Thursday, November 10, 2016

New Beginning 1060

July 4, 2015/Baton Rouge, Louisiana

“Please don't do it! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to!” the girl cried.

“Oh really, now?” I calmly stated.

“Yes, I am so sorry! Please don't kill me!”

I looked into the girl's eyes and saw only fear and misery. Then glanced down at the girl in disgust. Perfect. Whiny little bitch probably never imagined the day would come when she’d be on her knees, begging for her pathetic life. This girl used to hold her head up high, played guys and then threw them away like trash. She cared for absolutely no one but herself. Her whimpers meant nothing. After what she’d done, how could she expect mercy? The girl's whimpers brought me back to the present.

“I'm sorry, okay, I didn't mean to hurt him!” her tears fell onto the ground. She tried to get up but slipped again on the hard concrete.

I cocked the pistol, aiming it with perfection on the girl's face. “Get up!”

The girl got up. She shook all over. A violent tremor went through her. She glanced around at the fireworks in the distance. She yearned to scream for help. She knew what would happen if she did.

It happened anyway. "Sorry, Liz," I said as I fired.

I looked at the crumpled body of my sister. Sixteen years I'd put up with her bullying me, moving my things, teasing me and my friends. I could deal with that. But she'd busted my lego Darth Vader, and there's no coming back from that.

Opening: Chaunalea Tricia.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Anonymous said...

This doesn't work for me as an opening because I have no connection to the characters. The descriptions/actions don't make either character likeable or sympathetic enough that I want to know more about who they are, how they got there, or where they're going.

I also suspect this is leading into a giant flashback explaining how they got there, which is a turn-off for me. ymmv

The girl is speaking rather lucidly for someone who should be terrified.
The gun-holder's thoughts wandering while s/he's pointing a gun at someone is tstl.
Last paragraph seems to be a pov slip.

Evil Editor said...

P2: change "stated" to said or asked.

P4: I looked into the girl's eyes and saw only fear and misery. Then glanced down at the girl in disgust. You're already looking at her, so you don't need to glance at her. Also, don't make "whimpers" the subject of two out of three sentences.

P5: Capitalize "Her." It's the first word of a new sentence. Also, "slipped again"? You haven't mentioned her slipping a first time.

P6: aimed at, not on.

P7: Fireworks don't strike me as something you glance around at. And, as anon mentioned, if you're telling the story from your point of view, you can't report what the girl is yearning to do. Only the girl knows that.

davefragments said...

In roughly 200 words you made me dislike your narrator, intensely dislike.
I confess to being one of those readers that picks up a book in the bookstore and reads the first couple pages. If I have a reaction this extreme, the book gets put down and never read.

Anonymous said...

To A; IDK. I'm not being arbitrary, but that line didn't set me off one way or another. I just took it as an indication of the potential killer's current calm and rational state of mind. This is not a crime of passion.

I guess there are many other lines which could convey this attitude; some better in the eye of the beholder. Having said that; if my editor said that to me, it would be easy enough to change it; and if the book bombed I'd use it as an excuse to blame him.

St0n3henge said...

“I'm sorry, okay, I didn't mean to hurt him!” her tears fell onto the ground. <- should be two sentences.
"Then glanced down at the girl in disgust," is a fragment, and not for effect. It's just a fragment for no reason.
“Oh really, now?” I calmly stated. As Anon somewhat more rudely pointed out, don't have your characters calmly state something and then point out that they calmly stated it.

I agree it seems odd to glance around at the fireworks in the distance. Does she have ADHD? "No, please don't kill me, please don't...Oooh! Fireworks!"

As others have pointed out, it's hard to feel any connections to characters who aren't shining examples of humanity and we barely know. It's sort of like when you're watching CSI Miami and one of the criminals shoots another at the beginning of the show. You're still microwaving popcorn and waiting for the guys you care about to show up.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm the writer of this opening. I appreciate the constructive advice but with some of the rude comments--that was not called for. And with the "take a writing class" because of the way one of the characters talk--is kind of rude. (Oh really, now--was sarcasm, this character was mocking the other character.)

