The Oracle's Revenge - Revised & New Beginning

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gsfields2004
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The Oracle's Revenge - Revised & New Beginning

Post by gsfields2004 » August 10th, 2010, 9:45 am

This is the third major rewrite of this chapter. I was given a number of suggestions to show more through dialogue. Specifically it was suggested that I do a better job of establishing the protagonist's (Jarv's) feelings for Regina better. Finally, I was told by many, many people to avoid opening up with a dream sequence, so here is the new beginning. Please let me know if you feel this new start accomplishes these things and still draws people to read further. Thanks:

_____________
Chapter 1

Jarv Guerra awoke on Regina’s side of the bed to the sound of muffled cries coming from inside a squirming pile of blankets on the floor.

Pulling the ear plugs from his ears, he was assaulted at full volume by a chain of Italian obscenities. He thought she called God a pig and swore against the holy sacraments, but he wasn't sure because her dialect was difficult to understand.

Jumping out of bed, he got down on his knees to help untangle her from the blankets.

“Bella mia, what happened? Are you okay?”

An arm emerged from a fold in the blankets followed by a head, “Get away from me you…you bestia!”

He was still peeling away the blankets when a second arm appeared, struck him on his shoulder, and pushed him away.

“Hey,” he said blocking another blow. “Come on Regina, let me help you.”

“Bastardo. Just get away from me. You have done enough,” she said and wiggled the rest of the way out of her cocoon.

Scooting back to give her some room, she fired off another rapid burst of colourful phrases under her breath. He didn’t hear any references to God, religion, or his questionable parentage. He hoped that meant she was calming down.

As she stood up, Jarv flinched and leaned farther back to avoid a swing that never came. Instead, Regina cupped her elbow with her hand and examined it for signs of injury.

“You see what you did?” she said lifting her elbow towards him. “I am going to have a bruise now.”

Jarv stood up and tried to look at her elbow, but she turned away and pulled it close to her side protecting it with her hand like a child who doesn’t want to share a favourite toy.

“What do you mean, ‘what I did’?”

“You were talking in your sleep again and when I try to make you turn over, you…you roll over towards me and make me fall out of bed and now look-,” she said re-examining her elbow.

Even in the shadowy light of the bedroom, Jarv could see tears begin to well up in her eyes. He reached out to hug her, but she turned her back on him. Before she could move away, he clasped his arms around her body and pulled her close. Speaking softly in her ear he said, “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. You know I didn’t do it on purpose. I must have had another one of those damned dreams.”

She made a weak attempt to break free and then stopped. Turning around in his arms, she looked up into his eyes and said, “You really scared me, amore mi. Why do you keep having these dreams? What are they about?

“I don’t know why I’m having the dreams,” he said truthfully and then lied, “and I don’t remember what they're about.”

He hated to lie, especially to her, but he was afraid of what she would think if he told her. Trying to change the subject, he said, “Are you, okay? You’re sure you’re not hurt anywhere else?”

“I am okay. Just a little scared.”

“Come on. Let me take a look at your elbow.”

Jarv loosened his grip and she lifted her elbow until it was in front of his face. Looking at it, he didn’t see any marks or bruises. He bent his head forward and kissed it tenderly.

Her face softened and he could see the faint outline of a smile forming on her lips.

“I am sorry that I said those terrible thing,” she said. “If my father heard me, he would make me go to confession.”

Reaching up, he lightly brushed a strand of her wavy auburn hair out of her gray-green eyes. The moonlight washed over her delicate face in a way that reminded Jarv of an angel he once saw in a painting; only his angel had freckles.

“It was my fault, okay? You have nothing to be sorry about. Besides, I kind of think it’s sexy when you talk that way. But if you still have to go to confession, we might as well come up with something worth confessing,” he said before kissing her.

They remained standing there lost in their kiss for a long while before moving to the bed where they came up with new things for Regina to confess.
Last edited by gsfields2004 on August 13th, 2010, 12:13 pm, edited 31 times in total.

