Monday, February 14, 2011

New Beginning 833

When Shira first started seeing holes in people, she told her mother. Her mother sat her down on her Little Mermaid bed and gave her a big warm hug. She told Shira not to worry. She said everyone had holes, even herself, especially herself, and if blobs of memories oozed out of these holes, that was all okay.

Shira peeked up at her mother. Her mother had a hole on her right chest, a hole so deep and large, it spanned from her collarbone to her armpit.

Shira asked if others could see these holes. Her mother shook her head.

“Why not?” Shira asked.

“Because we’re all different, sweetie. We look different, we feel different, we see different things. Some people can see land across the ocean.”

Her mother sprang off the bed to demonstrate, pointing at a grand vague distance, like a pirate onboard. Then she rolled into a hedgehog ball and whispered, “Others can see creatures that build tiny cities underfoot.”

Shira laughed and crouched with her.

“You can see what we hold precious, what makes us cry. What you make of it is up to you. You can use it to hurt. You can use it help.”

"Different people see different things," her mother continued as she stroked Shira's long, dark hair. "We all have gifts." She paused. "But There is one person who must never know. One you must never tell, because he will make something terrible of your gift. Once, he was a good man; he understood. But something has spoiled him, and now he turns such magic into horrors you cannot imagine."

Shira's eyes were wide with concern. "Who, Mother? Who is he? Who should I not tell?"


Shira's mother lowered her voice to a whisper. "M. Night Shyamalan."



Opening: Sand Dune.....Continuation: anon.

14 comments:

Evil Editor said...

The last sentence is missing a word.

I don't know where "and if blobs of memories oozed out of these holes, that was all okay." comes from. The daughter hasn't said anything about seeing oozing blobs of memories (whatever that means), so it seems unlikely the mother would throw that image into the mix.

Eric said...

The image of "holes in people" makes me very squeamish, and "blobs oozing out" doesn't help. I'm picturing very unpleasant things involving internal organs. It's strikingly dissonant with the kiddie-light tone of the rest of it, to me at least.

The idea you seem to be going for-- Shira has the ability to perceive emotions empathetically, and that's good because Everybody's Different-- is sound enough. I just wonder if there's a different visual image you could use to portray it, so it doesn't sound like Everybody's Mutilated.

Also, beware of preaching and writing down to children. (I'm assuming this is for children. Ages 4-8 would be my guess.) You're not quite doing it here, but it feels like it's not far below the surface. It never works. If the publishers don't reject it, the children will.

Polenth said...

I loved the opening line and concept, but it told too much too fast. The basics of telling her people see different things is good, but the bit about memories, that she sees them because we see the things that make us cry, that she could use it for good or evil... this seems like stuff Shira could learn in time.

When your child is worried, you might to normalise what's happening ("everyone feels ugly sometimes") and compliment them ("your nose looks lovely, don't listen to the bullies"), but you don't usually throw too much else at them while they're dealing with it ("and I know you didn't mention plastic surgery, but let's have a discussion about the pros and cons of getting your nose done").

Phoenix said...

I really like this.

I love Shira peeking and crouching. And how refreshing to have a fun mom who "gets" it and knows how to interact with her child on several levels.

I think it's the "if" that doesn't quite work in P1. I'm assuming that Mom has this same ability and so knows what's going on. Maybe a period after the second "herself" and then dialog: "Sometimes blobs of memories might ooze out of the holes, and that's okay. Maybe even add something reassuring for why it's OK: "It's good for memories to escape sometimes."

Also maybe have Shira actually asking in dialog form if others can see holes rather than telling us she asked.

The "onboard" of "like a pirate onboard" doesn't seem right. Maybe: like a pirate from [or in] a crow's nest."

I have a suspicion this isn't an early reader. I hope the author lets us know where this is heading.

LOVE the continuation, Anon!

Orlando said...

The writing gives the impression that the mother has the same or similar gift, otherwise she would not understand or have so much knowledge of it. If she does this is the place she would mention it. If she doesn't, then how did she obtain all this knowledge of a gift she knows nothing about?

Instead of blobs oozing out, how about soft music, ghost, or pictures that will tell the persons story, or a voice is heard explaining the pain? I'm just not sure how you can see the memories of people in blobs oozing out of them. It just sounds like... The Blob.

I like the concept, good stuff.

Dave Fragments said...

I like this opening because the reader is immediately in the "other" world. This is not earth as we know it.

The other comments make all the suggestions that I would make. I won't repeat them.

Ink and Pixel Club said...

