to school. But once you say that, you have maybe a paragraph of reader time to get back to completing the metaphor.

Instead, you go into what the room is going to be used for after she's gone. Unless someone important to the story takes up residence the room or it's a portal to some other dimension, it's merely color and it doesn't serve your story. Move it to a notepad of "nice things I like but the story is not ready for them yet."

Now the third paragraph, the Aaron Sharpe paragraph, is a girl going to college paragraph.

Why not open with "I dreamed I was ..." and then have the mother say something about anxiety for going to school and hand her the notebook with "I love Aaron Sharpe" all over it and they laugh about him taking a bus to school. That gives you a kinda sweet mother-daughter interaction that leads into the story.

You've got the all elements.

Faceless Minion said...

written ... on this old notebook I’d found under my bed This sounds like the MC found an old notebook and then wrote on it (as opposed to it being a notebook she'd written in years ago making it currently old). In some genres that could be read as a significant detail (mysterious old notebook from who knows where). Here, you might want to rephrase.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

You wouldn't think WW and Dave had read the same opening, would you :o)

Dave says the room is merely color and doesn't serve the story. Yet WW picked up that it echoed the feeling of the MC being pushed out of the nest.

Dave zeroed in on the 3rd 'graph as being the epitome of a girl going to college, while WW sees it as irrelevant.

I pity you, Anon, trying to get consensus today ;o)

As this is conversational narrative, the "Mostly" frag didn't bother me. But the next sentence did. I would combine them as Mostly tossing all the stuff I didn’t use anymore and wasn’t taking with me, so that when I was actually gone, my room would be clean.

On first read, I thought exactly what EE did about ditching "Or maybe a guest room. I wasn't sure."

I really would like to see I told her I couldn’t care less about the guy turned into snappy dialogue. Something like (but much snappier than), "I am so over him," I'd told her. "The guy turned out to be a total dork."

Anonymous said...

Okay, the continuation was Way over the Top, but I loved it!! (should I mention how intriuging anon is to me?)

Anonymous said...

Snappy dialogue would do the trick!

Dave Fragments said...

I did notice what Phoenix comments on, but I didn't take it as completely, irreversibly and absolutely 180 degrees apart.
Maybe it's just a matter of order of words and perspective... I've been through conflicting reviews with technical papers.

First paragraph seems OK. Second paragraph might start out with the airplane. Does this work for you, Anon? Or something like it.

I don't know why I said that. We weren’t packing yet. Mostly tossing all the stuff I didn’t use anymore and wasn’t taking with me, so that when I was actually gone, my room would be clean. Up until my dream, we’d been having a pretty good time.And then let most of the last paragraph the same...

She had been teasing me about the fact I’d written I LOVE AARON SHARPE about a thousand times on this old notebook. I told her I couldn’t care less about AARON SHARPE who just failed his driver’s license test two times and would be taking the bus to high school next fall. And besides, I just met this lifeguard who's so completely hotter.And that may satisfy what seems to be contradictory opinions.

I said earlier that I'd been through conflicting reviews. (When I say "I' remember that there were four authors on one technical paper)
Once a reviewer demanded that an entire section be removed and when it went to the journal, that editor asked to put the section back in. {!!!!}
I also saw what happens when certain journals that had specific styles got text and changed it all to their style. That's phenomenal to see happen, to see how little it takes to convert a plain technical style into (let's say) a very formal style in FUEL (the top journal in my field). It is words, not sentences or paragraphs but individual words.

So when you see conflicting reviews, think of the little things in writing.
Are there too many words or an extra clause, or a useless adjective?
Does the action connect and flow? Or is there a bump? Does it read and scan easily?
Sometimes it's changing the order of sentences.
Is there a better word to say what I want? A catchy phrase? The proper tone?

One thing that responding to reviewers on technical papers taught me was first, lose all your ego. Reviewers and editors are mean, nasty people who hate you... NOT! (But we love them in the end).
Second, patience. This takes time.
Third, stepping back from the work and try to take the POV of the reviewer.
Fourth, not all advice is good. In the end, the author has to convince themselves that what they wrote is what they want.

Dave Fragments said...

BLOGGER WARNING... After closing a tag (bold, italic and URL), blogger seems to eat carriage returns and line feeds. It did it on both of my italicized paragraphs last night.

Gee was I platitudinous last night ;)

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

And , of course there was also that peace thing in the Middle East. Not like that was ever gonna happen, but wow what if it did. Wouldn't that be something worth writing home about!

Then I reached out to pick up my soda, but grabbed a hairbrush instead and realized I left my toothbrush at Stacy's. And by that time there was no one left in the kitchen so I made my way back to my bedroom, and there was my mom going through my stuff. I am SO outta here!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the great points made in the comments. I'm not sure what to make of them as a whole yet, but I am very appreciative for all the time and thought that you all put in.