Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Beginning 324

It was always best to be behind them. That way, Josie could keep her eye on the pack as they careened down the hall, whooping to one another like they owned the school. She spent most mornings with her back pushed against her locker until they passed. As she breathed in their scent, a hint of fresh perspiration mixed with spearmint and perfume, she wondered how many molecules of carefree popularity she would have to ingest to become a different person. Not one of the populars, just someone other than Josie Preston.

All she knew was that it hadn’t happened yet. Josie always woke up to the same freckled face, full lips, and thick eyelashes. She had yet to escape the dark vacuum of her room, trapped in her lumpy bed behind a locked door.

But not tonight. As always, we've had our panel of experts with us to aid in the transformation: Pierre Montaine, lead stylist at Hairs and Graces, Beverly Hills; Cecille Normandy, one of Hollywood's leading make-up artists, the woman who made Holly Hunter half-way decent looking; and Dr. Terrance Montague, lead cosmetic surgeon at The New You clinic in Manhattan.

So let's take our first look at the new Josie. Without further delay, open that door and join us, Josie, and you will be--

Oh, sweet Jesus.


Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: ril

26 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


The popularity molecules bounced off the inside of the crystal ball, sparking from the contact. Each little flash illuminated her room for a momen, casting shadows of paisley velvet drapery over the freckled face bending over her.

The gypsy woman squeezed Josie's wrist. "Not much longer now, girl," she cackled. "Not much longer at all." Her full lips smacked, as if relishing the taste of something especially delicious.

Josie whispered, "Will you let me go if I promise not to write 'Mrs. Jones is an old hag' on the cafeteria wall again?"

--Bonnie


How the careening pack of populars made it into her locked bedroom every morning was beyond Josie. She ingested another noseful of popularity molecules and wondered about that as Taffy, her freckled-face, full-lipped cocker spaniel batted his enormous eye lashes at her and flew around the room.

"Fly with me," Taffy taunted.

"I can't. I'm trapped in this lumpy bed. You know that."

"Take another snort and look again."

When Josie did as her faithful bed companion suggested, she noticed the lumpy bed was really a soft, fluffy cloud. "Am I really flying? Am I?"

"Since your first snort," Taffy said. "Now lets see about making you smell like spearmint." He swung round and wagged his magic tail.

--Bump in the Night


She gazed over at her battered Harry Potter books on her desk. As a kid, she had believed in the world wholeheartedly. She had accepted everything: the brooms, the wands, the lack of a love interest for Sirius Black.

But now she was beginning to wonder, because no matter how hard she tried, no matter how carefully she followed the recipe, the Polyjuice potion just wasn't working.

Plus, all those hairs kept getting stuck in her throat.

--freddie

BuffySquirrel said...

*mumbles something about pronouns with no antecedents*

Possibly not a good idea to have the reader wondering, "them? who them?" in the first sentence. Maybe, It was always best to be behind the pack. That way, Josie could keep her eye on them as....

Clearly she does sometimes escape the dark vacuum of her room, cos she's at school. I like the teen melodrama, but still, it doesn't quite work for me :).

Bernita said...

Just where are we, please?
In a school hallway or her room?

Robin S. said...

OK - here we are. In Claire's world and in Josie's world, through Josie's eyes. Claire, from New Beginning 320, is in the pack, right? So either this one or the Claire beginning is going out as the first page, if i understood correctly.

My vote is for this one.

Continuations were all good - loved the "Oh, sweet Jesus" punch line in the chosen one, and the line in the Harry Potter one:
"She had accepted everything: the brooms, the wands, the lack of a love interest for Sirius Black."

writtenwyrdd said...

Is she in a school hallway or is she in bed? The continuation picked up on this confusion beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Two lines that just don't work for me:

"Josie always woke up to the same freckled face, full lips, and thick eyelashes. She had yet to escape the dark vacuum of her room, trapped in her lumpy bed behind a locked door."

The physical description sounds too forced, and we know she has "escaped" her room to be in the hallway at school.

