Friday, September 01, 2017

New Beginning 1072

I woke up suddenly, lying completely still and straining my senses for any hint of what had woken me. Another knock came at the entrance. Jumping up out of the leaves I slept on, I sprinted over to touch the spot in the pulley system that would quickly roll the stone away. Vole was standing outside, looking guilty.

“It’s coming for you.” he said, “The most we can do is warn you. I’m sorry, Snaps.”

He stretched out a hand to me, holding a blue and gold Hope Tree leaf.

“I understand.” I said, taking it.

As he walked away, I let my feet wander while I thought. Hopelessness hardened into resolve as I walked: I can’t make a difference by fighting back, but I can sure as hell try. I found myself at the river, the water reflecting the torn clouds and bloody colors of the sunrise and the dragon-scale dull red of the Blood Flats. Cupping water in my hands, I dropped the Hope Tree leaf in and waited until its color leached into the water before drinking.

As I swallowed the soothing liquid, a mystifying realization crept into my mind: if my hands were cupping water, from what did I drop the leaf into them? My skin flushed and beads of sweat formed on my brow as I looked down, horrified to discover that I had three hands! How had I never noticed the hand growing from the crook of my left elbow, the hand now straining toward my throat as if with a mind of its own?

As the life drained from my body, I couldn't help wondering whether, behind my left knee, there might be a previously unnoticed third foot.

Opening: Fiona Green.....Continuation: EE


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

Now I saw the colors, too, cerulean and teal, violet and periwinkle. Maybe my feet would wander back to my body now. I need more to drink. Now the water tastes like red and purple while the sky is still beige. Vole, man, you were right to have me drink this before the cops came. This is some good shit, man.


Evil Editor said...

P1. If the stone blocking the entrance to this . . . cave? . . . is so heavy it needs a pulley system to move it, I doubt the narrator would hear someone knocking on it.

I don't like "out of the leaves." "from the bed of leaves" or "off the pile of leaves" sound better.

Calling the knock "another" knock assumes that what woke you was a knock. Not an unreasonable assumption, I suppose, though it could also have been Vole yelling to you or the roar of a dragon that was about to eat Vole if you didn't let him in.

P5: "can't" is absolute. If you were standing on a roof saying I can't fly but I can sure as hell try," I would suggest a different course of action. "Maybe I can't" at least leaves open the possibility of success.

As Vole walks away you wander. Or your feet do. Why not walk with Vole? Possibly you don't want to bring whatever is coming for you onto Vole as well. Noble. But how does Vole know "it" is coming for you, and not for him or someone else? Possibly if I knew what "it" is, the answer would be obvious.

khazarkhum said...

'Letting your feet wander' sounds like they've detached themselves from your body and are off on their own, probably to make mischief.

Anonymous said...

From this there doesn't appear to be any reason for your character to start out asleep other than it being fairly early in the morning, which makes me wonder when Vole learned this news. To avoid the knee-jerk reaction to starting with a character waking up that you may get from people like me, I'd suggest just starting with the knock or with a bit about the character's mental state/expectations/plans so we understand how they react to the knock when it happens.

Mister Furkles said...

My reaction is: WTF???

Almost every novel or short story starts with some kind of mystery. This is especially true for science fiction and fantasy. But many new writers think the more mysteries on the first page the better. That is false. You’ve piled one mystery atop another making a Babylon Tower of confusion. The reader needs something to latch onto even from the very beginning.

1. Sleeping on a bed of leaves – do readers need to know this on page one?
2. There is a button on the wall that moves a large round stone back from the opening--is it magic?
3. Vole show up – gotta wonder who this is.
4. Vole offers Snaps a warning – what is this about?
5. A Hope Tree leaf – another mystery
6. Snap takes it but readers don’t know what it is or why he takes it.
7. Snap is resolved but readers don’t know why or about what.
8. Snap wants to fight back and readers have no clue against who or why.
9. Suddenly, Snap is at a river and readers don’t know how he got there.
10. Snap drops the leaf into water and drinks it and readers are not allowed to know why.
11. Blood flats—what’s that?
12. Reader’s will wonder why Snap can’t make a difference by fighting and if not, why read on.

It’s too much stuff in the first 180 pages. Nearly a dozen unexplained things—one every fifteen words—and none explained or expounded upon. Readers will expect this piling on of inexplicable stuff will continue without ever encountering any explanation.

I'm out of this story and looking for something else.

Chicory said...

This scene is interesting, but a bit confusing. I think the problem is a lack of description. Descriptions in first person are tricky, because there's so much the character won't be thinking about. He's not wondering if he's in a cave or the middle of a forest (as I first thought when he woke on a pile of leaves), he knows whether Vole is an actual vole or a person who happens to be named vole, but your audience doesn't know these things.

(I love `Wind in the Willows' type animal stories, so naturally when a character named Vole is introduced -with no other description but the name Vole- I instantly assume the story is about talking animals. That's something the book jacket will help set people strait on, though- and nobody else here in the comments made that assumption, so it may just be me.)

I really hope my comments help. Best luck!

Anonymous said...

It's not just you, Chicory, I was thinking the same thing. The bed of leaves & character named Vole made me think talking animals. The sentence about hands made me upgrade to furries, and then the questionable number of limbs made me wonder about aliens.

I'll second the suggestion for a bit more description. Maybe the author could slip in a description of Vole's species while he's delivering his news?

St0n3henge said...

I keep telling people on here- not that anyone seems to listen- start your story more gradually. Act like you've got a few minutes. You do.

Everybody wants to dive right in, but we need several things as readers. First, a sense of place. This guy lives in a cave or something? What type of pulley system? Better description of the setting is needed.
Next, Who are the characters? What do they look like? What kind of people are they?

Back in the day, books started like this:
“It was Christmas Eve, and three people were climbing the steep white mountainside. The moonlight was casting shadows behind them across the snow. The middle one was a woman in a long, full skirt and with a dark cloak over her shoulders. Clinging to her hand was a black-haired boy, aged six, who talked all the time with his mouth full. Walking near, with her eyes turned to the stars, was a little girl of seven. Her hands were folded across her chest. Close against her heart she carried a golden gingerbread bear with white icing.”

No we can visualize several things. It is winter, at night, in the mountains. It's a clear night. There is snow on the ground but it is not snowing.
There is a girl, a dark haired boy, and a woman. Also, gingerbread bears.
The boy is chattering and eating his bear. The girl is quiet and saving hers. Two different personalities.

All in one paragraph. This is called “scene setting.” Modern books seem to have dispensed with it in favor of starting with a girl at a train station with amnesia trying to piece her life back together, but for most type of books some scene setting is still worthwhile.
Take your time. First, WHERE are we. Second, WHO are the main characters (and what do they look like so we can visualize them). Third, WHAT is happening. You've started with the “what.”

Remember that reading is primarily visual. Like radio shows, it's “the theater of the mind.” We have to be able to “see” the story.

Fiona said...

These are very instructional comments, nobody has seen the story yet besides you. (I hope) Everything becomes clear in the next few paragraphs as Snaps, while running from the dragon, finds a different cave. Actually, it is very vague at the beginning. If someone wants to help me proofread . . .

Chicory said...

Have you considered cutting the beginning, and just starting with Snaps on the run? If Vole is important, you can always mention, when he appears again in the story, that he's the one who warned Snaps to flee.