Friday, August 7, 2009

First chapter. Tell me what you think!

It has been much too long since I've written on this blog! I've just been plodding away at my writing and nothing too exciting has happened to write about, but last night I went to my critique group and had one of those experiences that all writers go through.

I have gone through it every time I start a new book. It is my fellow writers telling me to drop the whole first chapter!

Now, this does not hurt my feelings in any way but it does put a knife through my chest! The knife of time, effort and brilliance. Yes, I'd thought my first chapter was brilliant, a wonderful hook. To my surprise, no one else thought so! (Which is common for many writers =)

This morning, I woke at 4:30 am, yes, bright and early and NOT normal, and went to work re-writing. It feels good to slash and delete, but I must admit that what I ended up with was so much better. Those little things I loved, that I cut, I'll have to add somewhere down the line if I want, but the first chapter I have now speeds right along . . . I think!

So, give me your opinion and let me know! I'm going to post it right here! It's not long so take a gander.

Chapter One of The Ivory Key

~My Arch Nemesis~

“I'm leaving in twenty minutes young lady and if you're not ready, you will not see another sporting event on TV for the rest of the summer!” Mom yelled from her room.

I hid my head under the pillow and analyzed my body. Did I feel sick? Was there any sign of a head ache? Was I about to throw up? Yes! Oh yes! I was sure I was about to throw up. Just the thought of putting on my horrible, pink dress—the only dress I owned, believe it or not—was enough to make me want to throw up! I rolled out of bed and crawled on my hands and knees to my mother's room which did require a bit of humility as I was fourteen years old, but I was desperate.

“Mom? Are you there?” I moaned from the floor, clutching my stomach.

She leaned over the bed, curlers in her hair, and frowned. “Get your rear end up and dressed right now, Ivy, or I swear, you'll never play soccer again!”

“Fine!” I said, standing. “You'll regret this when there's puke all over the floor.” I marched back to my room and flung open the closet. There in the back, taunting me with its beauty, was my arch nemesis—the dreaded pink dress. It looked innocent enough, but I knew as soon as I slipped it over my bony shoulders that I would be transformed into the girl I knew deep down I really was. I would also have to wear my black, patent leather shoes, nylons and maybe even a ribbon in my hair. I really was starting to feel sick.

Hanging on my closet was a full length mirror. I made a face and stuck out my tongue. I really should do something with that short, dark, mop of hair I had bobbed on top of my head. If I could just get rid of the curls, it would be so much better and my face—there was nothing to be done with my face. I was at that magical age when your body continues to change and zits morph onto your skin like long lost chickens come home to roost. It was hopeless.

Why didn't my brothers ever have to dress up and go visiting with Mom? It was a tradition I dreaded. Sighing, I leaned my head against the closet door and closed my eyes. There was no getting around it. I would have to get dressed. I raised a tentative hand and reached for the white, plastic hanger. The dress felt as light as a pair of swimming goggles as I took it from the rod where it hung. The silky material slipped easily from the hanger and into my hands as I unbuttoned the top. Making a face—as though I were reaching into the toilet for my favorite baseball that Basil, my baby brother, had thrown in—I pulled it over my head.

I yearned desperately for jeans and a pair of tennis shoes. I was an athlete for heaven's sake. I didn't have time for dresses, let alone pink ones! I stepped into the living room just as my mother reached for her purse. She looked up in surprise, her eyes softening at the sight of me.

“Oh Ivy. You look beautiful.” She stood back, appreciating the work of art I now was. “Even your hair looks nice. Thank you, dear.”

I followed behind, my head hanging, my heels clip clopping on the tile by the front door. One last glance behind me let me know what my three brothers and dad thought. They stifled their giggles until I shut the door, but I could still hear them.

I should have known that my life was about to be irrevocably altered. I was wearing a pink dress after all.


Sheila said...

Would you mind doing something for me? I really would like to read the 1st chapter the way you wrote it originally. I would like to compare the two. I know that I am not a great writer yet, but I am a "great" reader and read a heck of a lot of books. This will help me in my process of becoming a writer and also could help me give you a better opinion of your 1st chapter. Would you mind sending it to me?

Jeri said...

sounds good to me - but then again, I'm not an author -

Charlotte said...

I like it.

The thing about the dress being as light as a pair of swimming goggles seemed a little out of place to me, but that's the only thing I can say that I don't really like.

The end of the chapter made me really want to know what happens next. Also, I LOVE the picture I get in my head of the brothers and dad snickering as Ivy and her mom head out the door.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Yeah, I wondered about leaving that in. In some of the stuff I left out, she was really into sports and inserted it into everything she did, so before, it would have been normal for her to compare the weight of the goggles to the dress, but you're right, now it doesn't work the same.

Tash said...

i like it.. i agree about the goggles though.... but other than than it was good, i think i remember the first one you wrote.. and this is alot better :) miss you!

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