Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Beginning 768

I woke up naked.

But that was only half my problem.

I was laying naked outside, in a corn field, freezing. I could feel the cold, hard ground beneath me; my body felt as though every bone in it had been broken, at least twice. The taste of blood in my mouth nearly rivaled all my physical pains, but my brain was going through its own form of torture trying to remember why I was outside, without a stitch on in the middle of November in northern Illinois.

I cracked my eyes open. My breath came out in frosty clouds as I strove to pull cold air into my lungs as if for the first time after waking up from being pronounced dead. Above me, I could see the crisp midnight-blue sky, stars glittering coldly, like indifferent specks, making me feel more alien than I had ever felt my entire twenty-one years. I knew what had happened—the reason for all this—but I couldn't remember what I had been doing for the last several hours. I knew time had passed because the stars were in a different configuration above me. And I didn't see the moon, full and bright, as I knew it had been when the transformation came over me.

I was experiencing a terrible death and rebirth and I was in my birthday suit. Death by cliche and rebirth from that terrible knowledge. How could I have fallen into the trap that I had set for myself? I had bitten my tongue and made it bleed when I should have bitten my fingernails because those guardians of the fingers that hit the keys, should've suffered for producing those awful phrases we've heard a million times before. I was naked, exposed on the site forever following a dark and stormy night that would stay with me and my cliches forever. Bare naked with my shame.

Opening: Lorelei Bell.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

You were lying, not laying.

When the narrator cracks his/her eyes open, one assumes for the first time, so how did they know they were in a corn field in Northern Illinois?

This could stand a lot of cutting. There's repetition: if you're in a corn field, you don't need to point out that you're outside...twice. If you're naked, you don't need to tell us you're without a stitch.

I don't see how the taste of blood can rival physical pain; it's like comparing apples and bicycles.

You might consider a cut as drastic as this:

I was lying naked in a corn field, freezing. Above me, stars glittered coldly in the midnight-blue sky. I knew time had passed; I didn't see the moon, full and bright, as it had been when the transformation came over me.

The month, place, age etc. can be worked in later. Getting to the transformation quickly will keep people reading, especially if it's a wolfman and not something lame.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Weredingo? Please let it be a weredingo.

I agree with EE - cut, cut, cut. You lost me very early with so much repetition.

There may be a great story here, but it needs to grab me right away with either lyrical writing, action, or some great hint at what is unfolding.

Dave F. said...

Is this a werewolf story or some other furry transformation? I'm hoping for a dragon or something like Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde. That's the only reason I can fathom for waking up naked in a cornfield with amnesia unless this is the day after the night before of a grand drunk (they make silly movies about guys getting drunk in Las Vegas and performing bizarre acts).

My problem is that I don't know who the speaker is. I can't even tell the sex of the narrator. There's a lot of What, Where and even Why but no Who.

arhooley said...

Why would waking up naked be half a problem before you get to anything else? I do it all the time and it's 100% fine.

And you say "naked" twice in the first 15 words. Once is enough.

Anonymous said...

This better go in one direction or another quickly because right it can read like a drunken rape and I just want to turn away.

John said...

The character seems to have paid unusually close attention to the night sky before his or her blackout. If I had gotten off my lazy butt long enough to submit a continuation, it would have had something to do with amateur astronomy.

vkw said...

Not much to add here.

I didn't like this part "but my brain was going through its own form of torture trying to remember why I was outside,"

If one's bones feel like they have been broken twice and you're naked, your'e cold and your lying in the cornfield: I don't think trying to remember what happened would be the first thing on one's mind. It probably would be . . . Ouch. Are my bones broken? Next step - how do I survive?

I'm not sure why it would be torturous to figure out what happened.

"stars glitterly coldly, like indifferent specks" implies the narrator knows specks that care. I have no specks that care about me. I'm okay with that. I don't care about them either.

"stars were in a different configuration" Really. I can't tell between 8 p.m. stars and 5 a.m. stars.

Yes we need to do some cutting here and let's get to the point quick. You're build up is too much.

150 said...

I knew what had happened—the reason for all this

Then spit it out, Sparky. I think you're setting up a werewolf story, but something about this is just off. My guess is that it constantly has the wrong focus. (Really? You paid that much attention to the up-to-the-minute astral configuration?) I have my doubts that this is the best place to start the story anyway, so try a few different things--wildly different, not slightly tweaked versions of the same thing--and see what you like.

Dave F. said...

I can't tell between 8 p.m. stars and 5 a.m. stars.

I live out in the country and when I was teaching telescopes to nephews and nieces, I could tell time by the stars in the sky. Especially in the winter when the sky is clear and cold. I know the constellations and the times they rise and set. This is definitely something that can be learned.

Amy said...

I kind of feel like the nakedness isn't the first thing this narrator would notice about himself (or herself). You provide a lot of sensory details--cold, hard ground, bones feel as if they've been broken, taste of blood in mouth. All of these, I think he would notice before realizing he didn't have clothes on. Especially since he doesn't open his eyes until the next paragraph.

Xiexie said...

The star configuration doesn't bother me. I used to be an astronomy nerd, so I do note the difference and movement of the stars throughout the nite (this is possible when you have horrid insomnia).

There's too much repetition and I do agree with Anonymous1:03pm that it could read as a bloody rape . . . up until the word transformation. However, my perceiving as a rape (at first) did not make me balk like our Anonymous minion.

Lorelei said...

Okay. . . ouch.

Thanks for the roughing up, folks.

_*rachel*_ said...

You need to cut the fat here. It's a pretty gripping opening already; just cut the bits that slow it down. Move to the action quickly enough my mind doesn't have a chance to go to rape.

I'd combine the first two sentences. And, for some real sting, say whose blood she tastes in her mouth.

If you want to put the stars bit more clearly, just say that the moon or some well-known constellation sunk below the horizon. Or the eastern sky is gray.

jmkmcmullen said...

A big problem with first person is that the writer tends to overuse the word “I”. You use the word 13 times in one paragraph.

Imagine someone talking to you saying “I did this” and “I do that” and “I think this” and “This is what I would do” and “From the plane window I could still see the people on the ground bustling about like ants and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Am I God?”

It becomes annoying very quickly.

Example: Above me, I could see the crisp midnight-blue sky, stars glittering coldly, making me feel more alien than I had ever felt my entire twenty-one years.

The phrase “I could see” makes the narrator the subject of the sentence. Try taking focus off the narrator by making the sky the subject.

Change to: Above me, the crisp midnight-blue sky, stars glittering coldly, like indifferent specks, felt alien.

Almost the same sentence, slightly less narcissistic.

BuffySquirrel said...

I think unfortunately for me that first line lacks impact. So the narrator woke up naked--is that meant to cause me to have some kind of emotional response? it doesn't. naked is a pretty normal state.

Now, 'I woke up naked. In a cornfield. In November.' has some impact.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

...but I didn't have to. I knew what had happened. I was stupid. Why had I decided to rush the lycanthropes' fraternity at Big Red? --khazar-khum