Monday, September 12, 2011

6 1st 5 Pages Workshop - September Entry #5 Rev 1

Kim Strickrath
Middle Grade Fantasy

CHAPTER ONE

The green, misty hills of Bink humped around like a parade of handsome green soldiers guarding the flowered floor of the central plain; but smashing down on the hills’ shoulders, like the foot of an oppressive giant, was The Great Paper Wall of Daily Laws. The closer one got to the Great Paper Wall, the more grey and dead and singed the earth became. It looked like the land around the capitol of Bink was sharing the people’s sadness and was dying of pure grief.

Gasping and red-faced, Funny-Foot finally flopped down to rest his face and catch his breath at the entrance to the Great Paper Wall. Funny-Foot had wooden rockers where his feet should have been and he always rolled back and forth when he walked. When he walked far or fast, he would rock so hard that he would almost fall upon his face every time he moved forward. He couldn’t help but imagine how much it would hurt his face if it really knocked into the ground, and in fact, his imagination made his face hurt almost as much as a real bump! Hence, when he stopped to rest his rocker-feet, he was also trying to rest his face because just imagining all of those almost-bumps made his poor face all squinched up with strain and as sore as could be.

Funny-Foot sighed at his predicament, and wished he could have at least ridden to Bink in a pambanouche. (A pambanouche is the kind of carriage generally used in the Bink Country: they were light, cheerful buggies, drawn by a pair of three-legged donkeys. It was very important that the donkeys had only three legs, for it is always the forth leg of a donkey that makes it go along all jerky and bumpy.) But he couldn’t. The Woon had declared pambanouches against the law in Funny-Foot’s home country, and then the Woon arrested Funny-Foot’s uncle (the inventor of the pambanouche) out of sheer, bored spite, and tossed him in the nearest Jug-jail forever an’ ever. (The Jug was a real jug. Every town in Bink used a great Jug for a jail. It looked like a giant vinegar jug sitting in the public square, with a gigantic cork in it, and poor little prisoners looking out at the world like flies under glass.) And the Woon took all of the remaining pambanouches to the capitol, just because he could.) Poor Funny-Foot never had the chance to ride in a pambanouche. Not even once.

For a long time, Funny-Foot huffed in great, deep breaths with his back digging in to the crinkly flash paper of the Wall, and pondered his strange situation. Even with his potent imagination, he couldn’t understand exactly why he’d been sent so far from home to stand up to the tyrant Woon of Bink and the Woon’s never-ending avalanche of laws. Especially since poor Funny-Foot had such an awful time just standing up on his own two feet. He knew the reasons his people had given him but while he was flattered, he also thought their reasoning felt, well, silly. Funny-Foot had been nominated the nicest person in his country, and his people thought that since they liked him and listened to him, that everybody would like him and listen to him. Including the Woon. First they gave him a lovely copper ribbon to wear on his vest that said, “Nicest Person Ever!” and then they told him he had to go to the Woon of Bink to ask him to stop making so many laws. Or at least hold off on making new ones until everyone had learned the old ones. Funny-Foot stroked the smooth satin ribbon, and looked forlornly at land around him. He looked at the ribbon again, and sighed something that sounded like apologetic hiccup. Frankly, Funny-Foot didn’t have the vaguest idea how to go about changing the Woon’s mind. Funny-Foot didn’t think the Woon was very impressed with nice people, and the very thought of facing the mean old Woon and his five-thousand lawyers made Funny-Foot’s face squinch up and hurt more than all the imaginary bumps he’d ever almost had.

“Ohhhh, there are so many things against the law,” moaned poor Funny-Foot, daubing liniment on his face with his handkerchief. The liniment made his sore face feel a little better, but it didn’t quite do the trick. Funny-Foot decided to lie down and put his face in the cool grey grass and his face felt better still. Then, he thought about all of the laws of Bink, and that made him cry, and the tears cooled off his face even more. That was why he did not see the Detective coming. He was so busy crying, with his face down in the grass, that he'd been caught for ten full minutes before he even knew it.

Maybe he wouldn't have known it even then if the Detective hadn't sneezed. However, when the Detective sneezed, his sneeze was so big and so hard that it blew Funny-Foot's cap right off his head. (The Detective had been granted the Woon’s Special Dispensation to Sneeze. In fact, the Detective was the only person in Bink allowed to sneeze at all; and so it was, that when he had to sneeze, he made it count!) When Funny-Foot rolled over to see where the sneeze got loose from, he discovered that the big, heavy Detective was looking him all over with a big magnifying glass. The Detective squinted with his sharp eye to find suspicious marks on Funny-Foot. From the Detective’s growly looking face, Funny-Foot could tell that he was just Suspicious All Over.

