Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

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Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  Gwyndolin on Sat 17 Apr 2010, 1:24 pm

This is the first chapter of my WIP, which is a 60,000 word YA Fantasy novel for girls. The working title for the book is Underground Rose, but I'm open to suggestions. My chapters are all named, so I'll post them each with their chapter name.

Feel free to offer any critique you feel it needs. I'm thick skinned, and not naive to the fact that I'm a novice. I want this novel published, and I will take whatever advice more experienced writers have to give.

Without further adieu....

Was it... Magic?



Rose Wilson was riding her bike out of town towards the river on her last day of freedom. Her sentence for turning 12 was one month with her grandmother in a rickety old house, learning a bunch of boring junk like etiquette, sewing and cooking. It was an old family tradition.

“I don't want you to go!” her best friend, Amber whined, puffing for breath as they rode up a hill.

“Well, it certainly isn't my idea of fun,” Rose retorted. “Megan will probably have her nose in a book the whole time.”

Rose's cousin Megan was 12 this year too, so she would be joining Rose on her fun filled summer break.

At least she wouldn't be alone, but the two of them had never exactly seen eye to eye. Megan lived just a couple blocks away and went to the same school, but that was where their similarities ended. Megan did nothing but read. Like that was her whole existence or something. She was always winning some award for it, but that isn't why she did it. She was actually super shy, and didn't want any attention.

On the other hand, Rose was a more active girl. She really enjoyed sports and swimming. Her mom always said how pretty she was, and grown women often commented on how much they loved her long, curly, red hair. That made her hate it even more than she already did. Being a redhead was just one more thing that made her different than the other girls. And with her long, dark lashes, she never needed any makeup. Not that she'd wear it anyway.

Despite her naturally feminine appearance, she never did buy into that kind of girly stuff. Leave the nails and highlights for someone else. She just didn't have time for that nonsense so her hair was usually in a ponytail, and her fingernails usually had dirt under them. It was no big deal to her, she didn't need to impress anyone.

As she rode her bike, she tried to imagine what the next month would be like. All she could picture were forced conversations filled with awkward pauses. She could just see herself sitting, with her back straight as a board, at a table with a lace cloth and 5 spoons and forks, forcing a polite conversation while trying desperately to figure out which stupid utensil to use. Would she have to wear a dress the whole time? What about knitting – or was it crocheting? – she wondered if those needles were sharp enough to injure someone.

With a dramatic sigh, she decided not to worry about it for now. Today she would have a good time with her friend. She would deal with tomorrow when it came.

Right now, she and Amber were headed to the water hole, their favorite little hideaway. It was a perfectly clear, deep pool in the river behind an old rock dam. They loved it because it was hidden from the road by a cluster of trees, and no one else knew it was there.

When the girls rounded the last corner, they clambered off their bikes and pushed them through the tall weeds to the thick stand of trees. At the first sight of water, Rose let her bike fall to the ground and ran the final distance, crunching gravel and pine cones beneath her feet. She felt almost intoxicated by the fresh smell of trees and water.

Amber ran to catch up with her, calling out, “What's your hurry? Are you anxious to go to your tea party?”

Rose detected some bitterness in Amber's voice and her eyes looked sad, but she still decided to take it as a joke.

“Yeah, and I can't wait to knit my first doily,” she said with as much sarcasm as she could muster, sitting down on a nearby rock to untie her shoes.

That got a small smile out of Amber, but Rose could tell she was depressed. She wouldn't have anyone to hang out with this month. She would be forced to be a third wheel with their friends, Katie and Ashley. They were nice girls and they wouldn't mind Amber tagging along, but it was a real bummer to have to do that instead of hanging out with your best friend, and Rose knew it.

She felt bad. She wished Amber could come with her. More than that, she wished she could just stay home.

Taking off her cutoff jean shorts, Amber revealed her favorite green swim suit. It was one that really made the blond and red highlights in her straight brown hair stand out. Rose thought Amber's hair was pretty, but Amber always said it was mousy brown and terribly plain.

Ready to have some fun and lighten the mood, Rose ran for the rope swing, and screamed out like Tarzan, splashing noisily into the cool water.

