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Should I Start By Showing This Scene Instead? (1 Viewer)

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I've been thinking about my opener and whilst I think it's good, it merely sets up a question to be answered rather than starting with action. If I flip these two paragraphs and 'show' the second paragraph, then I can start with action and lead into the question. It lengthens the beginning before we get into the actual story but I think it could be more a 'grabber' than what I have. What are your thoughts. Ignore the writing. It's the switching of scenes I'm focused on here:

Empty and beaten, Arthur Blake trembled at the table in the sodium light of the interrogation room, and rambled: “There are whispers in my head. They’re coming … they’re coming for us all.” He sipped coffee from a polystyrene cup, cradled in shaky hands. A ceiling fan whirred and ticked, cooled the sweat coating Arthur’s empty face. The antiseptic vapour of wet-wipes stung the air. Lost for a while to the leisurely swirl of steam from his cup, he finally hoisted up his head, gazed at the three officers present, one incredulous expression after the next.

He’d been arrested an hour earlier, as he staggered down Main Street into oncoming cars, oblivious of the fists, hoots and hollers of Saturday traffic. Dishevelled, with blood on his shirtsleeve and smeared across his cheek, he ranted into the swell of noise. For anyone who would listen; anyone who would believe. After the officers bundled him into the police car, the homily continued, torment in his pale blue eyes.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
I agree. The first paragraph is a much better opener. In fact, I'd drop the second and scatter its info throughout the interrogation.

I think "There are whispers in my head" is your opening line and "They're coming for us all" is the closer of the paragraph.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I agree. The first paragraph is a much better opener. In fact, I'd drop the second and scatter its info throughout the interrogation.

I think "There are whispers in my head" is your opening line and "They're coming for us all" is the closer of the paragraph.

I'll be removing 'and rambled' from that eventually. I don't know why it's stuck around so long. So you think the interrogation room IS a good opener? I'd rewrite that second paragraph to make it more action orientated. I wouldn't just flip them as they are.

As an opening line: 'Empty and beaten ...' (whilst in an interrogation room) could be problematic I think. It suggests he's been beaten by the police when I want it to suggest dishevelled/and thwarted by events.
 

Selorian

Patron
I agree with MistWolf.

Simply doing some rearranging of the first paragraph as an example...


“There are whispers in my head.” [/FONT]Empty and beaten, Arthur Blake trembled at the table in the sodium light of the interrogation room. [FONT=&Verdana]He sipped coffee from a polystyrene cup, cradled in shaky hands. A ceiling fan whirred and ticked, cooled the sweat coating Arthur’s empty face. The antiseptic vapour of wet-wipes stung the air. Lost for a while to the leisurely swirl of steam from his cup, he finally hoisted up his head, gazed at the three officers present, one incredulous expression after the next. "They’re coming … they’re coming for us all."
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I agree with MistWolf.

Simply doing some rearranging of the first paragraph as an example...

I'd considered that but is 'whispers in my head' really a strong first sentence? I know it's short and leads immediately into the guts of it but I'd flipped it so I could get straight to the character and some element of his feelings/mental state.

edit: I also just realised, it should be two separate paragraphs. I'd removed some dialogue from later in the paragraph so there's no need for the description to be associated with it:

Changed 'beaten' to 'defeated':

Empty and defeated, Arthur Blake trembled at the table in the sodium light of the interrogation room. “There are whispers in my head. They’re coming … they’re coming for us all.”

He sipped coffee from a polystyrene cup, cradled in shaky hands. A ceiling fan whirred and ticked, cooled the sweat coating Arthur’s empty face. An antiseptic vapour of wet-wipes stung the air. Lost for a while to the steam from the cup, he finally raised his head and gazed at the three officers present, one incredulous expression after the next.
 

Selorian

Patron
I'd considered that but is 'whispers in my head' really a strong first sentence? I know it's short and leads immediately into the guts of it but I'd flipped it so I could get straight to the character and some element of his feelings/mental state.

