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Would You Mind?….

June 9th, 2008

I know I skipped right over the 70s soft rock hits, but I figured you’d probably forgive me, or more specifically, thank me profusely, for not posting it yesterday. Instead, I’m skipping right to my Monday agenda, which was to post two story intros from the manuscript I’ve been working on….

 

I’d hoped you wouldn’t mind telling me which intro you prefer…and if you have the time, maybe tell me why you like it better, so I can incorporate more of whatever that is into the rest of my story.

 

By way of background, this story is for middle graders (here’s an excerpt), is a spooky fantasy, and…well, I guess that’s all. (I’ve discovered that I construct sentences with three modifiers on a regular basis. It’s like an internal drum beat…if I don’t include three modifiers, than something feels off in my sentence rhythm. Isn’t that fascinating?)

 

Oh brother. Anyways. I didn’t post the full chapters of each version (I could not in good conscience do that to you), so these represent excerpts of the different intros. And you know what? You can ignore my request. Seriously. You’re busy. I know that. Just say “hi,” instead. How about that? Like maybe, “Hi SD Momma. I like #1.” And that’d be OK. Just dandy, in fact. Or, don’t say “hi,” and just send me your preference telepathically. I like to practice my telepathy. I’ll be sitting there maybe and get a “#2!” appearing suddenly in my head, and then I’ll skedaddle to the pot and be like, “hmmm, nothing’s coming.” And THEN, I’ll be like, “OH!”

 

Wow. Anyways. Here’re the goods (or bads?). And by the way? Thank you. I’m kind of stuck here and I’m hoping this pulls me out of the writerly mud:

 

INTRO #1

Fire swept the room. Annie lay paralyzed under her covers as the blaze devoured her dresser and moved to her wooden bed frame. The flames licked the edges of her bedspread. Its raging heat burned her toes…

 

Annie’s eyes flew open. A bead of sweat dripped down the side of her face and her soaked pajama top clung to her chest. The fiery nightmare had seemed so real that she still felt the searing heat lap her feet. She swung her legs onto the floor to let the cool air reach them, took a deep breath and waited for her heart to slow. The furious thumping in her chest continued and she considered waking her dad. But it was late – a quick glance at the clock showed it was past midnight – plus, at eleven and a half years old, she wasn’t a baby anymore. She reached beside her and flipped on the night light.

 

Her legs shook, but she got up anyway and wobbled to her window. Porch lights illuminated the darkness. Earlier, it had rained and the wet settled itself on the grass and rooftops, sparkling like glass. The silver moon shimmered and cast the landscape in an iridescent glow. Annie peered into the black distance. There was nothing out there. She watched as her tire swing circled in a slight breeze, then shifted her gaze to the woods that stretched for miles behind her house, where hundreds of oak and pine trees poked their way into the sky.

 

The sight comforted her. She’d played in those woods millions of times. The thick trees went on forever and she never had reached the end, but she felt close to home as she explored. Houses lined the side of the woods and she’d always seen lights twinkling in the distance as she tromped through creeks and climbed weeping willows.

 

She spent several minutes surveying the expanse of her backyard. Soon, her breath grew even and the ominous dream frittered away. Her eyes drooped and she turned toward her rumpled bed. Just a dream, just a dream. It all seemed so silly now. She crawled under the bed spread and stretched.

 

BONNNNGGGGG!

 

The metallic crash echoed throughout the house. That was no dream. Someone had to have made that sound. Someone who was in the house now.

 

INTRO #2

Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. The sound reached Annie in her sleep, only in her dream, she’d been tossing stones at a fence, one right after the other. Once she realized the sound came from outside her dream, she struggled to open her eyes. Her eyeballs fluttered beneath cast iron eyelids. Tap, tap, tap. Her dream self split in two: one of her kept throwing stones against the fence and the other reached a hand up to swim out of her dream. Finally, her eyes flew open.

 

Tap, tap, tap. It came from her bedroom window. Annie lay in bed, with her chest thumping. She now knew where the sound originated, and there was no way she was getting out of bed to look. She stared at the yellow flowered curtains stretched across the windows that looked into the backyard. Nothing moved. Just the tapping. Her heart continued to pump in triple time and Annie considered calling for her dad. But it was late – a quick glance at the clock showed it was after midnight, plus, she was 11 years old and trying hard to not be a baby about things.

 

Tap, tap, tap, TAP. The tapper persisted. Annie knew there weren’t any trees just outside her window, so it had to be something else. She still lay in bed, twisting her hair around her finger, littering frizzy blonde strands across her pink pillow.

