Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The H.M.S. Albatross

I've begun work on what I'm calling a junior novel. I'm not sure if I'll see this project through, but maybe with a little support and personal effort, I can. Here's the first page:

Principal Lewis mumbled morning announcements over the school intercom as if he spoke from the very back of his throat. After finishing the lunch menu with detached weariness, a hint of menace crept into his voice.

“…and I regret to inform the student body that our new playground facility could not be completed before the start of the new school year. As such, that area is off-limits. Any student caught behind the yellow tape will receive an immediate detention.”

He paused. The smell of burnt coffee seemed to somehow transmit across the airwaves.

“That is all. Please have a wonderful and safe first day.” The Principal ended his transmission with his oft repeated and therefore meaningless mantra, “Carpe Diem.”

But Principal Lewis might as well have delivered his entire morning proclamation in a dead language, because the students paid little attention. Lukas was especially distracted by the newness of everything. The move from third to fourth grade meant the move from elementary to middle school and an entirely new building. Lukas twirled one of his golden curls as he considered the immensity of the change. Strangely, that immensity seemed reflected in the size of things. Everything was bigger; his desk, his locker, his books, even his homeroom teacher.


Daniel said...

Cool, I like the "dead language" line. Is there a particular reason you wouldn't consider it a novella or novelette?

SuiginChou said...

"Even is his homeroom teacher."

My first thought was "vaVOOM vaVOOM," but this was quickly displaced with the grotesque second possibility of a grossly obese teacher. Where you going for this sort of "literary cocktease" on purpose? :(

Because I know "Principal Lewis" too well (both men, of course), a lot of that part trips me up, too preoccupied with seeing which things you gnabbed from reality (like the Carpe Diem) and which you did not (like the fact he's the middle school principal and not the high school).

By the way, last time I checked, Grade 4 didn't equate "middle school". Yeah, Zionsville is effed up, that much we can agree on, but I think you're going to lose a lot of your readers if you play this as "grade 4 is the beginning of middle school." For most people, middle school is the beginning of "puberty school." I dunno. Grades 6 or 7. Possibly 5 for some people. 4 just seems ... too young.

I like the mystery of the playground! Is there an alien? Radiation? A sign of evolution? A miracle from God? Who knows with Captain Jay at the helm! Looking forward to seeing if this story is going to swerve off into a "Lukas and his fellow kids go on a bold adventure, thwarting the adults who would try to stop them from discovering truth" or if you were just genuinely going for a Ben Stein-ish sermon from the principal and the yellow tape of the playground has no significance whatsoever.

Jay Fuller said...

Thanks Dan. Novelette perhaps, but for some reason "junior novel" keeps ringing in my ear. I'm hoping to simplify my diction, both to be readable for a younger audience and to curb my tendency to get too wordy.

And thanks Ryan. There's much to come (hopefully) and you're right to be suspicious of the playground. As for Principal Lewis, he is so far an amalgamation of Eggers and Sinkowski (RI) and the name is a reference to CS Lewis. Also, the principal is sort of a God figure, laying out rules from far away. The new playground is somewhat analogous to the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

But I'm not sure if I should reveal too many secrets. My hope is to write a story that can be read interestingly as an analogy, but is strong enough on its own to justify its existence.

Jay Fuller said...

Also, good catch on the grade. I did my math wrong. I was thinking middle school was 4-8th --I meant 5th!