Fair point about 'whispers'. Simply flipping them doesn't appeal to me because it doesn't carry the same impact at the end, but it's just my opinion.

Maybe...

“Their voices are whispers in my head.”

or...

“Their voices are in my head.”

Whatever you figure out, I think you are right about it being a better opening than the original order.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
Starting with "There are whispers in my head" shows why the police (and the reader) should question the character's grasp on reality. It gives "They're coming for us all" more punch. It explains why Arthur has been arrested and shows the whispers really affect him. It confirms Arthur a half step out of sync with the world around him and puts the pistol on the mantel in the first sentence. You get a lot of mileage by making it the first sentence.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Fair point about 'whispers'. Simply flipping them doesn't appeal to me because it doesn't carry the same impact at the end, but it's just my opinion.

Maybe...

“Their voices are whispers in my head.”

or...

“Their voices are in my head.”

Whatever you figure out, I think you are right about it being a better opening than the original order.

Yeah, I think it's a strong enough opener but 'strong enough' was bothering me. I want it to be 'STRONG'. I thought Elbow Deep was problematic to write but this damned thing has me tied in knots. I'm STILL not happy with the voice and I think I know why. In Elbow Deep, MotherHUD and Coats for Wings, I was in the protagonist's head and using words to describe the scenes that they'd use. This gave me a definite idea of who the protagonist was. But in this story, I'm just writing it with MY voice and for some reason I'm not connecting in the same way I connected in the first three stories.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Starting with "There are whispers in my head" shows why the police (and the reader) should question the character's grasp on reality gives "They're coming for us all" more punch. It explains why Arthur had been arrested and that the whispers really affect him. It confirms Arthur a half step out of sync with the world around him and puts the pistol on the mantel in the first sentence. You get a lot of mileage out of it making it the first sentence.

OK, that is definitely a good point. At least I've established I'm not going to flip the paragraphs and stick with my gut feelings towards the opener. Progress!
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
I find "whispers in my head" creepier than "voices in my head". Voices are up front, center stage and undeniable. Whispers are suggestions coming from the edges of awareness and impossible to pin down.

In the end, voices will say "you got us caught, moron". Whispers abandon you, leaving you to wonder if they were ever there, with a faint chuckle of schadenfrade. Yes, whispers is a strong opener.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I find "whispers in my head" creepier than "voices in my head". Voices are up front, center stage and undeniable. Whispers are suggestions coming from the edges of awareness and impossible to pin down.

In the end, voices will say "you got us caught, moron". Whispers abandon you, leaving you to wonder if they were ever there, with a faint chuckle of schadenfrade. Yes, whispers is a strong opener.

Whispers is what they are though. They're suggestions of voice entering the subconscious mind of Arthur and not actually audible. Like loud thoughts, so to speak.

Here's revision 25 (no really ...)

Empty and defeated, Arthur Blake trembled at the table in the sodium light of the interrogation room. “There are whispers in my head. They’re coming … they’re coming for us all.”

A ceiling fan whirred and ticked, cooled the sweat coating Arthur’s empty face. The tang of disinfectant stung the air. He sipped coffee from a polystyrene cup, cradled in shaky hands. Lost for a while to the steam from the cup, he finally raised his head and gazed at the three officers present, one incredulous expression after the next.
 
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TheMightyAz

Senior Member

He's not actually hearing anything. He's literally got the memories of Heather and because they're now his, he hears them described in Heather's voice in the same way you'd hear the voice of a character you've created. The whispers begin to trouble the villagers but I've not got to that section in the story yet. Imagine you're alone at night and you 'think' you heard something but it was actually only in your head. Like that feeling someone is stood behind you.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
I know I'm not supposed to comment on the wording yet but I HATE the 'wet-wipes'. I associate those with diapering babies and the little moist-towelettes for 'washing' hands. Seriously just say 'disinfectant'. You can smell that, it's fairly universal. Or 'bleach', that even has a sort of threatening connotation in crime and punishment.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
He's not actually hearing anything. He's literally got the memories of Heather and because they're now his, he hears them described in Heather's voice in the same way you'd hear the voice of a character you've created. The whispers begin to trouble the villagers but I've not got to that section in the story yet. Imagine you're alone at night and you 'think' you heard something but it was actually only in your head. Like that feeling someone is stood behind you.

