Friday, October 22, 2010

First Line Challenge

Are you ready to get your creative juices flowing?

I'll give you the first sentence or passage of a famous novel, and your job is to turn it into a paragraph that is totally unique, and totally you!

Authors and characters are all welcome to attempt this little exercise. Let's see how many different perspectives we can create. As a bonus, try to guess the book that's being quoted.

(Incidentally, the last opener was from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Congrats to Galadriel for guessing correctly!)

Okay, are you ready? Here we go!

It was an odd-looking vine. Dusky variegated leaves hunkered against a stem that wound in a stranglehold around the smooth trunk of a balsam fir. Sap drooled down the wounded bark, and dry limbs slumped, making it look as if the tree were trying to voice a moan into the cool, damp morning air. Pods stuck out from the vine here and there along its length, almost seeming to look warily about for witnesses...

8 comments:

Donna Hole said...

. . . to their foul deed.

The fir groaned a protest of the collection methods. It's not as if his old bark didn't tear and shed naturally during the summer months. But no, the ghastly vine fairies had to slice and nip half way through Autum, just as he was smoothing out and becoming beautiful again.

Despite the Old Man's complaints to the Hamadryads, the fairy maids continued to gather his pungent balsam for their winter festivies. They weren't fooling him with the foul looking vine; he knew their touch as easily as he recognized the knocking of the Woodpeckers or the burrowing of the Squirrrels.

And where were his resident varmints when he needed them? Out with the Hamadryad gathering their stores. He protected them all winter, put up with the clawing and gnawing of the young; sheltered many families from heat, wind, snow, predators.

Hmph, no respect after all his long years of stalwart service.

He wished again he'd hadn't looked so frail when the sweet Nymph Monica was young and looking for a new tree to inhabiit. She would have stopped these pesky fairies from stealing his aromatic sap. . .

Ach; this was not so easy as it first looked. No clue what novel the line is from. It almost seems familiar . . but that's only word association I fear.

You don't happen to read Terry Goodkind's SWORD OF TRUTH series, do you?

Hmm.

Christine H said...

Roger frowned. He had never seen anything like it before. He adjusted the thick leather gloves he had donned and grabbed a section of vine, intending to pull it off of the tree. It wouldn't budge. As he pulled harder, he could see that tendrils of the vine had grown into the trunk. It wasn't coming off.

With a sigh, he picked up his saw and began sawing at the tree and the vine together, as close to the ground as he could manage. He couldn't afford to let the pest spread to the rest of his family's Christmas tree crop. The vine was tough, but the sharp steel blade ripped through it, releasing a horrible stench. Like skunkweed. He pulled the collar of his jacket up over his mouth and kept sawing.

The tree toppled to the ground. A few inches of frayed vine remained on the stump. He slashed it in several places with the saw. He'd come back later with some weed-killer to finish it off. Then he hauled the tree and vine to the tractor, and dumped them in the cart attached behind it. He'd have to burn them.

As he turned back to look at the empty spot where the tree had been, he saw something on the ground along the trail of flattened grass he had made hauling the tree. Something like little white stones. He went back to investigate and found some crushed pods and tiny, perfect, shiny white spheres. Like pearls. What in the world were they? Some kind of seed, apparently. Whatever they were, they were beautiful. He picked up all he could find, about a dozen of them and put them in his pocket. He'd show them to his dad later. He made one final inspection of the area to be sure he hadn't missed any, then went back to the tractor, started the engine, and chugged back to the barn.

Candy said...

and sight of it stopped me cold in my tracks. I wanted to leave but could not and in horror I watched the tendrils gather from the wooden flesh from which they had been drinking and join together, pointing in my direction.A revolting stench grew to be an almost physical thing which crept into my mouth and down my nostrils wanting to choke me so I fought to breathe. Now I could only watch, my eyes bugging from their sockets as the white pods opened and one by one fired white seeds, tiny stinging bullets, into my body, until i became numb and my skin peeled. Only my eyes remained alive.
I watched the vine detach itself from the disemboweled fir and slither across the forest floor. It wrapped itself around my feet. I felt its hunger as it climbed, writhing and twisting up my legs, around my body, drinking and gnawing until it reached my head . I saw the tree in front of me shudder and become whole again, shake out new leaves and call birds to its rejuvenated limbs, then I saw only vine leaves as my sap dripped and I moaned into the now not so cool morning air.

Sorry all for this rather nasty tale. Yours had a much more interesting future!

Donna Hole said...

Oh Christine; sounds like you're ready for christmas? Or is it the Fir that got you thinking.

Way cool excerpt. What were the little balls . .


Creepy, Candy, but not so nasty. I think mine started in that direction but fizzled out.

This was an interesting opening Laura. Really difficult. It sure stirred up a range of stories :)

........dhole

Eve Dallas said...

like death. Death is always looking for a witness, and usually maintains a decent audience. I tried to shake my head clear of it. I'm not even much of a poet. Must be the nature. The lack of city. There's no smell of soy dogs here in the air. Making me not myself.
He's walking beside me, like he belongs. Roarke. He belongs in every room he enters. He commands it with an ease I'll never understand. He owns half the world and could be anywhere with anyone and yet chooses to be the spouse of a cop. A murder cop at that. I can almost feel my phone beep. We both know this serene almost mundane moment could be broken any moment by a dead body. Death does that like these pods. It looks normal from afar, when you aren't close but when you are, it's a phenomenon. It's a mistake that's everywhere. He squeezes my hand as though he knows the moment I checked out from this walk. My phone goes off.

Laura Martone said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this opening, Donna. I wasn't sure if anyone (except maybe Candy) would go for it. And I agree - some very cool paragraphs emerged from it.

As for where it came from, well, you were right when you suggested Terry Goodkind. After watching the first season of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER, I got hooked and decided to start reading the SWORD OF TRUTH series. This particular paragraph is the start of it all - it appears in WIZARD'S FIRST RULE, the first novel in the series. So, good guess!

Christine H said...

Hi Donna,
Yes, it was the balsam fir that got me on the Christmas track. Plus our upcoming Cub Scout Christmas tree sale, which we are already planning for.
Great job on picking the book! Now I'm going to have to read these.
Chrsitine

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