Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Beginning 752

I don’t really know how I was able to be Zara’s sister. We were different as day and night, light and dark. And, if you were making that comparison… I would be the dark. When Zara bounced into the room with a spring in her step, it was as if the world lightened, just a fraction. Because, really, Zara was light.

Zara was everything that I’m not… brave, outgoing, talkative. When she entered a room, everyone in it hushed up to hear what she had to say. I followed her everywhere she went, like a shadow or a particularly bland piece of wallpaper.

Whenever people saw Zara and me together, they always asked the same question. They didn’t understand how two such different girls could be twins. After all, Zara had curly, golden hair, smooth and sleek no matter what she did with it. I usually put my hair – black, like a raven’s wings – into a braid.

Still, Zara and I were inseparable. I remember Gram joking that we were joined at the hip – and I guess it was true. Zara was bread and butter to me, as necessary as air. The first time we went to school, I cried and cried because the principal put us in different classes. I don’t know if Zara cried, too, but I doubt it. Even in kindergarten, Zara wasn’t that kind of girl.

Hmm? That's nice dear. Now finish your homework.

Zara, put that silly essay away. Mummy saw a delightful little dress at the mall today that would be just darling for you. Come on, hurry now, Daddy's waiting in the car.

Mary-Jane, don't play with the scissors, that's a goo--

Opening: Kelly Fitzpatrick.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

P.1: Get rid of the whole thing. Everything in it is repeated in the next two paragraphs but with some clarity.

P.2: Two comments about what happens when Zara enters a room in the first two paragraphs? Oh, right, we deleted the first paragraph. Shadows follow people. Wallpaper doesn't. In any case, these sentences have minimal connection to each other.

P.3: If you see two people who look nothing alike you don't wonder how they could be twins. It never occurs to you that they're twins.

I would combine the 1st sentence of p.2 with a few ideas from the 3rd paragraph:

Zara was everything I’m not… brave, outgoing, talkative. She had curly, golden hair, smooth and sleek no matter what she did with it; I usually put my hair – black, like a raven’s wings – into a braid. Everyone in my family wondered, How could two such different girls be twins?

P.4: Better than the others. I'm not crazy about the bread an butter metaphor and I think I'd drop: but I doubt it. Even in kindergarten, Zara wasn’t that kind of girl.

"not that kind of girl" isn't a term I'd use for a kindergarten student.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

But that's what happens when you're conjoined twins attached at the back of the head--you can never really see what your sister is doing.


* * *

"I see. Well, Shayleen, I think on the basis of what you and your mother have told me, we have a case against both the Fertility Clinic and the Sperm Bank. Don't worry, by the time we're finished, you'll be so rich that being kind of plain and uninteresting won't be a problem for you ever again!"


Zara was an action girl. She set the school on fire when someone stole her animal crackers at cookie break. She gave Ex Lax to the kid who broke her pink colored pencil. She said it was chocolate and he fell for it. She made it into school history the day she tried to flush Amy Royal's long johns down the toilet and Amy was wearing them. Amy, small for her age, spun around a like top, screaming in high C, toilet water flying everwhere and Zara, laughing in her wicked way, called the boys in to watch. Zara took pride in the Royal Flush as it became known.

Zara took some affirmative action at eighteen that likely kept her out of jail as I look back. She stole my allowance money (a goodly amount, I'd been saving my whole life), flew to some tropical country, had a sex change operation, grew some wild looking facial hair, and became an editor. My former sister, current brother shrieks late at night, locked in the den with his computer hour after hour, enjoying himself in what is no doubt an evil pursuit. I still cry a lot.


angela robbins said...

Me thinks Bibi's was the best!

Faceless Minion said...

What EE said.

Also, unless you've a really good reason to compare the hair to raven's wings you might want to consider something else. Personally, I like ravens (a lot) and so I have a disconnect with the generally negative self-image the narrator has (also it's a living creature and the rest of the imagery points at Zara as the alive one).

Suggestions: ebony, jet, onyx, obsidian, ink, soot, pitch, tar

If you have a good reason for the bird reference, maybe tone it down by using "crow's wings" instead?

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

The hair comparison jars me. I don't see too much sleek smooth curly hair. A raven's wing to my mind's eye is smooth.
Also the light/dark comparison of the the kids doesn't fit bread and butter for me.
The messages are mixed that I'm getting about the kids.
Good luck, keep a-going.

writtenwyrdd said...

It's probably just my personal preference, but, that said, I didn't like the voice of your pov character. She's whiny and goes on far too long about her perfect sister. Which is why the continuation is hilarious.

I think you might consider starting with either far less of the Zara exposition and start with whatever action happens first.

Bernita said...

Re: raven's wing. It's such a cliche. Dump it as well.

_*rachel*_ said...

It's a bit more telling than showing, but sometimes that sort of exposition works. I'd say the best way to improve this piece is to give more indication of a conflict.

This reminds me immediately of The Two Princesses of Bamarre; I'd recommend taking inspiration from its opening. It starts by hinting at conflict--not a specific conflict, just a lot of danger. Then Addy, a bit like your narrator, says she's not the hero needed to overcome that and demonstrates the difference between her and Meryl using anecdotes from their childhood. It tells, and backs it up with showing--and the difference between the two is relevant to the plot.

I can see the same sort of thing here, but I think you can spice it up a little more.

Ultimately, the spiced-up version might be a little like this pair of light/dark sisters.

Min Yin said...

Am I the only one that immediately thought of Polgara and Beldaran from The Belgariad by David Eddings? Yes, probably I am. Oh well.