Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Beginning 723

People became prisoners of many things. Love, money, and even time. Being bound to a pair of gloves never made it to Callen’s top ten list. Of course it was what the gloves represented that made them penitentiary status.

Standing at his locker, Callen shook those thoughts from his brain while scrupulously plucking a tan pair out of its package. These gloves were a lighter material to prepare for the impending spring weather and would provide respite for his sweaty palms. Besides, the others pair had seen their day.

He calculated that each pair lasts an average of two months. The fingertips were always the first to fray, followed by the edging along the palms. He was always surprised by how much use his hands got in any given day. He could probably develop a better prototype someday.

And make his life even more about the gloves? Screw that, he thought.

Callen glanced both ways making sure he was alone in the hallway. Every other sophomore was at lunch. He was excused to the bathroom. The lunch monitor, Mr. Stuckey, always took pity on him. Probably figured he needed more time, with the gloves on and all. Savoring this moment of freedom from the confines of his glove detention, he examined his skin in the flailing fluorescent lights. Mottled red bumps ran along the tops of his fingers and moved in jagged lines down his wrists.

He felt disgust.

* * *


"Yes, well, while we at Garrigan's Gloves were initially intrigued by the offer of 'subtle and subliminal' product placement in your novel, I'm afraid this isn't quite what we had in mind..."

Opening: Christina.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

P1. Change "became " to "become." Delete "Being bound to." Change "made" to "gave." How is it that a pair of gloves never made it to Callen's top ten list? I would think the gloves would be number one on his list.

P2. I would think the last place you'd be able to shake thoughts of your glove problem from your brain would be when you're removing a new pair from their package.

I'm not crazy about the phrases "penitentiary status" and "glove detention," but maybe that's just me.

I don't see how a school can schedule lunch such that all sophomores go at the same time. Some sophomores would have some classes with juniors or freshmen.

I'd drop paragraphs 3 and 4. You don't need five paragraphs about gloves to make the point. Better to get on with it.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Why, why, why had he fingerbanged Paris Hilton?


Until he discovered Garrigans Gloves. Garrigans are made of the finest kid leather, handmade in our Terkel, Missouri factory since 1894. With Garrigans, you can skulk in the mens room with gloves on in total confidence.

Garrigans Gloves. Not Disgusting.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the second sentence naturally flows from the first. People become prisoners of things, yes, but who has a list of things they will/want to become prisoners of?

I don't think status is something that is "made" (third sentence). gave them status, maybe. But made?

scrupulously and plucked also don't seem to go together; the former implies careful action, the latter, quick, whimsical movement.

Re: final sentence in para 2, I think a pair of gloves would be singular but I'd defer to EE on that. Besides, in the first sentence of the next para, you treat it as singular: "each pair lasts".

How much use his hands got is too passive, unless this is very intentional for some so far unknown reason--like someone else uses his hands.

Not sure what you mean by flailing flourescent lights.

That being said, waaayy too much about the gloves. He has icky hands, he wears gloves, got it.
What happens?

Anonymous said...

Also, why is he opening the new gloves at school? Didn't he know the other gloves had see their day when he was at home in the morning?

Anonymous said...

What if you started at paragraph 5? You could work in the bit about changing to a lighter pair of gloves for spring, etc. The phrase "freedom from glove detention" isn't as strong as the single word "freedom." Maybe you could just delete the rest?

The bit about his hands and the implied social isolation really grab me. Good luck with this!

wendy said...

From what you've written I'm assuming that the character is in the beginning phase of morphing into something else, right?

What's missing for me is that he doesn't seem to care about his hands only the gloves. There's no reaction there.

Also I'm not seeing any reason to invest in him yet. You've got to find a way to pull your reader toward your main character even in the first few paragraphs.

Your story looks like it could turn into something interesting, but you haven't hooked me yet. Maybe tighten it up a bit and add in more about the character's struggle? Good luck.

Dave Fragments said...

This is a long way to go to get to actually why he is wearing the gloves. Worse for me (the way I read) is that it's populated with "was" and "being" and "were" and "had" and too much detail (like thoughts occurring in the brain! Where else would thoughts be?). That all slows down the story.

I got drastic. Perhaps this version would serve you better:

People become prisoners of love, of money but seldom gloves. Gloves never made Callen’s top ten list. Standing at his locker, He plucked a new pair out of their package. He calculated that each pair lasts an average of two months.

Mottled red bumps ran along the tops of his fingers and moved in jagged lines down his wrists.

The fingertips fray first then the edging along the palms. He knew enough about gloves to develop longer lasting ones someday. But that would make his life even more about the gloves. Screw that.

In this we get the ordinary interrupted by the ugly. The mundane broken apart by the horrific. I'm guessing that the next line will have more revelations about Callum's hands and his problem. I'm guessing this first chapter will present Callum as both ordinary teenager in HS and as the victim of some dread happenstance. Keep that dichotomy working for you.

I don't think you need all the extra detail in the original to hook the reader.

the author said...

Ughh this just confirms how much I suck at openings. Thanks for all the critiques (and help)so far (the continuation was funny)!

He wears gloves because when he touches people he has visions. Kids think he wears them b/c of his burns. His burns are real b/c at eight he tried to burn away his sense of touch to get rid of the visions.

So maybe something like:

People become prisoners of many things. Love, money and even time. A pair of gloves would have never made it to Callens' top ten list. Until the visions.
And then go to chapter two...
And then skip to five...

Or, maybe just start at chapter five--Callen glanced both ways making sure he was alone in the hallway--and then sprinkle in some of the stuff above it? But then that leaves me with no compelling first line. I always feel I need one and then I fail miserably. Thoughts?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Since this is Callen's POV, you don't need to point out that he's thinking or feeling anything. I think tightening this can help a lot.

My suggestions:

People became prisoners of many things. Love, money, time. But gloves? Callen shook these thoughts from his brain and plucked a new pair out of his locker. Lighter material for springtime – a respite for his sweaty hands.

Each pair lasted about two months. The fingertips were the first to fray, followed by the edging along the palms. He tossed the ratty ones in the trash and savored this moment of freedom from the confines of his glove detention. Mottled red bumps ran along the tops of his fingers and moved in jagged lines down his wrists. Obvious burn scars despite the flailing fluorescent lights.

Disgusting. At least the halls were empty with all the sophomores at lunch.

Dave Fragments said...

Open with the idea that the gloves stop the visions and hide the scars. That's why he is a prisoner to the gloves. That's why he is alone in the hallway. No one sees. No one can touch and give him a vision.

Anonymous said...

Love Sarah L's rewrite of the first para. Nice.

the author said...

Wow, good stuff--thanks so much for the suggestions. Kicked me into action again!

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Hi author,

For what it's worth, I liked this a lot. Your writing is gripping, and I found myself getting sucked into the story. Yes, I also felt the glove stuff went on a little long, but that's easily remedied.

You use "always" twice in para three. You might consider cutting one of them. Also, I would personally change "lasts an average of two months" to "lasted..." but that's it for nits.

I like the premise. I would read on.

_*rachel*_ said...

This concept interests me, but I see a few spelling problems.

'others pair' into 'other pair'

'pair lasts' into 'pair lasted'

'both ways[,]'

'flailing fluorescent?' You mean 'failing,' right?

Basically, I think you need to get to the burns and why he wears the gloves more quickly; it's pretty interesting.