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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The First Page

The period between handing a draft to the beta-readers for chewing, and the time when they hand back the gnawed, sodden, destroyed copy is nerve-wracking. Ask anybody. You either sit there chewing your nails and compulsively checking your in-box every three minutes or you find something else to write.

Starting on another novel right now is a Bad Idea. I can juggle multiple projects, but they have to be vastly different. A fantasy short story while I work a military sci-fi novel is doable (although not always advised). And, yes, I have Even Villains Fall in Love waiting in the wings for an ending, but I seem to have hit a snag there and don't know what went wrong.

So I started free writing. The first writing I've done in weeks. Both ideas have potential, so I'm making you decide. Which of these first pages makes you want to see the rest of the story?

Random Unnamed Project #1

"Tell me again why we're doing this?" Jake asked as he shoved the gate shut. Behind him a white stallion reared in protest.

Captain Trede wiped sweat out of his eyes. "Because of the money. Same reason we do everything."

"Money. Right." Jake eyed the mad creature dubiously. "Aren't horses bad luck?"

"Luck? When'd you ever believe in luck? You don't even play cards."

"So? I hear stories. These things are killers. They.. they..." Jake dredged up memories of the stories told in the boys' bunk house after dark back in the creche. "They drag you into the water and drown you. Or they turn in to a beautiful woman and drown you. Or... look, they're man-eaters. Vicious killers."

"It's a horse," Trede said. "It eats, something. I dunno. The suit having him shipped paid good money to set up the feed stalls. All we have to do is fly nice and slow so the pony doesn't panic, land nice and slow, and let them get their man-eating horse for themselves while we walk away with a ton of cash."

Jake licked his lips. "How much cash?"

"Enough for us to take a vacation on a core planet."


"Or replace the bent landing gear, buy a few guns, and update the early warning system."

He sneered. "I'd rather take the vacation."

"To bad you work on salary. Make sure the feed and enviros are set up correct, them hie your aft end to the nav station."

"Aye, sir."

Unnamed Random Project #2
“Do you know what I hate most about you?” Geir Abernon leaned under the lintel of my forge with a cold smile.

He was a cold man, in the literal sense. The Abern Gens were cold-mongers. For a few coins they’d charm your house to keep cool in the summer. For gold they would freeze your enemy’s heart at banquet.

Even as Geir stepped inside the sweltering heat in front of the great fire cooled to a fine spring day. I wasn’t sure if he did it on purpose, or if he just couldn’t control his power well enough to stop himself.

I turned back to the sword I was forging. “With all my many attributes to choose from, how could you pick only one?”

He chuckled, and dragged one browned finger down the center of the molten metal. It crackled under his touch.

“Did you have to do that?” I growled. Now I’d have to toss the sword as dross, or imbue it with magic to keep it from breaking. I hated magic in swords, it was a child’s trick.

“Here you are, passing the centuries in the forge,” Geirs said as if he hadn’t heard me. “Never turning your power to wealth. Never joining with any Gens. Standing alone, forever the untouchable ice maiden.”

Ribbons of raw power climbed up my body, I channeled them away from me, rearranging my hair and brushing away soot as I did.

Geir watched with cold eyes. “The ice maiden made of fire. Ever the contrary one, aren’t you.”


  1. The first one felt more, I don't know, real? Does that make sense? Like I got more of an idea of the characters and the the world. Which is weird for me because I'm usually drawn to first person over third. I'd read more of the third person excerpt, for sure.

    I guess I just don't care enough yet about the first person narrator in the second excerpt, so it made settling into the world that much more difficult.

    Hope that helps!

  2. And we have one vote on Twitter for the second excerpt. I love conflict!

  3. Much as I love horses, I'm going with #2.

  4. Second one! Second one!