Thursday, August 06, 2009

New Beginning 671

The thread snapped again in Sechra’s fingers. She glanced at her aunt Rena, hoping she hadn’t noticed anything.

“If you can’t keep your mind on the work, girl, let it alone.” Rena said wearily.

“I’m sorry! I tried...”

“What were you thinking of?” Sechra paused, struggled for an answer, shook her head.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“That’s what your mother always said.” Sechra heard the exasperation in Rena’s voice, and the worry, and the old hurt that lay under it. She understood, but she didn’t know anything to say that would help. She couldn’t bear to sit there under her aunt’s pained gaze and say nothing. She rose and went outside. At least no one was there today to cluck over the trouble the outlander’s orphan made for the aunt who’d been kind enough to take her in. She went quickly through the back garden, now turned and manured for winter—at least she had done that well--through the goat-yard and up into the hills.

As she left the village behind the weight of their eyes and their worries lifted from her. She was lonely, but that was all right. The Queen in the stories she told herself was lonely too, for her countrymen were awed by her beauty and afraid of the secret power in her eyes and hands. Sechra lifted her head, lengthened her stride, feeling that cool strength washing through her...

..caught her ankle on a trailing bramble and fell heavily, face first. Some queen.

In fact, not just some queen: When user RenaB uploaded the video to YouTube and it went viral, Sechra became Faceplant Queen, second in views only to Star Wars Kid, darling of the late night talk shows and almost as screwed up as her mother (the late Dung Debutante).


Opening: Joanna.....Continuation: anon.

10 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:


"Watch where you're going!" screeched something in the underbrush.

"Who're you?" Sechra carefully pushed aside the tangle of leaves to reveal a pair of angry green eyes.

"Whaddaya mean, who am I?" The angry gnome shoved his way out of the bush. "I'm King Karkass, and this is my home!"

"Oh! I'm Sechra."

"Lemme guess," began the gnome. You're unhappy because you're an orphan forced to work with your aunt until you find out your true destiny as Queen or something."

"That's right! How'd you know?"

King Karkass waved his hand. "Look, kid, I see maybe a thousand fantasy plots come stumbling through here every day. And unless you're really special, you're going nowhere fast. Get back to your aunt and go on to the life of mediocrity you're meant to have."

Tears welling in her eyes, Sechra stumbled home.

"How'd I do, boss?" asked King Karkass.

"Not bad," said Evil Editor. "You're hired!"

King Karkass smiled. All that slush would be good mulch for the enchanted forest.

--Khazar-khum

Evil Editor said...

It's more clear who's talking if you put a character's diallogue and actions in the same paragraph. Thus change

“What were you thinking of?” Sechra paused, struggled for an answer, shook her head.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

to

“What were you thinking of?”

Sechra paused, struggled for an answer, shook her head. “You wouldn’t understand.”


It isn't clear who "she" is in the sentence She understood, but she didn’t know anything to say that would help.

Put a comma after "behind" in the sentence that begins: As she left...


This is an attempt to start the story from New beginning 618 in a slightly different place, to avoid starting with back story. Minions might want to compare the openings.

~Aimee States said...

Drop the exclamation point, the conversation doesn't seem that urgent.

You have odd breaks in the dialogue, 'Sechra paused...' belongs to the next line.

Again in the last sentence spoke by the Aunt, move a line.

I'd drop "At least she had done that well", too much for that sentence.

The 'outlander's orphan' is info dump and kills the flow.

Does a village have eyes and worries? I would say villagers.

Overall, not bad from where I'm sitting, but we shall see.....

_*Rachel*_ said...

I would group it like this:

“What were you thinking of?”

Sechra paused, struggled for an answer, shook her head. “You wouldn’t understand.”

And then, I don’t think you need to describe Rena’s voice; some of the emotion can be implied, and leaving a bit of mystery can be nice.

How can she feel their eyes when nobody’s around?

Something about the prose in the narrative paragraphs is bothering me. A bit wordy, perhaps?

Matthew said...

Ignoring the weird paragraph, I liked it enough to read on.

I read the first one in the archives (618) and liked it as well. And didn't you write Slubka?

You're a good writer.

Joanna said...

Thanks all! I'll fix the paragraph breaks...I tend to be careless about those.

I'd be especially grateful for advice about whether this is better than the original beginning. So far as I can see the advantage of starting here is that it eliminates backstory and gives some more background for Sechra; the downside is that she's weaker and maybe less sympathetic at this point.

And I don't know if this beginning sounds too much like cliché fantasy (cf. K-k's continuation). Sechra's daydreams are fairly fantasy-stereotypical, but when she actually gets into the other worlds what she finds is not at all what she had dreamed of; I don't think I can begin in a place that shows that immediately.

Matthew, thanks for the encouragement.

~Aimee States said...

I think it's a huge risk to start a book with dialogue. I like the first one better, you have a good opening hook.

It falls flat after "Winter would be on them soon,"

Hidden spring? Outlander's orphan? Again, too much - too soon.

Anonymous said...

I am unsure what "snapped again" meant. I would use "broke again" Snap can mean it just bounced like a rubber band snap. Broke is specific.

3 paragraph as noted by others is confusing.

"At least no one was there today to cluck over the trouble the outlander’s orphan made for the aunt who’d been kind enough to take her in."

to perhaps -

"At least there was no one there to cluck over the trouble the outlander's orphan caused her aunt."

(today is assumed, and I thought it was wordy and a bit confusing)

"She went quickly through the back garden, now turned and manured for winter—at least she had done that well--through the goat-yard and up into the hills."

this may not be necessary. Its fine as a sentence but not necessary.

"As she left the village behind the weight of their eyes and their worries lifted from her."

Hmm not sure I like this sentence at all. You've already hinted she is being talked about and disapproved of.

Maybe instead -

Her worries lifted when she left the scorn (or stares) of the villagers behind and walked into the hills following a goat path (or through the goat yard).

The Queen in the stories she told herself was lonely too, for her countrymen were awed by her beauty and afraid of the secret power in her eyes and hands. Sechra lifted her head, lengthened her stride, feeling that cool strength washing through her...

to

the Queen in her fantasies was lonely too . . . .

I read the other beginning and this one was better, because it was more interesting. However, this was actually harder to read and understand due to the wordiness of some of the sentences and the sentence structure. You're trying to get in too much information into each sentence. Trust your reader - we are smart -

vkw

Jeb said...

I'd turn one page out of curiosity.

You can lose all of the following without sacrificing any meaning or mood.

“I’m sorry! I tried...”

“What were you thinking of?” Sechra paused, struggled for an answer, shook her head.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“That’s what your mother always said.”

Beth said...

To me...this doesn't feel like a beginning. It feels like a gangplank I have to walk across to board the ship, which is where the real beginning is.

Does something happen when she's out walking alone? Start with that. Or start with the first event that changes the status quo for her.