Saturday, April 17, 2021

New Beginning 1095

Eliza Mack was trying to think about her dead brother. Maddeningly, she was failing. Mikhail Shamoun, the love of her life, had driven her thoughts away from the innocent dead and back to himself this morning with a persistence that was nothing short of demonic. He was the one man on earth who had the power to hurt her more than anyone else, and he used it. Eliza picked up speed as she cruised south on the 405 while sapphire skies, glittering office parks, graceful palm trees, garden-like beach towns, and shimmery plains of ocean evaporated in her rage. 

 It was a gauzy Sunday in June, and she had begun her day with that springy feeling that always followed a night, or nowadays a Skype, with Mikhail. Their groove of anus-licking and violent orgasmic passion -- which they had adapted to cybersex due to their new geographic circumstances -- left them both groaning and unconscious in a way that equaled them out until the next cycle of injuries and apologies. Before she left her apartment, she had snatched a few minutes to surf the net for something that was gnawing at her mind, and she struck google gold. Escalation of commitment.

* * *

Evil Editor looked up from the manuscript, eyebrows raised. "Well, Miss Persimmon... You certainly know your target demographic: Wild free spirits, wanderlust, sudden rage; love of bright colors and shiny things; obsession with computer screens; noisy, wild sex and, ah, anus licking...

He adjusted his spectacles. "Anus licking." He paused for a moment. "Frankly, there's just one thing that will prevent this becoming a best seller. Cats can't read."

Miss Persimmon huffed, grabbed her papers and headed for the door.

"Anus licking." Evil Editor repeated quietly to himself, as he reached for the intercom button. "Mrs Varmighan? Would you step in here a moment? There's something I need you to do."

Opening: anonymous . . . . .Continuation: ril


Evil Editor said...

They say if you tell someone not to think of a pink elephant, they'll think of nothing else. So instead of trying to think about her dead brother, Eliza should try not to think about him.

Not sure what kind of book this is, but I'm thinking paragraph 2 is a bit early to spring anus-licking on the reader. Or on an agent who requests five pages with the query.

"Equaled them out" doesn't sound like quite the right phrase. Is it supposed to mean something like satisfied their craving?

If where she's driving has nothing to do with Mikhail, I'm not sure why we're opening with him.

If you dump everything except the last two sentences (changing "she" to "Eliza"), I"ll be more interested. You can work in Mikhail during the drive, and save the anus-licking for chapter 11.

Mandakinz said...

Obviously EE's opinion is the only one that matters, but as a simple reader, I didn't have any issues leading with the first paragraph. I liked the last sentence that described the scenery as she was driving and that I learned she was angry. The only slight hiccup I experienced with para 1 is that she's trying to focus on her brother, who is not named, and then the next name given is a new character -lover. There's a slight delay as my brain processes who to assign the name to. I liked paragraph 1.

Para 2: I agree with EE completely. Personally, I would have given the book a few more chances, but I recommend adjusting that second sentence in para 2.

As for where she's going -- I going to guess that she's driving to her brother's funeral, which would explain why she's trying to focus on him but distracted by her anger at Mikhail! How did I do?

Great job as always ril!

Anonymous said...

What I see here is a woman driving down the road immediately heading into telling backstory(/flashback?) in a naval-gazing sort of way.

Usually when a scene starts and then jumps to previously, it's because the author wants to grab attention and then tell how the character(s) got into this bizarre situation, or because the author wants to give a different perspective on what's happening by letting the reader have a normal reaction and then showing the character's pov as to why they're reacting differently, or lead the reader into why what's happening isn't what it looks like. Here, I'm wondering if you're starting in the right place.

Assuming you really don't want to start with a scene featuring the last nasty break-up/fight of what seems to be a lust-hate relationship where part of the argument could be the brother and so make him relevant (at the moment the line about him seems to be a throwaway that the reader will have forgotten about by the time it comes up), you might want to at least consider putting things more into the moment by having her verbally abusing the (not-present) guy as she's driving with a few choice expressions that explain the relationship without telling, if that makes sense. That would also let you work in some more concrete details to anchor the reader, which might help.

Good Luck

Mandakinz said...

I meant to add that I preferred this opening to the prologue version from the previous New Beginning.

St0n3henge said...

This is kind of all over the place.
You want to know about the brother, how he died, is she even feeling sad- but, no, apparently she's only feeling lustful.
"Mikhail Shamoun, the love of her life, had driven her thoughts away from the innocent dead and back to himself this morning..." makes me think she is currently with him because I figure when you're in the throes that's pretty much the only thing you can think about. To find out she's actually driving and thinking back on this is startling. She's really reminiscing about sex that morning instead of her brother who died?
At that point I would just not mention the brother at all until the main character can focus.

Anonymous said...

Author here. Thanks, all!

Anonymous, the story is all linear, no flashbacks. Mandakinz came very close: "she's driving to her brother's funeral, which would explain why she's trying to focus on him but distracted by her anger at Mikhail!" It's actually the sixth anniversary of his death, and she's on her way to the widow's estate. But you got the mood exactly.

It all comes clear by the end of the page, but even a mind that is all over the place shouldn't be reflected by writing that's all over the place, as St03henge complains. Thanks to all your suggestions, I think I'm gonna dump the boyfriend until he enters the scene in Chapter 3, which will eliminate the explicit sexual reference -- alas, the beautiful scenery "evaporating in her rage," which was also one of my favorite phrases, will have to go.

Mandakinz said...

I liked the line "evaporating in her rage" too -- hopefully you can find another spot for it.

Are you still going to open with the prologue?

Anonymous said...

Mandankinz, I don't know if I'll open with the prologue or not. I grudgingly added it because I didn't think my opening pages were working, and then I got to liking the way it mirrors the last paragraphs of the book. After I rewrite the opening to focus on the dead brother and delay the entrance of Mikhail, I'll show it around to a few beta readers and see what they think -- prologue, or no prologue?