Actually, this first page is a prologue. The story starts after this scene. The protagonist is a likable person and very relatable as the story goes on. The protagonist shows up after this scene.

Also, this was in third POV and I recently changed it to first. (I forgot to take that POV error out) Most of the story is in third POV--and the rest is in first POV. As a reader, you have to give the story time to progress.

The fragments were done on purpose because I wanted to put emphasis on those lines. This was only the first 200 words. I'm working on editing because I'm not an expert. We all were beginners at first. Thank you, Evil Editor, for your advice.

Anonymous said...

This reads like the diary of a kid who shoots up his school because a girl didn't want to go out with him. If that's what you're going for, you've done a great job illustrating that level of entitlement/delusion. If not, I'm honestly not sure what to tell you. Maybe the others have some idea, but I left this wanting to take a soul shower.

davefragments said...

All right, Dave. If you're gonna get all judgmental about the whole thing; and ignore literary acumen.

It wasn't a judgment. It's merely my opinion. If I read that opening - I wouldn't continue reading. The narrator is unlikeable and I don't want to spent 200 some pages with that person.
Even Vincent Bugliosi did not begin his book with the horrors of those murders.
Now I've watched you for a while on EE... I've sent plenty of openings to EE and maybe argued one or two points. Eventually, I make all the changes because the more I would think about the comments the more I would see their point and see how to write the opening better... An author has to think about comments and try to see the other point of view.

Last thing: If you wanted to argue with all the comments -- why did you ask for comments?

Valerie said...

I've noticed a lot of defensiveness on the site recently from writers submitting their work. As a follower of E.E., I've noticed that the comments can be a little harsh, something the submitters should be well aware of before they ask for critique. If you're looking for a pat on the back and a lollipop, then you need to look elsewhwere. If you're looking for people's honest opinions on your work, then you need to toughen up and accept people's comments with some gratitude and grace. Everyone here wants to help writers succeed, we wouldn't bother commenting if we didn't.

It's also important to remember that the publishing world is tough, too. And readers will tear you apart. Better to cut your teeth here and learn to bear it.

Good luck with edits! Never stop writing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Valerie;

No argument from me other than saying that "defensiveness" stuff belongs in Psychology Today.

Personally, I enjoy this site for a few reasons. One is that unlike useless Goodreads, it doesn't require the poster to say "Nicey, nicey," and five star everything Indie.

I've read a bit about writer-editor relationships, and the pros call it a mutually respectful give and take. Just as the writer can forget to consider some things, so can the editor. As long as neither party gets all "flouncy sensitive" about the matter, the result is a better book.

Whether one is arguing or discussing takes a mind reader to determine.

P.S. Again, this is not my book; so it can't be personal.

St0n3henge said...

Dear author:

Prologues are generally considered unnecessary in most books except mystery stories. The prologue is generally there to set up a piece of information that the reader can know but the protagonist doesn't. It will become important later. They are also sometimes used if you're going to show something happening years before the main body of the book begins, but that could also be your first chapter. That's a stylistic choice.

There doesn't seem to be a need for one here. Keep in mind that if someone picks up a book and characters they don't like are doing things they don't like, they will not continue reading. I agree with Dave that I would definitely not continue reading this book.

Start with something interesting happening to relatable characters.

Anonymous said...

To AA; That is pro as it effectively plays the statistical possibility of monetary success. If it was possible, I would consider it preferable.

But, there is an incalculable here and with any book I can imagine; and I frankly don't know how to articulate it. It's something like telling a proficient football player to play baseball because more people watch it and because you'll get paid better for it; but you didn't play much baseball before.

Anonymous said...

To AA; Yes, generally, as far as I know; and as mentioned the prologue could be Chapter One.

This part is difficult for me without having seen more of the book. The prologue or chapter one can be set up as a poetic, metaphorical telling of part of the story. DFW excels at this; and I would contend that his first seven pages of "Infinite Jest," the part in the Deans' office, serves as a guide to the rest of the book; not saying too much, but providing a map.

Evil editor has pointed out to me that when one is condemned to try to publish from square one, it is necessary to make things more accessible, perhaps more conventional, to a first level reader. IDK. My initial thoughts suggest different books; confounded by the good possibility that if the first one does OK, they'll want another one like it.

