Monday, January 13, 2014

1st 5 Pages Jan. Workshop Rev 1: Brockett

Name: Tina Brockett
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: My Lullaby       
 
 
Mother said my visions were a gift from the devil. I tried to ignore them, and because I had, I risked losing the most important person in my life. My dad. The father I’d not seen for over a year.
 
 
The images that came to me in recurring dreams, the only two I ever remembered, didn’t really show me anything. It was the feeling they left me with. I’d wake euphoric after the one in the woods with the boy in the shadows and a fairy singing my lullaby. The one my dad wrote the day I was born. In the other, hundreds of crows squawked from a lone tree in the middle of a barren desert. I didn’t like that one. It made me physically sick. I’d thrown up all morning. The last time I’d dreamed of the crows, Abuelito died.  
 
 
An image of my dad had come to me when I woke. After having “the” dream, I should’ve called him, warned him. I’d let Mother’s overzealous preaching and fear get into my head, and I knew better.
 
 
Dear God, please don’t take Daddy from me. No, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. I’d had that dream before, and no one died. I chose to believe no one would die that day either.   
 
 
Exiting the border 15 freeway, I skidded to a stop at the top of the ramp. Of course, it had to be lunch hour, the streets packed with hungry workers. Vegas Boulevard, for miles either way, had office buildings, lavish Twelver temples and standard issue apartments. They used to be high-end casinos and hotels, but Twelver Law made it illegal to gamble within the Zones.
           
 
I slammed on my breaks to keep from hitting the idiot in front of me, who’d stopped on a green light.
 
 
I don’t have time for this. MOVE.
           
 
Sirens wailed. Flashing lights from a passing ambulance took me back to Welita’s call that morning. Grandma had sounded so worried, her broken English harder to understand than usual. My dad had fallen at work. He was in critical condition. She said to come right away.
           
 
Daddy, please hold on. I’m coming.
 
 
My fingers danced on the steering wheel as I willed the traffic to move. I had less than twenty minutes to get to the depot, make it through security checks, and board the train. If I could get to the other side, I could speed down Greenhouse Row’s alley, and maybe, just maybe make it in time.
 
 
I made it to the other side, and took the first left. “Crap.” I swerved to miss the back of a patrol car sitting at the entrance of the alley that split the acres of greenhouses down the middle and waved.
           
 
“Slow it down, Katrina,” The officer yelled as I passed.
 
 
“Great way to fly under the radar, Kati,” I grumbled, chastising myself. They all knew Mother. As Secretary of Defense, she was their boss. If he’d stopped me and called her, I’d never make the next train or any others that day. Maybe, none ever.
           
 
I drove the speed limit until he was out of sight and then punched it.
 
 
The front parking lot of the depot looked full, but the small one in the back was where I was headed. I pulled in beside a large truck that would hide the Jeep, in case Mother sent someone looking for it. Hopefully with it concealed, it would take her longer to figure out what I’d done.
           
 
I climbed out with a glance at the clock. Seven minutes to get through security, and board the train. I had to make the Express to L.A. I had no other options. No one, not even the Zone idiot, would dare drive across the desert.
           
 
When I reached the front entrance, out of breath and dripping sweat, I cursed the August heat of the Vegas/Henderson Zone. I longed for the lazy summer days by the beach, I’d enjoyed while growing up in L.A.
           
 
I removed my shoes then passed through the first metal detector tunnel. Nothing beeped. I stepped onto the traveling belt that transported me to the first check-in station. I searched the screen to see what time the Express left for L.A. Five minutes until departure. I rested my arm on the counter, to steady my hand, and gave my resident card to the guard. Maybe he wouldn’t even question that I was there without Mother.
           
 
After a cursory glance at my ID, his eyes met mine. His smile disappeared as one brow rose. I felt for my crowning cloth. Had I forgotten it in my rush to leave the house?
           
 
Nope. The large crème colored triangle with twelve diamond-shaped gems was right where it should be, properly placed to cover half of my forehead then wrapped around the back to conceal my long hair. All Twelver girls wore them. Mine had an insignia, also, to establish my status as a Prime daughter.
           
 
“Katrina.” 
           
 
I lowered my hands and stood as straight as I could. “Good-day, Sir.”
 
