Friday, April 27, 2007

New Beginning 269


Father Vincent de Paul shivered in the cold vestibule of the Mayfair Mission cathedral building. All his instincts told him he shouldn’t be there. It was two in the morning. He swung his arms and tugged at his loose cloak to prevent any further loss of body heat. He crossed himself again as he looked up the dark Romanesque nave of the church to the high altar almost thirty meters away. God forgive me, he mumbled. But it had to be done. Concentrate, he told himself.

A sound made him stop abruptly. He peered into the darkness.

“Good evening, Father,” a voice said, from behind him.

Father Vincent jumped. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“The side door was open and I came in that way. I hope I have not kept you waiting.”

“It is cold here,” Father Vincent said, “I have little patience for waiting. Did you bring what I asked you to bring?”

“Yes, I have. Would you like to see it?”

Father Vincent eyed the package hungrily. "Give it to me."

The delivery man extended the parcel in both hands, like an offering. Reverently, as if accepting the Grail itself, the priest took it and held it close. "At last," he said.

The slash of a silver knife, and the wrapping fell away to reveal a heavy tome. Father Vincent turned back to the altar and bowed his head. "I . . . could not help myself," he murmured. "Forgive me, Lord. It shall not happen again." He uttered the latter with full confidence, for he knew from his readings that this was to be the last Harry Potter book.


Opening: Dr. Billy.....Continuation: 150

11 comments:

Bernita said...

He stopped doing what?
There's a side door to the vestibule?
Good evening at 2 AM?

Dave said...

OH! Harry, Harry Pottter!
I thought it was the last chocolate bunny of the season.

It might have been sexual. In TOSCA, Scarpia turns to the alter at the last minute and says "Tosca, you make me forget God!" as the massive chords of the Te Deum resound through the cathedral.

Elissa Abbott said...

I thought it would be a budle of second-hand clothing for the St. VdP thrift shop around the corner.

CSInman said...

This might be my favorite continuation so far.

And the opening hooked me--I wanted to read more. I mean, I don't know that it's NOT the Harry Potter book.

phoenix said...

Tighten, tighten, tighten. And vary your sentence structure. You basically have sentences all starting:

He shivered
He swung
He crossed
He looked
He told
He peered
He jumped ...

"Concentrate" goes in italics and delete "he told himself" - that's obvious.

"The side door was open" - put your period here. "and I came in that way" is understood.

"Did you bring what I asked for?" or "Did you bring it?" Delete "what I asked you to bring" - it's redundant.

Hmm. A sound makes Vincent stop abruptly, he looks around, then say's he didn't hear the other guy come in? A logic problem.

Go back and try again. With a little more attention to the details of the story writing this could be an interesting opening.

The continuation -- hehehe.

Dan said...

"He swung his arms and tugged at his loose cloak to prevent any further loss of body heat. He crossed himself again as he looked up the dark Romanesque nave of the church to the high altar almost thirty meters away."

These sentences are clunky. The phrase "to prevent any further loss of body heat" is not appealing prose. It's maybe writing out of an exercise manual. And saying "Romanesque" -- I'm not sure what I don't like about it, perhaps just that it's telling rather than showing. "Romanesque" and "thirty meters away" does not evoke images of huge f-off cathedrals, in at least my head.

Perhaps it would help you to read your opening aloud, if you have not done so. I find I often trip over clunky phrases when I do that.

(Last note: "cathedral building"? Are there "cathedral ships"? "Cathedral cineplexes"? "Cathedral sandwiches"? A cathedral is a building. That's like saying "cruise ship boat" or something.)

whitemouse said...

Harry Potter?! *droooool*

*slaps own wrist* Sorry. Must concentrate. Just like Father Vincent.

Ahem!

What I liked about the beginning:
You get right into the action quickly and there's a bit of mystery and tension already. That's great. You also illuminate de Paul's character through dialogue; the second thing out of his mouth is a list of complaints and that tells us a lot about de Paul.

What I thought needed work:
First of all, you can delete your first sentence. The only crucial information it gives (that isn't given later) is the Padre's name. I'd recommend slipping that into the third sentence instead and starting with "All his instincts told him he shouldn't be there." That's actually a much more intriguing sentence to start with; it has greater impact and makes the reader want to know more.

A sound made him stop abruptly.

Ah...stop doing what? Looking at the altar? That line might be better if you swapped "freeze" in for "stop".

In general, I think the scene does a little too much telling and not enough showing. Try to paint the scene of a big dark "Romanesque" cathedral, rather than just listing off a bunch of appropriate adjectives. You'd like the scene to come alive in your reader's head, and for me, this one didn't.

Watch out for word repetitions:
“Good evening, Father,” a voice said, from behind him.
Father Vincent jumped.

"...I hope I have not kept you waiting."
"It is cold in here," Father Vincent said(period here, not a comma) "I have little patience for waiting. Did you bring what I asked you to bring?"

Watch out for concept repetitions also. You tell us the vestibule is cold, then have de Paul swinging his arms and pulling his robes tight, then later he complains that it's cold. Having him reacting to the cold would be enough; you could ditch the other two mentions.

I think this opening would be most improved if you went through and pruned it ruthlessly, then used the extra space to paint the scene more viscerally. Get rid of the repetitions and work hard to get the information in there in the most economical fashion possible. Trust the reader to connect the dots if you only mention something once, or only imply it. Good luck with it!

AmyB said...

I agree with the other commenters. The writing is too technical, especially the phrase "to prevent any further loss of body heat." Surely he's not actually thinking about it in those terms! Like other commenters, I'd like more visceral writing here.

Aside from that, I like it. I'm hooked enough to read further.

McKoala said...

Thorough comments! My main one would be that I thought the dialogue was a bit stilted.

Very apt continuation!

writtenwyrdd said...

This isn't bad, but it's pretty clunky. I think more than anything else it needs a trim.

I thought the mood was set pretty well, and the scene relatively clear. The actions were a little illogical as others pointed out; but you did get me curious as to what was going on.

Here's what I mean. I added a couple of words, but mostly it's just cuts:

Father Vincent de Paul shivered in the cold vestibule of the cathedral. He tugged at his cloak against the 2 a.m. chill. He crossed himself again as he looked up to the high altar. God forgive me, he mumbled. But it had to be done.

A sound made him turn. He peered into the darkness.

“Good evening, Father,” a voice said from behind him.

Father Vincent jumped. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I hope I haven't kept you waiting.”

“No matter. Did you bring what I asked you to bring?”

“Yes.”

author said...

You people are the best!!!
Thanks EE and minions.