Monday, July 6, 2015

First Impressions - DreamKatcher


Welcome to our second and last First Impressions for July. Today we have the first page of Stacie Dempsey's  YA SF/Fantasy novel, DREAMKATCHER. Stacie is an elementary school teacher and you can find her at Smocussmocus or on Facebook





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DreamKatcher - Chapter One

I woke with a jolt of familiarity. There was a memory digging footholds into my brain trying to resurface. The imagined stench of a charred experiment gone wrong lingering in my nose. Behind my still closed eyes I can see the outline of the old brick laboratory, black against the waking sky, flames escaping through its windows and matching the sky’s intensity. My heart pounds as I try to make my way back in. Heat sears my cheeks just as tears come flooding down to cool them. Their trapped cries resonate in my ears as a lone thought repeats in my head… I have to save them.

This dream clings to my consciousness, hanging like a low fog. A fog that a thousand suns couldn’t lift. There’s only one way to rid these terrible thoughts from my mind, something I should have done last night. I reach for the BAND on my wrist, knowing what I will find before I see it there. Blank screen, battery dead.

As I stumble across the room, limbs still heavy with sleep, my body begins convulsing with sobs. Overwhelming pain takes over and threatens to pull me back into the abyss of depression. It’s as if each sob slices into my soul, fracturing it until I’m spread thin enough to be carried away by the morning breeze. Wrapping my arms around myself I attempt to pull the pieces of me back together long enough to reach the port.

Racing the last five feet to the wall, I hold my wrist against the port ready to evict the nightmare from my mind. The glass panel glows red, confirming it’s dead battery and my failure to sync. As the BAND charges the panel slowly changes from red to yellow and finally green. The sync begins and I can feel my thoughts flowing out of me like a stream. It’s as if a dam has been released and is washing away these painful memories that infest my sleep.

Four years later and still the same nightmare plagues my thoughts. The same feeling that I should have done more, I should have tried harder to get them out. The same feeling of guilt for having survived.

This latest episode marks the second time this month I’ve forgotten to keep my BAND charged. Gram will be furious when she finds out. “Our BAND’s are meant to relieve the burden the day’s thoughts have on our soul. Without a proper sync each night we won’t be able to make it through the day”. It won’t be the first time I’ve received this lecture. Taking one last deep breath, I pull myself together and head downstairs to face Gram.

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My thoughts: In the first paragraph there are some changes in tenses that make things a little confusing:

I woke with a jolt of familiarity. There was (past tense) a memory digging footholds into my brain trying to resurface. The imagined stench of a charred experiment gone wrong lingering in my nose. Behind my still closed eyes I can see (present tense) the outline of the old brick laboratory, black against the waking sky, flames escaping through its windows and matching the sky’s intensity" I might suggest changing it to read thus: 

"I woke with a jolt of familiarity. There was a memory digging footholds into my brain trying to resurface. The imagined stench of a charred experiment gone wrong lingering in my nose. Behind my still closed eyes I could see the outline of an old brick laboratory, black against the waking sky, flames escaping through its windows." and matching the sky’s intensity. I think shorter is a little sweeter here.

After this it gets interesting regarding the BAND, setting up all kinds of questions. What exactly is the BAND? Why do they need it? Where do these dreams come from and why do they affect these people the way they do? Why does our narrator keep forgetting to charge hers, knowing the consequences? And why does she (I'm guessing) keep having the same dream? Or is it a memory?

Readers, what did you think of this first page? Would you have turned to the page to find out what happens next? I would've.

And I almost forgot! To see what Dianne and Kristin thought about this page head on over to their places: Kristin @ See the Stars and Dianne at her blog.





9 comments:

  1. The tense was confusing but I do want to know more about the Bands.

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  2. I agree that the tense was confusing. I'm figuring a BAND may be some kind of computer chip to help erase all bad memories.

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  3. Definitely I would have kept reading. And I actually liked the mixed tenses. Dreams are like that. Are they real or are they not? Are they now, then or never...

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  4. Kudos to Stacie for bravely submitting her work for open critique.

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  5. I've repeatedly heard editors say that they will put a story down without reading it if it starts with a dream or waking up. I don't know how true that is, and how many will read on, but it's something to consider. The tense has already been covered. Responding to a comment above, it didn't give me a dream-like feeling to have the sudden tense shift. It pulled me out of the story. The BAND is an interesting detail, and this intro makes you think about what has happened for there to be a society that needs bad thoughts purged in order to be able to function.

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  6. Excellent excerpt and commentary. I was immediately drawn into the character and the story. I, too, want to know what the Band is and why she and her Gram have to have it. I think that cleaning up the verb tense issues should make this a great intro for what looks to be a great read.

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