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CONTROL - YA - Opening (400 words) - Revised

Posted: January 11th, 2011, 4:56 am
by jkmcdonnell
This is the (much reworked) opening of my WIP, CONTROL. It's YA urban fantasy, and as yet - as always - incomplete.

If you've got time, take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks in advance.

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The light overhead was too bright.

She twisted over in her half-sleep state, trying to avoid its burning glow; but the light was insistent, inescapable. Oblivion was lost. She opened her eyes.

The room around her was so brightly white it seemed to be glowing. White walls, white sheets – even the frame of the bed on which she was sprawled had been lacquered white. The light above burned sharp and fluorescent, and her eyes shrank away from its assault, a sharp pain throbbing in the base of her skull. The smell of bleach burned her nostrils. Disentangling herself from the starch-ridden sheets, she pulled herself to a sitting position with aching arms, and felt her head pound harder in protest. She shivered as her bare feet brushed the cold linoleum floor.

The windowless room was empty of everything but her and the bed, a door opposite closing off the room. The strange, itchy material of the sort-of pyjamas she was wearing scratched at her skin. She searched for where material met flesh – and felt her throat clench against the nausea that rose there at the sight.

Angry, swollen bruises ran the length of her exposed arms, staining her skin like a Rorschach test. She ran a shaking hand over the shredded skin, wincing at the pain that shot through her limbs – and then, as her fingers grazed the flesh on the underside of her left wrist, an ache pierced her entire body so painfully she cried out. The skin there had been blackened, burned, some kind of symbol seared into it, like a brand.

Nausea surged in her throat: she thrust her branded arm away from her and collided with the bed, head pounding anew. It was then she saw the flash of red light – a light embedded in the base of a tiny, domed camera, blinking down at her from the corner over the bed frame.

Someone was watching her.

She gasped, jerking away from the bed and stumbling backwards into the wall behind her; her knees buckled and she groped the wall for traction, finding purchase in the jutting edge of a frame; and as she dragged herself up on shaking legs, she saw an unknown girl – pale and pinched, scared and scarred – swim in the glass before her.

The mirror beamed her terrified face back at her, a perfect stranger to her own eyes.

She had no idea where she was – or who.

Re: CONTROL - YA - Opening (400 words)

Posted: January 11th, 2011, 10:38 am
by mnaylor3
I get the impression she's a very itchy, panicky, sick feeling girl. I think that's good stuff to know about her.

I'd also like to see this girl have expectations that show us more about her right up front, but that won't risk slowing down all the realizing she's doing. Here's a couple of not very good examples:
The light overhead was too bright.

"Come on, Mom, I'm trying to sleep here," she said twisting over in her half-sleep state, trying to avoid its burning glow.
or

She twisted over in her half-sleep state and instinctively reached under her pillow to feel for her pistol; it wasn't there.

Re: CONTROL - YA - Opening (400 words)

Posted: January 11th, 2011, 1:37 pm
by Nicole R
This is a nice start - I like the building tension. My line-by-line marks a few lingering inconsistencies that pulled me out of the story. Fix those, and I think you'll be on your way to an even stronger opening!
jkmcdonnell wrote:The light overhead was too bright.

She twisted over in her half-sleep state, trying to avoid its burning glow; but the light was insistent, inescapable. Oblivion was lost. When I read about the extent of her injuries a few paragraphs down, I found it really hard to believe that she'd be sleeping at all. You describe massive bruises and shredded skin - I think she'd be tossing and turning from pain rather than worrying about a light...that's if she could sleep at all. She opened her eyes.

The room around her was so brightly white it seemed to be glowing. White walls, white sheets – even the frame of the bed on which she was sprawled had been lacquered white. The light above burned sharp and fluorescent, Don't think you need this. You've already set it up with your other descriptions. Just start with "Her eyes..." and her eyes shrank away from its assault, a sharp pain throbbing in the base of her skull. The smell of bleach burned her nostrils. Disentangling herself from the starch-ridden sheets, she pulled herself to a sitting position with aching arms, and felt her head pound harder in protest. She shivered as her bare feet brushed the cold linoleum floor. You're doing a great job of showing her actions - can we get a glimpse of her emotions or thoughts at this point, too? I think it'd create a stronger connection to the character. Is she scared, confused, determined?

