Saturday, July 9, 2011

6 1st 5 pages workshop - July entry #2 revision 1

Leah Miller
Dreamweaver, YA Fantasy

Penny opened her closet and retrieved one of her energy drinks from its hiding place. If Maggie knew she had these, she'd be seriously in for it. She only used them for special occasions, like the evening after a hellacious night of waitressing. And she never took pills, organic or otherwise. It was just her policy.

After popping the top off her drink, Penny clicked on the TV. It was still early for her Nick at Night favorites to be on, but she could deal with Roseanne. She powered up the computer and entered “” in the browser. The familiar animated introduction played. The screen started out completely black, then the words typed themselves out:

Lucid Dream: a dream wherein the dreamer realizes they are
dreaming and can then control all aspects of the dream.

After reading over the definition once, she watched as the words morphed into unreadable text, the letters changing to spell out impossible words. Penny knew that this was one of the dreaming signs. Apparently, if you try to read in a dream, this is what the text will look like. A practicing lucid dreamer can then say to themselves, “Hey, this is a dream,” then go about flying or meeting celebrities or doing whatever they feel like doing.

Not that this applies to me since there's nothing in my dreams except an ocean filled with dead people and a shore. Oh, and the scary dude, of course, can't forget him, Penny thought as she watched the words on the screen morph again into the phrase “Are you dreaming right now?”
Finally, the forums came up and she checked her post. Still no response from Sonofnight.

After a couple of hours of surfing the forums and paying attention to two episodes of M.A.S.H, she pulled out her sketchbook. She was by no means a talented artist, but she aspired to be one. Mostly, she just liked to empty her sub-conscience of all the stuff that happened during the day, to just zone out. She had once read someone describe dreams as a way for your brain to dump all the random information you take in while you're awake. This was her way of doing that, since she couldn't do it the normal way.

She stretched her arm out on the desk and propped her head on it, her eyes very close to the strokes she made in the book.

Not the best idea. This is very comfortable.

When her eyes drooped, she sat up with a jerk. She went to her window and eased it open so it wouldn't squeak. The brisk night air whooshed in.
Back in her chair, she flipped through the channels. Settling on an old musical starring Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, she went back to doodling.
All her efforts were useless, though. The dream soon took her.

Nyxon waited on the side of the highway just before the girl's road. To pass the time, he read a few comics he had stashed under his seat. At around 1:30 in the morning, he cautiously started walking down her gravel road. The only other house on this road was right off the highway and, luckily, they didn't own a dog. He walked about a half mile past it then cut through the woods to get to her house.

He kept to the edge of the forest and circled the long one story home. The fallen pine straw crunched under his footsteps and he was drawn to the one window streaming out light. It was open, the thin curtains dancing outside in the wind. He crept closer, staying low.

He peered into Penny's room. She was passed out on her desk, a pen still slightly clutched in her hand. The TV babbled and the computer screen was blank.

It was the perfect opportunity to explain everything. Nyxon climbed through the window and tiptoed over to her. Looking down, he saw her eyes darting back and forth beneath their lids, a clear sign she was dreaming. He covered her limp hand with his and closed his eyes, preparing himself for the jump.
Then he disappeared.

The bodies floating in the water looked serene as she peered down at them, but Penny knew they were dead. There were all types of people down there: young, old, men, women, all nationalities. Their arms and legs stretched out, their hair and clothes suspended and flowing around them eerily. In the bright moonlight, their faces looked so pale. They frightened her.

The body below her was a very old man. His wrinkles were deep and his thin hair floated around his head creating a moving halo.

She looked up and saw just what she expected to see: the Shore. It was bordered by wild woods. Types of trees she didn't recognize stood guard in a long line. Beyond the forest, far off in the distance, she could see the outline of buildings. Or at least she thought they were buildings.

They rose into the sky and were covered with twinkling lights that resembled windows. But they were strange shapes, like every roadside attraction in the United States had decided to set up camp here.

The shore beckoned and a strong desire to be there encircled her heart. Her feet barely touched the ocean as she willed herself forward, her toes leaving trails on the surface of the water. There was no breeze, which Penny thought strange. No wind on the sea? She felt almost trapped in this wide open space.
Nearing the shore now, she could see someone there. He turned toward her, his white face glowing in the moonlight. His hair was a shiny onyx and slicked back, accentuating a severe widow's peak. He wore a tuxedo. The water lapped at his bare feet, soaking the cuffs of his pants.

His eyes locked on hers for an instant, but she snapped her lids shut, hoping to avoid what she knew was coming. It was pointless, though. Almost immediately, images of his face flashed in her mind, bringing with them a sharp pain. It was like there was a brick wall in front of her brain and he was trying to break it down with a sledge hammer.

