Jul 24, 2011

First 200 words

I'm soooo excited about this final week in Deana Barnhart's blogfest. This week my YA mystery, Saving Andromeda comes out of the vault for my initial revisions - which will be major - so I covet your suggestions on how to make this better. I've fiddled with the word choice in this, particularly the part about the sister - she's white and gold, etc.

Those of you born editors, have at it. Please let me know if it's not clear Buddy is Andie's brother in the second main graph. I might need more words there. This whole prologue is only 300 words and I'd like to keep it as tight as possible. This is a mystery so you should have questions - I wrote it that way on purpose! :)
Thanks in advance and I look forward to reading/commenting on all the other first 200s!

Nineteen years ago

Blood was everywhere.
Only some of it belonged to Andromeda.

Ricky Murphy lay in the entryway in front of them, his mouth twisted in a snarl. His hands clawed at the gaping wound in his stomach, catching on intestines leaking like soft grey rope.

“Bitch,” he muttered, panting.

Buddy grunted and Andie reached for his hand without looking at him. The image of her brother’s broken face was seared in her mind– four squares of skin split by jagged scars so raw they looked like a cross drawn by a preschooler with a red marker.

Their sister leaned over Ricky, her blond hair sliding over one shoulder. In the dim light of the hall, she was a figure of white and gold, her eyes glittering like sea glass.

“They’re waiting for you in hell, Ricky,” she murmured, one ruby-tipped finger caressing his pallid skin. “Go on, now.”

Ricky flinched but couldn’t move away.

The knife handle grew sticky in Andromeda’s palm. It was their father’s best fillet knife, its blade wickedly curved like a scimitar. She’d watched Dad gut countless flounder with it after he’d pounded their heads to pulp with an oar.

20 comments:

jamieayres said...

Wow, I'm hooked and impressed and already feeling like I lost this contest, lol. So much darn talent out there! Great job:)

Sharon Bayliss said...

Hi Melodie!

This is great. A lot of potential here. There are several lines I really like, the landed fish, the cross, the angel switching sides. One thing I've been warned against is having too many similies back to back. If you want to remove one, take out "Her profile was..." because it's not as strong as the others.

I agree that "scrabbled" feels a little off. Maybe it's late and I can't think of anything more creative, but you would probably be okay with just "reached".

I get that Buddy, Andie, and "their sister" are all siblings, but it is a little difficult to grasp so many characters at once. You introduce four in the first 200 words! You've done it well considering, but you might workshop introducing them a little slower or keep it simpler. "Andie & her brother and sister hover over Ricky's body..." but leave the more detailed description of the characters for later.

Very good overall. Good luck!

Freya Morris said...

Wow - brilliant opening! I agree with Sharon and loved the same bits.

There are too many characters all at once here - especially as I have no image in my mind to who is who - it makes it difficult to imagine. No background - no descriptors. I imagine this will be difficult to sort aswell.

New follower here! : D

Freya Morris said...

Ooops - turns out I was already a follower! hehe... PS: the writing is REALLY good. felt I missed out that point.

Alleged Author said...

I agree with the comments of there being too many characters in the beginning. I'll add that the dialogue is a *leeeetle* cliche.

The description is great though and I love the set-up!

Donna K. Weaver said...

My initial thought was, "Wow." Very vivid imagery here. Nice job.

I don't seem to have as big a problem with several characters being introduced at first as others do. But I was a little confused. The angelic sister who switched sides, for example. When I first read that I wondered if she was on Murphy's side and was working with him. And for some reason, perhaps because of the comment about Buddy's scars, I imagined him lying down as well, perhaps after a fight with this Murphy guy.

But I'm absolutely intrigued and want to know more.

amy kennedy said...

Wow. Yes -- vivid imagery. I got confused with the characters though, too many names.
Scrabbled sounds fast -- don't know if he'd be fast with his intestines leaking.
Also, I know Ricky can't move away from the sister -- he's on the floor, leave off "he'd lost control of his legs."

None of this takes away from your writing. Your voice is distinct and lovely as well as horrifying! In a good, can't-look-away way.

Michelle Fayard said...

I was instantly hooked.

I was a little jolted when I saw Ricky Murphy's name, because I didn't know who he was or whom "in front of them" referred to--just Andomeda and Ricky or if other people are in this scene too. I'd look for a fresher phrase than "opening and closing like a landed fish."

Instead of "scrabbled" maybe "moved" or "slid?" I'd delete gaping, since the rest of the sentence reveals this. Literally. :) I'm not sure there's a dotted line between "rope" and "leaking." Change "grey" to "gray" if this is for an American audience.

I love the tension of the "bitch" sentence.

Who are Buddy and Andie? This is a lot of characters for me all at once. Whose POV is this book--Andromeda's or Andie's? Who is "their sister?" With this it sounds like a third POV, the narrator.

