250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

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250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby Writecastlesinthesky » 29 Jul 2011, 08:38

On the banks of the Kennet a boy once ran faster than the current. For a man this would have been not at all a challenge. But for a boy the pace was urgent for his whole life was ahead of him.

The cherry trees bloom along the Kennet. A cluster of them sit squat and round while he sits hunched and gaunt, a prisoner finally exposed to sunlight. The days of his sentence were marked by events in culmination, building upon each other not realizing the beginning until the middle and not the middle until the last stretch until his breath gave out and his legs gave out and his heart collapsed and he ran no more, a vise of iron keeps his heart from beating. In 1928 he won the gold medal in the 800 at Amsterdam. And after that. It is hard to say what had come after that.

“What a fool I was,” says Nicholas Easton.

A seminarian presented the aphorism that all true athletes had only straight line trajectories for their goals. Everything that did not help them forward was forgotten and everything that came after the Goal was a dim reflection.

“I am…”

His eyes drift along the wind where the cherry blossoms float sideways then drop, some into the water some onto the ground collecting in the gully of an upgrown root. The wind rises to a breeze ruffling the pedals but not forcefully enough to lift the flowers over the root to freedom.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby dios4vida » 29 Jul 2011, 09:32

I'll play. ;) (Incidentally, this is the WIP that I need some help with my tag line on - if anyone has any input, the thread's here viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4027. Thanks!)

---

I know the statue’s supposed to symbolize the spirit of the Cairumen people, but it looks like a squashed toad to me. I don’t know what the artist was thinking. They carved this monstrosity from the stone of the Underground and set it in the middle of town like it’s a great tribute to our people. The others love it, but I can’t see past the squashed toad.

I hope that’s not what we’re really like inside. Sure, the Cairumen can be a depressing, bitter, angry people, but I’d like to think there’s at least something noble inside of us. It’s like our caves – the Underground where we live. They’re infested with trolls and the walls drip with moldy water, but there’s a lot of good down here, too. There’s…uh…

Okay, so the others say there’s a lot of good down here. Personally, I don’t see it. The Underground is the prison of the Cairumen, nothing more. It’s not really a prison, but it feels that way to me. Cairumen don’t leave and the Ivalas don’t come down here. Why would they? They live on the surface with a real sky and sun and plants. Luxuries like that don’t exist down here. Our world is made of stalactites, red bricks, and conjured lights.

And lately it’s gotten even worse. People have started disappearing. I don’t think there’s a single Cairumen who hasn’t lost someone they love. It’s taken a dank and dreary place like the Underground and turned it into the worst place in the world to be.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby polymath » 29 Jul 2011, 09:49

Sharathon! What a marvelous title. I like it. Soon as I collect a couple round-tuits and get some deadline work done I'll be back to comment on what's posted.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby AveryMarsh » 29 Jul 2011, 10:49

Love the title, the idea and reading other people's openings... but I'm super nervous. Here's the first 250 words to my Camp NaNo Novel: Peregrine (YA Space Opera)

-----------------
Unique. It’s one of those words thrown out so much that it loses it meaning. Not in my case. I truly am one of a kind. But when people call me special, it’s said in either a mocking tone or a voice dripping with pity. Yes, I am one of a kind, but only by the process of elimination. The elimination of everyone else on my planet.

Or so I’m told.

Because the only thing I know for sure is that I am an amnesiac. Oh, and that I'm also apparently a…

“Freak!” I open my eyes and stare at the screen on the gym wall. In the corner, the words flash for the whole class to see: 24MPH. And I haven’t reached peak performance yet. Virtual trees whiz past as a long dirt road stretches for miles in front of me. I close my eyes and let my feet pound the padded belt as it adjusts itself to keep up.

Coach Cabel, one of six physical education instructors for S173, circles the machine on stick thin legs that somehow miraculously hold up his portly midsection. “Can you run faster?”

I shrug because I’m afraid to exhale too forcefully around the man. An errant breath might topple him end over end. He gestures for me to pick up the pace and I put everything into the run. 25. 26. 27. 28MPH. The track beeps, and the screen and voice announce in tandem, “You have reached your limit for this exercise.”
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby dios4vida » 29 Jul 2011, 11:05

Writecastlesinthesky: You poured a lot of atmosphere into those words. I got a real feeling and emotion from them. That's something that not many people can accomplish so quickly. :) I do have to say, though, that for as much atmosphere as I got from that piece, I'm not sure what's actually going on. Is the running literal or a metaphor? Sometimes it felt like one, then the other. And who exactly is this kid vs. the prisoner vs. Nicholas? I think I'm lost in analogy. But I loved the mood. It's obvious you're an incredibly talented writer. I would like to know more about this guy's life.

