Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hung Over and First Pages

Gosh, I am a fool. Let me out one night and whoops.....thumping head. By my age I should know better, I really should but it must be age because I keep forgetting or I don't get out much!

As I said yesterday there are so many things rolling around in my head and again I am sharing some with you.

1. last night before too much wine was consumed I 'found' a missing twist for the novel floating in my head and it fits to perfectly it makes me want to dance!

2. I am a believer in things happen for a reason - good and bad. This fits into a book a friend handed me to read when I arrived here in Dubai - The Monk who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. Now I go hot and cold on these type of books but I do believe in the person who said I should read it. Then lo and behold to give me and extra push Robin Sharma will be giving a talk to the parents of dd's school so I guess I was meant to read this book.

3. I have started reading Julia Cameron's The Artist Way and I have been doing my morning pages ( not yet today - naughty me). This book was recommended it me at the RNA Savoy Lunch last year by a wonderful writer whose name I can't remember. So who ever you are thank you. Reading these two books in tandem makes for some interesting self insight.

4. Last night something completely unexpected happened. I was offered a job! I wasn't looking for one. I can't say any more about it other than it is in the art world and I don't yet know what I am going to do.

Finally Fiona of the Novel Racers has taken up Julie Cohen First Page Challenge. I have done this several times now and have learned so much - from my own and other people's pages. So I thought I would post again the previous first page of August Rock and the new first page. Which reminds me I need to update the first chapter link on the side bar.........

Centerville, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 4th June 2005 (Version 9)
Judith sat watching the incoming tide lap over her red toenails and wet the brilliant white lace of her wedding gown. Tears caused it all to blur to pink. She didn’t like pink. Not that anyone cared that she didn’t like the colour. The church was filled with pink flowers. Hundreds of lilies to be precise and their scent still filled her nostrils despite the brisk breeze coming in with the tide.
An hour ago when she had stood in the doorway of the church; all she had been able to see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons had adorned every pew, the altar barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Her fiancé, John, had stood among the flowers; tall, blond, perfect yet even he had not escaped the colour with a waistcoat matching the flower girls’ pink dresses. Theyhad spun around her knees with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists.
The heat of the early June afternoon had intensified the cloying scent of the flowers to overwhelming levels, as the soprano in the choir loft hit the high notes on some hymn Judith couldn’t remember. In her hands, she had held a decadent bunch of lilies, carnations, roses and other pink flowers which reached the floor in their cascade. She had watched her hands tremble and sweat so much that she dropped the candyfloss mess on the floor.
The salty water of the Gulf Stream took the stiffness out of the lace so that it collapsed on her legs. Now she felt at peace with the damn dress; wet and shapeless. A seagull dive-bombed in front of her forcing her to wipe her eyes so that she could see if he was successful. He was and she smiled. At least someone got what they wanted.

Centerville, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 4th June 2005 (Version 10)
The cloying scent of oriental lilies permeated the heavy air. June was not supposed to be this hot on Cape Cod and certainly not on her wedding day. Something resembling excitement grabbed at Judith’s stomach as she leaned forward to catch a glimpse of her fiancé John. It took her eyes a while to pick him out among the masses of pink flowers that smothered the altar but there he stood with his best man. He showed no signs of nerves with the most heart melting smile on his face. He was happy.
Little girls in their pink dresses twirled about her while a soprano in the choir loft hit the high notes on some hymn Judith didn’t recognize. Her stomach fluttered again and sweat trickled down the back of her neck. She was sure that all brides were nervous and this unsettled feeling was normal.
A vision of raging seas, icy water, and terrified screaming flashed in her mind. She shivered and swayed then grabbed a pillar. She didn’t need this today of all days. She sought out John’s smiling face and tried to focus on today and not the terrifying things in her mind. Someone was fussing with the back of her dress and it couldn’t be her mother as she was safely ensconced in her pew and thankfully nowhere near Judith.
“That’s better.” Mary, her maid of honour, let go of the train and stood up. “This heat is unbearable and who would think it would happen in June. More like August really.”

Now, although I still prefer the opening line of the version 9 I think version 10 sets up the story better. What do you think?


Jan Jones said...

Yes, for me the second one works better. It's more upbeat, as if it is building up to something. More page-turnability.

Only one tiny point. I wouldn't have your pink flowers smothering the altar, I'd have them banked up in front of it. I'm not convinced the Powers That Be would allow the top of the altar to be completely covered, so that single small, unimportant concept pulled me out of the story while I thought about it - which isn't what you want to happen to an editor or agent. Lose them and they're gone!

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Jan.......hadn't thought of that :-)

Leatherdykeuk said...

I prefer the first but agree that the second is better for the story.

liz fenwick said...

I agree with you Rachel but the new page sets up things in a more proactive way. Before Judith was on the beach thinking and now she is about to leap which I think is a stronger way to start - or at least i hope so!

Lane said...

