Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First 50 Words #18

TITLE: Infernal Combustion
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

"C*****, Karen, please. St--"

John gasped. His hand shot to his mouth, clasping it shut. He bit his tongue, puncturing the fibrous lump, feeling nothing. His eyes were wide, fearful. Empty, flat echoes licked his eardrums. The dark remained silent.

She waited until he released her knee before continuing.


  1. I have to admit I'm a little confused. I don't understand the ****s, I don't know whose POV we're in--I thought John but the next paragraph reads more like "she" is POV (Karen?). I feel disoriented. You have some good images, but I need something to ground them.

  2. Ditto Kathleen. I can't tell what's going on or whose head we're in. Also, some of this feels a little overwritten to me. I've never thought of a tongue as a "fibrous lump," and "Empty, flat echoes licked his eardrums" is a little over-the-top, methinks.

  3. (I should mention that the asterisks didn't confuse me. I assume he's taking the name of the Lord in vain, but that you used the asterisks because Authoress doesn't like language on her blog. (Yay for Authoress! I, for one, appreciate that.) Given the title, I'm wondering if John is some kind of demon who can't say the name of God...)

  4. I also figured what the asterisks were. More of a concern is why it starts that way, with that piece of dialogue? Perhaps you answer on the following pages. The follow up paragraphs do jump in two POVs, as mentioned, so that does have me head-hopping very early. Good Luck : )

  5. Yep, confusing POV. Also, the visual is a little confusing. He gasps then uses his own hand to close his mouth but somehow bites his tongue in the middle of all this? These actions don't seem to go together. And how does he know he punctures his tongue if he doesn't feel it? And seriously, how hard do you need to bite to puncture your tongue? I don't think this is something you can do just by shutting your own mouth by a gasp. Maybe you need to try to physically act this out so you can clean up the action (not the tongue-bitting part!)

    P.S. You're right about Authoress. She once replaced an entire chapter of mine with *****! :-)

  6. First, we don't know why he's gasping. It doesn't seem to be because of anything Karen did (he's the one grasping her knee)

    And then, as Holly pointed out, it is way overwritten.

    Who shuts their own mouth with their hand?
    Sit down, gnaw on your tongue and see how long it takes to puncture it.
    Echoes are the reverberation of sounds, but the room is silent, so where do the echoes come from?

    I was told once to act out my characters' actions, to stand up and say aloud what they said, and do what they did. Wave the hands, cock the eyebrows, make the gasps. Most times, it turned out really silly. I suggest you give a try. If you start to feel like what you're saying and doing is silly, it's time for a rewrite.

  7. Definitely reads confusing for me as well. I think the best bet for beginnings is to keep it fairly simple. You have to get the reader to trust you and lure them into the fictive dream. I had to read this passage a few times to try and understand what was going on.

  8. You lost me at "fibrous lump" - this sort of overwriting takes the reader out of the scene to process the phrase ... and "licked his eardrums" falls into the same category. Keep it simple and direct.