I had to read the "their sister" graph a couple of times to realize, at least I think I realize, this character is dead. I associate white and gold with angels, so the "switched sides" phrase seemed like an opposite statement.

I love this sentence: “They’re waiting for you in hell, Ricky,” she murmured, one ruby-tipped finger caressing his pallid skin. “Go on, now.”

The sentence "The knife handle grew sticky in Andromeda’s palm." really has me going wondering why Andromeda is holding the possible weapon.

I didn't have a problem with the part about Ricky losing control of his legs. I also got it that Buddy is Andie's brother.

Although I think this needs just a bit of polishing and clarification, I was totally hooked and couldn't wait to read more. :)

Michelle Fayard said...

P.S. I forgot to mention that I left a reply to your comment on Bird's-eye View, http://michellefayard.blogspot.com/2011/07/blogfest-first-200-words-contest.html.

Melodie said...

Thanks for your suggestions! They're all very helpful. I do have to intro these four characters...and the mystery fifth, tho. The relationships here are what the mystery of the MS is built upon.
Michelle - the angel is alive. She's the sister. She talks and moves in the next graph so I'm not sure why you thought she was dead. Oh wait - was it the angel statement?? I think I'm going to remove that. Maybe that's what gave you the idea :))

Angie Cothran said...

I loved the writing here :) I thought four characters was a lot also, but I figure you will sort it out for us further on in the chapter. I would be willing to go along for the ride.

I really liked the "scrabbled" sentence. It was a strong action for me. I didn't get the cross thing. Is that how he was cut? I need a little more grounding detail there.

Well done. You hooked me :)

Lora R. Rivera said...

Hi Melodie,

Gosh, if you really have to introduce all the characters here, I guess we need some other way to sort them out, right? I like Sharon's idea of introducing them as siblings. Maybe let us readers see through your MC's (Andromeda, yes?) eyes: Andromeda watched as the LAST NAME siblings hovered over..." Then you could have her eyes direct us to each of them in turn, including the mysterious fifth.

As others said, beautiful imagery, just stunning. And otherwise very followable writing. Very clean and strong. Good luck!

--Lora

lindy said...

Great hook! In regards to the "all white and gold" question. Might this work? -- "In the dim light of the hall she glowed white and gold, her eyes glittering like cut glass." I don't have enough info to know if she's merely wearing the colors white and gold or if she's some sort of magical being who's literally emitting these colors.

amber said...

First, I relaly liked the descriptions. Gray rope -- awesome. There were a lot of character intros here. I think the word 'their' -- as in 'their sister' -- is my sticking point. Tell it from Andromeda's perspective. HER sister. That might make it a bit less confusing. Last thing: the knife description. Really necessary? If so, keep it. Otherwise, make it shorter!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I loved the descriptions. I hate to give conflicting advice but I liked the 'their sister.' If you put 'her sister' instead, then I would be confused since you already mentioned that Buddy is her brother.

Donna Perugini said...

I included your 200 words with my suggestions in parenthesis.

Nineteen years ago

Blood was everywhere.
Only some of it belonged to Andromeda.

Ricky Murphy lay in the entryway in front of them, his mouth twisted in a snarl. His hands clawed at the gaping wound in his stomach, catching on intestines leaking (spilling out) like soft grey rope.

“Bitch,” he muttered (hissed through clenched teeth), panting.

Buddy grunted and Andie reached for his hand without looking at him. The image of her brother’s broken face was seared in her mind– four squares of skin split by jagged scars so raw they looked like a cross drawn by a preschooler with (cut out 'a') red marker.

Their sister leaned over Ricky, her blond hair sliding over one shoulder (over her shoulder or Ricky's shoulder?). In the dim light of the hall, she was a figure of white and gold, her eyes glittering like sea glass (isn't sea glass etched by the water and doesn't glitter?).

“They’re waiting for you in hell, Ricky,” she murmured, one ruby-tipped finger caressing his pallid skin. “Go on, now.”

Ricky flinched but couldn’t move away.

The knife handle grew sticky in Andromeda’s palm. It was (She'd used) their father’s best fillet knife, its blade wickedly curved like a scimitar. She’d (Andromeda remembered watching) watched Dad gut countless flounder with it after he’d pounded (pounding) their heads to pulp with an oar.

Josh Hoyt said...

Wow intense. Got my attention! WHen the person is speaking I would say who it is. Is it the sister or the first person we see. Great way to get me into the story.

alexia said...

Really intense! I'm hooked. I don't really have anything to add. Good luck!!

kathy stemke said...

Intense and imaginative. Great descriptions! I'm late to the party-nothing to add. Good luck.
kathy

K.V. Briar said...

Oooh, super intense and scary! Awesome job hooking us in and making us care about the characters.

~K.V. Briar