So, to Author; Your book seems to suggest to me the possible expansion into broader themes which interest me; and I'd read the book, at least until I might possibly see that it was not what I expected. But, I'm heavily outvoted here. So, you've heard honest and for the most part experienced reactions. Your call.

Chelsea P. said...

Hi author!

Thanks for coming by and giving context to the opening. I definitely walked away from this feeling chilled, and the idea that you might want us to identify with the shooter (I know now that you don't) made me really uncomfortable. Which is fine, btw. Writing doesn't need to comfort the reader, but my point is, knowing where you're coming from helped me to focus my critique. I agree that stories need time to unfold, and you by no means need to start the story with a well-rounded, lovable character. However, I do think it's good to start with a character we'd be willing to follow throughout the book, and if we (mistakenly) think the shooter is that person, a lot of us might not want to read further. And that's not a comment on the writing--the writing did its job and effectively freaked me out. But I wouldn't necessarily want to keep reading because of the way I felt about the narrator.

So I have a couple of thoughts. If the protagonist shows up right after this scene, is it possible for him/her to witness it from afar and narrate it? Another idea would be to show the scene from the eyes of the girl. Personally, I'd love to see the opening to the next scene, and if you wanted to submit it, I'm sure people would weigh in on whether it works better for them as an opening.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments and opinions. I don't mind constructive criticism but not criticism that is just plain nasty. I learn to have a tough skin for the publishing world. Actually, the story is interesting and there are relatable characters.

To me, the first 200 words are not that much. I've read plenty of books from my favorite authors and from new authors that started off boring but I kept reading because I want to give it a chance. If the book's 200 words are not for you, that's your choice.

The prologue is definitely needed in this story, You have to read enough of the book to see that.

Sometimes, I think agents judge too quickly as well. I don't always have to relate to or love a character to continue reading a book--I even like to read books that have villains, love to hate characters, as protagonists-- there's got to be something about the book that clicks for me to read on.

St0n3henge said...

I don't mind love-to-hate characters as protagonists, either. It was the whole premise of the tv show House M.D. which did very well. However, this story starts with two hate-to-hate characters, and I had the idea they were the protagonists, possibly in a flash-forward. So, no, I would not read on.

It is certainly up to you how you choose to read a book, but how others choose to read YOUR book will not be determined by you. It will be determined by the way they normally judge a book. If you like to gamble, you can bet that this opening won't turn off your intended readership. That's your choice, but you're getting advice to the contrary by people, like me, who read books. So consider it.

I would really urge you, if possible, to find someplace else to start your book that actually does feature your protagonist.

Anonymous said...

The girl isn't important enough to the story to even have a name. Why should the reader care about her?

"Actually, this first page is a prologue. The story starts after this scene. The protagonist is a likable person and very relatable as the story goes on."

The assumption with a first person POV is that this will be the person telling most of, if not the entire, story. You have one chance to make a first impression. If the impression isn't good, most readers won't make it to page two to find a likeable/relatable protagonist.

If you understand that and want to start your story there anyway, that's up to you. You've seen the impression most of this site's visitors have had.

"this was in third POV and I recently changed it to first. (I forgot to take that POV error out) Most of the story is in third POV--and the rest is in first POV."

Omniscient POV: The reader knows what everyone is thinking.
3rd person POV: Like 1st person only with he/she/[character name] instead of I

Did you switch the narrator when you switched from 3rd to 1st? Or did you switch from omniscient to 1st?

"Oh really, now--was sarcasm, this character was mocking the other character."
Sarcasm =/= calmly. This is the reader's first view of this character. Most readers are going to take what you tell them at face value unless/until proven they shouldn't. If it's sarcasm, you might want to say so.

Question to EE, does the comma belong after "right"? It looks like it belongs after "Oh".

Evil Editor said...

I don't really get "Oh really now", no matter where the comma is. I would expect the comment to be "Yeah, right." Or "Yes, I'm sure you didn't."

I think if you want readers to interpret a line as sarcastic when it's coming from a character they know nothing about, it should be more obvious than it is here.

Minion 621 said...