 

This is stupid. She swallowed hard, and it was like boulders tumbling down her throat. She reached beside her and flipped on the night light. Her legs shook, but she got up anyway and wobbled to her window. Her fingers trembled against the curtain’s center hem and she poised herself to push the curtain aside. The tapping had stopped, so Annie drew a mouthful of air and whipped the curtain open.

 

On June 9th, 2008, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

I like #2–and I’d like to know what happens next! I’m very impressed.

On June 9th, 2008, Mommyrella said:

I liked the fiery dream in #1, but liked better how the dream tied in with reality in #2, so I’d have to say #2.

On June 9th, 2008, Deborah said:

My qualified vote is for #2 – only “qualified” because I also really like #1 – but I think that #2 opens up with more suspense. A lot of suspense! Which is fantastic, but is it too much for an 11 year old? I don’t know; just asking. It’s a very good intro and would keep anyone reading.

I also wonder if you could save #1 for somewhere else in the book (modified of course to suit the context) because I really like the imagery, but it’s a slower intro (after we find out it’s a dream). Does the fiery dream lead to anything outside the window, or just to grab the reader?

And speaking from an adult perspective, the faster you can grab them (#2) the more likely they’ll be to read the book (or in the case of an agent, the more likely they’ll be to request the manuscript, etc.)

I also like the way you’ve woven description in without taking the time to describe (that “showing, not telling” thing) such as “…littering frizzy blonde strands…”

Great start, you writer you! Go girl! (and keep going until you finish)

On June 9th, 2008, kate said:

i loved the BOOONNNGG. i could hear it. and the tap, tap, tap. so i guess i don’t know, but i like your sound effects, i guess you do them right, set them up well, because i could hear them AND i wanted to know what they were. i could relate to the can’t quite open the eyes, spilting in two, half awake and half asleep. that happens to me.

really great. i’d read it.

On June 9th, 2008, kate said:

and? i’m waiting waiting waiting for prompttuesday, i did it once, i might be hooked.

On June 9th, 2008, thematically fickle said:

I vote for number one.
Had me right away and kept me there with you, pretending I was an 11-year old reader. Keep going.

On June 9th, 2008, Jen said:

I personally liked the way #1 was written. You described the fire dream so well. The only problem is that it really doesn’t tie in with the tapping. I think if you could spice up #2 just a little bit more it does make more sense. I do agree that #2 offers a lot more suspense. There is just something missing with it to make it as descriptive as #1.

Both are VERY well-written! I enjoyed reading them.

On June 9th, 2008, ExtraordinaryMommy said:

Looks like I might be in the minority (I did really like both) but Number 1 really had me going. I liked the build up…I liked the surprise (And shock) of realizing there was someone in the house (and it was that SOMEONE who had entered her dreamland) You took me right (write, hah!) along with you and your 11 year old self. I prefer the ‘twist’, ‘suspense’ kind of story….Intro number 2 went right for the heart of things.

OK…really like them both, but still going for #1.

Also…thank you for the well wishes for my little guy…we are on the mend. Hope your little one is feeling better too!

On June 9th, 2008, San Diego Momma said:

THANK you!
This is so helpful to me. I really appreciate your comments and feedback…so so valuable.

You are the best, most supportive, smartest commenters a girl could have.

Thanks again.

On June 9th, 2008, Vered said:

I liked the first one. It is very powerful and completely pulled me into the story. I was a little more detached when I read the second one.

On June 10th, 2008, Steph said:

Two, please. And hi. Also, I sent it telepathically, but then Bill intercepted it and he suddenly had to go potty and also he got Police’s “Murder by Numbers” stuck in his head and it just got ugly after that.

On June 10th, 2008, matteroffactmommy said:

now i have murder by numbers in my head…

i liked #2 just a wee bit more than #1.

can’t wait until you’re a published novelist and we see you on oprah.

On June 10th, 2008, Momma Mary said:

I liked both of them. BUT I wanted to know what was tapping on the window about >-< that much more than what was banging downstairs. Because a loud noise surely would have woken up her parents, right? :)

On June 10th, 2008, Clink said:

Hi! I’m back!

I like two. It gives me more of a sense of who she is….plus, the tapping. SO creepy. I also love the way you describe how she wakes up out of the dream. It feels more like something I can relate to.

Oh…and HI!

On June 10th, 2008, Melanie said:

I like them both, but #1 was better. There are a few sentences I would take from #2 and substitute in #1. Also a few sentences I might make start out more “active”

Ex: “Earlier, it had rained and…” to “It rained earlier and…”

Can’t wait to read more!

On March 3rd, 2009, San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » PROMPTuesday #45: You’re Published! said:

[…] I’ve revived my manuscript-in-progress, quite surprised to find I’m further along than I thought. Plus, I’ve […]

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