Emily J
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Re: The Oracle's Revenge - Revised & New Beginning

Post by Emily J » August 11th, 2010, 1:04 pm

gsfields2004 wrote:This is the third major rewrite of this chapter. I was given a number of suggestions to show more through dialogue. Specifically it was suggested that I do a better job of establishing the protagonist's (Jarv's) feelings for Regina better. Finally, I was told by many, many people to avoid opening up with a dream sequence, so here is the new beginning. Please let me know if you feel this new start accomplishes these things and still draws people to read further. Thanks:

_____________
Chapter 1

The first thing that struck Jarv Guerra as odd was that he awoke on Regina’s side of the bed. The second thing was the sound of her muffled cries coming from inside a squirming pile of blankets on the floor.

Jarv pulled the ear plugs from his ears and was immediately assaulted by an impressive chain of Italian obscenities. She spoke way too fast for him to translate everything, but he definately definitely? heard her call God a pig and then she swore against the holy sacraments, so he knew she was really pissed off. <-- this might be one of those over stuffed sentences, it isn't bad but perhaps "She spoke way too fast for him to translate everything, but he definitely heard her call God a pig and she swore against the holy sacraments. She was really pissed off." Just a thought, though be wary of using "so" I have found in my own writing it usually indicates where my writing could be tighter

Jarv jumped out of bed, got down on his knees, and tried to help untangle Regina from the blankets.

“Bella mia, what the happened? Are you okay?”

An arm emerged from a fold in the blankets followed by a head, “Get away from me you…you bestia!”

Jarv continued to peel away the blankets when a second arm appeared, struck him on his shoulder, and tried to push him away.

“Hey. Come on Regina, let me help you.”

“No. Just get away from me, bastardo. You have done enough,” she said as she wiggled the rest of the way out of her cocoon.

Jarv scooted back on his knees and gave her some room. She fired off another rapid burst of colorful phrases under her breath, but he didn’t hear any references to God, religion, or his questionable parentage which meant she was calming down. i like this, good characterization As she stood up, Jarv leaned further farther back just in case she decided to take another swing, but she just cupped her elbow with her hand and examined it for signs of injury.

“You see what you did?” she said lifting her elbow. “I am going to have a bruise now.”

Jarv stood up and tried to look at her elbow, but she turned away and pulled it close to her side protecting it with her hand like a child who doesn’t want to share a favorite toy.

“What do you mean, ‘what I did’?”

“You were talking in your sleep again and when I try to make you turn over, you…you roll over towards me and make me fall out of bed and now look-,” she said looking again at her elbow.

Jarv could tell, even in the shadowy light of the bedroom, that tears were beginning to form in her eyes. He reached out to hug her, but she turned her back on him. He reached around her anyway, pulled her close, and spoke softly in her ear, “I’m sorry. I didn’t do it on purpose. I had another one of those damned dreams. I’m so I think it reads better without so sorry.”

She made a weak attempt to break free and then stopped and turned around in his arms. She looked up into his eyes and said, “You really scared me, amore mi. You have these dreams too much, no? Why? What are these dreams about?

“I don’t know why I’m having the dreams-,” <-- why isn't that just a comma? he said truthfully and then lied, “and I don’t remember what they're about. Are you, okay? You’re sure you’re not hurt anywhere else?”

“I am okay, just scared.”

“Come on. Let me see your elbow.”

Jarv loosened his grip and she lifted her elbow until it was in front of his face. He looked at it, but didn’t see any marks or bruising. He bent his head forward and tenderly kissed it anyway.

Her face softened and he could make out the trace of smile beginning to form.

“I am sorry that I said those terrible things. If my father heard me, he would make me go to confession.”

He reached up with one hand and lightly brushed a strand of her wavy auburn hair out of her grey why are you using the British spelling here? green eyes. The moonlight washed over her delicate face in a way that reminded Jarv of an angle angel? if not then I'm lost... he saw in a painting two weeks ago when they went to Assisi for a weekend get-away; only his angel had freckles. i like this

“You have nothing to be sorry about. It was all my fault and I promise it won’t happen again, okay?” he said knowing that he couldn’t keep that promise.