AveryMarsh: I don't think you had anything to be nervous about. I loved your opening. It was evocative and intriguing. The comment about the 'errant breath toppling him over' was a great indication of voice. If I picked this book up at B&N, I'd definitely keep reading.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby Sanderling » 29 Jul 2011, 11:28

Oh, I love these, I love these! Beautiful imagery and mood, Writecastlesinthesky. Brenda, even just this short description starts to paint an intriguing picture of your world. And a really interesting introduction to the character of your novel, Avery. I want to read everyone's MS, now! Any of you looking for a(nother) critique partner? ;)

Here's my own contribution. This isn't actually from my finished WIP, which is in revisions, as I'm still deciding whether to cut the first paragraph(s) of that one or not. This is a more recent project that's still quite young. A little over 250 words, so as not to cut off mid-sentence.

--------------------------

By all accounts, the crash should have killed me. Instead, I find myself sitting in my new-to-me rusting Civic in the school parking lot, wondering what I’ll say to people I haven’t seen in a month; or even to friends who did make it to visit me a few times in the hospital once I was out of the ICU.

Everyone knows what happened, I’m sure. For one thing, it’s a small school, the sort of place where gossip moves faster than Mr. Sykes handing out a detention. Most of the town probably watched the wreck as it was towed down Main Street on a flatbed truck, two pieces of distorted, almost unidentifiable metal. Those who didn’t undoubtedly snuck over to the scrapyard to check it out later, even if they won’t admit it. People whispered behind raised hands, speculating at the cause: I was drunk; I was high; I fell asleep; I just suck at driving. I doubt very much that any one of them has guessed at what really happened, and I’m not about to tell. Even I think I might be a little bit crazy, if I think about it too hard. As I said, it’s a small school; not much happens here. Every little bit of news is grist for the rumour mill, and I’d just as soon they forget about it.

I climb gingerly out of the car, the cast on my left leg making manoeuvrability awkward. At least it’s my left leg, so I can still drive, though it took some time to convince my parents of this.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby dios4vida » 29 Jul 2011, 11:35

(Yeah, I'm not excited about this thread and checking every five minutes to see if anyone else has posted their 250 words. Not at all.)

Sanderling, I think these paragraphs are great! I remember you saying that your project was coming to you in present tense, and I'm assuming this is it, and I think it works. The little details you put into your protag's voice, like the new-to-me car and the doubts of what to say to people about the situation give your voice a healthy dose of authenticity. I really want to know what truly caused the crash. And it creeped me out a little because I had a teacher named Mr. Sykes in high school, too, though he was a P.E. teacher (and rather a jerk). The sentence with him in it was fantastic. Great opening!

I am so amazed at the talent around here!! My goodness, there are some awesome writers here on the Bransforums!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby AveryMarsh » 29 Jul 2011, 12:02

Writecastlesinthesky - There are so many things I love about your opening. The mood, imagery, voice. I'm not sure what's going on, but the writing and the interesting introduction to your character pull me in regardless. I'm envious of your talent. *bows*
dios4vida - I can identify with your character right away which is a great start. I love the part about the squashed toad statue. ;) I'd read on. And thank you for the kind words.
Sanderling - Your beginning had me from the first line. :)
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby CharleeVale » 29 Jul 2011, 12:23

These will probably be edited to death later...

The satin feels like water under my hands. It is blue, bluer than blue. It is blue fire in a sea of other, paler colors. No one has a dress like mine. I feel vibrant and sensuous and new like I’ve never felt before. My grandmother wore this dress to her Receiving, and my mother. Tonight is a night of honor, respect, beauty, and legacy.

I look around at all the others with me in the banquet hall. We are a garden of silk flowers, and the men are dressed in solidifying black; the soil to our petals. We are the future. We are all seventeen, and in under an hour my life, our lives, are going to change. We are going to Receive It.

The Vita.

It is not an object. It is not a word. It is that one thing that we will seek to fulfill our entire lives. It defines us, drives us, is the one steadfast thing when everything else may be raining from the sky.

I feel my heart beating in my throat, and my stomach drops in a familiar free fall. I look at my friends, and wonder what their Vitas will be. We all have some kind of idea—the aptitude tests last week told us our three most likely marks—except me. I pinch the blue satin between my fingers to keep from running my fingers over my collarbone for the hundredth time. I have no idea what the Consilium will choose for me.

CV
Last edited by CharleeVale on 29 Jul 2011, 12:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby dios4vida » 29 Jul 2011, 12:28

Again - amazing talent!!

