Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Beginning 325


They were back.

I heard them before I saw them- three vans rumbling down Poplar Bridge Road, stirring up coffee-colored dirt and small stones. I felt my heart leap and my stomach clench and it was all I could do not to run out onto the road and wave them down with both arms.

“Audrey Lynn Poole, just what do you think you’re doing?”

I was pressing my hands against the front window, straining to get a better view of the vans, but they had already turned down Old Pickle Bend.

“They’re here,” I whispered.

Mama looked over my shoulder. “What’s out there?” she asked, concerned. Wolves had been spotted two nights earlier less than a mile from our house. People were nervous. Mr. Barger was keeping his goats inside and a rifle by the front door.

“They’re here,” I repeated, louder this time.

Mama frowned, but I could see as she reached for her bag, I’d already won.

“Audrey, you know I--” But I didn’t allow her to finish as I took the bill from her hand and rushed for the door.

The vans were parked up on Onion Lane, and there was already a small crowd around them when I arrived. It took me a while to work my way to the front. I stood on tiptoe and offered up my five dollars.

These were the best damned kebabs in the county. The sauce was perfect, and the meat . . . So different, so delicious; what was it? Too tender to be lamb. Then I had a sickening thought.

I ran as fast as I could to the Barger house and flew through his door. “Mr. Barger, Mr. Barger,” I yelled. “They took your--”

Mehh. Mehhhhh. They were all there. Princess, Mabel, Florin and even little Tuppence. The goats were all right. What a relief! But . . . where was Mr. Barger?


Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Anonymous

18 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


"Who's here?" Mama said.

"The Sheriff and his deputy. They have to enforce the protection of the wolves no matter what. They've come to take Mr. Barger to jail. Mr. Barger will shoot someone before he'll let that happen. I just know it!"

"No, no, no, Audrey. That's just the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes van. You see? There's Ed McMa - shit!" Mama covered her mouth with one hand and my eyes with the other. Something like a firecracker popped in the distance.

--freddie


I knew they weren't coming to our house, but I was excited all the same.

I could imagine what would happen - the vans screeching up an unsuspecting person's driveway, the doors sliding open, all the balloons.

Yes, the balloons were my favorite part, even more than the roses and the check for a gazillion dollars.

I turned to my Mama. "You know what's out there," I hissed. "It's the Publishers Clearing House vans!"

--Kate Thornton


"Do they have them?" she asked me. Mama hadn't been quite right since the attack. Shell shock, or whaddayacallit-- PTSD, I guess.

"Daddy said they did when he called, Mama." I patted her shoulder. "Let's just wait until they unload and see, okay?"

"Werechickens," she muttered. "Such foolishness."

"They'll get the wolves, Mama. Look what they done for Pete MacKenzie."

"Damned tree huggers," she muttered, turning back to her program. The screen cast flickering shadows across her features. "If they'd let the buggers die off we wouldn't have this problem. Just like rabbits in Australia. Werechickens..."

--writtenwyrdd

Author said...

I LOVED the continuation- thanks, anonymous.

Thank you in advance to all the minions who offer advice on how I could improve my opening. The book is a middle grade novel set in Appalachian Kentucky. Audrey is thirteen. I reveal who is driving the vans- and their significance- in the very next paragraph.

Robin S. said...

Good luck to you author.

My mother's family is from Muhlenberg County in western Kentucky (near the Paradise that's in the John Prine song).

I like your opening. I'd be interested to know who's coming.

Bump in the Night said...

Hey, Author -- Nice opening. I wanted to read on and find out who was coming and what they mean to Audrey. I like "They're here" and the repetition of it as a hook.

As far as suggestions to improve, perhaps keep it more immediate. "My heart leaped. My stomach clenched." is more immediate (to my eye) than "I felt my..."
"I pressed my hands to the front window and strained for a better look" is more immediate (to my eye) than "I was pressing my hands..."

Being really picky, perhaps watch where you deliver details. Is it necessary to tell us the dirt is coffee-colored? Is Audrey really seeing them stir up small stones? Maybe the image of a dirt cloud is visual enough.