... and when you turn around, there's no one there.

I like it
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I know I'm not supposed to comment on the wording yet but I HATE the 'wet-wipes'. I associate those with diapering babies and the little moist-towelettes for 'washing' hands. Seriously just say 'disinfectant'. You can smell that, it's fairly universal. Or 'bleach', that even has a sort of threatening connotation in crime and punishment.

OK, you've convinced me! I'll change it. :)

The tang of disinfectant stung the air
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I might as well deal with the second paragraph (now the third). This is showing right? I know it start with 'he'd been arrested an hour earlier' but, to me, it's still showing in the way I've written it:

He’d been arrested an hour earlier, as he staggered down Main Street into oncoming cars, oblivious of the fists, hoots and hollers of Saturday traffic. Dishevelled, with blood on his shirtsleeve and smeared across his cheek, he ranted into the swell of noise. For anyone who would listen; anyone who would believe. After the officers bundled him into the police car, the homily continued, torment in his pale blue eyes.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
To me, it comes across as a flashback.

I'd like to see this info revealed during the interrogation.

"We picked you up staggering into incoming oncoming traffic. Were you trying to get yourself killed?"

"Why did those blokes beat you? What did you do?"

"I don't know! I tried to warn them but they wouldn't listen. They were shouting, then some boy in the back threw a bottle of water. That's when the blows fell. That's all I remember- that and the awful din! Then I found myself here. What time is it? I'm supposed to meet..."

"Who?"

"I don't remember!"

"Was it Heather? You were mumbling something about Heather when we found you."

Arthur dropped his hands. "Who's Heather?"
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
... and when you turn around, there's no one there.

I like it

I'm going to have to give away the premise of the story here because otherwise it's not going to make sense. I'm not sure there are spoiler tags on this site so if you don't want to know, don't read. I'll include spoiler tags just in case they work:

The main theme behind Apparition is 'punishment' and 'justice'. I'm playing off the 'believe all women' mantra we often hear but giving both sides of the story. We know that Heather (the Apparition) was wronged and people ignored the signs. That lead to her murder and the hanging of her husband (punishment/Justice?). The Reverend makes a good point when he says 'You can't convict a person on suspicions alone', but that's little recompense for Heather who was killed.

Arthur is persuaded reluctantly by Rev. but still harbours bad feeling because he now 'feels' the pain of Heather having linked with her. That's the reason he grieves in two different ways. One for himself (at the grave) and once for Heather (in the barn).

The Rev. decides to use Heather as a punishment for anyone stepping out of line. At first it's a farmer who is WRONGLY accused of abuse. They build a cage on wheels and attach ropes either side. Then they pull the accused into Heather, thus making him 'feel' the pain of the victim. The idea being that he will understand her pain and so stop abusing his wife. But he hasn't been abusing his wife, and that sets off a chain reaction.

They begin using this punishment for all sorts of misdemeanours, building up negative energy around the village. What's more, the villagers begin to enjoy it, gathering to watch as the next 'punished' is hauled into Heather. Another Apparition appears: the husband hanging in the tree. Once there are two apparitions, they begin to communicate. it's this communication that becomes the 'whispers', slowly turning the villagers insane, leading to more punishments just for their pleasure. And of course even more apparitions appear and so forth.

The village goes crazy, attacking anyone and punishing anyone for the smallest thing. They enjoy it.

It's an allegory.
 
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MistWolf

Senior Member
Interesting concept.

Just take the parts of my advice that's useful (if any). The dialogue I wrote is just a way of showing what I suggest.
 

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