Loved Bonnie's continuation!

Amy A. said...

Could you use a better term than "the populars"?

I'm with BuffySquirrel on the first sentence.

M.W. said...

This continuation needs a more grounded sense of place. Set a scene. Either in the school hallway or in the room. Not both. Also, I fail to see how "whooping" begets "ownership of the school."

Anonymous said...

I vote for this one over the "Claire" opening, as well.

And I just assumed she was at school. Is she really at home?

Dave said...

Even though "It was" begins several of the sentences opening A Tale of Two Cities, it doesn't serve you to start out with the passiveness of "it was."
I don't mean passive tense, I mean lack of action passive, no movement passive, sitting like a lump of coal in the middle of a bin passive. Josie isn't a lump. She acts like a lump of unatractive flesh and bone.

Try something like: "Josie stayed behind the pack - watching, wishing, never daring to join them. They careened down the hallway like they owned the school. Josie hid back against her locker. She satisfed herself with their peppermint scent, hoping that would transform her a different person. etc.."

Add in your popularity molecules. Then move the scene to her lumpy bed where each morning she wakes to find the "molecules" didn't change her.

jjdebenedictis said...

I liked this. I has a mopey quality that nails adolescence quite well and it's very nicely written. The protagonist has a problem to solve, even if it's internal. I think this works; I'd read on.

Minions: Josie is in the hall. The second paragraph is backstory.

RIL: I looooved the last line of the continuation. :-D

150 said...

Full lips, freckles, and thick lashes? She's hideous!

author said...

Thanks for your comments. I see where the confusion comes in as to where she is. jjdebenedictis is correct - the part about her room is backstory. When you read the entire chapter it should be clear, b/c the rest is Josie in the hallway. However, this is an issue I will address.

buffysquirrel - thanks for your suggestion of using 'the pack.'

robin s & anon 3:21- thanks for your vote - I think I"d already come to the conclusion to use this beginning after all the comments on Claire's NB. Looks like I need to tighten this up, though.

Dave - the switch from passive to active is a good idea. Thanks for your example.

ME said...

[clears throat in a manner complementary to Bsquirrel's mumbles]

Perhaps a bit of adolescent dialogue, with a whooping whopper of a tag would better engage the reader, and "show" not "tell" what the populars are like. Maybe you could specify what class she was "always late to" or some other detail indicating that she stayed out of their way, because "she spent most mornings with her back pushed against her locker" (which had me picturing outright aggression as opposed to a defensive posture)made it seem like she never made it to class at all. The rest of the paragraph is beautiful and makes me like Josie Preston right away.
The second para begins well,with the flashback to how she feels each morning before school,but I agree with those who didn't care for the "dark vacuum" bit. Maybe you could describe her room. Jumping from school to her room (and presumably back to school) in consecutive paragraphs seems overly ambitious and potentially confusing. I liked this beginning better than the other one, BTW.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I preferred the original to Dave's proposed version. I liked it.

ME said...

Liked Bump in the Night's cont.
ril - good one, re: Holly Hunter!

carolina wren said...

I'm voting for this opening as opposed to the "Claire" opening, as well. I like it!

Robin S. said...

I didn't find this confusing, guys.

I like it, as is. It's just the first two paragraphs - and it's engaging enough that I trust the author to keep me that way for a while longer, through the way forward.

iago said...

I agree with 150 that "Full lips, freckles, and thick lashes" don't sound particularly undesirable qualities. In fact, sound pretty attractive.

I'm going to guess that the next paragraph would re-ground us in the school hallway and we're seeing a "symptom" of the 150 word limit; though the "She had yet to escape" is clearly contradicted by her being in the school, as BuffySquirrel says.

Much prefer this opening to the other choice, but still needs a little tightening...

author said...

me: Thanks for the suggestions. The details do come in so soon. I appreciate the comment on the writing. Maybe I should just stay out of her room completely and add that bit in later if needed? Adding dialogue is a good idea - you've got me thinking of a different way to start this. The populars are about to walk into the scene and will show instead of tell what they are all about (and how Josie fits in - or rather doesn't).