Charlee, I love this opening. I can feel that dress and the effect it has on this girl. Your atmosphere is palpable. I would absolutely, without question read on.
Brenda :)

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby Sanderling » 29 Jul 2011, 17:14

Me too, Brenda, I'm looking forward to reading more from other forumers! I'm way impressed by what everyone's posted so far.
And thank you! Yes, this is that same project. That's a funny coincidence about Mr. Sykes. I never had a teacher by that name but it came to me as one sounding like it belonged to a short-tempered, anal-retentive teacher type.

Pleased it got you hooked, Avery! I normally have trouble starting that first paragraph, but this line just came to me.

Charlee - that looks familiar. ;) I'm still a huge fan of the line, "We are a garden of silk flowers, and the men are dressed in solidifying black; the soil to our petals."
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby polymath » 29 Jul 2011, 17:19

All around, I'd say rock solid mechanical style, craft fair, voice okay. I do get a sense of the creative direction each excerpt reports. Their strong suits, that they raise my curiosity by some degree and demonstrate potential. Their shortcomings, that they feel as though they open and close narrative distance seemingly unnecessarily. The voices feel everyday conversational. Perhaps there's a bit more recital than is best. Some portions I think would be better in show.

If it were given to me to decide whether to recommend for publication acquisition, I'm afraid I'd pass, not favoring any one over another. If I were assigned to work with one or all, I'd favor Writecastlesinthesky's because it most evoked my curiosity, Sanderling's for least jumpy narrative distance, and dios4vida's for the most potential exotic proxy reality wow and wonder factors. In all though, each has virtues and vices clashing and upsetting my participation in their narrative mystiques. By degree, on a scale of 0 to 7 for engagement, I'd put each one at 3 or so, or about par for my overall projects-in-progress evaluation reading experiences.

If only one, Writecastlesinthesky's because I feel it has the most promising participation mystique potentials. Frankly, it's the one I feel most engaged by due to empathizing with the running boy who I assume is also Nicholas Easton, and cared about what would become of him because he's pitiable and noble from recognizing late in life "What a fool I've been. . . . I am." I feel it also artfully poses the strongest dramatic question, What becomes of the boy who wins an Olympic Gold and goes on to think in later life he's a fool? And why? There's something beautiful going on thematically there.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby Collectonian » 29 Jul 2011, 17:30

From my young adult supernatural romance (set in Japan):

Chattering students filled the halls of Saigonohi High School after the final bell, eager to escape campus before the heavy gray clouds above carried out their implicit threat. The pairs of students assigned class duties for the week worked quickly to get their chores done, having no more desire to linger than their classmates had shown.

From the second floor in class 3-A , Sakura Takeshi watched the boy assigned to work with her greet his friends by the school gate. He pointed back towards the school, sending the group into a laughing fit as they headed down the street. Had he told them that she'd bought his lie about needing to go medicate his sick cat? As if she was that stupid. She's known he was lying before he even finished spinning the tale. It wasn't even creative, just another spin on the same old story.

Of course, Sakura wasn't supposed to be there either, but mistakes happened, especially with new and substitute teachers who didn't know she wasn't supposed to be assigned duties. And every time, her "partner" skipped, claiming they had a doctor appointment, a dying relative, a pet needing care, or some young sibling they had to pick up. She just nodded and let them leave. Better than being stuck working with them anyway. It is easier to snub people if they aren't actually there. Pretending she didn't hear their attempts at social banalities, like she had in middle school, was a much bigger a strain.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby Sanderling » 29 Jul 2011, 18:11

polymath wrote:If it were given to me to decide whether to recommend for publication acquisition, I'm afraid I'd pass, not favoring any one over another. If I were assigned to work with one or all, I'd favor Writecastlesinthesky's because it most evoked my curiosity, Sanderling's for least jumpy narrative distance, and dios4vida's for the most potential exotic proxy reality wow and wonder factors. In all though, each has virtues and vices clashing and upsetting my participation in their narrative mystiques. By degree, on a scale of 0 to 7 for engagement, I'd put each one at 3 or so, or about par for my overall projects-in-progress evaluation reading experiences.


I find this fascinating, polymath. I loved the lyrical prose of Writecastlesinthesky's piece, but admit it would be the one I'd be the least likely to pick up in a store for exactly the same reason. I don't want a story I have to work too hard to understand, and I find a lot of the more lyrical literary fiction, while beautiful, makes me have to work to understand what's going on more than I'd like. I want to be able to pick up a book and get lost in the story without the prose getting in the way. Maybe that's part of why I gravitate to YA - simple language, simple prose, it's all about the story.
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Postby Sanderling » 29 Jul 2011, 18:31

Collectonian wrote:She just nodded and let them leave. Better than being stuck working with them anyway. It is easier to snub people if they aren't actually there. Pretending she didn't hear their attempts at social banalities, like she had in middle school, was a much bigger a strain.


I can totally relate to Sakura already, Collectonian. ;)
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