Amber didn't usually go for the gusto quite like Rose. Instead, she sat on a huge flat rock, dappled with sunlight, and dipped her toes in to test the water's temperature.

Laughing, Rose splashed Amber, who screamed out in surprised glee.

“Are you crazy?” She accused, but with a smile on her face.

Rose was excited to spend the whole day here, tanning, and swimming with her best friend. What better way to spend her last day of freedom?



When the sun started to dip low in the western sky, Rose reluctantly admitted to herself it was time to leave. She decided to take one last dive from the rope swing, executing a perfect back flip, with her mane of red curls suspended in the air like a fiery halo. She glided smoothly through the cool water, her freckled nose almost touching the bottom before she gracefully kicked her way to the top.

Nothing made her feel more powerful than having perfect control of her body's movement, and it's relationship to the water. In the water, she was strong. In the water, she was fearless. In the water, she was in charge of her own destiny. No one could tell her what to do, or how to do it.

She knew she would really miss the water hole. Sadly, she got out, and turned to watch Amber's last dive. She lightly swung from the rope into a perfect front flip, ending in another beautiful dive.

Rose had turned away to dry off, but after a minute, Amber still hadn't come to the surface. At first Rose thought it must be some sort of joke.

“Come on, Amber,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I really better get home now. I have to wake up early,”

She walked up to the edge of the water and peered in.

As she spotted her friend, she realized something was wrong... very wrong. She could see Amber in the water, face down. She was halfway to the bottom, and the water all around her head was cloudy with blood.

With a panicked scream, Rose jumped in to save her friend. She was a good swimmer, but when her wrists hooked underneath Amber's arms, Rose realized she hadn't taken a very deep breath before diving in.

Her lungs burning, begging for air, she kicked frantically, working double duty to propel them both. When they finally surfaced, Rose gasped desperately for air, and floated there for a few precious moments, catching her breath before the next difficult task – pulling Amber onto the shore.

It took all her strength to pull Amber's limp body through the slippery mud to safety. Rose gently laid her in the soft grass, and checked for a pulse. She was still alive, and breathing, but she was unconscious.

Rose ran to her pile of clothes, fumbling around to find her cell phone. Once she dug it out of her pants pocket, she flipped it open.

No service!

She sprinted out from behind the thick covering of trees, adrenaline making her feet fly like the wind. She didn't even register the cuts and scrapes on her bare feet as she ran. As soon as she made it into the open she checked again for a signal, relieved to see just enough bars to connect her call.

“9-1-1 What is your emergency?” asked a tinny voice from the phone.

“My friend is bleeding a lot, and she won't open her eyes!”

“Where are you, sweetie?” The woman's voice was much softer now.

“At the water hole. It's outside of town right off River Road, where it bends. Please send someone to help her!”

Rose was having a hard time slowing down to explain. In her panic, all she wanted to do was get through this, so she could go back and make sure Amber was safe.

“All right, Sweetheart, I'm going to need you calm in order to take care of your friend, okay? Can you do that for me?”

“Yes” Rose said, sniffling.

“What's your name, honey?”

“Rose Wilson.”

“Rose, I need you to look around. What do you see besides the road?”

“Lots of yellow weeds and wildflowers. There's a big group of trees at the water. That's where Amber is. Please hurry!”

“Don't worry, Rose. We're going to take care of Amber,” said the kind woman on the other end, “Now, how did the two of you get there?”

“On our bikes.”

“And how long did you have to ride your bikes once you got out of town?”

“About 5 minutes,” Rose answered. “Please hurry, she was bleeding a lot! I think she's going to die!”

“Rose, you're doing great. An ambulance is on it's way, honey. Now, what's your friend's name?”

“Amber Austin.”

“Perfect, we'll call her parents. You're doing great. Where is she bleeding at?”

“Her head, but I didn't have time to check her. I can't get service on my phone behind the trees.”

“Okay, I want you to leave your phone on – don't hang up. Just set the phone down where you are. We may be able to find you by using the tracking device in it. I want you to go back to Amber and hold your hands over any wounds that are bleeding heavily. If you need more help come back to your phone, and I'll be here. Can you do that for me?”

“Yes,” Rose sniffled again. “I'm putting it down now.”

She set the phone down carefully and ran as fast as her now tender feet could carry her back to Amber.

