Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Beginning 32

I awoke with a start and cry, banishing weeks of fevered dreams away in one quick movement. Outside, a horse had nickered. I could just make out the sound of stomping hooves in the snow and knew some impatient beast was tied at the hitching post while its owner visited Papa's shop downstairs.

If Papa was trading, all was well. The bed ropes creaked as I eased down, feeling my panicking heart relax. Many a day I had woken to the sounds of Papa arguing out a sale. It was a ritual as soothing as Mama reciting fairy tales as she tucked me in at night. It was only when I nudged the rough linen of my pillow as I settled back into my warm nest of blankets that I noticed how curiously light my head felt. The stabbing pain that had been with me for - for I didn't know how long - was gone.

"Lass, did you take the screw out of your head again?"

Heavens above, it was Papa. How long had he been here? "No-- I swear..."

His rough hand felt along my scalp. "It's gone," he growled.

"But it feels better," I cried.

"Feeling better is for your mother's fairy tales," Papa said. "What about my radio reception?"

Opening: Poohba.....Continuation: Jox


Bernita said...

"banishing weeks of fevered dreams away in one quick movement."
To me, clunky and unnecessary.
Move better if you stuck to simple past: "a horse nickered", "I awoke."
Is the backstory "many a day..." necessary right here?

Nut said...

The continuation made my skin crawl.

BuffySquirrel said...

You don't need the away; "banishing away" is tautologous. Just go with "banishing".

mitzi said...

The continuation made me LOL!

I might like the setting--horses, winter, sometime in the past with hitching posts, etc. Details like these evoke a past that is interesting.

But I found this beginning a little hard to follow. Weeks of fevered dreams-and the narrator knows immediately that she just woke from them? Not believable. If you've been sleeping for weeks, what would you know when you awoke?

Emotions (and emotion-laden actions) jump around too much. There's the start and cry and the fevered dreams. These are quickly followed by the soft sound of a horse nickering. There's impatience. Then "all was well." Then the "panicking heart" but it relaxes. Then there's "arguing" out a sale. Then soothing ritual. Then curiousity. Then absence of pain.

What do you want me to feel? I'm exhausted already!

And the last bit-"I didn't know how long"--well I didn't have any sense of time from this. Felt confused. As someone commented on another's opening, it's okay to have a confused narrator. Just don't confuse the reader. Please.

I think the author is trying to hard to cram a lot into the opening. Where some openings need more action, more detail, etc. I think this one needs to be simplified and focused. jmho.

And it takes a brave heart to post an opening on this blog. Hope the comments help.

HawkOwl said...

Well, I found the tone really irritating, but I'm curious what happens next, so I guess it did the trick this far anyway. :)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't keep reading this. Too many words to say very little. And I'm not a fan of the *as* construction; it's very *telling.*


Feisty said...

LOL LOL. I love the radio reception thing.

Beth said...

This opening makes the classic first-person POV mistake: a very self-aware narrator. "Banishing weeks of fevered dreams away in one quick movement," "feeling my panicking heart relax" "nudged the rough linen of my pillow" "warm nest of blankets." Nobody thinks in adjective-laden prose.

Second strike against this is that it's a waking-up scene, which is beyond cliche and most likely a death sentence. Third strike is the fact that nothing happens and no conflict is introduced.

If the story actually begins with the moment she discovers her head doesn't hurt any more, which could be intriguing, then mention that fact in the first sentence and move on from there.

Frainstorm said...

The opening sentence confuses me even after a couple readings. Eventually I guess I'd know what it means, but is this person actually waking up from sleeping for weeks?

A story that starts with someone waking up better get real good real fast because most agents won't make it to the second paragraph.

One minor thing: If there's snow, wouldn't it crunch under a horse's hooves? I thought it was going to be packed dirt from a drought when she heard stomping hooves.

I like the imagery. I had a good picture in my mind, protag upstairs in bed ... oops, but I was picturing her with the windows open hearing all this action down below, but there's snow on the ground, so never mind that.

Good luck!

HawkOwl said...

Frainstorm - It depends what kind of snow. Snow from the night before that's had time to set but hasn't been packed yet would crunch. Wet snow, snow grains, or powdery snow wouldn't crunch. Snow that's been packed down by traffic wouldn't either.