The windowless room was empty of everything but her and the bed, a door opposite closing off the room. The strange, itchy material of the sort-of pyjamas she was wearing scratched at her skin. She searched for where material met flesh – and felt her throat clench against the nausea that rose there at the sight.

Angry, swollen bruises ran the length of her exposed arms, staining her skin like a Rorschach test. Nice! She ran a shaking hand over the shredded skin, Is the shredded skin a separate injury from the bruises? It felt a little odd to me. wincing at the pain that shot through her limbs – and then, as her fingers grazed the flesh on the underside of her left wrist, an ache pierced her entire body so painfully she cried out. The skin there had been blackened, burned, some kind of symbol seared into it, like a brand.

Nausea surged in her throat: The nausea reaction is a repeat from two paragraphs ago. she thrust her branded arm away from her and collided with the bed, head pounding anew. It was difficult to visualize this - how does she collide with the bed by pushing her arm away? The movement didn't feel natural to me. It was then she saw the flash of red light – a light embedded in the base of a tiny, domed camera, blinking down at her from the corner over the bed frame.

Someone was watching her.

She gasped, jerking away from the bed and stumbling backwards into the wall behind her; her knees buckled and she groped the wall for traction, finding purchase in the jutting edge of a frame; and as she dragged herself up on shaking legs, she saw an unknown girl – pale and pinched, scared and scarred – swim in the glass before her. You mention a frame and glass here, and a mirror in the next paragraph, but earlier you said the room was empty except for her and the bed. I think you need to intro the mirror earlier.

The mirror beamed her terrified face back at her, a perfect stranger to her own eyes.

She had no idea where she was – or who.

Re: CONTROL - YA - Opening (400 words)

Posted: January 11th, 2011, 11:58 pm
by Emily J
jkmcdonnell wrote:This is the (much reworked) opening of my WIP, CONTROL. It's YA urban fantasy, and as yet - as always - incomplete.

If you've got time, take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks in advance.

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

The light overhead was too bright.

She twisted over in her half-sleep state, trying to avoid its might suggest "the" rather than "its" just a thought burning glow; but the light was insistent, inescapable. Oblivion was lost. She opened her eyes.

The room around her was so brightly <-- suggest cutting this adverb white it seemed to be glowing. White walls, white sheets – even the frame of the bed on which she was sprawled had been lacquered white. The light above burned sharp and fluorescent, and her eyes shrank away hmm eyes shrink? not pupils? from its assault, a sharp pain throbbing in the base of her skull. The smell of bleach burned her nostrils. Disentangling herself from the starch-ridden sheets, nice detail she pulled herself to a sitting position with aching arms, and felt her head pound harder in protest. She shivered as her bare feet brushed the cold linoleum floor.

The windowless room was empty of everything but her and the bed, this transition felt a bit awkward, can we connect the clause on the other side of this comma somehow? a door opposite closing off the room. The strange, itchy material of the sort-of pyjamas hospital gown? what is she wearing i'm curious... she was wearing scratched at her skin. She searched for where material met flesh – and felt her throat clench against the nausea that rose there at the sight. <-- at first I thought she was searching with fingers... is she? imagery could be a little clearer here

Angry, swollen bruises ran the length of her exposed arms, staining her skin like a Rorschach test. nice! i like your vivid images She ran a shaking hand over the shredded skin, wincing at the pain that shot through her limbs – and then, as her fingers grazed the flesh on the underside of her left wrist, an ache pierced her entire body so painfully she cried out. The skin there had been blackened, burned, some kind of symbol seared into it, like a brand. ??? consider my interest piqued!

Nausea surged in her throat: <-- why a colon here? i feel a semi-colon would be better... she thrust her branded arm away from her and collided with the bed, agree with previous post that this action is somewhat unclear, what part of the bed? head pounding anew. It was then she saw the flash of red light – don't over use dashes a light embedded in the base of a tiny, domed camera, blinking down at her from the corner over the bed frame.

