Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Beginning 899

The sturdy cocoon of the gray Saab sheltered Nina from the cold dark world, but it was the silence inside the car that she feared most. The stuffy heating and the lingering taste of mulled wine made her slump in the passenger seat. “Thanks for dinner, babe.” She tried to sound casual. “Your best one yet.”

Kirsten frowned. “It’s fine.”

“So are you coming to the concert?”

Kirsten hit the brakes when a swift figure jumped over the slippery asphalt. Bad luck, Nina thought. All cats turn black during a power outage.

“You know I have to get up early on Sundays.” Kirsten had cut her curls short and dyed them a mousy brown. Her appearance had become an issue now, though she had never shown the urge to conform before. In high school it was what had distinguished them from the tangle of pink leggings and hoop earrings. That was twenty years ago; back when they had first seen Anarkistisk Paradoks play on an improvised stage in the back of a barn. They had to travel four hours by bus just to get there.

“You used to love them,” Nina tried.

"Who?" Kirsten asked, concentrating on the road. "The Antarktik Pakyderms?" She navigated carefully under a ladder supporting an electrician working on the downed power lines.

More bad luck, Nina mused.
"No," she corrected her friend. "The Anarktivistik...the Anakronistik...isk... Paradymes" She stuck her tongue out to loosen it and try again. The mulled wine wasn't helping any.

"That's when I was hip enough to pronounce their name," Kirsten snooted. "Now I have...oh shit!"

The Saab spun out on black ice and slammed into a tree. Nina stared at her bloodied reflection in the broken side-view mirror. Lady Luck just wasn't on her side today. "Damn," she thought, as the world faded from dark to black. "Now I won't get to hear the Aardvarkistik Parabolas...the Arnarkistiskisks...."

Opening: Nicolette Vern....Continuation: Tamara


Evil Editor said...

Another NaNoWriMo opening, generously submitted to keep us from having nothing to post.

P2: I don't get "It's fine." What's fine? After receiving a compliment on the dinner I would expect Kirsten to say "Thanks." Or "My pleasure," or "It was good, wasn't it?" or "Glad you liked it."

P4: If a cat ran across the street, I'd just say so. A swift figure jumped over the slippery asphalt makes me think it's an alien being.

What's this about a power outage? Is there one? Assuming it's night and the headlights are on, I don't see a power outage as relevant in determining the cat's color.

P5: In high school it was what had distinguished them... Not 100% clear what "it" and "them" refer to.

You might want to hold off on the stuff about Kirsten' hair etc. and just go with:

“You know I have to get up early on Sundays.”

Twenty years ago Kirsten would never have missed an Anarkistisk Paradoks concert. She'd once traveled four hours by bus with Nina just to see them play on an improvised stage in the back of a barn.

I would remove the second "s" in "Anarkistisk."

Anonymous said...

Couldn't quite follow that opening. Metaphorical description and digression about hair are not helping. Events etc seem random so I have no idea what this is about. Focus more on the crux of what's happening and less on appearances. Especially ditch the history of appearances. Maybe we will eventually want to know about former hairdos, but that doesn't belong on page one.

Loved the continuation.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Perhaps after teh NaNoWriMo is over, the queries will come rolling in.

Meanwhile, these openings are showing me that I do have a conscience-- just can't snark at what I know is so fresh off the keyboard.

vkw said...

I'm with Alaska R., just doesn't feel right . . ..

but, I found the first sentence overwritten.

Nina feared the silence inside the Saab. "Thanks for dinner, babe." She tried to sound casual. "Your best one yet."

"No problem." Kirsten frowned.

"So are you coming to the concern?"

Kirsten hit the brakes when the cat jumped in front of the car. Nina sat up straight in the passenger seat and sighed in relief as the black cat dodged between two parked cars. Bad luck, Nina thought.

"I have to get up early on Sundays."

But, it's not bad. I always wish I knew what genre these openings are from in order to get a better idea of what is important.

Is this chick lit? Horror? literary?


150 said...

I'd probably keep reading.

Your first line could be made clearer by something like "The cold dark world pushed at the windows of the Saab, but Nina was far more afraid of the silence inside."

St0n3henge said...

Cocoons are notorious for not being sturdy. Birds eat them whole with the bug inside, like Twinkies.

I guess the cat thing is a sort of- "Might as well be a black cat since it's dark and can't tell any different," thing, but it's too much of a stretch. Plus it suggests they don't have their lights on.

Kirsten's hairstyle-digression does not belong in the opening, as others have already mentioned.

Other things are also confusing. "She tried to sound casual." Why? Kristen's "It's fine." She's a perfectionist who didn't like the way it turned out?

I see this relationship is strained, but the overwriting detracts from that. Focus on two things: very brief introductions to the characters (no digressions or flashbacks or memories) and the fact the relationship is strained.

Nicolette Vern said...

Author here.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I’ll keep all of it in mind while editing. And don’t feel bad about snarking a NaNoWriMo opening; it’s much easier to take criticism on something you’ve spent little time on than on something you’ve been lovingly editing for months (maybe a thought to anyone out there considering submitting an opening this month).

I left out the description of the underlying conflict in the first few sentences hoping it would pique some interest in why these two characters are acting the way they do. It seems I left out too much and now it’s creating confusion instead.

@Tamara: Great continuation; I guess I’ll have to change that band name.

@vkw: This is mystery (Nina will be found dead in the next scene). I am aiming for a cooking cozy.

none said...

Kill some of the adjectives. When they're in a crowd, they detract from the impression you're trying to create.

Frex, we don't really need to know what colour the Saab is.

The cocoon of the Saab sheltered Nina from the cold dark, but it was the silence inside she feared most.

Now 'cold dark' are doing all the work.