It made Funny-Foot terribly nervous to know he was Suspicious All Over, so he had to wriggle a
lot. The Detective put his heavy foot on Funny-Foot to hold him still, and squinted through his magnifying glass for even more suspicious marks. Poor Funny-Foot quit wriggling then, for he thought he might be making the suspicious marks jiggle and jump around every time he moved. He was afraid that the scowly Detective might think he saw a new one, rather than only an old mark that had wriggled to another place.

“Gurrump,” growled the Detective, “Where did you hide the money?”

“Please, Mr. Detective,” moaned Funny-Foot, “I didn't steal any money.”

“Hurruuff! Where did you bury the body, then?” grumbled the Detective. The Detective preferred to talk in muttered coughs and half-sneezes. He thought it made him sound brusque and important, but the truth was that every cough and sneeze just drew more attention to his lumpy red -nose and floppy jowls. As the Woon’s go-to enforcer of the Laws of the Land, The Detective was known for having the instincts of a bloodhound and was capable of sniffing out any crime, real or imaginary. Unfortunately (though no one dared tell him), he was also known for having the looks of a bloodhound. And a bloodhound that had a squashed tomato for a nose, at that!

“But, please, sir!” pleaded Funny-Foot, “I never never killed anybody! Did...did somebody get killed and robbed? Do they need some help?”

“I don't know," admitted the Detective. "But if anybody did get killed and robbed, YOU obviously did it!”

“But, please,” whimpered Funny-Foot, “I only just now came to the Country of Bink- Honest I did-”

The big Detective grabbed one of Funny-Foot's feet and examined it through his magnifying glass.

“So you did --,” said he. “So you did."

6 comments:

  1. From KS ~ Hi, gang! I'm in dire need of some concise rephrasing that still gets the point across. Even my eyes hurt looking at this. Thanks!

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  2. I agree that it is a little much for the beginning of a MG novel. Definitely shorter and more concise paragraphs, possibly limiting the amount of information and detail for now. More dialogue at the beginning to break it up would help too.

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  3. It was more concise, but still very confusing. But, I'm not a big fantasy reader, so I hate to critque something I'm not into! A felt there was a lot of telling. Yet, I think you have a great imagination. You need more showing of your ideas. There's a lot to interpret and a MG reader needs more clarity to continue reading. I would keep re-writing and cut what doesn't need to be there.

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  4. It reads less confusing than last time and still has that unusual and charming feel to it, so that's good. I can't rephrase it for you, but my advice would be to go through and see what each sentence tells you, whether it moves the story or characters forward, and whether it's already been said another way. Then decide which way you prefer.

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  5. Finding the right combination of words that maintains your voice and helps the flow and pacing is not easy sometimes. You have a lyrical flow to your descriptions. The trick is deciding which ones are helping and which are sugar - empty calories. You have a very expressive style.

    I took a stab at cutting the beginning down and still hanging on to your voice. Maybe this can help you see where to go.

    The green, misty hills of Bink became grey and dead and singed at the Great Paper Wall of Daily Laws. It looked like the land around the capital of Bink was sharing the people’s sadness and dying of pure grief. Gasping and red-faced, Funny-Foot finally flopped down to rest his face and catch his breath at the entrance to the Great Paper Wall. Since he always imagined how much it would hurt to knock his face into the ground because of his wooden rocker feet, those almost-bumps made his poor face all squinched up with strain and as sore as could be.

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  6. Hi Kimberly, it's obvious that you have an amazing and original story to tell...but it's hiding among all of these words!

    I think you need to cut, cut, cut. For instance, could your second paragraph be reduced to 2-3 sentences?

    You have great details throughout the piece - I love the "Detective had been granted the Woon's Special Dispensation to Sneeze..." - Can you give us just those fabulous gems without bogging it down by telling too much in other parts?

    If possible, find a way to work the descriptions into the action. In fact, I think your story could start with the line "First they gave him a lovely copper ribbon to wear on his vest that said, "Nicest Person Ever!" That's intriguing to me and sets up your problem and action, and the rest can follow.

    Good luck, this is a tricky one, but I think you have a great story in there!

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