Someone was watching her.

She gasped, jerking away from the bed and stumbling backwards into the wall behind her; her knees buckled and she groped the wall for traction, finding purchase in the jutting edge of a frame <-- not sure what you mean frame here on the wall ; and as she dragged herself up on shaking legs, she saw an unknown girl – pale and pinched, scared and scarred – swim in the glass before her. <-- not a fan of stringing all these together, is there a reason you are avoiding periods?

The mirror beamed her terrified face back at her, a perfect do we need the word perfect? stranger to her own eyes.

She had no idea where she was – or who. hmmm, i havent quite decided if I like this construction. I think I would even prefer repetition. Something like:

She didn't know where she was.

She didn't know who she was.

But that's just my preference!
I really liked this. You definitely have a knack for descriptions. The figurative language you used was effective and not cliched. Just a couple of suggestions posted above. Definitely an attention grabbing passage!

Re: CONTROL - YA - Opening (400 words)

Posted: January 13th, 2011, 10:17 pm
by jkmcdonnell
Thanks for all the feedback! It was unbelievably helpful - I guess I've been writing with the door closed for so long it's almost freeing to hear someone else's opinion.

I've reworked it here with all your input. Emily J, I was grateful for your feedback on that last line, which I've always struggled with because it's never really felt right. I think I'll give the repition a go for a while.

Nicole R and mnaylor3, I appreciate your comments on what kind of vibe you got from the character. Here's a little background, if it helps: she's been part of an experiment since her abduction two years ago, and has just had her memory wiped, as well as being pretty banged up and with a fairly serious concussion. They've pretty much Erased everything that made her who she was. So there's not much going on in the 'individualism' department... yet.

Time to try, try again:

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

The light overhead was too bright.

She twisted over in her half-sleep state, trying to avoid its burning glow; but the light was insistent, inescapable. Fuzzy awareness fought its way to the surface. She opened her eyes.

The room around her was so white it seemed to be glowing. White walls, white sheets – even the frame of the bed on which she was sprawled had been lacquered white. Her pupils shrank away from the assault, a sharp pain throbbing in the base of her skull. The smell of bleach burned her nostrils. Disentangling herself from the starch-ridden sheets, she pulled herself to a sitting position with aching arms, and felt her head pound harder in protest. She shivered as her bare feet brushed the cold linoleum floor.

The windowless room was empty of everything but her and the bed. The strange, itchy fabric of the sort-of pyjamas she was wearing scratched, oddly painfully, at her skin. Frowning, she glanced down at where material met flesh, and sucked in a sickened breath.

Angry, swollen bruises ran the length of her exposed arms, staining her skin like a Rorschach test. She ran a shaking hand over the tattered skin, wincing at the pain that shot through her limbs – and then, as her fingers grazed the flesh on the underside of her left wrist, an ache pierced her entire body so painfully she cried out. The skin there had been blackened, burned, some kind of symbol seared into it, like a brand.

Nausea surged in her throat; she thrust her branded arm away from her and stumbled away from the bed, room swirling as her head pounded anew. Through the throbbing haze, a flash of red caught her eye; and then a tiny, domed camera emerged, blinking down at her from the corner over the bed frame.

Someone was watching her.

She gasped aloud, and her knees buckled as she collided with the wall behind her. Heart slamming itself against her ribcage, she groped the wall for traction, and found purchase in the jutting edge of a frame she’d not seen. She dragged herself upwards on shaking legs as an unknown girl – pale and pinched, scared and scarred – swum in the glass before her.

The mirror beamed her terrified face back at her, a stranger to her own eyes.

She had no idea where she was.

She had no idea who she was.

But she wanted out.

Re: CONTROL - YA - Opening (400 words) - Revised

Posted: January 18th, 2011, 1:30 pm
by saraflower
Good start! I am no expert on critiques...but if I had picked a book like this up at a library and read that as the opening, I would be interested enough to read more. I want to know where she is and who she is...and you did a good job of drawing me in.