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Another NaNo Update... Opening

As mentioned in my last post, I have typed up my new NaNo opening for all of you to read and give me some pointers. It's entirely different from the last opening I posted because, upon further contemplation, it was a boring beginning. I mean, it was alright, but it wasn't something that made me want to read any further. This version hopefully turns out better on that front.

Anyways, just so you know, I've also changed the first name of my main character from Estelle to Natalie. I like the old-timey feel of Estelle, but it got cumbersome while writing so out it went. Natalie is the new name. I haven't quite decided if my character is actually a Natalie, but we'll see as the writing continues.

And without further ado......

With her feet planted firmly on the floor in front of her seat, Natalie Hansley prepared herself for take-off. It began as a slight vibration, but it quickly grew to a consistent, fierce shaking that jostled her violently in her seat despite a tightened seat belt. Her stomach lurched, trying to escape through her throat. She closed her eyes. One, one thousand. Two, one thousand. Three, one thousand. At "ten, one thousand," the shaking was supposed to stop.
Six, one thousand. If it did not stop by then, chances were that there was something fatally wrong with the ship, and the life system would fail, killing all the passengers. At least, that is what she had heard. Nine, one thousand.

Suddenly, the vibrations calmed as if the whole ship had been dipped into a pool of lukewarm water. Natalie's arms lifted slowly from the arm rests that she had previously been clutching, and the bulk of her weight shifted upwards, removing her from the seat. Only her seat belt saved her from floating away.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said a voice over the communications system, "the Captain is about to initiate the gravity stabilizers. Please make sure that you are firmly seated to minimize any possible discomfort."

Natalie pulled her arms back to the arm rests and gripped them once again, forcing her back as close to her seat as possible. The gravity stabilizers whirred to life, and moments later Natalie slowly relaxed, feeling each additional pound push her further intot he plush cushions. When the gravity was fixed, she exhaled deeply and unclenched her muscles. I'll never get used to weightlessness.

A low-pitched beep signaled that the "Fasten Seat Belt" had been turned off, and Natalie hurried to free herself from the tight constriction across her waist.

"Ladies and gentlement," said the comm system, "the Captain has turned off the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign. Feel free to move about the designated areas of the transport."

"I won't be leaving this compartment, thanks," she said aloud to no one in particular. Her hands fumbled clumsily over the latch. "Damn it!" she cursed.

She had finally released the latch when someone knocked on her door.

"Miss Hansley?" It was one of the flight attendants.

"Yes, come in," she said.

The door to her private compartment slid open soundlessly, and a petit woman with an abnormally wide mouth and broad shoulders bounced in, her hips swiveling dangerously. Her nametag read "Marcelle."

Marcelle smiled, her teeth almost overwhelming her mouth, and said, "I'm sorry to bother you, Miss Hansley, but Official Hansley requested that I bring this to you once the simulated gravity was activated." She held out a ViewScreen module that looked big enough to hold a brief message.

As Natalie took it, she said, "Thank you." Marcelle nodded and exited.

Readjusting herself in her chair, Natalie leaned forward to pick up her purse and pulled out her ViewScreen Projector. Holding it with her right hand, she inserted the module and pressed the execute button. A translucent ViewScreen materialized in front of her, about two feet wide and one and a half feet tall. It showed her father sitting in his office, stoic and blank-faced as always.

"Natalie," he began, "if you're viewing this message, then you have left Earth as we had intended. You will reach Vismuth in approximately four and a half days, and your Aunt Kady will be there to greet you and show you around the settlement. Right now, it's small, but the planet will soon be entirely terraformed, opening it for both mass commercial and residntial construction." He paused briefly to take a sip from a mug and continued. "I want to stress to you the importance of your presence on Vismuth. It gives those already on site confidence in the project and lets them know that the recent issues were just a fluke. They must have faith that there is still hope yet for the settlement." He took another sip. "I'm not sure when you'll be able to return, but I will let you know as soon as possible. Goodbye, and may you have a safe flight." Her father pressed a button on the panel in front of him, and the ViewScreen went blank.

Funny, she thought, it's almost as if I had a choice.


So that's that! What do you think? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Fill me in!



Shedrick said…
My two yen (worth exactly what you paid for them):

I think it works pretty well as an a reader I'm wanting to see what comes next. I thought the description of the take-off was very well done.

I have but two suggestions:

1) Drop the first sentence and insert Natalie into the second: "With her feet planted firmly on the floor in front of her seat, Natalie Hansley prepared herself for take-off." You already get an impression that she doesn't want to be there from her reactions and if that doesn't clue the reader in there's the 'zinger' sentence at the end.

2) Drop the "largely" from the sentence: "Marcelle smiled largely, her teeth almost overwhelming her mouth..." Your description of Marcelle's teeth do the work that the adverb does only better.

That's all I got...thank you for sharing this!
Unknown said…
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Beth said…
Dude! Awesomeness! much better. This pulled me in so fast, I will be your first customer when you get published!
Stef Howerton said…
Thanks so much for your comments, guys! I am always so appreciative of your opinions and thoughts. :)

Jen, oh my goodness! Thanks so much! :) I am so very, very honored and humbled.

Dorkvader, I'm glad that I was able to improve it. It took a really long time to get inspiration, but when it hit, it just HIT! Let's hope that I get published so you can be my first customer!! hah
Caine said…
Steph I liked it too. Basically I agree with Shedrick & think his wise suggestions are great. Which means this post is worth even less than two yen.

Here's looking forward to what's to come...
Guinevere said…
I like it. The only thing I thought was awkward was the bit about "If you're viewing this...". I don't know why her dad wouldn't KNOW she got on the plane, kwim? That made me stop and think.

Overall, though, I think this is pretty gripping -- it made me curious to go on and read more.
Becky said…
It grabs the readers interest and is well written but (and I'm really really sorry, criticism is yucky, believe me I know) you have to work on the flow of the dialogue. Marcelle's physical description although well worded, interferes with the fact that she is speaking.
It would work better if you omit the 'and said' but it would still interrupt the flow. You want the reader to immediately see people talking to each other not be blinded by details. Generally repeating 'he said, she said' is not a good idea. Use other verbs, she smiled, she shrugged, he whined etc.

good luck!
Stef Howerton said…
@Becky - Criticism may be yucky, but it's entirely necessary. Thanks for your input! :) I have a more updated version of this excerpt in which I actually pared down the "he said/she said" mumbo jumbo. :) I should probably put that up here, shouldn't I?? haha
FiddlerJim said…
Interesting about the 'he said, she said' business, since I've come to believe in keeping things as simple as possible. Which translates to using the minimal 'he said, she said' necessary to determine who says what. Over use of anything other that 'he/ she said' can become Tom Swifty... and that's not a good thing. You're doing fine, although I agree about cutting as many adverbs as possible. Good work....

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