Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New Beginning 660

Dorian probably should be upset, at the fact he was hanging a good twenty feet off the ground, suspended in a large net of chains along with his brother and Raurk, but he felt nothing. Dangling high above the ground with only the creaking bough of an old oak tree to support their weight should cause at least alarm, Dorian thought. Certainly something besides the same numbness he had always felt, well not always. There had been a time when things matter, a time when things affected him. Now everything he did seemed rather pointless. He feebly tried to tug on the chain biting into his ankle because it seemed like what he should do, not because he really thought he could break the chain or even lessen its hold on him. Sighing inwardly he gave up after only a few minutes and looked at his companions to see if they were faring any better than he.

No, they were no closer to freeing themselves--though they were clearly more bothered than Dorian by their predicament, shooting reproachful glances his way and even muttering the occasional "Tut."

He could expect no less, of course. While they had all agreed this Ikea treehouse would be perfect for the twins, it was Dorian who had said, "Don't worry, it looks easy to put together."

Opening: Brandy Snyder.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

His brother, was making some progress he noted, but he didn't find it, exciting. He hung, there watching disinterestly as his, brother, wiggled in the chains and managed to loosen, the coils. His brother, grabbing a branch of the creaking, oak managed to maintain a grip as the chains slithered, to the ground. Dorian, fell to the ground, landing on his head and lay on the grass, blinking up at his brother's concerned, face. Dorian was busy scrambling out of his own restraints, Dorian reached up to feel, the lump on his head, then shrugged, oh well I guess if we're free we should leave, he thought. He remembered, there was a time when being chained upside down in a tree would have made him want to leave if he got free but now not so much. He wondered if his brother had any gum.


none said...

Starting with a character's unusual reaction to a situation--what we might call inappropriate affect--can be intriguing. Here the reader wants to read on to find out why Dorian is indifferent to dangling upside down in the chains.

I wonder however if this isn't more of an outline for a scene than the scene itself. It doesn't draw me in as much as it should.

I'd be tempted to start with:

Dorian tugged on the chain biting into his ankle. It seemed like the thing to do, even though he couldn't break the chain or even lessen its hold on him.

Dangling twenty feet above the ground in a net of chains...

Show us his numbness.

Evil Editor said...

The first sentence doesn't need a comma after "upset," and I'd make the comma after Raurk a period.

The first two sentences say the same thing:

probably should be upset/should cause at least alarm

hanging a good twenty feet off the ground/Dangling high above the ground

Combine them into one sentence.

In truth, every sentence says the same thing: Dorian no longer cares about anything. No need to keep drilling home that point; we get it.

"Well not always" should begin a new sentence, followed by a colon or dash or semicolon. It shouldn't be tacked onto the sentence it's currently on.

"Mattered," not "matter."

Hard to believe the guy spends a few minutes tugging on his chain before even looking at his companions. Are his companions conscious? Because a few minutes is a long time for three people not to even talk to each other in this situation.

Too many "things" in this section:

There had been a time when things matter, a time when things affected him. Now everything he did seemed rather pointless.

Dump it or be specific about what mattered and when.

Matt said...

Great continuation. I've waged many battles against Ikean furniture.

I might like the opening if it weren't for the glaring technical errors.

I was licking my chops when I saw this one appear in the openings section, but anon beat me to it.

Anonymous said...

You can write an engrossing story focused on trivial goals and perils by making them important to the protagonist. This intro doesn't do that. My guess is that you start with this orphaned "action scene" then quickly go back in time and spend most of the book explaining how dude got here. The best time/place to start is probably in your "backstory" -- when/where dude cares about things and is actively moving around trying to do what he wants to do.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I am curious about why he feels the way he feels. This could use tightening as already suggested here. Right now, it ambles as much as his thought pattern probably ambles - a little too much to draw me in.

Mame said...

I, am, leaving.

_*rachel*_ said...

Comma-itis, and I think the first sentence has too many clauses.

We should feel his numbness, not feel numb ourselves. Maybe it's just because I'm tired and my eyes are itchy, but I'm not getting anything from this. It rambles and repeats itself. The situation could be really interesting if you tightened the prose a LOT, but it still needs work.