A pool of blood already surrounded her head, and she looked as pale as a ghost. Her breathing was shallow and labored.

Rose started parting her wet hair, little by little, trying to find the wound. Finally, after the longest minute of her life, she found it. The wide cut was right on the crown of Amber's head – how could she have missed that?? - and it was bleeding fast!

Fighting not to gag at the metallic smell, Rose put her hands on the slippery gash and pushed, like the lady said, but the blood just seeped past her fingers.

She felt panicked, and lightheaded. She was watching her friend's life fade fast, and she was completely helpless.

She began sobbing uncontrollably.

She didn't dare leave Amber again to go back to the phone.

“I don't know what to do!” she cried out. “Someone - anyone - Please help me!”

Suddenly, something strange started happening deep inside her chest. A comforting warmth, like hot chocolate on a freezing cold day, heated her from the inside out.

It spread and expanded from her chest, bubbling and tingling like a fizzy drink. Growing like wild morning glory vines, covering every part of her insides.

Was it coming from her heart?

It grew until she felt like she couldn’t contain all that heat for one second longer.

Suddenly, the heat-vines raced down her arms. A mixture of blue, pink and purple light burst from her hands, and surrounded Amber's head like a pulsating, transparent cocoon.
She couldn’t believe her eyes!

Rose was frozen – afraid to move or even breathe. She stared with her mouth agape, and her emerald eyes wide as saucers as the flow of blood slowly started to recede.

She would never have imagined something like this could happen to her! It was like something from the movies.
Her mind filled with so many questions.

What had caused this?

Where had it come from?

Could she reproduce it?

Was it.... magic?

She didn't dare let go of Amber, for fear of undoing this miracle. The glowing cocoon still pulsated from her fingertips, surrounding Amber's head.

Then Amber started to stir. It was hard for Rose to believe this was really happening, and she sure didn’t want anyone else to know. Not even Amber. What would she say?

Reluctantly, she removed her hands.

The vines of warmth quickly snapped back into her, like a measuring tape that’s just been released. Then it was all gone, even more quickly than it had arrived.
A few short seconds later, Amber opened her eyes. Her normally medium complexion was so pale it made her freckles look like they would jump right off her face. Her icy blue eyes looked even lighter than usual.

“Rose, what happened?” Amber asked, in such a weak voice, it was almost a whisper. “Why am I laying here?”

“Don't move,” Rose said gently, “You hit your head. It was bleeding pretty bad. I called 9-1-1 for help. They're sending an ambulance. It should be here soon.”

“I was diving... Did I go too deep?”

“I think so. I had to pull you out of the water, but you're going to be okay. Please, just stay still.”

Rose was still a little overwhelmed, and every few seconds her breath hitched.

Amber didn't seem to notice.

“Okay,” said Amber, sounding groggy. “I'm really sleepy.”

Rose knew after someone hits their head they shouldn't go to sleep, in case of a concussion.

“Stay awake, Amber.” She said. “Let's talk about something.”

“I was having a dream.” Amber mumbled.

“You were dreaming when you were knocked out?” Rose asked, surprised.

“Yeah, I was here, but I was trying to fly away. I couldn't, though, 'cause my belly button was stuck.”

Laughing a little, Rose said “Okay.”

“Then there was a rainbow. It was everywhere, and it was hot. It almost swallowed me, but I wasn't afraid. It was nice. Then there were hands grabbing me, and holding me down by my head. Then I woke up, and for a second I thought you were holding my head.”

“Crazy.” Rose said, feeling rather uncomfortable. “My mom had this dream once that there was a cricket in her room, but when she woke up, it turned out it was just the phone ringing.”

What if Amber figured it out?? Rose worried. How could she explain this to her?

“Hmm. That’s weird.” Amber mumbled again. “I’m really sleepy, though, Rose.”

“Amber, tell me about Shaun.” Rose was grasping at straws, but she needed to keep Amber awake.

“Duh, Rose, you know about Shaun.” Amber rolled her eyes and winced, but she perked up a little and Rose thought that was a good sign.

Shaun was Amber's crush, but Amber was painfully shy, and didn't like to talk about him. He was the most beautiful boy either one of them had ever seen, although Rose would never admit she crushed on him, too. It would make Amber feel bad.

