Dark Doors

Ask. I will tell you a story.

Extract 2 from “The Hidden World”

Here is the prologue from my NaNo book.  I’m not leaving it like this, because I was never happy with it.  This was a way in to writing, and was merely the words that kept echoing over and over in my head while I walked to pick my kid up from school.  The tone of dissatisfaction is accurate, I think, but this whole introduction to Maggie needs more, and the addition of the intrusive narrator at the end is too intrusive at this point….  Would love to hear your ideas and suggestions!  

Prologue

 There she walks: an average woman – average height, average build, average hair and appearance, with a slightly above average intelligence.  As she walks, she looks ahead of her, focusing on a spot an average of 15 feet away.  She switches between looking at this spot and looking at her feet, with an occasional glance to either side to provide variety.  It is because of this habit – rarely looking around, never looking behind, never engaging with her environment, only existing through it – that she misses some of the most extraordinary sights possible.  But more on that topic later.

It is because of her slightly above average intelligence that she feels constantly frustrated: as if she were missing out on something, or forgetting something else, but never being able to put her finger on it.  If she were averagely intelligent, she wouldn’t be bothered by such thoughts, because she would be content to think average thoughts and feel average feelings, and she would never feel out of place or discombobulated.  If she were a genius, she would know what those of average intelligence are missing, and she would be able to remember something forgotten because she wouldn’t have forgotten it in the first place.  In fact, if she were a genius, she would have been one of those who conceive of these ideas in the first place.  That level of intelligence would have placed her on a higher level of consciousness and awareness that is above the average, allowing her to engage with her environment and see those wondrous things that are currently hidden from her.

For example, her slightly above average intelligence suggests that she should turn around and look up; however, because of the slight delay in thinking the thought and acting on it, she fails to see the dragon that had just streaked across the sky.  All she sees is a vapour trail, and the average part of her intelligence tells her that it is an airplane trail and nothing more.

But, the slightly above average part manifests as a sense of disgruntlement, malcontent, and deepens the furrows of frustration between her brows.  She can sense – but only on the outskirts, the very fringes of awareness – that the universe is hiding something from her, and she wants to know.  She needs to know what is constantly hidden from her.

She just doesn’t know how to uncover it.

It’s all very frustrating, isn’t it?  Watching this average woman, stuck in an average life, with an average job, who is surrounded by wondrous beings and events.  In fact, something about her calls out to these creatures, drawing them to her, bringing them closer and closer.  They are there, beckoning on the edges of consciousness, comprehension and understanding.  But still, she does not heed.

I can feel her frustration; it is a tangible thing, now.  All spikes and prickles, smelling of oranges and acetone.  It hurts me to touch it; how can she possibly bear it?  I can’t bear it any longer.  I know I’m not supposed to, I can’t help it.  I will wait until she sleeps, an average sleep, with an average length of REM and an average recall of dreams… Stop!  I will prod her cerebellum just a little, nudging the slightly above average to the definitely above average.  Then, I will tear the metaphoric veil that covers her eyes, just a little, to help her vision to clear and to focus so that she can see what has been missing from her life.

1 Comment

  1. **This is constructive criticism**

    According to an agent I once submitted work to, the first rule of story telling is: show not tell. Rule two is: trust your reader. For instance, if you have a main character or supporting character who’s grumpy, you could give them a grumpy sounding name or make them speak in a grumpy way, rather than saying they’re grumpy.

    First para is in the present tense. Good. This engages the reader straight away. What they are reading is happening now. Last sentence, not needed – that’s a tell. The reader will be expecting this anyway, so removing it ups the suspense and keeps them going.

    Second para switches tense from present to past. I think the reader will stay more engaged if the tense stays present.

    Third para – at this point, the character can’t see the hidden world, so mentioning a dragon gives too much away. Better to keep the world hidden and hint that it’s something other than a plane.

    Fourth para – make her do something that shows she’s trying to figure out what she’s missing. Whatever it is she does, she still can’t see. Up the frustration.

    Narrative voice. Here is the place to hint that she failed to see the dragon. The narrator is privy to the hidden world, so he/she can tease the audience with what the main character has missed. But not too much. Let your readers discover the hidden world for themselves. They already know it’s coming from the title.

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