Thursday, April 17, 2008

What do you think?

Agent Rachelle Gardner held a two-part contest on her blog. Stage one required the submission of a first line.

Congratulations to Richard Marbry who won with the following great line: Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled up everything.

Stage two required using Mr. Marbry's line (or one out of a few honorable mentions) to write the first 300 words of a novel.

Congratulations to Lea Ann McCombs for her winning entry. Very Good. And Congrats to you Mark for honorable mention.

Now back to me - While I didn't enter stage 1, I did enter stage 2. Something about Richard's line got me going. And, while my entry is not nearly as good as Lea Ann's, I was really happy with the results.

My Entry:

-----Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled up everything. There was just one problem: Deaver didn’t believe in miracles.
-----Time to investigate.
-----He immediately ruled out human error since he was the only human involved. Oh, it’s not that he considered himself infallible. But his rare past mistakes came at those few moments of the day when he couldn’t stay focused on the task at hand. Those few instances when the need for food or sleep required some of his attention. Drawbacks of being stuck in the body of an imperfect species. Fortunately, that would soon change. After his transformation, he wouldn’t have to worry about such mundane tasks. Unfortunately, for now, he’d have to deal with his present reality.
-----Back to the investigation.
-----Though he supposed the wind could have gusted, he doubted that explanation. He had monitored the wind speed up until the moment. One to three miles per hour without exception. Not enough to cause a problem. Besides, considering the day’s weather, that possibility, if it occurred, could also be deemed a miracle.
-----Since he had personally calibrated his equipment and re-checked them several times in the three hours prior to the moment, he also ruled out the possibility of their failure. No, there must be another explanation.
-----Maybe the girl had something to do with it. A sixth sense, maybe? Did she know to turn out of the bullet’s path in that minute moment of time? To turn just enough to make sure the bullet hit her barrette? Is that why, in that moment, she ¼ smiled?
-----He picked up his rifle and focused the scope on her hospital room window. Can you feel my presence? The drapes opened revealing her form.
-----She turned and looked directly at him. And smiled.

At the moment, I want to continue writing this story. But, it's tough to judge your own work. So, what I want to know is: Would you keep reading this? Does it intrigue you? Is it weak? Any other thoughts?

p.s. Remember - It's impossible to hurt my feelings.


Nicole said...

Yay. You're back. In full writing regalia, no less.

"Since he had personally calibrated his equipment and re-checked them several times in the three hours prior to the moment, he also ruled out the possibility of their failure."

Equipment sounds singular which makes "rechecked them" sound wrong. And if the barette was in her hair, I suspect both the bullet and the barette would be tattooed on her brain matter.

"Deaver" sounds humorous, and since we don't yet know this guy is an assassin of some kind, we (I should say "I") think the reference to his "rare" mistakes is some dufus thinking he never makes any. However, once I learned he's trying to kill someone, the previous reasons given for those "rare" mistakes sound flimsy and unprofessional.

Richard's line smacks of humor, but it's hard to associate a rifle scope aimed at a female in a hospital room with humor/funny.

Without the humor angle, I like the concept, and I think you can fix this to be more focused. If you stick with the first line, I would use a more sardonic follow-up and keep the focus serious. JMO, Dayle.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks for the feedback, Nicole.

This shows why we can't judge our own work and everything is so subjective. No humor was intended. Nor did I get a humor vibe from Richard's line. Which, by the way, I can't use anyway - I didn't write it.

But you are correct, the story I'm envisioning would be deadly serious.

It also shows that real life is sometimes more fanciful than fiction. In a particularly brutal and famous crime, a young lady was shot point blank in the head execution style after being raped repeatedly along with a friend and their boyfriends. They were taken out naked into a snow covered field and shot. She however survived, crawled in the snow for a mile to a nearby house, and testified against the two killers. How did she survive? The bullet glanced off her barrett at point blank range.

If I wouldn't have watched the hour long documentary detailing the event, I still wouldn't believe it.

Thanks again.

Nicole said...

Very cool. So, would this be a flashback? A (gasp! I know you hate them) prologue? I think it's a worthy story line. Fascinating.

Kay said...

I like it.
I like how it gradually reveals information. And what's with the transformation? That definitely has me wondering...
I would change the name, too, just because I read it as Denver twice. But, maybe that's not your problem. :)

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks, Kay.

I hate coming up with names. Wether it's for a dog, character, whatever.

The only reason I went with Deaver because it was the first thing that came to mind. So consider it under construction.

As for the transformation: well,...I can't tell you that because it would ruin the experience for you if I do complete the story (and get it published).

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Oh, Nicole.

It would not be a flashback or a prologue. This is the start of the action.

Btw, I've changed my first chapter of D.W.B. to a prologue.

Nicole said...

It works. Cool. Write it, brother.

Yay! Good choice, Dayle. Very good choice.

Janet Rubin said...

First of all, you're lying. It is NOT impossible to hurt your feelings. I don't believe it. (not that I'd want to try!)
I think it's a cool start. Yes, intriguing. Could it use polishing to make it really sing? Sure. Does it look like the beginning of an interesting story. yup.
I spent the day cleaning at church (my part time job that pays for college text books and gas), which listening to Steven King's Dreamcatcher on audio. (is it weird to clean the church and listen to King at the same time??) Anyway, he's just so stinkin brilliant. I love him like you love Koontz. I really could never write like that!

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks, Janet.

Okay. I guess it is possible to hurt my feelings - but not when it comes to critiquing my writing.

Personally, I probably would feel weird listening to King in church. Especially during the curse words.

I need to give King a try one day. Any suggestions for a first read.

Janet Rubin said...

I spent the last two weeks cleaning and dusting to Tolkien. Think better of me now?
Hmm...first one. Bag of Bones was maybe my favorite. The one I'm in the middle of now is good- Dreamcatcher. Yes, lots of cursing and gore, but no one can paint characters quite like SK. I find the books mesmerizing...

Mark H. said...

Hey Dayle, thanks for the props.

As far as your opening goes, I find it intriguing. The "transformation" idea strikes me as very Koontz-esque.

Regarding the barrette, you said that if you hadn't read about that incident, you wouldn't have believed it. My guess is that most of your readers haven't read about the incident, and therefore wouldn't believe it. I didn't until I read your comments. It's a strong enough opening that I'd keep reading, though.

Kay said...

I bought the barrette part. It is a miracle, right? And miracles are supposed to be unbelievable, aren't they?

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

That is a valid point, Mark. Even though it can happen, it still must be believable.

But, Kay makes a great point. That's why it's a miracle.

And it will be in the truest sense- not figurative.

And yes, Mark. It is inspired by Koontz. Good eye.

Mark H. said...

This is just totally my opinion, and I have been wrong once or twice in the past, so take it with a sizable helping of salt.

I understand the point about a miracle being unbelievable. But I guess when I think of a miracle, I think I'm looking for an idea that makes me go, "Wow!" The barrette thing made me go, "Huh. Could that happen? I'm not sure it's strong enough..."

Of course, it could just be that it's a Monday and I need more coffee. When I wrote my first page, I had absolutely no idea what the "miracle" was that I was writing about!

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

No, Mark, I think you could be right.

Which, by the way, is no problem. It can easily be changed to something a little more plausible.

It just has to be something she did.

Nicole said...

I think I could buy the barrette thing IF the "author" of the shot was astounded by it. If he was not believing it because he doesn't miss. And the fact that he hit right where he intended but it was like a slow motion bouncing off a mere barrette and portrayed as a bona fide incredulous miracle, yeah, I could buy it. But it has to be high drama with a lot of tension from the narrator having just witnessed an inconceivable miracle.