“Besides, I kind of think it’s sexy when you talk that way. But if you really want to go to confession, I think you should have something worse to confess than a few bad words,” and then kissed her. <-- that's awkward, feels like a "he said" is missing

They remained like that like what exactly? for a long while before they moved to the bed and came up with ideas to spice up Regina's confession.
I think focusing on the dialogue and allowing that to reveal character is a smart move. I particularly like the way Regina's personality comes across through her swearing. Not starting with a dream is definitely sound advice but keep in mind that a lot of manuscripts also start with a character waking up. It doesn't mean don't do it, it just means be aware that it may not help your opening stand apart.
I think the writing is good but be careful of starting too many sentences with pronouns, perhaps a bit more variation on structure would add interest. Overall though I liked it, nice work!

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: The Oracle's Revenge - Revised & New Beginning

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 11th, 2010, 1:55 pm

Excellent, Gsfields2004. I quite like novels that begin with dreams or waking up. They emphasize the paradox that a novel is both a kind of lucid dream and an awakening into a special subsection of reality.

Down the well
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Re: The Oracle's Revenge - Revised & New Beginning

Post by Down the well » August 11th, 2010, 9:58 pm

gsfields2004 wrote:
_____________
Chapter 1

Jarv Guerra awoke on Regina’s side of the bed and heard the sound of her muffled cries coming from inside a squirming pile of blankets on the floor.

Pulling the ear plugs from his ears,he was assaulted by a chain of Italian obscenities. She spoke in a dialect that made it difficult for him to understand everything she said, but he thought he heard her call God a pig and swear against the holy sacraments. I think it might have a stronger impact if stated more directly.Though he couldn't be sure, given that half of it was said in Italian. Just playing with the sentences. She was really pissed off. I don't think you need this. You show us in the next paragraphs. Also, is there a reason for the earplugs that we should know about? Or should I just sit down and be patient.

Jarv jumped out of bed, got down on his knees, and tried to help untangle Regina from the blankets.

Bella mia I believe you should italicize foreign words , what happened? Are you okay?”

An arm emerged from a fold in the blankets followed by a head, “Get away from me you…you bestia!”

He was still peeling away the blankets when a second arm appeared from the snarled sheets, struck him on his shoulder, and pushed him away.

“Hey,” he said blocking another blow. “Come on Regina, let me help you.”

“No. Just get away from me, bastardo. You have done enough,” she said and wiggled the rest of the way out of her cocoon.

Scooting back to give her some room, he heard her fire off another rapid burst of colourful sp? phrases under her breath. He didn’t hear any references to God, religion, or his questionable parentage this time so he hoped that meant she was calming down. As she stood up, Jarv flinched and leaned farther back to avoid a swing that didn’t come. Instead, Regina cupped her elbow with her hand and examined it for signs of injury.

“You see what you did?” she said lifting her elbow towards him. “I'm going to have a bruise now.”

Jarv stood up and tried to look at her elbow, but she turned away and pulled it close to her side protecting it with her hand like a child who doesn’t want to share a favourite toy.

“What do you mean, ‘what I did’?” I'm wondering if this should be written "What do you mean, what I did?"

“You were talking in your sleep again and when I try to make you turn over, you…you roll over towards me and make me fall out of bed and now look,” she said re-examining her elbow.

Jarv could tell, even in the shadowy light of the bedroom, that tears were beginning to well up in her eyes. He reached out to hug her, but she turned her back on him. He closed his arms around her before she could move away, pulled her close to his body, and spoke softly in her ear, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You know I didn’t do it on purpose. I must have had another one of those damned dreams.”

She made a weak attempt to break free and then stopped. Turning around in his arms, she looked up into his eyes and said, “You really scared me, amore mi. Why do you keep having these dreams? What are they about?

“I don’t know why I’m having the dreams,” he said truthfully and then lied, “and I don’t remember what they're about.” Could you give us one more line here about why he decides to lie to her? It's one of those unanswered question that makes your reader want to know more.