I'm wondering if maybe the first paragraph should be replaced with the actual dialogue between Shira and her mother instead of a summary of the beginning of their conversation. Seeing Shira's mother's initial reaction in more detail could help to clarify if Shira's mother has the same gift and knows right away what her daughter is talking about or if it takes her a minute to sort out that these holes are a manifestation of her daughter's gift and not holes her daughter noticed while watching television not suitable for a child her age,

Though it runs a little close to the aforementioned Mr. Shyamalan's work, "Mama, I see holes in people" could definitely be an attention-grabbing first line.

chelsea said...

I found this to be an amazingly intriguing opening. I can only offer very small nits:

I think "first started" is a bit redundant. "Started" would work fine for me.

I agree with Phoenix about "onboard" and I think her suggestion is a great one.

When the mother rolled into a hedgehog ball I wasn't certain if she was simply a person rolling into a ball or if she had actually transformed into something that can really curl in on itself.

Otherwise, I loved this. I would definitely read on. And, for the record, the oozing memories didn't pose the slightest problem for me.

Anonymous said...

Uh, am I that thought this whole thing was a mother/daughter first period talk...and that hole meant vagina.

Seriously, reread the first paragraph.

Anonymous said...

Uh, am I that thought this whole thing was a mother/daughter first period talk...and that hole meant vagina.

Pretty sure it's just you, Carrie.

Author said...

Awesome continuation!

Thank you for all your comments! I guess the hole imagery was pretty squicky. As some people might've guessed, this is targeted for young adults.

Well, the "Ten years later" line was over the word count.

It's funny how I didn't translate the first paragraph into dialogue because I was worried it might imitate Sixth Sense too much ("Mommy, I can see holes in people.")

But following your advice, I've tweaked it a bit in the post below. I would appreciate it so much if you could take another look!

Author said...

(I'm sorry for double-posting!)

When Shira started seeing holes in people, she told her mother. Her mother sat her down on her Little Mermaid bed and gave her a big warm hug. She told Shira not to worry. She said everyone had holes, even herself, especially herself, and that was all okay.

Shira peeked up at her mother. Her mother had a hole on her right chest, a hole so deep and large, it spanned from her collarbone to her armpit.

“Sometimes,” said Shira, “something leaks out of the holes.”

Her mother smiled, gently. “What does it look like?”

“Like blobs. They float up, but if I poke them—” She reached out to empty space “—I can see that big man, the one with the holes, as a big boy. Bigger than me. I think it’s him. He’s crying at school because he lost his pants.”

Her mother ruffled her hair. “That’s okay,” she said. “It’s good for memories to escape sometimes.”

“Can others see them? Can you?”

Her mother shook her head.

“Why not?” Shira asked.

“Because we’re all different, sweetie. We look different, we feel different, we see different things. Some people can see land across the ocean.”

Her mother sprang off the bed to demonstrate, pointing at a grand vague distance, like a pirate from a crow’s nest. Then she rolled into a hedgehog ball and whispered, “Others can see creatures that build tiny cities underfoot.”

Shira laughed and crouched with her.

Her mother pulled her into a hug again. “You can see much more than everyone else. You can see what we hold precious, what makes us cry. What you make of it is up to you.”

Ink and Pixel Club said...

I like where you're going with the revision. The description of what comes out of the holes is both more descriptive and less off-putting than what you had before.

I'm not clear on whether the "herself" Shira's mom refers to as part of the "everyone" who has holes is Shira's mother or Shira.

Though It's now clear that Shira's mother doesn't have the same power as her daughter, it's not yet clear why her mother understands so much about the holes and what they mean if she can't see them herself. But if you're going to explain this later on, it may not be a problem.

I'd still like to see a version where we hear the beginning of Shira's conversation with her mother. I don't think you need to worry too much about it coming across as a The Sixth Sense copy because the tone here is so different.

I think it's already good, and most of the people responding seem to be intrigued by just what you've shared with us. You've definitely got an idea that will hook readers.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:


“Can I use it to make money?” Shira asked, staring into her mother’s eyes.

“Well now, that’s an idea.” Shira’s mom’s eyes drifted towards the ceiling. She got up and sat on the bed. “Sure, people will be curious about where their holes are, what their holes mean, and how to fix them. This gift of yours could be a veritable gold mine.”

“But Mom, I don’t know how to fix the holes.”

“Oh sweetie, these people won’t know that. They can’t see their holes to begin with; so, they can’t tell if they’re fixed or not.

“Won’t that be hurting people, Mom?”

“Maybe. Like I said, what you make of it is up to you--but I’d prefer you to make millions.”

--anon.