 
I hated the gold curly-cue positioned in the middle of the cloth at my forehead. It told people I was better than them. They had to show me an added bit of respect. I didn’t feel better than anyone. As a matter of fact, I felt less than most. I don’t know if it’s because I had a non-Twelver, alcoholic dad, or because at home they treated me like a slave rather than part of the family. Maybe it was because I only wore the first cloth I’d ever earned. Most girls cherished the new one they earned each year but not me. I liked my tattered original.
 
 
 
“What’s that?” He leaned in closer, eyes narrowing. “Is that some new fashion statement you kids are wearing?”
           
 
“Sir?”
           
 
The guard shook his head.  “Colored eyes, what’s next?”
           
 
Crap, crap, crap, my brown contacts. I’m dead. Mother insisted I always wear them while in public. How could I have forgotten to put them in? Shoot. What do I say?
           
 
“Yeah, they’re the coolest, aren’t they?”
           
 
Maybe the strange green eyes and red hair I’d been born with, that Mother made me hide behind brown contacts and brown hair so that I didn’t look different, was what made me feel that way.
             
 
The guard laughed, “If you say so. He leaned to the side. “Lady Prime Ramirez coming, or are you with your father today?”
           
 
I hated it when people referred to Carlos as my dad, but when we’d moved, I stopped correcting them. It made it easier. In L.A. some parents wouldn’t let me play with their kids because of who my father was. In Henderson only a few people knew the truth, and the others never asked. Even though I had the surname Callaghan, while the rest of my happy little family went by Ramirez, no one seemed to make the connection that Carlos wasn’t my real dad.
           
 
“Neither. I’m traveling alone today.”
           
 
His brows formed a V and then the guard shook his head.  
           
 
“I’m fifteen. I have my driving permit. You can’t stop me.”
           
 
“I meant no disrespect, but Lady Prime Ramirez knows better than anyone how dangerous the lines are. Why, we had an attack just last week.”
             
 
“She’s busy. I can’t wait.” Too many stupid meetings to take me to see my dying dad. Whatever. I wasn’t scared to go alone.
           

8 comments:

  1. Really glad you squeezed in that last line! It helps set you up. As a thought.. what if this was your beginning?
    Daddy, please hold on. I'm coming.
    I climbed out with a glance at the clock. Seven minutes to get through security, and board the train. I had to make the Express to L.A. I had no other options. No one, not even the Zone idiot, would dare drive across the desert.

    Go through and see if you REALLY need anything from earlier and if you can somehow transfer it below or later. I feel more immediacy with that than I do with the opening as it is even if you are showing us the visions. But you can have her picture the crows and try to shake it out of her mind or something as she waits. Some other way to do it. Again just a thought, but see what you think.

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  2. Hi Tina,

    I kind of agree with Lisa. Go back and make sure you need all that comes before. Even if you find that you do, it's still possible to fit the information after. But, before I comment anymore, let me go read your initial entry so I'm not repeating anything from last week. BRB ;)

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  3. 'K. I'm back. Firstly, this version is definitely greatly improved from the first week. Nice work!

    I want to mention that you've created a strong voice, here, which is important.

    The information before you've added before "Daddy, please hold on. I'm coming" is either to add urgency or to give a little backstory. I think you could sprinkle those ideas in as these opening pages progress, which would add that urgency you're looking for more naturally. I also think it would create (in the reader's mind) a sense of this MC's guilt for cowering to her mother's verbal browbeating about her gift instead of listening to her own gut. You could create that by adding in bits of "An image of my dad had come to me when I woke. I should’ve called him, warned him."

    Then you could insert just the idea that she'd had a dream/vision before and seen crows. That person died. And then finish with "But I’d let Mother’s overzealous preaching and fear get into my head, and I knew better."

    From here you could add a bit of that world building you used in the second paragraph and keep going with "I climbed out..."

    I completely understand what you're going for here. You want that urgency. Build it slowly, though, and let the reader be with your MC from the get go. Looking forward to seeing what you do with this. Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. grrr.... scratch that first 'before'. :)

      Delete
  4. Hi Tina!

    I really love the changes you've made! You've really amped up the action--nice job. I agree with both commenters above -- have you considered starting with the "Daddy, please hold on, I'm coming" line? It's really solid, and from there, the pace just zips along. Could you work in the voices / the backstory later on?