Last picky comment, I wondered why Mama didn't hear the vans and why Audrey assumed Mama thought she was looking at wolves. That added good color for the area, but I didn't know why Audrey assumed that.

Overriding my picky comments, I was interested.

Best luck with this.

McKoala said...

Liked the original, liked Bump's suggestions for more immediacy. Loved the wolves and Mr Barger as they gave the whole thing a more sinister tone. The only thing I didn't like was the use of Audrey's full name; it struck me as unnatural and 'concerned' - because I don't think you need it.

iago said...

Myself, I wasn't bothered by the "Audrey Lynn Poole": my Mom always used to use my full name when I was doing something bad.

Of course, that was bad as in letting the cat play with the gerbils rather than bad as in just looking out the window.

This is a pretty good opening. I can't find much to whine about here. But I'll keep trying.

Anonymous said...

I really like this very much! Only one small nit: "What's out there," she asked, concerned. --This is a tell sentence. I'd like to 'see' how mom is concerned.

But this is great either way.

Takoda

writtenwyrdd said...

I agree, this opening is pretty good. A little tweaking might be good, but I'd read on.

Robin S. said...

I like the original version of this opening. It reminds me of the way stories were told, orally, to me 'back in the day'. I like the second sentence of the first paragraph as is. You've managed to catch the use and rhythm of the language in that area and put it on paper.

I know everyone likes this immediacy thing now - but "I was pressing my hands" does feel right to me in this place. It's a good way to reel people in, if you give it time to do so.

Maybe it's because "I's havin' to..." was the way many stories started that I remember hearing, but what I do know is, stories could be woven from the most common of every day occurrences and made to sound fascinating. So -if this story has more than an every day occurrence coming, that's even better.

Bernita said...

A nice beginning.
I wonder if "just what do you think you're doing?" is justified by the fact that all she is "doing" is pressing her nose to the window.

150 said...

Can I just say, I'm a sucker for a continuation with cannibalism in it. Don't know what that says about me.

Generally I liked the opening, even though it got a little repetitive. I did find it weird that Mama was apparently not able to tell the difference between approaching vans and wolves. There seemed to be no good reason to mention the wolves right here, since the vans are audible before they're visible, so it would be obvious what they were. I mean, they're automobiles. They're not going to eat your goats.

This would be another one where I liked the voice better than the content. Luckily, content is the easier one to change.

invisible one said...

I think the wolves work. Mama doesn't ask specifically if there are wolves, but the threat has been enough of an issue to make Audrey think that might be her mother's first thought. It weaves in another plot point and makes me wonder about more than just who 'they' are.

150 said...

But it's established that you can hear the vans coming. There's the sound of motors. Wolves on hogs?

invisible one said...

Okay - so maybe the mother can be occupied with something in the other room - washing dishes? Running water might keep her from hearing the sound. Also - if Audrey was supposed to be helping, that explains Mama's irritation. Could be accomplished with minimal additions.

I'm just saying I like the wolves and think it could work with a little tweaking.

But I do like the visual of wolves on hogs.

Author said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I've rewritten the opening so it's clear that Mama was not in the room when the vans passed by the house and did not hear them:

They were back.

I heard them before I saw them- three vans rumbling down Poplar Bridge Road, stirring up coffee-colored dirt and small stones. I felt my heart leap and my stomach clench and it was all I could do not to run out onto the road and wave them down with both arms.

Mama came out of the kitchen and saw me, my hands pressed against the window, my breath fogging up the glass. “Audrey Lynn Poole, just what do you think you’re doing?”

I was straining to get a better view of the vans, but they had already turned down Old Pickle Bend, a dirty cloud of dust trailing them.

“They’re here,” I whispered.

Mama looked over my shoulder. “What’s out there?” she asked, frowning. Wolves had been spotted two nights earlier less than a mile from our house. People were nervous. Mr. Barger was keeping his goats inside and a rifle by the front door.

Robin S. said...

I like it.

150 said...

I like it too! Obviously, for maximum literary merit, you should have changed it to include the wolves on motorcycles...but that's your artistic call to make. :P

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked the original better. This rewrite is somewhat unfocused in comparison.