Wednesday, January 07, 2015

New Beginning 1037

I sprinted to the principal’s office as soon as my name was called, leaving my stuff in the classroom.  Senior Constable Rogers stood as I burst into the Admin building, panting. The receptionists hurriedly looked away and shuffled papers on their desks.

I scanned Roger’s face for any sign of what he had to tell me, any hint that the nightmare of the past two weeks was over.  Because there were two possible outcomes – the one that we hoped and prayed for, the news delivered with a triumphant smile that the police had done a praiseworthy job – “We’ve found your mother”.

Of course, there was another possibility.  The one that I did not dare to think about but that haunted my thoughts and twisted my guts day and night. The reason that tears leaked from my eyes with no provocation at all. The other possible meaning of “We’ve found your mother” –this time said in the gravest voice, delivered with platitudes such as “we’re so very sorry”.

Roger’s face and voice held no clues as he greeted me gently.

My heart thundered in my ears. I had to know. Now. “So what’s…” I started.

My brother Jeremy leaped through the door, wearing just his PE shorts, his back glistening and wet. I guessed he’d just been showering after sport when he heard the announcement and tumbled out of the cubicle barely stopping to put anything on. His desperate expression mirrored mine as he gazed at Rogers.

How desperate we both were, him semi-naked and me just watching him glisten as my heart thumped to the beat of Rogers' pants.

If only my brother were wearing pants instead of PE shorts maybe Rogers' face would make with some regular emotion like "we nearly found your mother but got a dead tramp instead" or "I'm sure as hell sorry I never made the Bug-eyed Cops' necrophiliac weekend in Haiti".

Before Rogers could speak my sister Molly popped in through the window.

“Children, I have news,” Rogers said. “We have found you a mother.”

Just then my stepsister Josie descended through the open skylight, her expression bleak, her parachute billowing.

"Seriously?" Senior Constable Rogers said.

“You found our mother?” Jeremy asked. “That’s terrific! Is she all right?”

“We’ve not found your mother. We haven’t time for that. What we’ve found you is a new mother. Much easier job, that was. And she’s delightful.”

Jeremy and Molly and Josie and I stood silent for a moment. None of us had been prepared for a third possible outcome. We expected good news or bad news, but this was … fabulous news. After all, our original mother could never have been described as “delightful.”

“Thank you,” I said. I looked around the room. “Where is she?”

Rogers smiled and waved a hand at the empty chair next to him. “She’s –” His smile faltered. “She was here a moment ago. Are you telling me you've lost yet another mother?”

Opening: Jo Antareau.....Continuation: Whirlochre, Chicory and JRMosher


Evil Editor said...

A couple instances of Roger's when it should be Rogers' or Rogers's. (I seem to recall rules for whether to add the second "s" involving how long the word is or whether the word end with an s or z sound. It's something I don't have to worry about in my own writing because I never give characters names that end in s or z, and if one of my authors does, I change the name from Les Jones to Bob Carter. Makes life a lot easier.)

The fact that Rogers' face and voice held no clues seems to me to be a major clue - that it's not good news. You don't summon the kid to the office and try to hide the fact that the mother's fine just so you can spring the good news a minute later.

Dave Fragments said...

I have often suggested to cut about half the words of a story or other written text. . . I think that might help here.
To my eyes, you lose all of the action of sprinting by the main character and his brother arriving half dressed and still dripping in the wordiness.
There is real drama in that action and the excess of words wastes that drama.
There are two paragraphs (#2 and #3) devoted to "We've found your mother" that just take too long.
A reader might wait through paragraphs #4 and #5 but Paragraph #6 is excruciatingly long.

Condense it all into something shorter. Set up the drama.

I sprinted to the principles office. Senior Constable Rodgers waited along with my brother in his gym shorts, his back still wet from the shower.
"Did you find our Mother?" I blurted out so loud it echoed in the hallway.
Receptionists glanced away, shuffled papers. Rodgers' face held no clues.

CavalierdeNuit said...

I submitted a continuation, but your blog format looked all weird, and there was no captcha. I wasn't sure if you got it. I guess you didn't, oh well.

Evil Editor said...

Didn't get it, but if you send it it can appear in the comments. It could even replace what I posted.

Mister Furkles said...

If this is the first page of a novel, maybe you should pick a different scene for the opening. One agent says most new novelists don't know where to start their story.

The reader doesn't know anything about the main character except she's in school. So this opening does not arouse suspense (at least for me). You need more of a story for an opening. It need not be long or even directly related to the main story.

Go to Amazon and look at the first page of several very popular novels. See how the writer creates the kind of suspense that makes you turn the page. Pay special attention to first person POV novels written as YA or coming-of-age.

Maybe Dave is right that your opening has too many words before getting anywhere. That can kill suspense. You want to inspire the reader's imagination—get it running. Don't tell too much because that shuts down the imagination. But before page one ends, you need to create the kind of suspense that turns the page.

You might trim paragraph 1 and add the first sentence of paragraph 2. Then delete everything down to “My heart...” and delete paragraph 6:

= = =

I left my backpack in the classroom and sprinted to the principal’s office. Panting, I burst into the Admin building. The receptionist, who'd called me on the school intercom, hurriedly looked away, shuffling papers.

Constable Rogers expression gave no hint the nightmare of the past two weeks was over.

My heart thundered in my ears. I had to know. Now. “So what’s…” I started.

= = =

It's your story and you can do better. But create suspense, get the reader on the side of the MC and tell a micro story.