Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are You Hooked? Entry #4

TITLE: Spider Silk
GENRE: High Fantasy (mostly; think Narnia -- Earth kid goes to another world)

I slouched in my chair and stared at the puckered white line on the back of my hand. The clock ticked. Rustling pages chased each other across the therapist’s desk. Every so often, a pen squeaked against Dr. Rush’s lined yellow notebook.

We looked up at the same time; the doctor’s glasses reflected my eyes, and his greying eyebrows arched above the frames.

I dropped my gaze to the stack of paper on the desk. A hundred forty-two pages of memories no one believed.

“Well,” Dr. Rush said.

I didn’t say anything, which happened at a lot of my therapy sessions.

“Well.” Dr. Rush leaned his seat back and propped his feet up on the desk. His bony ankles peeked out from his old-man shoes. He pursed his lips. “It’s done then."

I half-shrugged a shoulder. “Five years… Don’t know what more I can do with it.”

“Ah, yes.” The old-man shoes bobbed up and down on the desk, ruffling the top sheets on the pile. “Today is the anniversary. Five years since…”

 “Since that,” I said through gritted teeth, nodding at the stack of paper.

 “Right,” said Dr. Rush. “Not your kidnapping. Your disappearance into another world. The ‘Toppling Kingdom’. And David, I’m not being condescending. If you believe this…” He gestured at the papers. “I’ll believe too. However, this account did leave me with some questions.” He smiled thinly. “Do you mind?”

 “Of course not,” I said under my breath. “You’re a shrink. I expect it by now.”


  1. This is interesting. It makes me wonder if the account of the other-wordly travels will be a sort of re-telling, after the fact. I'd read on further to hear more about the "Toppling Kingdom" :)

  2. This is awesome. I really only have one critique—"I expect it by now." sounds out of place, with the rest of the voice. Too formal and clipped, especially following the informal 'You're a shrink.' Maybe just "I expect it."? I don't know…that still sounds a bit stiff…just some sort of reword that matches. =)

    Great, great job with this. Goes without stating, but I'm hooked. ^_^

  3. Hooked! Because of your note by the genre, I caught on to what all the pages were quickly, and I got excited. Such a neat idea starting it after it's all happened!

    I had nothing to complain about until I reached this:

    "Five years since…”

    “Since that,” I said through gritted teeth, nodding at the stack of paper."

    And all the below. It felt distinctly, to me, like they were talking about it for the benefit of the reader. Would words be necessary after all the talking they'd already done? The Dr.'s line "Today is the anniversary." was self-explanatory enough for me. I'm thinking the details about what the world is called and all that jazz could be saved until later.

    But all that aside, I'd definitely read on! Nice job.

  4. I have no complaints. I'm totally hooked. I might be biased because I love Narnia, but this opening would totally have gotten me even without the Narnia comment on the genre. I love-love-love it.

  5. Definitely hooked!

    I have a couple small things that I noticed, but none of them are really a big deal--

    I'm assuming the "puckered white line" is a scar. It's a nice descriptor, but it threw me off a bit. I think that here, simpler might be better.

    I don't really see pens as "squeaking" against paper when writing--scratching if they have nibs, maybe, but not squeaking.

    I think the sentence, "We looked up at the same time; the doctor’s glasses reflected my eyes, and his greying eyebrows arched above the frames", would be more effective if you split it up into two sentences. I don't think the semicolon works here quite as well as a period would. I think if you put one sentence afterward about the reaction of your MC (disconcerted, uncomfortable, whatever), then you could combine the next paragraph (about your MC dropping his gaze) with this one, which I think would improve the flow. (If I'm not making any sense, it'd be something like this: "We looked up at the same time. The doctor’s glasses reflected my eyes, and his greying eyebrows arched above the frames. Feeling uncomfortable, I dropped my gaze to the stack of paper on the desk. A hundred forty-two pages of memories no one believed.") Also, props for using "grey" instead of "gray"; "grey" is my favorite. =)

    For this sentence: "I didn’t say anything, which happened at a lot of my therapy sessions". I think the last clause could be better worded as "which happened a lot during my therapy sessions", but that's just a matter of personal preference.

