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Challenge Accepted: Dipping My Toes in the Shallow End | Kestrel's Aerie

Challenge Accepted: Dipping My Toes in the Shallow End | Kestrel's Aerie

Challenge Accepted: Dipping My Toes in the Shallow End

How’s that for an unenlightening title for a blog post? Of course, now you want to know what challenge I accepted, but you’re probably scoffing at my timidity in only checking out the shallow end (hey, I considered “Trying out the Baby Pool”!).

Now that we have that totally uninformative first paragraph out of the way (I think it matches up perfectly with the post title, don’t you?), I’ll explain myself. Logging into TweetDeck this morning, among other things I was greeted with, was the following:

Tami's Twitter Challenge

Tami's Twitter Challenge

Following the link, I found that @AuthoressAnon, also known as Miss Snark, was asking aspiring writers to send her the first twenty-five words of a story or novel. She’ll post these up on Friday, I believe, at which time her readers are free to state whether those first twenty-five words grabbed them or not.

Although I have mentioned Darklight a time or three on these pages, I haven’t shared a lot with you (there was a snippette in Monday’s article on dashes and hyphens: did you spot it?).1 Well, I’m not going to share a lot more with you today, either! However, I will share the twenty-five words I submitted to Miss Snark. Just so you know, these are from the prologue. The actual story takes place “in the present day,” not in 2001.

Title: Darklight
Genre: Adult Science fiction/suspense
September 11, 2001 – 9:35 a.m.
Major General Gerald L. “Lucky” Sinclair, US Air Force, was walking along the E-Ring of the Pentagon, on his way out
Gripping, eh? Even riveting, wouldn’t you say? Ahh…I didn’t really think so either. However, I do have a challenge for you, Dear Reader: What is the first question that comes to your mind when you read that snippet? There are several that come to mind when I try to read it objectively (rather difficult, of course, since I know what comes next, as well as the answers to all my questions). But I’m curious to know where that tiny bit takes your imagination. Please let me know in the comments, and of course I’ll do my best to answer each one.
  1. Before you rush off to your Web11, you won’t find “snippette” there; however, be aware it means “a small(ish) snippet.”
16 Responses to Challenge Accepted: Dipping My Toes in the Shallow End
  1. Anna
    March 24, 2010 | 11:20

    How’d he get the nickname “Lucky”?

    • Anna
      March 24, 2010 | 11:20

      (or the callsign, whichever it is)

    • honorshammer
      March 24, 2010 | 11:22

      that was my first thought too

    • Kestrel
      March 24, 2010 | 11:41

      I actually wrote out that backstory once, although it’s not really germane to the story (well, it may be at a later date). Basically, he survived an airplane crash and failed parachute by falling into Lake Mead. He was rescued by a wealthy businessman out on his yacht with his family. Subsequently, he married his rescuer’s daughter. Lucky, no?

      And yes, when I read that bit, that was the first question I had, too. So now that it’s been confirmed as a distraction, it will be a question when editing: Leave the nickname or kill it?

      • Tami
        March 24, 2010 | 12:01

        I vote leave it, since in my brain-edited version, it’s the only part of his name that stuck. =]
        Tami´s latest blog post is Weekly Wordcount My ComLuv Profile

        • Kestrel
          March 24, 2010 | 12:15

          Yeah, I’m sure I will. As I said, it’s somewhat pertinent later in the story. My only concern is that it might be perceived as a cheap gag later on; however, I think I can write around that perception.

  2. Pike
    March 24, 2010 | 11:24

    The first question that comes to my mind is “what sort of character is he”… I envision everything I read, like a movie, and I want to know what he looks like, how he moves, what his expression is…
    Pike´s latest blog post is In Which Pike Fangirls Like A… Rabid Fangirl My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      March 24, 2010 | 11:38

      *grins* Well, he’s about to be dead, believe it or not. But in 25 words, you aren’t going to get a lot of description.

      Incidentally, the prologue weighs in at just 750 words but isn’t long on characterization. The reasons for this are evident as Chapter 1 develops.

      Also, I’m not a huge believer in describing all that right off the bat: First, it doesn’t advance the story, so the reader (or at least, this reader) is wondering, “So when does stuff HAPPEN?” Second, and very much in line with the first point, I like to introduce those details a bit at a time, and try to fold them into other narrative or dialogue.

      In the case of Gen. Sinclair, the fact that he’s an AF general tells me he’s probably in good physical shape, late 40s to early 50s, has an air of self-confidence, and probably a fairly commanding (no pun intended) presence. But I also spent 20 years in the Air Force, so my perception is probably different from that of most readers.

      • Pike
        March 24, 2010 | 11:49

        Hehe. For what it’s worth your description of him closely matches the “vibes” of him I got right off the bat. And I haven’t been in the Air Force at all. So. :)

        I understand the not wanting to do much characterization right off the bat thing. I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it if I was continuing to read on to the action, but since the action wasn’t there, I had to stretch to come up with a question I may or may not have asked in context (if that makes sense!)
        Pike´s latest blog post is In Which Pike Fangirls Like A… Rabid Fangirl My ComLuv Profile

  3. Tami
    March 24, 2010 | 11:47

    *laughs* The only question that comes to mind is the same one Anna had – why “Lucky”? (And since I’ve been privy to his seeming fate by the end of the prologue, I’ll admit to finding it the funniest part of the excerpt)

    So you know, my brain blocks out anything I don’t care about or don’t want to know when I read. So your first 25 words looks like this in TamiBrain:

    “[military dude] “Lucky” was walking along the [politics place], on his way out”
    Tami´s latest blog post is Weekly Wordcount My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      March 24, 2010 | 11:52

      Umm…yeah; not really his lucky day, hmm? :p (Well, as we shall see–cue dramatic music–it could have been a lot worse!)

      Of course, I have yet to actually write anything to explain that….

  4. Kestrel
    March 24, 2010 | 11:50

    @Pville_Lauren tweeted her question: “Which ring is the E-ring? Inner or outer?” She intuited that because I said “on his way out” that it was the outermost ring, and in fact it is (of the above-ground portion of the Pentagon).

    She happened to guess correctly, but the problem with only 25 words is that he could have been on his way…out of the SecDef’s office, enroute to the basement… *grin* (He’s on his way out of the building, honest.)

  5. Kimberly
    March 25, 2010 | 15:11

    I’m pretty doom and gloom, so after noting the date and time my question was: “Who’s going to get the sad phone call later that day?”

    I didn’t question “Lucky” at all – to me all career military folk have those nicknames.

  6. Mazil
    March 28, 2010 | 04:59

    I want to know where he’s going!

    I was also curious about “Lucky”, and the “E-Ring”. I’ve seen pictures of the Pentagon layout, but don’t know whether that would be an inner or outer ring.

    • Mazil
      March 28, 2010 | 05:10

      Ah! I just read your next post – I love the new opening! It really flows nicely :)

      • Kestrel
        March 28, 2010 | 09:55

        Thanks! :) And yes, the E-Ring is the outer ring. (The Pentagon basement also has F and G rings, but that’s not relevant.)