I understood the fireworks as being something of a ticking clock -- i.e. he'll shoot her when the fireworks start going off, to cover the sound.

Seconding some of the stuff said earlier: the first-person makes it sound like this guy's the protagonist, and the vagueness around the characters makes it seem like the scene is unimportant. A generic serial killer holds a generic soon-to-be-murder-victim at gunpoint. I think you'll be able to fix these issues easily, though.

Evil Editor said...

Some of that may be true, but I'm pretty sure these are characters from Face-Lift 1334 (2 posts below) and the shooter is exacting revenge on one of the pranksters who caused the death.

Anonymous said...

(I understood the fireworks as being something of a ticking clock -- i.e. he'll shoot her when the fireworks start going off, to cover the sound)


(the first-person makes it sound like this guy's the protagonist,)

This person is one of the main characters and portrayed as a likable character.

(and the vagueness around the characters makes it seem like the scene is unimportant. A generic serial killer holds a generic soon-to-be-murder-victim at gunpoint. I think you'll be able to fix these issues easily, though.)

This scene is important--it is the catalyst for the killers' motives. The killer's identity is unknown to the readers, even though they have gotten to know this likable person throughout the novel but they don't know that person is the killer until the end.

Anonymous said...

Evil Editor,

That is correct.

Anonymous said...

OK, it's July fourth, so he's OK but she still happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. At this point there are just too many coincidences and misunderstandings to make me want to continue. It's like the fantasy story which never mentions magic; then at the end when the hero is about to be killed; Merlin pops out and saves him.

Lastly switching narrator from third to first person is easy; unless a few third person narrators have been used. If I was the editor of this one, I'd hand it to an assistant and ask if they could make any sense of this. If I had no assistant I'd just quit as I don't want a headache.

Having said that; "Southland Tales" had no box office, but is a DVD star; though a movie producing associate (very low budget) told me DVD sales ain't where the money is.

Anonymous said...

Dear Author;

This process can go on a bit, with many theories and opinions.

Suffice to say, there are certain things which are not debatable;
1) The reader must always be clear on who is speaking.
2) POV does not necessarily equal person, though it can.
3) A third person narrator should not be later switched to first person; at least until the writer is familiar with more techniques than you claim to know. You said; "Everybody's got to start somewhere," and I'll assume you were referring to yourself.
4) There is now a 3 for 3 or a 4 for 4 concensus that the people on EE would not read your book further as is. Evaluate that as you see fit.
5) Though the plot line does not appear to go where I thought it might; it's not a book for me; but, I don't read any YA except Green. Evaluate that as you see fit.
6) Handled well, I think this book could be as good as a published mystery; perhaps better than most. ETAYSF. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to stop here; afraid this could go on quite a bit.

On the "first page" here; the one with the gun says or thinks something about her playing guys. Plural. She responds by referring to him. Singular.

Can't the murderer and the victim at least be on the same page?

Anonymous said...

And when she says "him" she is responding to something the murderer is thinking. Is she clairvoyant? The only other possibility is that she is schizophrenic and is talking to and punishing herself, while considering suicide. If so, this opening gives away the ending.

This is starting to sound like the final essay exam to Editing 101. I hate school as much as I do unstable narrators and not knowing who is speaking.

Evil Editor said...

She used to play guys is a general comment. I didn't mean to hurt him refers to the specific "him" who was killed.

Evil Editor said...

She's not responding to what the narrator is thinking. She's responding to the fact that the narrator is pointing a gun at her at threatening to shoot her for killing her brother.

Anonymous said...

Okay. She is still responding or making a case for herself referring to a "him." If there's any logic here at all, that implies that she knows the shooter and thinks she know why he wants to kill her. In that case it seems odd that she doesn't refer to him by name. If you were holding a gun on me I'm sure I'd say; "Evil, Evil. Please don't. Etc."

You said; "She used to play guys is a general comment." So is he killing her on general principles or for the specific event? If on general principles, why right now?

Evil Editor said...

The narrator is threatening to shoot the woman responsible for the death of the narrator's brother. For the specific reason she wants to avenge her brother. Didn't you say "I'm going to stop here" three posts ago?