I agree that version 10 is neater (and stronger) but I really like the opening line of version 9. It seems a shame to have to lose the image.

Hope the hangover improves:-)

Kate.Kingsley said...

Hi Liz ~ just wanted to say what an odd coincidence that you mention Julia Cameron's book, as I've actually made a note to hunt out my copy this evening!

I tried it once before but I was terribly remiss with my morning pages. Hopefully I'll be a bit more disciplined this time round!

Kate K

PS: good luck with the hangover ~ they don't go well with morning pages, in my experience ;-)

Kate.Kingsley said...

PS (again!) version 10 is stronger for me, draws me further in, but I do like the waves lapping at the lace dress in the first one.


liz fenwick said...

I haven't cut the wedding dress scene - it appears on page two at the moment. It was a great opening line but as they say kill your darlings or at least them around :-)

I am taking Julia Cameron slowly and will confess there were no morning pages this am!! Which I know is a shame as there is just sooooooooooooooo much rolling around in my head!Kate good luck with them this time around ;-)

Mel said...

Version nine is not a strong way to start a book, but it's still good writing. Which I always find like a catch 22 type of thing.

Hope the head feels better.

Julie Cohen said...

I agree that the second has more action--my reservation about the first version is that the heroine is sitting and thinking, which really doesn't make it active.

I like the flashback of icy seas in the second--it introduces mystery and suspense to an otherwise happy scene.

The second version has lost the heroine's attitude, though. Look at the difference: in the first you have "pink stinking lilies" (which I love--assonance and a very strong image); in the second you have "the cloying scent of oriental lilies permeated the heavy air". To me, "permeated" isn't much of a verb--nothing near as powerful as "stink"/"stank"--it distances me and I'm not sure if it's the heat that's making them cloying, or if it's the heroine's attitude. The only real hint I get of her dislike of pink (and therefore doubts about this wedding) is the word "smothered", which Jan says isn't really accurate.

Maybe her attitude has changed in revisions...but if it hasn't, is there some way you can review your word choices so that the cloying is shown here, as it is in your first version? To me, it was such a strong indication that Judith's wedding wasn't really of her own making.

Also, why do you repeat that it's not supposed to be hot in June in Cape Cod twice? How can you show this rather than tell? (A drop of sweat in her cleavage...the flowers wilting...the windows all open...)

liz fenwick said...

Great points have my mind whirling. thanks :-)

Julie Cohen said...

Hope it's not too much with your hangover. ;-)

Rowan Coleman said...

Liz good for you putting your first page out there! I find I usually rewrite mine right on the last knockings when the rest of the book is entirely finished, becuase that's when I know exactly how it should be - so I wouldn't be able to do this challenge. I like the writing in your first version better, the second is more pacey but you know as important as a first page is, there is always the second, third etc and you'd have write a really bad first page to discourage a reader not to give them a try!! I think what i'm saying is don't dwell on it too much - at least unitl you have written 300 more pages!Rx

liz fenwick said...

Hi Mel. Thanks for saying it was strong writing:-)

Fortunately the hangover was yesterday, Julie, and what you said made the old brain whirl some more.

Rowan, i can now see the advantage of rewriting the first page when it's all finished which last year I never would have. I loved my first - the 9th version is not too different from the first draft version. However I can now see that it doean't take you into the story as quickly or as actively as it should.....but it is only having rewritten this thing sooooooo many times. i am learning so much which is why I haven't just binned the damn thing yet:-)

ChrisH said...

Wading in - and congratulations for putting both versions out there - I prefer the first because it has a sense that you're really feeling what you are writing. In comparison V2 seems practised but, perhaps it's Julie who puts her finger on it, and it is to do with the clarity of the heroine's version in the first - but I think Rowan gets it right. Gawd! Hope this hasn't confused you more - my head is spinning with my rewrite!

HelenMH said...

I so love the first line of version 9 - the red toenails and the white lace is such a good image. But then I like the image of girls in their pink dresses in version 10. So I'm no help - except to say that you've obviously got great descriptive powers!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I like the first one better, but then I'm happy to have a slower build-up. I think the first one makes for a more interesting start, but then it makes you have to deal with the flashback to the wedding and the flashback to the situation with the terrifying screams.

Well done! Sounding very good indeed.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Isn't it amazing how the books we need suddenly arrive - a sort of the teacher comes when the student is ready moment. I'm afraid I was never much good at doing my morning pages but the Artist's Way is a brilliant book - so too, I understand is The Monk who Sold his Ferrari, though I've not yet read it.
And congratulations on the job offer!

liz fenwick said...

Gosh just great comments and they hava all had me thinking. I will be posting the chapter version ten link soon but am busy thinking about all the feedback. Now clearly |i need to find a way of bringing the freshness and intensity of version 9 into the pacier more immdeiate version ten......simple, hah!!!!

Thanks fro ur thought Chrish,Helenmh and Alyssa. Yes, Absolute Vanilla it is wonderful the way books 'walk' into your life at the right time :-)