Shaun had hair just like Rose's – thick and red with big unruly curls. He kept it just longer than his ears, and there were always stray pieces bouncing with his movements. He had the attention of nearly all the girls in their school.

“I can see his hair bouncing now, as he talks,” Rose teased. “What's that? He's in love with Amber? Awesome!”

“Knock it off!” Amber said, growing restless.

“Okay, okay! I'll stop,” Rose said, smiling. “But you keep talking. Say anything, just don't go to sleep. Okay?”

“Okay.” Amber mumbled again.

There was a familiar sound of a siren in the distance. So this time, Rose left Amber alone. The girls listened quietly as the wailing grew closer. Help had finally arrived.



Amber's parents showed up in their minivan before Amber was even on the stretcher. Rose rode with them to the hospital. It wasn't long until the doctor came to see them. He said she would be fine. It was just a minor concussion, but she had lost a lot of blood. They wanted to keep her overnight to give her IV fluids, and monitor her.

Rose knew whatever had happened back there saved Amber's life.

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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  Whisper on Sat 17 Apr 2010, 2:41 pm

I liked this The tone is very nice, and I think appropriate for YA stories.


Nothing made her feel more powerful than having perfect control of her body's movement, and it's relationship to the water. In the water, she was strong. In the water, she was fearless. In the water, she was in charge of her own destiny. No one could tell her what to do, or how to do it.

This is my favorite part. Though I would get rid of the "the" before water in each sentence. It makes it sound like she's talking about that particular water hole, when I think you mean water in general.



Her mind filled with so many questions.

What had caused this?

Where had it come from?

Could she reproduce it?

Was it.... magic?

This part I am not so fond of. It feels forced, like you felt you HAD to put it in there to explain her thought process, but it doesn't fit. I think Rose would be a little too freaked out for that kind of logical pondering. I'd get rid of everything except that last sentence: "Was it... magic?" (also, standard is 3 dots for in-sentence and 4 dots if what comes after it is a new sentence )That way, you still retain the awe, but it's rapid and fits more with the feel of the scene at that point.

I have one more comment on the end of this chapter. I was trying to figure out what bothered me about it, and I realized it's too abrupt. It makes the piece feel more like a short story, rather than something that will continue. I'd stick with the scene, have the paramedics arrive and maybe praise Rose for doing a good job. Maybe show her worried in the ambulance, and sitting in the waiting room. It might be a nice touch if, instead of Rose thinking that whatever she did saved Amber, you had the doc who treated her pull Rose aside to reassure her that Amber would be fine, but that she could have died, and that they shouldn't have been diving there... something like that. Smile
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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  Gwyndolin on Sat 17 Apr 2010, 9:11 pm

Thank you for your comments, Whisper, I really appreciate it! You know what's funny, is that the first draft of this chapter that I wrote in longhand almost 2 years ago had the four questions, and I always thought it was great, until the last couple of times I went over this chapter. The last time, I almost took them out, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. You're the first person to mention it out of quite a few readers, but it's funny you mentioned it right after I finally noticed it. It does seem forced. I think I'll be taking your advice and removing all but the last one.

Also, the part you liked was the most recent addition, which I think is funny. You're the first person to read that part, so I'm glad you like it. I have gone over that paragraph a hundred times in my head trying to perfect it. It's some serious foreshadowing, and I really want to make it work, so thanks for the advice on how to tweak it.

I also will take another look at the end. I like your thoughts on it.

Thanks for your kind comments!

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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  aalmcmullen on Sat 17 Apr 2010, 9:30 pm

Great piece, Gwyndolin. It has the right flavor for YA without seeming to talk down or use too much slang. I'm with Whisper on the questions being a little off. I liked the idea of the vines, but why morning glory vines? And why the colors? Is the magic something that'll have some kind of visual aspect besides what's affected? And what about Amber being in the water? Was Rose able to remove the water from her lungs when she healed the cut? Would she be hoarse after that? And how much will Rose be in shock as well after everything that just occurred?

I liked the pace that you used and the camaraderie you've built between the two girls. You can tell that they're close without it being cheesy and too young. The descriptions were good without being too bulky. Brava!
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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  Gwyndolin on Sat 17 Apr 2010, 9:55 pm

Wow, I love the questions! Let's see how many of them I can answer, lol.

