Saturday, March 19, 2011

7 First Five Pages Workshop - March, Entry #2

Brenda Drake
MG-Steampunk
Annika Britanika: Around the World in 80:45:07


Chapter One

00:00:00


Maximillian Drayson didn't quite like girls, but he figured Annika Britanika was different. She could climb a tree faster than he was able and she could invent gadgets that actually worked. Heck, if he had to have a best friend, he couldn't think of a boy better than Annika. He felt bad for Annika because her father was gone--not dead gone--but gone all the same.

Today was Annika's birthday and usually she'd receive a spectacular gift from some part of the unknown world that her father had been to. As of yesterday, one hadn't arrived. Annika was in no mood to talk about it when Max asked if Mr. Britanika might have forgotten to send one. Her full lips were trembling and her enormous brown eyes filled with tears when she huffed off and wouldn't talk to him.

He hoped her mood was better today as he sprinkled tooth powder on his brush. For it was the day Annika was to make good on her promise to him. The promise she had made when they were eight years of age, sitting in the tree house that teetered on the limbs of a large oak tree in her backyard. She had said she'd kiss him on her thirteenth birthday, and he was determined to collect on it. He scrubbed his teeth with better attention than his usual quick swipe around the gums.

His brother's hand-me-down gray rugby suit just about fit him now. Well, that is, if he stretched his body upright and didn't slouch so the knickers wouldn't fall too far below his knees. He grabbed a bunch of Mrs. O'Hare's flowers that looked like puffy snowballs when he passed by on his way to Annika's house. Birds sang their singsongs and the grass smelled sweet as he whistled along, kicking a rock as he went up the street. With the flowers in hand, he bounded up the steps and knocked hard on the fancy glass door.

"G'day Master Drayson," Molly, one of the four servants, said when she opened the door. "Aren't you a splendid young lad to bring hydrangeas for Mrs. Smith, eh?"

Max simply nodded and let her take the flowers. He didn't want her to know whom the flowers were actually meant for, or she'd think he was feeling romantic toward Annika.

"Miss Britanika is in the sitting room with her guests." Molly stepped aside to let Max in. "You may go in and join them."

"Thank you, ma'am," Max muttered as he passed her, remembering what his older brother had told him. One couldn't kiss a girl without bringing flowers first. He decided the whole thing seemed complicated by what you should do, and what you shouldn't do. Such as, you should bring flowers, the first kiss should only be a quick one, you shouldn't touch any part of her during the kiss, and don't kiss and jabber to pals about it. Heck, he just wanted to kiss her without all the ceremony.

He dragged his feet the entire length of the hall and into the sitting room. The moment he saw Annika his breath hitched against his throat. She looked just like an angel topper on Christmas tree in her white flouncy dress and a big white satin bow flopped on top of her head. Only, she looked better than any angel could. For she was the earth covered in fresh fallen snow.

The moment Annika's eyes landed on Max, she rushed over and grabbed his elbow. "Excuse us, please, we'll be right back," she said, dragging him out of the room. She pulled him down the long hallway and into the library, easing the door shut behind them.

"Wh--what's going on?" Max's thoughts immediately went to the promised kiss. He straightened and readied himself for it.

"Hush your voice or someone might hear us."

Annika rushed over to one of the bookcases, reached behind the books perfectly lined on the shelf, and pulled out a tattered brown package. In the darkest ink Max had ever seen the words OPEN ALONE were written all over the bruised package.

She carried it over to where Max was concentrating on stretching his height. "It came this morning. It's from Ayah." That was the strange name she learned to call her father when her family lived in Bali for a time. She told Max all the children there called their fathers that.

"Hurry up and open it," Max said, all jittery and anxious that they'd get caught alone in the library.

With excited hands, she removed the twine, tore away the brown paper, and pulled aside the wadded up newspaper.

Max relaxed, realizing this had nothing to do with the promise. "Well, what is it?" he asked.

Annika held up a shiny golden globe--its stand balancing on her palm--for Max to see. "It's a globe of the world."

"Is it real gold?" Max reached a hand out for the globe, and Annika yanked it away from his reach. Ever since he'd broken one of the many contraptions she's always fiddling with, she wouldn't let him touch important things. And the globe sure did look valuable. That is, if it were gold, Max determined.

Annika tucked a strand of her long brown hair behind one of her slightly big ears and narrowed her eyes as she studied it. "It looks old and used."

"It looks like an antique," Max said. "Well, maybe a little spit shine would pretty it up."

"Yeah, he must've picked it up at an outdoor market." Annika spun the globe with her pointer finger and it hummed as it twirled. She tried to spin it the other way, but it would catch and stop.

"Hey, what's this?" Max asked, bending over and retrieving an envelope from the floor. "It must've fallen out from the package." He handed the crumpled envelope to her.

She opened it and pulled out the letter inside. After reading it, she looked up at Max.

