Author Topic: Playing around with new opening chapter - 597 words. One swear  (Read 687 times)

Offline Venom Stinger

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Trying to spice up the opening chapter by jumping forward with a teaser from a key plot point. First draft, first post, keen to hear any and all of your thoughts! Genre would be 'internet satire'  ???

---
The dead cat is surprisingly heavy. Even entombed in Will’s backpack, one of those fancy new ergonomic ones that absorbs weight and neutralises strain, the cat, covered in glad wrap and with blood slowly leaking from its ears, feels like it’s being pulled downwards by some unspoken force. Perhaps the earth senses death and is dragging it back home, Will thinks.

He hadn’t meant for it to die. He didn't want to kill it. But they say sometimes you don’t know your own strength, and that’s a fact. It’s also a fact that cats don’t have robust windpipes, and while it may not yet be as famous an idiom, it still could have been useful information for  Will when he found himself in his ex’s house with his fingers wrapped tight around her tabby’s throat.

But that’s in the past now, so no use wallowing. He did what he did and now it’s done. What's important is getting back to his house before the sun rises, and beating the morning light. Only darkness will hide his face as he walks along the empty pre-dawn Bondi streets. Only darkness will provide him cover when he takes the cat from his bag and hurls it out over the cliff behind his backyard and into the yawning ocean below. Only darkness will absolve him of his sins.

Will quickens his pace as he walks up the final, rolling hill towards home. He holds his thumbs under the straps for support, like a five year old on his first day of kindergarten, and the cat thuds against his back with each step. The rows of sandstone apartments along his street lie silent for now, but he knows that soon their residents will begin to stir. A lone seagull squawks overhead. Is it late to bed, or early to rise? He moves faster again. Thud, thud, thud, thud. Up ahead, to the east, he sees a long slither of purple begin to crack through the black sky. He’d reach for his phone to check the time, but his hands are already busy supporting the weight of the bag. It must be close to 5:30am, he guesses. Quart to six at the latest. At this time of year the sun will be up in half an hour.

He remembers a dream he had last night - or was it the night before, now? It's the one where there's a little baby, not six months old, chubby and dressed in an old-time naval costume, like you'd see in the history books. It's lying on a table and all around it people are attaching helium balloons to it, dozens of them one after another, red, blue, yellow, green, purple, every colour imaginable, and as they do the baby begins to float, and rise into the air. As it takes off the crowd stands back, and people are taking photos with their smart phones, snap snap snap, and the lense shutters are so loud and constant they sound like clapping. The baby rises up and up, almost out of sight, off with the nor easter, but even from a distance Will  can make out its milky white skin, its bloated cheeks, and the big smile on its face.

Baby goes up, cat goes down. What a world.

The stealthy whoosh of a passing peloton snaps Will from his reverie. Gotta focus, he thinks. Gotta get this shit done. He stops, takes a deep breath of the sweet salty air, and begins to run the final hundred metres.This is going to be tight.

« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 07:20:17 PM by Venom Stinger »

Offline umair7

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 93
  • I like to inquire, It's in my blood
Re: Playing around with new opening chapter - 597 words. One swear
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2018, 04:57:29 AM »
Hi venom. Welcome to the forum and hope you find it worthwhile. Before I say my bit. I would like you to know that my words are simply suggestion. Take it if they make sense or leave it. Don't pollute your writing with the voice of every suggestion you will hear.


As for the beginning. A dead cat.  A flying baby and a distant promise of a mystery that doesn't intrigue me.

I would suggest you to write what you have in mind. Complete the story and them come back to this opening or you would find yourself stuck in  a loop of "never good enough"  I know how hard an opening can be. So, my advice for it is to leave it. Beginnings don't have to be written first. Get out the story first and then worry about the start.

I hope it helps, because God knows how many answers you are going to get. Each making perfect sense yet each so utterly different. Let your story guide you, because when story takes form as words you would find your begginjng.

Offline Venom Stinger

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Playing around with new opening chapter - 597 words. One swear
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2018, 10:51:24 PM »
Thanks Umair I appreciate the advice! I think I'd been looking at my first chapter for too long and felt like it wasn't as immediately gripping as it could be, but I do agree with what you're saying. No need to try and force it.


Offline LRSuda

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1381
Re: Playing around with new opening chapter - 597 words. One swear
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2018, 05:26:45 PM »
Hello and welcome.  :D  As umair7 said, take or leave and use what makes sense to you.

That said, your opening paragraph contains the problems repeated throughout the piece. I'll address adverbs first. They are weak description. Save them for when they are absolutely necessary. (See how I used the adverb?) There is always a better means of description: metaphor, comparisons, saying what you mean straightforward. Get creative. But be careful. The second sentence shows why.

Even entombed in Will’s backpack, one of those fancy new ergonomic ones that absorbs weight and neutralises strain, the cat, covered in glad wrap and with blood slowly leaking from its ears, feels like it’s being pulled downwards by some unspoken force.

Too much description, as well as too disordered. Where do you want the reader to focus? On the backpack? On the cat? Feed the reader a tidbit at a time to let it digest before giving another. I strongly suggest you break this sentence into two. First, I must ask, as you should ask yourself; is the backpack important to the story? If it appears later in the story then, yes, you want the reader to remember it. But, given the rest of the piece, I don't think it does. So, I suggest losing its description. The cat, however, does play a role. But, since it is in the backpack, how does Will know the blood is slowly leaking. He can't see the cat so, another useless adverb.

Next, authorial intrusion. There is a lot of it in the piece. The best writers are silent. It's been said a million times. Only the character's voice should be heard. Would Will say entombed? Again, going on the rest of the piece, I think not. Always know your characters--their ages, where they are from, where they live now, who are their friends, what is their education level, and even more. Knowing your character will give you the right voice and help you to keep the writer silent. Very important.

One last thing, for now. Glad is a brand name and must be capitalized. As is, what you are saying is the wrap is glad.

Hope I helped. Sorry if I stung. Keep at it. You show promise.

Lisa

Offline mhoag

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Playing around with new opening chapter - 597 words. One swear
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2018, 10:35:24 PM »
Wonderful first line. short and to the point. “Pulled downward by some unspoken force” and “dragging it back home” are beautiful poetic phrases. I like the end of the paragraph: “will thinks”. It describes Will and his personality very well. He’s kind of poetic, but he did kill the cat. And he’s a bit of a comedian. You use repetition very well: “He hadn’t meant for it to die. He didn't want to kill it.” And “Only darkness…” The fourth paragraph has a lot of description. The best part is “the cat thuds against his back with each step” and “Thud, thud, thud, thud.” The rest of the description in the fourth paragraph is not as powerful and original as the thud thud description. Nice ending: “Baby goes up, cat goes down.” I don’t think you need “what a world”. When I read “Baby goes up, cat goes down.” I am already thinking about the absurdity of life. You don’t have to tell me what I should think. I’m already thinking “what a world." It would be more powerful if you took out “What a world.” Very good opening chapter.