Trying to change the subject, he said, “Are you, okay? You’re sure you’re not hurt anywhere else?”

“I am okay. Just a little scared.”

“Come on. Let me take a look at your elbow.”

Jarv loosened his grip and she lifted her elbow until it was in front of his face. Looking at it, he didn’t see any marks or bruises. He bent his head forward and kissed it tenderly.

Her face softened and he could see the faint outline of a smile forming on her lips.

“I am sorry that I said those terrible things,” she said. “If my father heard me, he would make me go to confession.”

Reaching up, he lightly brushed a strand of her wavy auburn hair out of her gray-green eyes. The moonlight washed over her delicate face in a way that reminded Jarv of an angel he saw in a painting ; only his angel had freckles. I'm wondering if there is some way of giving us a hint of place/location in this paragraph. For instance, you mention a painting. Could you take advantage of that line by saying he saw it in a local museum or something to give us a sense of place? Or could you say the Tuscan moonlight or Andrecian moonlight, or wherever it is? If not, no biggie. I assume it will come up later.

“It was my fault, okay? You have nothing to be sorry about. Besides, I kind of think it’s sexy when you talk that way. But if you still need to go to confession, we might as well give you something good to confess,” he said before kissing her.

They remained lost in their kiss for a long while before moving to the bed where they found ways to spice up Regina’s confession. "Spice up" is kind of weak for me. Any other way you could phrase this?

Hey, I like this. Your dialogue is very natural. I think you did a good job of showing us their relationship. It isn't your typical wake up and yawn as the morning light streams in kind of opener that gets panned, so I think you're okay as far as that goes. Good job.
Last edited by Down the well on August 12th, 2010, 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

gsfields2004
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Re: The Oracle's Revenge - Revised & New Beginning

Post by gsfields2004 » August 11th, 2010, 10:22 pm

Down the Well, J.T. Shea, and Emily,

Thank you all for you comments. All of your comments are really good. I have already incorporated some of them and plan on including more.

When I go back and read the first version I wrote and compare it to this one, it looks like it was written by two different writers. I'm sure this is part of the learning process, but I wonder if the difference is this stark for every writer.

In answer to Down the Well's questions

1.) The ear plugs serves a purpose and it comes to light a little later on. It's a spring board to introduce another character, an old college roommate who snored. Jarv grew accustomed to wearing them to bed.

2.) The story begins in Naples, Italy and that comes to light later in the chapter when he looks out a window and sees the "unmistakable silhouette of Mount Vesuvius towering over the sleeping city of Naples like a giant hooded figure. The long, gentle slopes of the volcano stretch out like massive arms around the city as if claiming it as its own."

Thanks again!

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Re: The Oracle's Revenge - Revised & New Beginning

Post by Christy_H » August 21st, 2010, 11:58 pm

I really like this and get a feel for your characters and their personalities in a short amount of text. I never read any of your previous tries at this same chapter, but if you used to open with his dream, perhaps we would not get this feeling for the characters, which is important to hook a reader. Also, now you've kept the dream a "secret" so it gives us something to wonder about and to turn pages to learn. (On a side note, I also began my (first ever) novel with a dream sequence and was advised to revise/cut it. It definitely gives the novel a different feel. I wonder if it isn't so much the writing style as with the events taking place. A dream will be written differently than "actual" events. So it doesn't necessarily mean you lost what you wanted your novel to have, if that was your worry. I know it was mine fora while.) Great luck with this and you've obviously done a lot of work. Keep going!

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Re: The Oracle's Revenge - Revised & New Beginning

Post by sldwyer » August 24th, 2010, 11:42 am

I think I would start with the "muffled cries in a pile of squirming blanket". It would have more impact than Jarv waking. "Waking" tends to be more passive in what appears to be a stress filled scene.

I too wondered what relevance the ear plugs had to the story along with the dream. It might be a good idea to add a word or two about the dream, as if he is caught between the dream and the reality for a moment. Just a suggestion.
Other than that, I liked the scene - made me want to read more to find out some answers. Good luck.

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