Thanks for the vote carolina wren!

robin s & anon 4:45 - Thanks! You make me feel like someone would keep reading!

iago: "I agree with 150 that "Full lips, freckles, and thick lashes" don't sound particularly undesirable qualities. In fact, sound pretty attractive." I never said she was ugly - or even thinks of herself as ugly - just that she wants to be someone else.

"I'm going to guess that the next paragraph would re-ground us in the school hallway and we're seeing a "symptom" of the 150 word limit" - True - but if the first 150 aren't good enough this might go in the trash before an agent gets back into the hallway!

The comments about Josie being trapped in her room didn't work. She was raped in her room and can't escape that memory. It wasn't meant to be literal. I assume that the literal bed and door kill that.

I know I need some revision here - a better hook for the first 2 paragraphs - and will work on it more. Maybe even post a revised version tomorrow if people are still checking. Thanks again for all the comments. You've all given me a lot to work with.

writtenwyrdd said...

Not sure, but I see a disconnect between the desire for popularity and a previous rape... because many victims of rape or abuse don't want to be noticed afterwards. They evade notice or popularity due to fear or shame or some other reaction to what happened.

But I did like the scene you were setting, as it implies a conflict about to happen. And I agree with the suggestions to use dialog and show the situation more are good ones. Bring on the conflict implied by the beginning.

author said...

Okay - I revised. More comments?

“You seen the Blue’s Crew?”

Josie didn’t answer the deep voice coming from several lockers to her left. The question wasn’t aimed at her.

“Hu-uh.” The answer, originating on Josie’s right, floated over her head. “Why?”

“They’re crazy, man.” Almost simultaneously, the lockers both slammed. Josie jumped. “Wait’ll you see ‘em.”

Josie was left staring at the books piled against the back of her locker, she waited for familiar sounds to alert her that the pack was rounding the nearest corner, approaching, passing. It was always best to be behind them. Josie felt more comfortable following as they careened down the hall, whooping to one another like they owned the school. That way, nothing could catch her by surprise.

Too often, as Josie breathed in their scent, a hint of fresh perspiration mixed with spearmint and perfume, she wondered how many molecules of carefree popularity she would have to ingest to become a different person. Not one of the populars, just someone other than Josie Preston. All she knew was that it hadn’t happened yet. Josie always woke up to the same freckled face, full lips, and thick eyelashes, trapped in the dark vacuum of her mind.

Something about today was different. There was no sign of the girls who swayed in unison, their hips moving as one, or the guys following behind, projecting deep voices that propelled the crowd like wind in a sail. They were all MIA.

iago said...

Maybe you don't want to rush the rewrite...

writtenwyrdd said...

I think you set the scene much better in the rewrite, but the first sentence doesn't seem tied to anyone, because Blue's Crew is totally obscure to me, as I don't know your world yet.

I'd drop the following, however, as it doesn't really work:
"All she knew was that it hadn’t happened yet. Josie always woke up to the same freckled face, full lips, and thick eyelashes, trapped in the dark vacuum of her mind."

I don't like the description, as it pulls me away from the immediate scene and is totally unnecessary. We do not need to know why she wants to be someone other than herself...yet. That information can be fed to the readers alter on.

Then work on the following paragraph as the transition is rough.

This isn't perfect, but I think it works.

McKoala said...

Commented yesterday, but I guess it got lost in the ether or I forgot to press send or something.

Anyway, the gist of it was that I preferred the first version - it was tighter (and I don't like novels to start with dialogue, although that is a highly personal thing and probably best ignored). I think that if you tweaked your original (yes, the bedroom thing) it is an excellent start. I'd also vote for this as the start of the novel, rather than the other one.

author said...

Thanks - I did revise quickly and post to get as many comments as possible.

I revised again and buried the dialogue in after the opening paragraphs. Think it works much better now.