Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Beginning 422


In a small apartment near the Hospital Salpetriere in Paris, the doctor is surprised by the soft sounding of his door knocker. It is a polite knock, not timid, but no louder than it needs to be to attract his attention. He has no scheduled patients, and he approaches the door with curiosity, wondering who is calling so long past the dinner hour on such a snowy night.

On the stoop waits a man alone. He wears a thin cape, leather gloves, no hat, seeming impervious to the cold. His eyes are black, rimmed round with lashes so thick it almost looks as if someone has drawn circles around them with Egyptian kohl. His hair hangs in a long, thick plait down his back, his boots are a dark, butter-soft leather, laced up to his knees. His German is flawless, his glance both hopeful and cautious.

Doctor Freud? My name is Dragula. I have been referred to you by a friend. He believes you may be able to help me.”

Freud bows his head. "You may rely on it," he replies, and steps aside. Dragula nods in thanks and enters.

"Perhaps you are my only hope," Dragula says as he removes his cape. "Your skills are the talk of the city."

Freud again gives a modest bow. "Without a doubt." He leads his visitor into the parlor.

"I am at my wit's end. I am racked by a . . . a craving for human blood. I fear . . . Am I insane, doctor?"

Freud thinks for a moment, staring toward the ground. "As I see it, yes."

"The Devil take me! Can you possibly help me?"

The doctor takes a deep breath and rubs his beard. He turns toward the fireplace. "Very doubtful."

"Then I am doomed. I shall serve my eternity in Hell. You can offer me no solace?"

Freud clears his throat. "Reply hazy, try again."

"What I must know is-- Uh, what does that mean? Hey, wait just a minute . . . What's that?" Dragula stands and approaches Freud. "Is that a--? You're getting your answers from a magic eight ball?"

Freud thrusts his hands into his jacket pockets. His eyes dart around the room, like those of a trapped animal. "I . . . Ah . . . " He turns around again. "Ah . . . Signs point to yes."


Opening: deb hoag.....Continuation: ril

13 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:


The doctor screams and slams the door; through it, the sound of the unexpected visitor's departing footsteps and taunting laughter fades away into the distance.

Why is his life like this, he agonizes? Why is he a slave to the unforeseeable, this endless succession of harrowing uncertainties?

Then, in a blinding flash of inspiration, there occurs to him the kind of sudden insight for which he is renowned. There is but one escape from this prison of indeterminacy.

He must stop living in the present tense.

--Paul Penna


"Holmes!" sighs the doctor. "What are you playing at this time?" He motions the man in with a flick of his soft hand, speaking in flawless English in reply. "Come in quickly, before Mrs. Lilywhite sees you." With a quick glance back, he moves through the room to a case on the back wall. In an admiring tone, he croons, "You should be wearing clothes under that thin cloak on a night like this. Though the boots are a nice touch."

The tall man steps inside and shuts the door behind with the softest of clicks, enough to let the doctor know the door was closed but not enough to raise anyone else's attention. "Do you have... my order, doctor?"

A smile creeps across the doctor's lips as he turns. "Yes," he replies, noting that Holmes has extended the anticipated payment.

--anon

Evil Editor said...

Probably we shouldn't declare the visitor's German to be flawless before he has spoken.

Presumably we're in Freud's POV. If Dragula is facing the doctor, on the stoop, on a snowy night, that might make it difficult to see that his hair hangs down his back. Not sure whether you can tell boots are butter-soft by looking at them, especially when it's night and they're undoubtedly covered with snow.

I realize Freud's a shrink, but he still seems to go overboard a bit in analyzing a knock on his door as soft, polite, not timid, and no louder than it needs to be. I half expect him to open the door, give his diagnosis, and charge the guy eighty bucks.

Otherwise, nice hook, I'd read on.

Anonymous said...

Dracula turns to Freud for help? Nice. I'd read on.

Present tense is a hard sell. I think, on top of the other issues with trying to interest an editor, this just adds one more thing to overcome.

I agree with EE. You can't note the flawless German until he speaks. And POV in this case might be interesting. Since I doubt Freud is with him all the time, your POV must shift. Do you shift a lot or does it settle mostly on one character? You might consider changing it all to that one character. But then you might also run into issues with things that happen without that character being present.

Good Luck!
Sarah

Dave F. said...

My biggest concern was not POV although I did note the big shift from someone describing Freud in his apartment and in the next paragraph someone looking at Dragula from the outside. (Even Freud couldn't see all that description from a peephole).