Anonymous said...

I liked the premise and I want to read more, but as others have noted the technical errors and the repetion made it difficult for me to follow.

I have recently decided that I am a lazy reader. If I have to work hard at understanding something I read for entertainment purposes - I give up and move on. I have to do alot of analyzing on the job - I don't like struggling through fiction.

I think this can be a great place to start a story but tighten it up some and give us some more details.


mb said...

I think it's really tricky to start off with a character in danger who doesn't care. The not-caring makes it hard to relate to him and defuses the danger. You seem to be hinting that the interesting bit is how he went from caring to not-caring, so that should be the beginning of your story, not this ho-hum-I'm-upside-down scene.

Unknown said...

I tend to find it's a mistake to tell the reader the situation is boring lest they get bored and put the story down.

Your story starts when he tugs on the chain. The thought - "because it seemed like the thing to do" - shows us what the first 5 lines tell us.

"sighing inwardly" is an odd phrase. I'd delete that line and get to the companions. If you stream line the first paragraph, you'll have time to give me a reason to care that Dorian is chained off the ground in a tree.

EB said...

Starting with an apathetic character doesn't make this particular reader want to care. If he doesn't care about hanging in a trap, why should I?

Anonymous said...

I am going to disagree with those that think having an apathetic character hanging upside down in a tree by chains is boring.

That was the only thing I found interesting. . . hanging upside down in a tree with manacles biting at his ankles and Dorian does not care. . . . makes me wonder why things no longer matter to him or what has happened to make life/situations hopeless.

But it needs to be rewritten to have a better impact.

pacatrue said...

I was wondering if it might work better to show the other people with the protagonist struggling mightily, and then show how the protag doesn't care in any strong way. This could also help set the tone of the opening more clearly.

150 said...

I dunno, guys, if a book started out with the line "Dorian hung by his ankles, utterly bored," I think I'd probably keep going.

EE noted a few awkward points, like that misplaced comma after "upset" and the weird "well not always." You're going to want to get someone to comb this carefully for stuff like this. Reading a lot might help train your eye.

Good luck!

_*rachel*_ said...

I smell a Message from Fred, Kings Falcon.

I'd keep reading, too, 150, but the thing with that is it sums up most of the new beginning in a concise, interesting manner.

Why, are, you, leaving Aimee?

mb said...

I like pacatrue's idea -- that might solve it for me.

Steve Wright said...

I agree with several others; it's a kind of interesting situation, but the repetition, the random commas, and the tense confusion (surely he "should have been" upset at something he "felt"?) send up red flags for me.

I bear many scars from self-assembly furniture, so I sympathize with the continuation.

Anonymous said...

The situation is interesting but the writing isn't. It's repetitive, there's no tension, there are too many grammar errors, and it's depressing. I want to hand the MC a bottle of Prozac.

At one point we leave the depression behind for some action "He feebly tried to tug on the chain biting into his ankle" but what impact we might get are lost in "because it seemed like what he should do, not because he really thought he could break the chain or even lessen its hold on him."

Try something like this and stick with action:

Dorian probably should have been upset. He, his brother, and Raurk were hanging a good twenty feet off the ground, in a large chain net. (I am a little confused by net of chains so I guessed. But you need to clarify whether he's hanging by his ankles or suspended in a chain net. )

none said...

But if it started with the protag hung up in chains and struggling mightily to get free, it would lose the one unique aspect it has--the inappropriate affect--and become Yet Another Action Opening.

Although, if the protag were struggling with one hand and chugging Prozac with the other, maybe....

Mame said...

I think it would be easier to convey that he's lost his will to blink through actions, or lack there of, rather than repeatedly saying "He had lost his will to blink".

I did want to know why he's given up. It's almost comical considering the predicament.

John said...

If Dorian is suspended by his ankles, and he reaches up to tug at his chains, he must be a total buffmeister. Try it some time. You'd have to curl your whole upper body up from the waist. Ever see Richard Gere in "American Gigolo?" Most people can't do it; I sure couldn't. If the MC can, why? Is he a circus perfomer? This could be a part of the act...