Monday, 15 October 2012

First Page Haunted Writing Clinic




            The woman didn’t know her feet were bleeding.  She stumbled, pursuing a random path and cruel tufts of yellowed grass stabbed her soles.  A vermillion trail followed behind her, but she felt no pain.  She walked on the surface of the moon.  She saw and heard nothing.
         The air was weighted with the stench of cinders and rot.  Elva walked with her arms outstretched as if to embrace a specter, and the sun burned her porcelain skin an angry hue of red.  She stared into eternity, blinking only as a reflex while a lone, determined coyote mirrored her movements from a distance of twenty feet.  The scavenger licked its lips.  The stench of spoiling meat was maddening to the poor beast, whose fur was falling away in gray patches.  The coyote would not chance that meal, though its stomach contorted and groaned.  There were too many men around.
         The woman in the blue dress appeared to be dancing, at times.  She swayed when the wind pressed against her back and swooped when it relented.
         Dimly, as if a fistful of cotton had been hammered into her ears, she became aware of a voice.  The cadence was familiar even if its owner was not immediately apparent.  It was the rhythm of a boy calling to a lost dog.  She descended from the moon, through the ether and the sky and collapsed into her body.
         Suddenly, she was no longer dancing.  She blinked and scanned the horizon.  There were mountains in the distance and an expanse of parched earth leading to them.  She heard the voice again and recognized her name.
         “There you are!” the man said.
         She remembered his face, the cherub cheeks and lively, umber eyes.  Tears had carved a path through the dirt on his cheeks and his eyes were milky and wet.
         “Elva!  They’re all dead.  All of them,” he said.

15 comments:

  1. Wow! So full of emotion! Great job!

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  2. "as if a fistful of cotton had been hammered into her ears"

    Love it! You've supplied my need for flash fiction for the day. Btw, I gave you a Shout-Out on my blog today. :)

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    1. Thanks for the shout out and thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I have to admit, i envisioned a little Tim Burton animation when i was envisioning the scenery. Thanks for the read!

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    1. I hadn't thought of that but it does kind of fit, huh?

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  4. Hi, fellow minion passing through here.
    I liked the dreamy desolation feel, that was very effective. I also liked the threat represented by the sickly coyote.
    If I had to quibble it would be with a couple of nitpicky things "She ascended from the moon" usually the moon is "above" earth,so to speak, and therefore this threw me, to think of her going up from the moon to the earth instead of descending from the moon to the earth.
    And then this "She remembered his face, the cherub cheeks and glittering eyes. The eyes did not sparkle then," - this confused me because glitter and sparkle are such similar words at first reading, so I couldn't figure out what you meant saying his eyes glittered then, but did not sparkle, then. I think you meant glittered with tears right?And are you saying his eyes are sparkling now? That seems odd considering he's announcing what sounds like a mass death.
    Anyway, best of luck and feel free to come tear up my first page ;-)

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    1. Good catch with the moon. I guess I was thinking direction is relative in space...someone on the moon would ascend toward earth as the earth appears to be above, but I understand the read might be confusing so I will change it.

      With the glittering eyes, I was saying that she remembered him that way but what she recalled did not match what she was seeing. I think I will reword it to avoid confusion.

      Thanks for your help! I will take a look at yours after work!

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  5. I can't believe how descriptive your start is. Excellent job. It's a lovely and engaging bit of writing. My only, and very minor, nitpick is that the second sentence feels a bit jumbled. Good luck!

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  6. Krystal Wade here, editor and super villain. I'm not going to do a line edit on this first page. I think you have larger issues to address, such as head hopping. You write in this whimsical voice, and that's okay (though "purple" prose is a tough sell in this publishing market), but you head hop from a woman to a coyote to the woman again?

    You basically lose the reader within the first three paragraphs. Now, I know you have a bunch of people on here telling you how nice your writing is, and it is, but you need to employ the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method to your writing. Say what you mean. Also, am I to believe she's on the moon, being blown by the wind? Followed by a coyote? I'm guessing she's in a weird dream, but this is a REALLY hard opening to follow. As an editor and a former acquisitions editor, I would not want to read more based on this alone. I know that's tough, but these are the honest, hard-hitting opinions you will receive one you're published.

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  7. I appreciate the honest critique. I think I can simplify what this particular character is experiencing without sacrificing some of the imagery. I understand that, although I can paint a pretty picture, I have a lot to learn about what an editor or agent would like to see.

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    1. And as long as you're willing to remain open to criticism and willing to work, you'll do great!

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