Friday, November 30, 2012

(44) MG Magical Realism: Dias de los Muertos: Days of the Dead

TITLE: Dias de los Muertos: Days of the Dead
GENRE: MG Magical Realism

When his abusive father dies, 13-year-old Fortunato learns of an ancient Aztec curse that kills off members of his family. Fortunato’s brother is taken by the vengeful ghost of a murdered Aztec woman and, desperate to save his brother, Fortunato races against time to try to pacify the angry spirit.

Uno

My Papi wore a heavy gold crucifix around his neck, so you would think we lived like kings. The relic was our family’s only treasure, though—a gift from times past. One evening when Papi was sober, I pointed to the ornate cross and asked him where it came from. He wrapped his fingers protectively around the crucifix and answered, “Nato, hundreds of years ago, one of our ancestors came to Mexico. This cross was a gift from a priest to help protect him.”

The necklace was meant to safeguard our ancient ancestor, but I’m not certain it worked because eventually he died and passed the necklace on to his son, who passed it on to his son, and so on. All the way to my Papi, and when we were living in bad neighborhoods, eating government cheese and pulling toys from the neighbors’ garbage, Papi couldn’t be persuaded to sell the crucifix. Even when he longed for a beer and had no money in his pockets, he kept the cross securely fastened around his neck.

“It keeps me safe, Nato,” he said to me once when I asked why he didn’t sell the gold necklace. “It protects me, and one day, it will protect you.”

Dos

We were all going hungry because Papi was missing again.

Mamá kept the rice and beans warm for hours as my siblings and I waited, hoping for the sake of our hunger to hear the front door squeak open.

25 comments:

  1. Love the setting and the setup! I'm totally curious about this cricifix and what it really means. A couple of nitpicks: Was that the end of the first chapter? If so, I'd like us to end with what Fortunato thinks of his dad's promise. And "government cheese" made me think of a Chris Farley sketch (but that's probably just me. :) Good luck! This sounds so fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really like this opening, it seems to be building up to a really cool plotline and I'm fascinated by the setting. My only worry is that some of the MC's narration/thoughts sound a little too adult to me here, but that may be intentional. Love this!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this and you do a great job of setting up mystery right from the start. My only suggestion is that you could cut the second sentence and it would flow better. It's not needed because Papi soon explains where the necklace comes from.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love this and you do a great job of setting up mystery right from the start. My only suggestion is that you could cut the second sentence and it would flow better. It's not needed because Papi soon explains where the necklace comes from.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really good job describing the setting and making me curious about the crucifix! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  6. A no-good father, an observant son, a mysterious gold crucifix: makings of a story that can go so many directions. For me though, the story seems to start again with the sentence, "We were all going hungry because Papi was missing again." Would it work, perhaps, to start here, then to circle back to describe how he is with the crucifix? Just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am hooked and would continue reading.

    Agree with Elaine about wanting Nato's reaction to Papi's comment about the protective nature of the crucifix. Especially considering the irony of the statement--given that the father is an abusive alcoholic, it sounds like the crucifix isn't doing a good job of keeping either of them safe at the moment.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I really enjoyed this scene. I love family curses and the premise sounds exciting. I thought you did a great jo of presenting an authentic voice. I do agree with someone before me. I think if you start with the line about Papi missing again it will really WOW any reader. Then you can dive into the history of the crucifix. Someone mentioned that the MC sounded a little to old - I actually liked it becuase it gave the sense that the MC is someone used to having to take care of the family, some one that had to grow up to fast.
    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I really like this. I love the character of the father and his determination to hold onto the crucifix, even though the family is starving. The voice is excellent and suggests the rhythms of the Spanish language. I identified with your young viewpoint character and wanted to find out more. I like that you use Nato is the nickname for Fortunato.

    You mention that Papi was drunk but there's no hint that he's abusive in this first page. I wonder if you could quickly give us the idea that he isn't always nice to Nato or maybe that Nato is a little afraid of him sometimes.