    Your MC seems to be pretty disaffected during most of the exchange (not talking, half-shrugging), but then this came along: "'Since that,' I said through gritted teeth, nodding at the stack of paper." To me, this feels like an abrupt shift of emotion and I'm not quite sure why it happened.

    That's pretty much it. They're nitpicky things and mostly a matter of personal preference. You did really well with the dialogue and the action, and I would definitely read on. Great job!

  6. Thanks guys! ^^ And if any others want to critique it yet, go ahead. ;) You're more than welcome to. I just thought I'd address some of the comments so far.

    The thing about this story is that it's NOT a retelling of when David Archer (the MC) first goes to the Toppling Kingdom. The book revolves around the time introduced here, five years AFTER the fact, when everybody in his town thinks he's delusional (as is implied by starting in a therapist's office. XD). His worst enemy shows up and claims that things in the Toppling Kingdom are worse than ever, and the two of them are now on the same side. And she brings him back. >:)

    His first trip might be in a prequel later on (possibly under the premise that it is the book HE has written here) but for now I'd like Book 1 to be mostly self-contained.

    The problem is doing that without making the reader feel like they're missing something. -_- Which is why I thought a set-up like this, in the therapist's office, could introduce a few key elements that the reader will need to know. Obviously, since a few of you mentioned that it felt weird, them talking about things they both already know, I'll need to work on avoiding my author intrusions some more. ;) Thanks!

    &, @Amanda: What about something like "It's kind of a given" rather than "I expect it by now". Better?

    Thanks again, guys!

  7. @SP—"It's kind of a given." = MUCH better! =) And I assumed it was from this point onward, which would be my preference as a reader. *doesn't like reading things 'after the fact'* Sounds AWESOME AWESOMESAUCE. 8D *wants to read* I didn't feel like I was missing anything, just btw. As long as all the pertinent info is filled in as needed, we be fine. ^_^

  8. I'm hooked! Interesting excerpt and and an interesting idea! I think everyone else has covered everything I was going to say.

    One thing I noticed was that Dr Rush puts his feet on the desk in the excerpt. To me, that seems a little unprofessional, considering he's with a client. Although, perhaps because they've been seeing each other for 5 years, they're comfortable with that?

  9. @Amanda: If you'd like, you can critique the whole thing for me once I get it more polished. XD I'm working on the second, 'major rewrite' draft now (without looking at the rough draft, so we'll see how this goes, and how many things I forget. XD)... But I really do love this story. The rough draft's been around for a couple years, and it just keeps grabbing onto me. You haven't even met the AWESOME character yet.

    Viss Arach. David's former enemy. The female assassin and medieval equivalent of Spider-man. *bounces up and down in her seat* 8D

    @Matthew: Dr. Rush is a pretty casual guy. :) I like that about him, even though he only gets one scene in the entirety of Book 1. XD And yeah, he and David have been seeing each other for a while. They kind of have an understanding. ;)

  10. Oh, oops. These... Were supposed to be anonymous, weren't they. *headdeskfailfacepalm*

    Thank you all for your help anyway. XD *crawls away, shamed*

  11. This has a decent voice and reads smoothly.

    I hiccuped a bit when I got to the last 2 paragraphs. There is something a bit awkward about the doctor's dialogue; particularly when he says "not your kidnapping," which is a kind of clunky way of hinting at something we're going to need to know later. You might try reading that entire paragraph out loud to see what it sounds like.

    In the last line of dialogue, the MC wouldn't be talking "under his breath" if he's answering a direct question. Maybe you mean for him to answer, then say something under his breath to himself. That might work better, though, if you use italicized internal dialogue.

    This is a good start; overall your writing is clean.

    Good work!

  12. I like David. I would definitely read more. The interaction between him and his therapist is amusing because the therapist doesn't believe him and David seems kind of resigned to this.