Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Beginning 927

After the agony of burning, there was a beach.

Not what I had expected. But then I'd convinced myself I had no expectations. Just went to show.

Pleasant to swim in the cold water. Pleasant to lie on the sand and soak up the sun.

But I was arranging shells in a pattern when I felt Au come. After a quick glance sideways to be sure, I stood up to greet him.

He put both his hands out to me in welcome. "Here's my Lodestar, with his swift and eager look."

"Here's God, come to answer all my questions."

We clasped hands. Interesting to know how much power he was reserving.

"Yet still he thinks I've come to punish him."

"You have," I said, smiling. "You want me to go back."

"Still he thinks it's for him to form the pattern."

"I read it in the shells."

We looked at them together. Then he released his grip on me, and knelt down, and looked at them more closely.

"I formed you well," he said.

"And yet I'm broken."

He looked at me over his shoulder, and his look was swift and eager too. "Perhaps the only break in you is to think you're broken."

"My only crime was not to believe."

His eyes sparkled. "Didn't I bring you here? Didn't I tell you how it would be? Your only crime was not to listen."

"All right, already," I said. "I get it. You're omniscient. Now give me the freaking sun block, Daddy!"

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

"Yet I felt the burning... Perhaps break is too strong. Perhaps it's a crack."

"I've been watching you closely. I noticed your crack."

"And then you came."


Anonymous said...


Evil Editor said...

Usually the beach comes first and then the agony of burning. Ba dum ching.

Obviously this is a story about a man who was burned at the stake for being a warlock, and who has just arrived in the afterlife. If everyone in your audience were almost as brilliant as Evil Editor, you'd be good to go. But the average reader, wanting to be more securely grounded in the opening, will put the book back on the shelf, possibly in the "C"s, so that people looking specifically for books by BuffySquirrel will never see it.

I recommend removing "Just went to show." from P2, and "But" from P4.

I'd also get rid of: We clasped hands. Interesting to know how much power he was reserving. If you must have it, move it at least one paragraph lower so the "Yet still" paragraph immediately follows the "Here's God" paragraph. The reason I'd dump it entirely is because I don't see how he can know how much power was being reserved.

Finally, can you come up with a way to word "Still he thinks it's for him to form the pattern." that's more concrete?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I like this. The simple style draws me in. There were just two places where I was drawn out in a hurry.

The first was the line "Just went to show." Since the subject of the last sentence was "I", I automatically made it the understood subject of the next sentence, got confused, and had to reread.

The second was "I felt Au come." Okay, so maybe I've got a dirty mind. But, alas, most people do. Change "come" to "arrive", unless that's not what you mean.

150 said...

Retelling of Lucifer's fall, I'm guessing? It's well-tread turf, so I hope you have something awesome up your sleeve. This could stand to be more vivid and concrete, especially in the setting and the perhaps too vaguely-wise dialogue.

Dave Fragments said...

I didn't get the witch or warlock angle at all. I did get the burning and the afterlife but I thought car or house. So I'm with EE, ground the reader with a few nice words.

Laurie said...

That was a spit-on-the-keyboard continuation.

I like this, too. I didn't catch the afterlife bit, and definitely not the warlock being burned (okay, it's morning and my caffeine is still brewing), but I think this would be pretty clear in a few more paragraphs and I don't mind having to work a bit at the beginning.

Well done.

Anonymous said...

My habit is to read a book's first line. If it catches me, I'll read the first paragraph. If that catches me, I'll read the first page, and so on. Once you have me at chapter one, I'm sold--but the first line and paragraph are paramount to catching the attention of this busy person.

In this case, I honestly thought this was a case of sunburn. I appreciate the "holding back" factor, but be careful doing so on your opening page. Especially your opening line. You don't have the reader's trust or full attention just yet--I may feel manipulated. Use more clarity to hook me in. Tell me what's going on as early as you can, don't have me guessing, or I'll put your book down. I do love your premise, and this genre.

I recommend something along the lines of, "The burning tongues licked me, tasted my flesh. The fire devoured." (excuse the eroticism, hey, you did mention that Au came lol). Just an idea.

At least now I clearly know that someone burned and I want to know why. Simply because you clearly know what's going on, don't assume I do. And don't keep me guessing so early in the game. You haven't established protagonist, story, or anything yet.

