Thursday, December 01, 2011

New Beginning 906

The Gunpowder Guild called the rockets chrysanthemums. The shells exploded into gigantic flowers of burnished gold, trumpets of unearthly blue, spirals of blood red and silvery-white streamers. Phoebe Gomear and her date, Philippe Nasreau, stepped lightly into the alley behind the back of the Moulin Rouge where a carriage waited.

"I've never seen anything so spectacular."

"That's the ee-leet's fireworks. You best not look at them too long. They might be jealous and come steal your eyes." A derelict with a hoary beard, stringy hair and ragged clothing wagged a finger at her from the doorway opposite the Embassy. Phoebe laughed and tossed her hair to one side.

"Oh pish-tish-pooh, no one can steal your eyes." She turned to Philippe, a smile on her thin red lips. "Isn't that the silliest thing you ever heard?"

"Beyond silly, my darling, but your eyes are so lovely, so like deep ocean in moonlight that angels might be tempted simply to gain a glimpse of that which lies beyond," Philippe answered. His eyes caught hers and sparkled. He could see nothing but her beauty while Phoebe's eyes saw only the derelict rising from the doorway, transfiguring.

A monstrous figure emerged from the torn, dirty cloak. Horns sprouted from the stringy hair; the nose sank into the pale, demonic face.

"Look out!" the demon shouted.

He pointed behind Phoebe at Philippe, who had whipped out a giant sword to carve out her ocean-like eyes. A dagger whizzed past Phoebe's shoulder and pierced Philippe's heart. He slumped forward, revealing the two white wings poking out the back of his jacket.

"Angels can be sick bastards," the demon grumbled. "All that talk about pulling your eyes out to see your bleeding brains, and you couldn't figure it out? Even after I warned you?"

Phoebe babbled incoherently in shock. The demon rolled his eyes, mumbled something about blonds, and vanished into the night.

Opening: Dave.....Continuation: Tamara Marnell


Evil Editor said...

P2. Can't tell whether it's Phoebe or Philippe talking.

P3: Can't tell whether it's Phoebe or Philippe talking. Turns out it's neither. Moving sentence 4 to the front of the paragraph would clear it up.

P5: I would move "Philippe answered" after "darling." Or just delete it entirely, as for once it's obvious who's talking.

Intriguing opening, once it's tidied up.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

But it's drowning in adjectives.

Dave Fragments said...

I just wrote the last sentence of this story last night about 1:30am and I can't wait to see what the comments are. Think about 8K to 9K words in length

Dave Fragments said...

It's a Cthulhu goth story and its going to be adjective filled with lots of descriptive horror.

Heather Marsten said...

I think the premise of the story is interesting, but some of the transitions are a bit abrupt. I love the twist at the end.

Not sure we ned the last names of the people unless it is germane to the story later on -

Might want to mention in third paragraph who is speaking first,, new paragraph with Phoebe's reaction of laughter. and then she can say her push-tish-pooh - although that phrase doesn't resonate well with me.

Might be effective to end fifth paragraph with he could see nothing but her beauty.
Then a new paragraph with a detailed description of the demon transforming, and somewhere in that, Phoebe's eyes could widen with terror.

So Philippe is the one to carve out here eyes? Might want to show that a bit. Have him simper about her eyes, and reach into a pocket, fumbling around for his dagger.

I assume the demon threw the dagger. that killed the angelic demon.

Good story, I hope my comments help.

Anonymous said...

p1: Anachronism whiplash. Guild says medieval, rockets and shells early modern. "Her date" wrenches us into the last 50 years and Moulin Rouge and a carriage whip back more than a hundred. Try switching Guild to Society and taking "her date" out completely?

p3 On similar note, you might want to check whether her hair would actually be hanging loose enough to toss in the time period you want

p5 You've been in Phoebe's POV, but now hop into Philippe's. Also, if she's looking into his eyes how can she see the man behind her?

Whirlochre said...

This has great character voices and you should lead with this from para 1.

Given the 'gelded horse' constraints of the NB medium, if I were to read on it would be on the strength of the later paragraphs.

Evil Editor said...

The words in blue are not part of the opening. The continuation is added by a different author.

Xiexie said...

I liked this, Dave, a lot. I have no problems with the adjectival abundance.

I figged that it was Phoebe who said the first line, and then it was Philippe.

Dave Fragments said...