"Gee whiz." Her shoulders crumpled. "He says it's a magical globe that can transport me to anywhere in the world that I ask it to. Doesn't he know I'm too old to believe in his hocus gifts? He could have sent me silks like he had for Fallon's birthday." Her bottom lip protruded. If Max had to pick a favorite thing about her, he'd say it was how her full lips expressed her feelings. At the moment, they were telling him she was clearly upset, but he wasn't sure for what reason. He thought the globe was magnificent.

"Let's try it out," Max said, hoping to change her mood.

Annika crinkled her eyebrows. "It won't work . . . never has."

7 comments:

  1. Hi Brenda!

    Wow, you've made lots of great changes here and this reads so much more smoothly. And because of the tightening, we get to see more of the story and learn a bit about the globe in the 1st 5 pages.

    Don't hate me, but I think the beginning could be tightened even more. The story really gets going once he arrives at Annika's house, and all the stuff before is much less exciting, even though it sets the scene.

    Other than that, I just have tiny picky things, like we no longer know who Fallon is when Annika mentions her. Maybe Max can clue in the reader - maybe even in dialogue. And watch verb tenses, here, for instance: "Ever since he'd broken one of the many contraptions she's always fiddling with..."

    You are almost there!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brenda - I see the work you put in! That's wonderful. May I make a suggestion?
    Cut the line "He felt bad for Annika because her father was gone--not dead gone--but gone all the same." It doesn't flow. Then transition with something like, Still, she was a girl, and there were certain girl things that Max just couldn't understand but decided to put up with. Like when she got all pouty the other day. All he'd said was... This is all just top of my head and probably sounds atrocious, but the point is, now that you've made a decision to stick with Max (which I love), I think you need to pay special attention to filtering everything through his brain. Why is he thinking about how she reacted the other day and her dad? Because she's a girl. Because he doesn't want a repeat of this inexplicable girl type behavior when he's bound and determined to get that kiss! You can have SOOO much fun here! Go for it! I love the scene in the library. I can even picture him closing his eyes and pursing his lips for a kiss, but her completely ignoring him. So your characters are taking on lives of their own. Let them. ;D Yes there is backstory you still have to get out. No you don't HAVE to get to the magical properties of the globe until we're grounded in their current world. BUT, if you do it with (yup I'm sayin it again) that AMAZING voice that I keep hearing poke through, you'll have the reader completely hooked. :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love that this got to the story quicker! And I love the story. I'm already imagining the adventures they'll have. :)

    I thought the same thing about cutting the "He felt bad for Annika" line. It felt abrupt and out of place. Like Vicki, I thought there were bits you could cut to tighten it up, but I love Lisa's ideas about really playing up Max's disappointment. The potential is there and I already feel giggly just thinking about it.

    Also, it felt like the voice slipped to Annika once or twice . . . like when you explain about "Ayah" (which I love!).

    You said:
    That was the strange name she learned to call her father when her family lived in Bali for a time. She told Max all the children there called their fathers that.

    Maybe streamline it a little:
    That was what Annika called her father. She said that all the children in Bali called their fathers that.

    Anyway, I'm sure you can do it better with your great voice, but just to give you an idea.

    This version, though, is really moving it forward. A lot of work from last time for sure. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with the others - this is much better!

    I think you could shorten the 3rd and 4th paragraphs some so that we get to the action quicker. I would much rather you play up the kiss more, build up Max's anticipation more when they're in the library alone together.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I haven't read your previous versions, but I really enjoyed this one. The suspense was killing me about the kiss. I suspected it wasn't going to happen, but that doesn't mean I wasn't a tad bit disappointed. Probably no more than Max, though. I agree with the others about playing that up a little more when it doesn't happen. It's like it's suddenly no longer important to him once she showed him the gift. He's been dreaming about this day for a long time, make the most of it without going overboard.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think this is much more effective, Brenda, but I'd like to see the beginning cut even more. What about starting here:

    Max sprinkled powder on his toothbrush and scrubbed his teeth with better attention than his usual quick swipe around the gums. When he was done, he dressed carefully in his brother's hand-me-down gray rugby suit. It just about fit him now. Well, that is, if he stretched his body upright and didn't slouch so the knickers wouldn't fall too far below his knees. He even wondered if he should grab a bunch of Mrs. O'Hare's puffy snowball flowers on his way to Annika's house, but decided not. It wasn't as though he liked girls, he didn't. But Annika Britanika was different. She could climb a tree faster than he was able and she could invent gadgets that actually worked. Heck, as a best friend, Max couldn't think of a boy better than Annika. And today was special for her. With her father gone--not dead gone--but gone all the same, the only good thing she was likely to get was the kiss she'd told him he could give her for her thirteenth birthday. Of course, that was years ago, but Annika never forgot a thing.

    Or something like that, then skip the maid and the walk to Annika's and do a quick transition to Annika meeting him, bouncing in excitement, and him being positive she was taking him somewhere private to give him the kiss, etc., etc. I agree with everyone else's comments about that, and especially with Lisa's comment about really having fun with the aftermath.

    This is a huge jump though. Great work!

    Martina

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, wonderful suggestions! I'm having so much fun developing this voice. You all have given me so many great suggestions, and I'm so grateful. This is such a great workshop! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you *hugs everyone*!

    ReplyDelete

Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)