    I'm only tripped up in one other section: "In L.A. some parents wouldn’t let me play with their kids because of who my father was. In Henderson only a few people knew the truth, and the others never asked. Even though I had the surname Callaghan, while the rest of my happy little family went by Ramirez, no one seemed to make the connection that Carlos wasn’t my real dad."

    It doesn't have the same flow as the rest of this. Is there a way to neaten it up? Because everything else is solid. :)

    I also love the addition of that last line. It begs SO many questions: what's been happening along the line? How will this impact Kati?

    Great job! :D

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  5. Wow. I really like the improvements. I love that you hinted at the dystopian nature without outright saying it. I also love how it's much faster paced.

    I agree with other's comments. I think you're opening is with the Daddy, hold on line. I also agree that some of that other information could be sprinkled in throughout.

    And I ALSO agree (lol) with the paragraph about her background not quite fitting. I think if you left it at saying "I hated it when people referred to Carlos as my dad, but when we’d moved, I stopped correcting them. It made it easier," that it would keep everything very immediate--something you've got going for you throughout the opening now--and then put in that other information when it's important later. Right now, it just feels a little confusing because I don't have the background to go on (and nor should I. It's not important right now).

    But yeah. Super like. :)

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  6. Hi Tina!

    This really held my attention, so great job! I agree with everyone else, the Daddy hold on line really starts the story. Perhaps have Kati think about the dreams while she is sitting on the train (assuming she gets there!) or if she is waiting in line. I don't think the traffic adds anything to the story.

    I also agree with the information about Carlos - leave it at it makes things easier. I did wonder why people in LA wouldn't let their kids play with Kati - if he is in the mob, or something - and if that is the case and you want to keep that line, add something to be clearer and up the stakes.

    I loved the eye color coming into play, and the information about the cloth on her forehead. Very intriguing! Overall, great job, because I want to know what happens next!

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  7. Big difference. Very nice. My suggestion for this round is to play with cut/paste and experiment with the order of things. As much as I love that first line… I’m not liking it as the first line anymore. I like saving it for maybe the LAST line or somewhere in the middle to really knock their socks off. Or….

    *****************
    Exiting the border 15 freeway, I skidded to a stop at the top of the ramp. Of course, it had to be lunch hour, the streets packed with hungry workers. Vegas Boulevard, for miles either way; office buildings, lavish Twelver temples and standard-issue apartments. They used to be high-end casinos and hotels, but Twelver Law made it illegal to gamble within the Zones.

    I slammed on my breaks again to keep from hitting the idiot in front of me, who’d stopped on a green light. I don’t have time for this. MOVE.

    Sirens wailed. Flashing lights from a passing ambulance took me back to Welita’s call that morning. Grandma had sounded so worried, her broken English harder to understand than usual. My dad had fallen at work. He was in critical condition. She said to come right away.

    Daddy, please hold on. I’m coming.

    More than the call, the image of my dad had come when I woke. After having “the” dream, I should’ve called him, warned him. I’d let Mother’s overzealous preaching and fear get into my head, and I knew better.

    She said my visions were a gift from the devil. I tried to ignore them, and because I had, I risked losing the most important person in my life.

    The images that came to me in recurring dreams, the only two I ever remembered, didn’t really show me anything. It was the feeling they left me with. I’d wake euphoric after the one in the woods with the boy in the shadows and a fairy singing my lullaby. The one my dad wrote the day I was born. In the other, hundreds of crows squawked from a lone tree in the middle of a barren desert. I didn’t like that one. It made me physically sick. I’d thrown up all morning. The last time I’d dreamed of the crows, Abuelito died.

    Dear God, please don’t take Daddy from me too. No, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. I’d had that dream before, and no one died. I chose to believe no one would die that day either. A father I’d not seen for over a year.

    *****************
    Trying to get the action to drive the scene… and work in the visions backstory and concern for dad WITHIN the action. Right now, it’s the exact opposite. The dreams backstory and the “Hang in there Dad” is the focus… and the action appears within. Move some stuff around and see if you like it better. If not, move it back. But I think you’ll have a more riving narrative and more control over why things are being said/though IF they’re being said/thought because of the action.

    ReplyDelete