Thursday, April 15, 2010

First Page Friday, #5

Yay! We have more first pages! Many thanks to Steena of Chocolate Reality for contributing them. We do ask, given the name of her blog, that you eat chocolate while working on your critique. (Or at least think chocolately thoughts.)

It's a rough, I know, but sometimes you just gotta do what needs to be done.

And on that note, here are Steena's first pages.

Megan's hand rested against the closed door. The silence coming from inside the room cried out to her, calling her with its lonely song. Today she would give in to its haunting melody, embrace it and pray she would never hear it again.

As she twisted the handle, she closed her eyes knowing the sight would break her heart. Tendrils of light spread along the carpet and crept up towards the ceiling. The soft pink curtains were open, the sunlight engulfing the room with its welcoming warmth. I keep them closed. She eased her way into the room, one step at a time, her toes sinking deep into the Berber carpet while keeping her gaze fixed on the open window ahead of her.

Princess decals decorated the rose colored walls, pictures of Cinderella, Ariel and Belle intertwined with stickers of sparkling crowns, steeple castles and framed crayon drawings. A sad smile settled on Megan’s face as she viewed the pictures her four year old drew with loving detail. Her favorite frame held a picture of a castle, complete with a queen and king, both wearing extra large crowns over their poufy hair while they held hands with three tiny little princesses. The last picture her daughter had drawn, right here in this very room.

Megan reached the bed and set her hand upon the wood frame as she closed her eyes. She could hear Emily's squeals of delight when, at the age of two, she found her princess bed in her very own princess room. Soft white sheers hung over a handmade wood frame. They draped across the top, where tiny little stars had been ironed onto the sheers, and they hung over the ends, and down the sides. Soft pink fabric encircled the side pieces, creating an opening on either side of the bed for the little princess to enter at will. In the evenings Emily would ask for the curtains to be drawn. She felt safe inside her bed. Megan wished she were there now.

Her hand caressed the white coverlet as a single tear wounds its way past her cheek. Megan climbed onto the bed, her body weary and curled in a ball, wishing the pillow still smelled of baby powder. She closed her eyes, wishing she could imagine her daughter lying beside her, but the image seemed distant. She pictured Emily's tiny body snuggled up against her chest. Megan's arm ached to hold her, her hand wanting to smooth her baby's soft blond hair. The curly hair of a stuffed lamb met her fingers instead. Megan pulled it close, bringing it to her face. Her tears soaked its fur as silent sobs shook her body.


Sarah said...

Steena, thanks so much for sending the pages! You'd blogged about beginning a new MS, and it's so nice to see a part of it.

This seems like it will be such an interesting story! I look forward to seeing where it goes.

My main impression of this is that I don't know Megan. Coming into her daughter's bedroom is such a dramatic moment. However, I don't feel as much as I could. I feel sorry for any mother in this situation. Because I don't yet know Megan (as you know her), I feel a more general sympathy rather than the empathy I'd feel for a friend.

I think your job in this scene is to introduce Megan- not just her grief, and not the room (unless the details of the room help us know Megan).

What details make Megan unique? I'd expect her to cry. What else might she do or not do that will help me see the character you already know? There needs to be some action other than tears in this scene- not because you need a fast pace, but because action reveals character. It will be attachment to Megan's character that keeps someone reading.

I love how you see this scene so clearly, and I sense that you know Megan well. I just don't feel that I know her as well as you do. And I want to!!!

Thanks again for this peek at your new MS!!!

Michelle said...

I agree with Sarah. While this is a beautiful scene, I'm not sure it's the first thing that should come in a story. The details you use in describing the room are wonderful, but I don't feel that I know who Megan is or what her story is going to be about.

In my mind, I kept thinking this read like a flashback. I've also heard editors say to avoid beginning a story with a character alone in a room. Yes, there is a sense of conflict here, but because of its emotional nature as opposed to an external conflict, I'm not sure it's strong enough for a first page.

At least twice, and probably more, Slushbusters have submitted a page like this. My feelings then, as now, were that they needed to write that page to help them better understand the character, but that it wasn't meant to be the first page of the story everyone else will read. In one case, a revision or two of that first page turned into a great beginning to a story. In the other, the writer decided she agreed and left that scene out.

Steena Holmes said...

Sarah and Michelle - thanks guys :) It took me forever to write this scene, but I think you're right - it was for me to flesh out the character.

I wonder if I start it when her husband comes in - with the card - if that would be a better opening. I don't want a flashback and I don't want to open with a dream (as if she hears her daughter). Hmmm ... I wonder if I started it with her husband watching a home video of their daughter and she hears her laughter and thinks she's home ...

Sarah said...

Steena, I like the idea of the husband coming in with the card. That would let the reader see more of Megan.

Don't get me wrong. I think this is a good scene. It could be very powerful if we knew Megan better before it.

Steena Holmes said...

Nope, I'm with you Sarah! I agree - thanks guys ;)

Margo Berendsen said...

are there any rules for your "First Page Friday" posts? Can anyone participate?

What genre is this excerpt?

Sarah said...

Margo, we accept anything. Here's the link to the rules:

Can't wait to hear from you!