Going back to the first few paragraphs: is this beach just like any other beach? I'm assuming it isn't since God is present? Could you use a flourish to describe it and do double duty? "Pleasant to soak up the white sun of heaven." I'm not saying to use that, but just give me an idea of location maybe?

Set location, protagonist, and conflict as early as possible. Unfortunately, gone are the days of old were authors were allowed page upon page of rather vague openings with readers patiently slogging along.

A few pointed revisions like these and I believe you will have a knockout opening. Thank you for sharing your story.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I don't think it's necessary to tell the reader what precisely is going on at this point. I think the voice will hook the reader into continuing to read, as long as the reveal comes fairly soon.

We all know life's a beach. Come to find out, death's a beach, too.

Whirlochre said...

I'm with Alaska on the simple style, though I did find some of the detail a little amorphous and mysterious. Hopefully things would become clearer further on — and I probably would read further.

Not getting warlocks as such, but with all the talk of beaches and water and feeling Au come I did wonder right at the start whether this was about a pair of mating dolphins.

Anonymous said...

So, anyone know what the deal is with those Hershey's Air Delight? I mean, they look like regular Hershey's chocolate bars, nicely wrapped and everything, and they sure cost the same, but wuen you actually take a bite -- well, it's all air. They pretend they're selling you something special, something different, but where's the content? I don't get it.

About time the emperor put his clothes back on if you ask me.

none said...

Oh you guys, I love you guys :).

Yes, arrive would be better. For sure.

You guys!

batgirl said...

Um. The warlock comment was a joke, right?

I liked the elliptical dialogue, but hope it doesn't go on for too much longer, or there won't be even one hand clapping.

none said...

Opening scene's 525 words at present, so not too much with the elliptical dialogue XD.

Xenith said...

What dear Squirrel didn't mention is this is Book 3 so anyone reading it has most likely survived Book 2 without their brain exploding. In which case, it all makes wonderful sense.

(Given that, I have no idea why she put it up for comment really.)

Xenith said...

What dear Squirrel didn't mention is this is Book 3 so anyone reading it has most likely survived Book 2 without their brain exploding. In which case, it all makes wonderful sense.

(Given that, I have no idea why she put it up for comment really.)

Anonymous said...

Yup, no reason it should have to stand on its own merits.

By "book three" you've pretty much earned the right to phone it in.

none said...

dear Xen, dnftt

Xenith said...

I tend to find after two book I've got some idea about the main characters and their world. Call me strange.

Nice to see you're maintaining the quality of Anonymice here. It wouldn't be the same without them.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

To clarify, I'm in agreement with the first Anon comments.

Anonymous said...

Someone's gotta balance out the astroturfing. ;)

Anonymous said...

I have to read the prequels to understand the vaguely written third? I'll get right on it! Wait.. where can I find them? Oh, I forgot, the Bookstore of Vague Works is closed on weekends. Harry Potter doesn't require me to read all its prequels to understand the final book. Actually I read the last one first, and nowhere on the cover did it state 'hey! what are you doing! You must read the prequels in order to understand this!'
I very much like your premise and idea, but the warlock has cast a spell of confusion on me. Make it clearer and succinct. There are some very constructive suggestions on this thread. I suggest following them.

none said...

The warlock is nothing to do with me. I suggest you ask their creator to clarify!

Xenith said...

Prequel? Prequel??

Squirrel: they don't make them like they used to :( Though I like this Anonymouse, can I keep him/her?

none said...

The one at 8:45? Of course you can. Just remember to keep them fed, watered, and turfed.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hey B Squirrel,
(Hey BS didn't look right)

After a/the big burn I'd want a polar cap.

Going from the third person to second in Au's lines kind of grated on me.

Some phrases and cliches need attention.

If Lodestar felt Au's presence, why the glance to be sure?

I felt Au's presence, stood and clasped his outstretched hands. Or something.

Those kind of nits.

none said...

There's ritual, and then there's conversation.

Anonymous said...

Definitely some good suggestions for improvement. Unless you envision Au and Lodestar shaking both hands in a dusty desk drawer somewhere, with a shell sitting on the manuscript for good measure.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Agreed but how would we know? If it is ritual a hint would help.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Agreed but how would we know? If it is ritual a hint would help.

none said...

Lol, Anon, you crack me up XD.