Morning Glory vines because they grow anywhere, and you can't control them, they're the wildest, most stubborn vine that comes to my mind.

The colors because that's just how I pictured it, lol. There is no significance to it. I just picture magic in those colors. Wink Like in Cinderella, or something.

I honestly never thought about water in Amber's lungs. I may have to add something about that into the rescue and healing.

I don't picture Amber's voice being hoarse, just weak. Like she has almost no energy for speaking.

Rose doesn't really go into shock, but she thinks back on it a lot. There's a few more big surprises coming her way in the next few chapters, and right now, I'm working on the scene where she finally loses it and goes ballistic, but I can't figure out how to write it. /sigh!

It's actually quite troubling, to tell the truth.

Thank you for your comments! I really appreciate them, and I'm glad to be thinking through some of these things.

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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  Dreamygrril on Sun 18 Apr 2010, 12:17 pm

A couple of things, even if it IS ya make sure the descripts are not YA sounding like when you say she has a naturally feminine appearance, it is telling when you have a WHOLE book to show that.


"feet fly like the wind" I would just end with feet fly.

"screamed out in surprised glee" I would just say screamed out in surprise, we know they are playing


Just examples, you wan to cut WAY back on anything that sounds cliche or obvious. We found with twilight that the writing can be somewhat adult sounding for teens, they can hang Smile

Otherwise very nice piece here G, goo job!
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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  Gwyndolin on Tue 20 Apr 2010, 7:50 pm

Thanks, DG!

I completely agree with each thing you pointed out, lol. I've gone over this chapter dozens of times with a fine tooth comb, and I think you get to a point where you just can't keep torturing yourself, because you'll change things every time, and never feel like it's done. What's funny is that the two sentences you quoted are two of the ones that I was not 100% sure about, but left them, for lack of a better way to write them. I hadn't even thought about just removing the extra. Thanks for the advice!

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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  Gwyndolin on Wed 21 Apr 2010, 11:30 pm

I revised the last paragraph, along with a lot of the smaller suggestions that you each made. This last bit is something I fleshed out quite a bit, though, so I was hoping you ladies wouldn't mind giving me some input on it.

Here it is: Very Happy

There was a familiar sound of a siren in the distance. So this time, Rose left Amber alone. The girls listened quietly as the wailing grew closer. Help had finally arrived.



Amber's parents showed up in their minivan before Amber was even on the stretcher. Rose rode with them to the hospital, chewing her nails the whole way. She wished she was in the ambulance with Amber!

The waiting room was empty except for a young mother struggling with a fussy toddler. Rose couldn't sit still, so she wandered around, pretending to look for a good magazine to read. It wasn't long until the doctor came to see them.

“Mr. and Mrs. Austin,” he called out, as if he didn't know who they were.

“That's us,” Amber's mom said abruptly, jumping up from her chair like it had burst into flames.

“Amber is doing just fine,” the doctor told them. “We'd like to keep her overnight for observation.”

“Is there something wrong?” Amber's mom asked worriedly.

Amber's dad put his arm around her shoulders.

“No, Amber was a lucky girl. She lost a lot of blood, but the bleeding stopped just in time. She just needs some I.V. fluids before she can go home. I hear she had a friend there who thought quickly and took good care of her.”

He winked at Rose.

“I just did what the lady at 9-1-1 said to do,” Rose responded, feeling self conscious.

“You may very well have saved her life,” the doctor said, patting her on the shoulder. “I hope if I ever have an accident, I have a friend like you with me.”

“Thanks,” Rose said, smiling.

She knew he was right. Whatever had happened back there saved Amber's life.

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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  thisangel on Sun 16 May 2010, 11:01 am

Hiya, Gwyn!

As you know, I love your story, and I just wanted to say that I think the changes you have made have really improved it so far - I can see the girls and their environment much more clearly now. Looking forward to reading more! Very Happy
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Re: Was it ... Magic? (chapter 1 of Underground Rose) 2800 words

Post  Liberty on Tue 18 May 2010, 1:49 pm

Very well written, and sounds like a great story.
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