Tuesday, 13 September 2011

'“Maybe she’s got concussion!” The boy who yelled this out did it with the same excitement he might have felt suggesting he’d won a free holiday.'

So, after stating yesterday that I finished the first draft of my WIP 'Raven's Keep' I decided on a whim that I would post the opening section of it here, because I'm desperate for any feedback I can get. When I say first draft, I mean overall first draft- the section I'm posting has in fact been edited several times. However, I'm feeling pretty vulnerable right now, so if you think it's crap, please find a constructive way of telling me! The story in a nutshell is about a teenage girl who wakes up in a strange town to find that she has amnesia and no one knows who she is. It is a gothic/urban fantasy with a bit of a murder mystery thrown in. Hope you like!

Chapter one:

 “Do you think she’s ok?”
“What do I look like, a bloody mind reader?”
“What happened?”
Yellow dots played on her eyelids like a million tap-dancing ants.
“No idea. One minute I’m walking down the street, next thing I know she’s lying there, unconscious.”
“You don’t think she’s dead?”
Too much noise filled the air. She wanted to pull the covers over her head and shut the sounds out. Where had all of the voices come from?
 “Nah, I checked her pulse. Look, you can see her breathing.”
The dots were growing more insistent. The patter of ants had turned into needles.
“Make way, make way.
She could just make out the clucked muttering that comes from a crowd being jostled about as someone shoves through.
“For goodness sake everyone. I’m here now. I’ll deal with this.”
Her eyelids twitched. The needles were trying to pry them open. She had begun to sense the people forming a semi circle around her; to feel the bumpiness of the ground beneath her body. Where was she?
“Now.” The same bossy voice came again, nearer this time. “What is going on?”
“It’s like she appeared from nowhere. She’s still alive, but I dunno what’s wrong.” She recognised the voice- it was one of the first people who had spoken. A man who sounded like he talked from the bottom of his throat.
“And you didn’t think to get me straight away?”
“We thought you were in your office.”
“Yes, well. That’s why we have mobile phones now, isn’t it?”
A silence prickled the atmosphere before the bossy voice continued: “how long has she been lying here?” 
“Not long,” another person said. “Do you think she should go to the hospital?”
Cora opened her eyes.
She blinked in the sunlight as the dots continued to make things blurry, and realised her view was obscured by what looked like a crimson mop. She blinked again and the vision reshaped itself into the hair atop a woman’s head. The face below it was middle-aged and fleshy, with several layers of loose powder that made Cora think of uncooked pizza dough. She blinked again. The woman’s eyes came into focus; diluted blue and ringed with eyeliner.
“Everyone stand back!” It was the bossy voice, Cora realised. The woman was ‘bossy voice.’ She kneeled in the dirt beside Cora, her legs protected from the ground by a shabby tweed jacket that didn’t look like it belonged to her. “The stranger is awake.”
“Who are you?” The words popped out of Cora before anything else came to mind, but a second later an onslaught of more important questions rushed at her. What was going on? Where was she? How had she got there? Too many thoughts buzzed in Cora’s head like a frantic swarm of bees.    
The woman pressed her lips together. “I was going to ask you the same question. You’re the one who was lying unconscious in the street.”
Cora stared at her, trying to focus. The woman wore a tailored, striped navy suit with shoulder pads. Silver earrings hung like church bells through the woman’s short hair, brushing the shoulder pads as though the entire outfit was one, connected system. Everyone else stood slightly back from the woman, and Cora realised that they all knew whom the woman was. She turned her attention to the crowd. No one looked familiar. Teenage boys drawn by the commotion. Mothers with toddlers. Shop keepers who had left their stores unattended to find out what was going on. All were strangers. Cora twisted her head and saw that she was lying on the cobbled ground of a town square. Even now people exited the green grocer’s, the newsagent’s, the butcher’s, distracted by the sight of a crowd on such a sleepy, sunny day.
Despite the gathering it was quiet. The cobbles stretched from one side of shops to the opposite row, leaving no road for any cars to get through, had there been any cars.
Cora struggled to sit up, feeling awkward under all of the attentive eyes. Immediately a headache threatened to rip open her skull.
“Are you ok?” A mother asked, her grip tightening on her child as he began to slip in her distracted hold.