Her hands flew to her temples. She wavered but continued to hover above the ocean. Again and again, his visage forced itself into her mind. His face was cruel, the skin unblemished and smooth as a marble statue. With every assault, his black eyes became more fierce, his thin lips forming a disgusted snarl. Suddenly, his barrage ended.

Penny watched as he sprinted toward a small boat beached on the sand, its one stark white sail jutting up toward the starless sky. Her breath hitched as fear dug its claws into her. Not again, she thought, I hate this, I hate this! She wanted to scream but the sound lodged in her throat.

How to escape him? She longed for the shore. For some reason, it felt like home, but she couldn't go there because of him. She refused to join the bodies below her. They meant death.

The boat approached swiftly now. The frightening man stood at the bow bent forward, all his focus on her. His fingers grasped the wooden frame so tightly, she swore she heard crunching.

She was trapped by indecision. Tears burned the back of her eyes. A warm hand softly took hers and she welcomed the feeling.


  1. Much stronger, I think. I was very interested in the lucid dream website twist, and I think that the details here, and the introduction of the other character, help give this more of a hook.

    A couple of things: I think you mean "subconscious" in fourth paragraph. Also, if Nyxon refers to her as "the Girl" but knows her name is Penny a few paragraphs down, seems like he'd just call her Penny the first time around, or "the girl" the second. And when you say "he disappeared" does that mean literally? Wasn't quite sure if it meant he vanished or simply fell asleep.

    Overall, this feels much stronger: good details, like the intro of Nyxon, better set-up. Liked the dream, too. I particularly liked the Lucid Dream website, although could possibly streamline it a little instead of going into the details (it felt too much like a flash animation intro on a website, which most people skip.) Definitely on the right track.

  2. You know where I got COMPLETELY drawn in? The dream of course! LOL. :D Very well done, the tension was great! So let's look at this...

    I'd almost say start with Nixon. It's intriguing. It's different. And the "jump" let's us know it's not an average dream that's coming. The caveat? Getting to know Penny. So perhaps he can notice more about the room? What it says about her. Reveal a tiny bit more about him perhaps that way. I'd like to get a better grasp on his character. How he feels about whatever's going on? That might be an interesting way to do it. That is of course only if the MS truly switches POVs between the two of them throughout.

    I think this is MUCH better than last weeks version. Good job! I can't wait to see next weeks.

  3. Wowza! Fantastic revision! Loved Nyxon's POV and agree with Lisa--more of what he sees around Penny. I'm very curious about him! (And I pictured him vanishing into thin air at the end, by the way.)

    The website was great, even the flash intro, but that's just me... :)

    I would say less here: "Not that this applies to me since there's nothing in my dreams except an ocean filled with dead people and a shore. Oh, and the scary dude, of course, can't forget him" It almost gives too much detail. I would go with something more streamlined like simply saying "Not that this applies to me." It make me want to know WHY it doesn't apply to her and I'm immediately wondering what kind of dreams she has. Always make the reader want more, right?

    Do you think those TV shows (Roseanne, Mash, an old musical, and Nick at Nite) are shows a regular teen would watch? If you think they're right for Penny, make sure you know WHY she likes those shows, because it felt like it dated her or were unusual choices in TV.

    One other quick thing: is the creepy guy a vampire? Pale skin, dark slicked-back hair with widow's peak, tux... Of course, I like vampires, so maybe I'm just reading into it. ;)

    LOVE it! Keep going!

  4. I really liked the lucid dream and the tie-in of the computer - that intrigued me but I agree with the comment above - I got caught up in the dream and with Nyxon (loved the name btw). And I really like the jump concept. I also wondered about the shows - they seemed an odd choice for a teen - but it could be a quirky personality trait - I'd just want to know that.
    I agree that the tension was very good.
    A small detail - in the boat, you have him standing but his fingers grasping the wooden frame - in a small boat, I dont know how he could do that.
    And the anticipation of what's to come would keep me reading. Great job on this - and looking forward to seeing the next revision.

  5. @Mandy Nope he's not a vampire. He's *whispers* the Greek god of nightmares, Icelos. :)

  6. You've made such a drastic change here, which is absolutely fabulous! I did wonder if a few things were a little too oh-must-explain-this-to-audience, like : "Not that this applies to me since there's nothing in my dreams except an ocean filled with dead people and a shore. Oh, and the scary dude, of course, can't forget him"

    I mean, I just think the flippant "oh and the scary dude, of course," is something she'd think because what are the changes she would forget about him?


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