I was more concerned with the over-description of some things.
"soft sounding of door knocker / polite knock / not timid knock / no louder than it needs to be to attract his attention."
You need to make a choice there. Pick one phrase and stick with it. Read through your writing for over-descriptions. I tend to write things in threes and then I have to edit blood to remove the stuff that's too much.

Physical descriptions likewise. I have the same problem as you have here. How much physical description is enough? I like to over-describe some of my characters and then I have to come back and spread the description out through the action.

I think of this as a plate of spaghetti (preferably linguini with clams and mushrooms or Perchetelli with red sauce) where you twirl the pasta onto a fork and shove the resulting mass into your mouth. Most of the time it just goes down and SITS there for an hour as a blob, spoiling the rest of the meal. The solution is to take smaller portions.

You might have to wait a few paragraphs to get all that description into the story. I like it. It's good description and the character is well drawn. Just take your time.

deb said...

I think i like your continuations better than my own! Reluctantly, I am canning the present tense, although I got quite a kick out of it, myself.

I switch to Dragula's viewpoint during the analysis and under the influence of mesmerism, when he gets on the big couch and describes his past.

Tnanks for the encouragement and suggestions!

pedantboy said...

racked not wracked

Church Lady said...

I really liked this. And I thought the present tense was good. I'd like to see how you changed it. Would you post your other version?

deb said...

Sure. I have to go home first. I'm at . . . ehem . . . work, and they keep expecting me do to stuff here that really cuts into my free time.

ME said...

What a great continuation. I was wondering about the stilted language and the "as I see it" sounded so familiar. Nice one ril!

The French term for hospital is hopital (no s) with an accent circonflexe over the o. Since I spotted that immediately, I was too annoyed to enjoy the rest of the intro.

deb said...

Only because I was asked, and not because I can never get enough of discussing my own stuff; here is the past tense version of the opening. Although Ril's magic eight ball, Paul's escape from the present tense, and the idea of Sherlock Holmes naked under his cape are pretty hard to beat. Plus the the problems of breast-feeding Dracula, which I had never before considered. I do actually explore a little bit of Freud's cocaine "experiments" before the end of the book. Anyways, here's the revised:

In a small apartment near the Hospital Salpetriere in Paris, the doctor was surprised by the soft sounding of his door knocker. He had no scheduled patients, and he approached the door with curiosity, wondering who was calling so long past the dinner hour on such a snowy night.
On the stoop waited a man alone. He wore a thin cape, leather gloves, no hat, seeming impervious to the cold. His eyes were black, rimmed round with lashes so thick it almost looked as if someone had drawn circles around them with Egyptian kohl. His boots were a dark, butter-soft leather, laced up to his knees. His glance was hopeful and cautious.
“Doctor Freud? My name is Dragula. I have been referred to you by a friend. He believes you may be able to help me.”
Freud considered the man. Freud was little known in Paris, studying under the great mentalist Charcot, and referrals were a novelty. He allowed himself a moment to feel flattered, and dipped his head in what passed for a bow in Nineteenth Century cosmopolitan society. He pulled the door wide, and gestured generously. “Come in, come in. May I take your cape?”

Sarah said...

It looks good so far. Needs a bit of tightening, perhaps. A little less passive voice. Watch out for words to get rid of like 'almost', 'just', 'really', 'even'. There are more. And, of course, whatever words seem to be your favorites.

Watch the POV shift with Dragula's glance and how it's interpreted.

Here's my shot at incorporating the above:

In a small apartment near the Hospital Salpetriere in Paris, the soft sounding of his door knocker surprised the doctor. He had no patients scheduled. He creaked open the door to see who was calling so long past the dinner hour on a snowy night.

On the stoop waited a man in a thin cape, with leather gloves, and no hat. He seemed impervious to the cold. His eyes were black, rimmed round with lashes so thick it looked as if someone had lined them with Egyptian kohl. His boots were a dark, butter-soft leather, laced up to his knees. His glance seemed hopeful and cautious.

“Doctor Freud? My name is Dragula. I have been referred to you by a friend. He believes you may be able to help me.”

As Freud was little known in Paris, a referral was a novelty. He felt flattered, and dipped his head in what passed for a bow in Nineteenth Century cosmopolitan society. He pulled the door wide. “Come in, come in. May I take your cape?”

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb,

I like this in past tense. Freud and Drac. I lke the combination.

And ril, you've done it again. Your magic eight ball made me laugh.

Robin

pacatrue said...

Everyone's hit my observations already, so I will just add that I very much like this opening. (And just to be annoying, though I usually hate present tense, I kinda preferred it this time.)