Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Haunted Writing Clinic First Page Part Deux: Revenge of the First Page

Based on the observations of my Super Villain, Krystal Wade, I reworked my first page from the ground up.  I present the same scene as viewed through the eyes of the second character.  I offer The Last March of Elephants first page...

            He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled her name again.  His throat ached and the wind whisked away his feeble offering.
            “Elva!” he called, again and again.
            The mountains stood sentinel over the parched plain.  Tall, brittle grass and thorny bushes littered the landscape. The sun shined in a cloudless sky, a cruel mockery of recent events.  His eyes scanned left and right, searching for baby blue against the yellow backdrop.
            He walked towards the mountains and did not notice the tombstone until his knee collided with it.  After an initial expression of shock he stopped.  He climbed atop the stone with a brief grunt, pitching forward for a moment before righting himself.  He stood erect, an arm outstretched for balance, and shielded his eyes with a dusty, quivering hand. 
            The sweet smell of rot tickled his nose and he squeezed his nostrils between a thumb and forefinger.  When he looked up again he saw her, a distant swath of blue, the black hair only a dot from his position.  He leaped off the tombstone, not caring that it cracked and buckled to the ground in a gray heap.  He was concerned with the more recently departed.
            He ran on trembling legs, aware of carrion-eaters nearby.  When the wind ceased and the grass was still he could hear the groaning of their contorting bellies.  They were drawn by the scent in the air, an odor that promised an easy meal.  She seemed to be dancing with specters, guided by the gentle nudge of the breeze.    He sprinted faster, calling her name between gasps for air, but she did not hear.  She was trapped inside her mind and might as well have been on the moon.
            “Elva!” he shouted as he stopped before her.
            He seized her hand and at that she did favor him with a glance.  The sun had burned her porcelain skin an angry hue of red.  His eyes followed a trail of small, rust colored puddles on the pixilated earth that stopped at her feet.  Blood trickled from her cracked heels.  The tip of a nail protruded from the flesh of the left foot and the blood there was black.
            He whimpered and pressed his face into her bosom, “They’re all dead, Elva.  All dead.”


  1. I must say I like this version much better:) I was there, with him and her, in the scene.

    Nice job, really.

    1. Thanks! I think I was flexing my writing muscles a little too much in the first version. Somewhere along the line I forgot this page was supposed to hook an editor or agent!

  2. You have a beautiful writing style! I must say, after having read both of your versions, I like this one much better. I was confused reading the original...the moon (I wasn't sure if she was on it), the coyote (what did he have to do with anything?), a woman dancing (or was she?), death...it was all a bit overwhelming. This new version feels much more grounded. As far as editing, I will leave that to the experts. =)

    And, don't worry, I think I've rewritten my first page about 20 times after having it critiqued by my CP, a beta reader, YALITCHAT, and this contest. Who knew that ONE page could need so much work?!?! ha ha

    Fellow minion and new follower here!

    1. Thank you. Yes, my Super Villain kicked butt in her critique and it was sorely needed!

  3. Well hello second first page! I read the first one and have to agree with Krystal. I was confused. This is a better reprise. I think this view tells the story...if you told me your last page was the same scene, I may not believe you. Now to the suggestions.

    I think many of your sentences are falling into the same pattern. HE/HIS did this or that. Above you have given us 10 or 11 sentences that start with he/his/she. This can make the prose seem robotic. There are ways to reconstruct them so they don't read exactly the same.

    Whimpering, he pressed his face into her bosom, "they are all dead....."

    Also, when you see the word 'was', tell yourself there is a better way to construct that particular sentence. I had a big issue with 'was' but now I can recognize it more easier thanks to my editor. You want your writing to be active and strong!

    I also think you are missing some commas in a few sentences!
    After an initial expression of shock(,) he stopped.

    I am typing this from my iPhone so sorry for any typos! Work on that stuff and I'll be back!!

  4. Wow, what a change.

    Excellent job!

  5. Excellent re-write! I'm much more oriented to the scene in this version. You use dramatic and clear imagery and it's a compelling scene that makes you want to keep reading. A few nitpicks...you've made it all much clearer, but these lines are still vague to me:

    "She seemed to be dancing with specters, guided by the gentle nudge of the breeze."
    "She was trapped inside her mind and might as well have been on the moon."

    I'm afraid I just don't know what you mean. Your writing borders on purple prose in some places, and those lines are a great example of that.

    1. I think I tend to write what I enjoy reading. I tried to convey that she was just walking around aimlessly. When I pictured it in my head, the idea of dancing with ghosts came to me. I will have to come up with a new way to describe it so that it has a universal appeal. Thanks for the critique! This is all very helpful!

  6. Very good. New follower here. I just found your blog and I'm enjoying your work. I look forward to visiting again.