“I’m fine.” Cora massaged at her forehead. She was fine, she told herself. She just needed to…get away. A strange snapping sound brought her back to the moment at hand.
“Now look at me.” Even the birds seemed to quiet down when Bossy Woman clicked her fingers. “What’s your name?”
“Cora.” It sounded strange on her tongue. “Cora,” she tried again.
“Cora?” Bossy Woman lifted an eyebrow.
“That’s it.”
“Don’t be stupid. Your wits aren’t addled now, are they? Or perhaps you fell on your head. You must have a last name.”
Cora felt her chest tighten as though breathing had become harder. “I…I don’t remember.”
“Are you hurt anywhere?” Someone else called out.
“I don’t think so.” Cora turned over her slender arms, examining both front and back, but the pale, freckled skin was clear of cuts or bruises.
“Maybe she’s got concussion!” The boy who yelled this out did it with the same excitement he might have felt suggesting he’d won a free holiday.
“I’m fine.” Cora didn’t know why she felt the need to hide her headache. Perhaps it was because all of the crowd were staring at her as though she’d fallen from the sky.
BW rose to her feet and held out a manicured hand that looked like chunky chips dipped in blobs of ketchup. As she waved it in Cora’s face, Cora caught a whiff of disinfectant. “Get up,” BW said, her fingers twitching when Cora hesitated. “I’m taking you to the hospital. Now.”
With shaking arms, Cora pushed herself upwards, ignoring the proffered aid. BW dropped her arm as though it had failed her and she would like nothing more to do with it.
“Um…no thank you,” Cora said, brushing dirt off herself and avoiding looking at the crowd. Their gazes made her stomach churn, on top of everything else.
“Don’t be stupid and stop wasting my time,” BW said. “You need to be checked for any damages and then I need to phone your parents.”
“My parents?”
“Of course. How old are you anyway? You don’t look much more than seventeen.”
“I… I don’t know.” Cora rubbed at her head again. It still sparked as though a firework was banging about inside of it.
“Oh, for goodness sake, never mind.” BW clutched at Cora’s hand before Cora could shake it off. “We’ll sort it all out once you’ve been checked over.” She turned to the crowd. “Everyone, get back about your day. This isn’t a spectator sport.”
As the crowd dispersed Cora felt the tightness of her chest begin to loosen. “Thanks for that,” she said, as BW began to march her down the street. “How come they listen to you?”
 “Are you actually saying you don’t know who I am? I’m the Mayor of the town of Raven’s Keep. Mayor Winter.”
“Oh.” Cora bit her lip. The town’s name was unfamiliar. “Where’s that?”
“Right here.” BW paused and grabbed Cora’s shoulders, digging her nails through Cora’s t-shirt. She looked at Cora with a solemn expression, yet her eyes seemed to glitter. “You don’t know where you are or how you got here, do you?”
Cora shrugged, not knowing, even as she did it, why her instinct was to try and downplay everything. “I’m just a bit…confused.”
Cora jerked backwards, out of BW’s hands. “I’m…Cora. And by the way-” she massaged her shoulders “-I’m not deaf.”
BW smiled. “Let’s just get you to the hospital.”

So, there you have it. Remember, I'm DESPERATE for feedback, so any thoughts you have, negative or positive, are appreciated. Too confusing? Over written? Anything else??? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me!!!!


prerna pickett said...

it's a good start! Have you thought about starting the beginning with her slowly waking and then hearing the voices? Like 'the ground dug into her back with yellow dots playing on her lids like...distant voices began to emerge from the fog and too much noise began to fill her ears'. Just a suggestion, and obviously you can word it however you want. I like that you jump right into the action, the reader begins the journey with the MC rather than feeling like a whole lot of info has just been dumped on them. One other thing might be to cut some of the dialogue ( I have the exact same problem with my story, my characters talk way too much) I personally like more character interaction but you could add a little bit more description as the characters talk to break it up so it doesn't seem like everyone's talking all at once. I'm intrigued by your premise and I definitely want to know more. Keep up the good work!

Eleanor at Mirror Of My World said...

i love the way you use imagery... the hands like chips dipped in ketchup, the ants etc, but i agree there is a little too much dialogue. however its really well written and you start wondering all about ravens keep.. :) i also liked the humourous aspect. but perhaps, cut some of dialogue.. xxxxxx very good chary, i want to read more now!!