    One nitpick: When you say "we were all going hungry" it implies long term deprivation. But you were just trying to tells us we were hungry because Mama was holding dinner until Papi got there.

    Small suggestions for the logline: I think kidnapped would a stronger word than "taken."

    I suggest you lose "desperate to save his brother" and rewrite the last sentence to read: Fortunato races against time to pacify the angry spirit and save his brother.

    Can't wait to read this one.

    Great work.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I like this a lot. Nato has a fluid voice that casts a bit of a spell over you. I can see reading on to see where this is going.

    I don’t have a problem with starting your story with the cross since it’s the crux of what will ultimately drive the narrative. Still, I understand the argument that you’re starting and then starting again. Have you experimented with working this piece in later? I’d try it that way, too, and see if it works. So much of writing is trying different things, and being willing to let the elements speak to you to say what has to be.

    I do think you can tighten up a bit of this to make it stronger. Cut “though” in the second line. You refer to the cross in some way five times in the six lines of your opening paragraph, and surely that’s overkill. This comes up again, and again in your first chapter. Your reader gets it.

    In the second paragraph, I think you’d be better off breaking your sentences differently, and doing a bit of paring down: “The necklace was meant to safeguard our ancient ancestor, but I’m not certain it worked because eventually he died and passed the necklace on to his son, who passed it on to his son, and so on. All the way to my Papi. When we were living in bad neighborhoods, eating government cheese and pulling toys from neighbors’ garbage, Papi couldn’t be persuaded to sell the crucifix. Even when he longed for a beer and had no money in his pockets.”
    I agree with a previous comment that the phrase “we were going hungry” implies long term starvation, rather than the fact that dinner’s on hold. I’m sure there’s more to come with this section, but word count prevents it.

    You just need to take an editor’s pen to take out overuse, but I think this has good flavor.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow! This was awesome!!

    Just one minor criticism: "We were all going hungry because Papi was missing again"--I thought Papi had been kidnapped, he'd been kidnapped before, and that's why the kids were without food (because the provider was missing).

    Overall, fantastic!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is truly the most visceral piece of writing I've come across in a while. I'm fascinated with the curse and empathetic to Nato's abusive situation. The line about the cheese and toys made my heart hurt. I love the cultural FEEL of it, and I feel like I'm on the inside of it, not staring in.

    I really love this.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm not reading previous comments, so if anything I say is redundant, I apologize.

    I like this concept, and I'm a sucker for curses. Your writing flows well, and I particularly loved the image of "eating government cheese." That's the sort of adjective use that separates the writing sheep from the writing lambs.

    One thing: the repetition of cross, crucifix, and necklace was a bit much. I think you could vary word choices more, and excise some of the crosses out.

    Best of luck tomorrow. I'll have my fingers crossed for you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I really like everything about this voice, compelling and grabs from the beginning. Only one nitpick, why straight to Dos. Comes to fast I think. Otherwise spot on, hope you do well tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Super cool! I've always been intrigued with Dias de los Muertos!!! Yay! And you've got a nice, smooth MG voice! Double yay! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    50!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    130!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Lost my focus! Nice job.

    ReplyDelete
  19. BIDDING ON THIS ITEM IS NOW CLOSED.

    ReplyDelete
  20. As entrants, we're supposed to remain quiet on our entries and accept the critiques and comments that come in, and I'm fine with that, but even if no one sees this post, I really feel that I must thank all of you. Your feedback and insights have helped to strengthen Nato's story, and simply saying thank you doesn't seem enough to repay each of you for the gifts you've given me, but it's a start. Thank you. Muchismas gracias.

    ReplyDelete
  21. World's Most Popular Cars, Hot Speed Cars, Hot Cars with Hot Girls, Cars Latest Pictures with all info, Latest updates Cars Models and Company Cars, Strange Vehicles, Concept Cars, Top 10 Expensive Cars in the World.
    Visit this Link for More Strange Vehicles and Cars with Latest info and Pictures
    WorldLatestVehicles.com

    ReplyDelete