I could really take Tamara's words and write a second story from this. THat's a good continuation. I won't simply because after this I want to return to Urban Horror in a modern location and with modern villains. A nice murder mystery would be a good change from the supernatural stories I've been writing.

This is the opening "chapter" of the story and it only has 540 words before the scene changes. Yes, it surprised me that it could be complete in those few words. You see most of it here. The next chapter is set in 2100 AD and introduces the derelict.

My feeling is if a writer opens with something really vibrant and startling, he or she can hold the reader through most sci-fi, supernatural or paranormal gimmicks. Think portals to strange planets, time travel and paradox. Think Cthulhu, Yog Soggoth, Dagon, the Flame Vampires, preposterous stuff like that.

The derelict is a "gargouille de la mer," a minion of Dagon and Cthulhu. He is the hero of the story. Historically, this is Paris of 1900. Phoebe and Philippe are faithful beyond any doubt. They have heroic roles.

"date" and "Guild" do hurt the story. That's the challenge of period pieces. Getting the details right. Someone just said that yesterday or the day before... I'll fix them.

I did check the "eyes" to make sure that what I positioned the characters properly. Philippe sees the gargouille de la mer reflected in her eyes.

And now, back to the first major read through and revisions.

Dave Fragments said...

Rats, I got fixing to do...

The derelict says this line: "That's the ee-leet's fireworks. You best not look at them too long. They might be jealous and come steal your eyes."

That was the reason for the use and mispronunciation of elite.

Philippe steps between Phoebe and the derelict and when he wants to compliment her eyes (it's a marriage proposal) he turns his back on the derelict. That's how he sees the derelict reflected in her eyes. As it turns out, their marriage vows take place on a blasted landscape of stone and perpetual gloom.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I'd put the last sentence in p. 1 as the first sentence. Opening with the Gunpowder Guild then switching focus to P and P = awkward.

There's enough set up in the last sentence in p. 1 to stage the story.

The derelict amuses Phoebe. Wouldn't she have a little twinge of something bad from his finger wagging and eye stealing comment?

Phoebe can step lightly into the alley, Phil could guide her, hand on elbow. Him stepping lightly as well makes him light in the patent leathers in my mind's eye.

Cutting down some descriptions would keep me better focused.

Good luck.

Zachary Gole said...

Anonymous already mentioned this, but what bothered me the most about this story was this sentence:

He could see nothing but her beauty while Phoebe's eyes saw only the derelict rising from the doorway, transfiguring.

Whose POV are we in? We've got two POVs in one sentence!

(I'd considered submitting a continuation playing on this, in which we switched abruptly to the transient's POV, and then in rapid succession to the POVs of several random characters, but wasn't sure it would work. Oh well.)

Your comments on the matter only make me more confused:

Philippe sees the gargouille de la mer reflected in her eyes.

Wait... Philippe sees the gargouille? What? But the text says that Philippe "could see nothing but her beauty" while Phoebe sees the derelict.

Unless by "Phoebe's eyes saw only the derelict" you meant that he saw the derelict in her eyes, but that's not what the sentence appears to be saying, and certainly not how I read it.

That aside, it sounds like an interesting premise, and could make for a good story. I'm just... still totally lost on what's supposed to be happening in that last sentence.

John said...

The derelict's comment suggests that Phoebe and Philippe are not among the "elite," but they seem pretty well off with their evening at the Moulin Rouge and their waiting carriage. Who is the elite in this case?

Dave Fragments said...

Thanks for all the comments.

As for "who are the elites?" well, I don't have an answer today. That's a question that creates very fine detail questions and not big broad ones... I'm only about halfway through the first major edit (broad themes, language and action) and I won't be done for a few days because family will trump writing this weekend. I put a note in the text and I come back to the "elites" next week.

Thanks for all the comments.

Jo-Ann said...

Good opening, but I had to read the comments to find out what the ee-leet were.
This is not the way a French person would pronounce elite, it is a French word. The opening e sound and middle i sounds are both short, with the emphasis on the final t sound in French. The derelict must be a Limey trying to sound French!

Dave Fragments said...

I feel like a character in a Douglas Adams book -- "You're not going to like this..."

I understand the French don't talk that way but he's a French astronaut from 2100. He may not even speak French and by that time, he's live several (wait for it, this is going to be painful) several billion years until the sun expands into a red giant so he can change the past with the energy of the dying sun. This scene takes place in 1900.

I'll put that note in my text about the pronunciation.