Creative Writing (Story beginnings) Essay
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A golden haze encircled the angel’s head and its torso glowed dazzling white against the drab dreary wall behind.
“What’s happe…” she willed her mouth to finish the sentence but it wouldn’t obey so she gave up. She fought too against the uplifting force taking her away from the slightly damp pavement but as every ounce of resistance drained out of her limbs, she went limp and was completely at its mercy. The final thought that crossed her mind before it succumbed to the black cloud that eventually engulfed her was that she recognised this angel.
Elizabeth Anne Johnson – Lizzie to her friends – was a beautiful girl. With endless jet-black locks flowing down her back and striking features, she looked straight off a catwalk. Tonight she was wearing her favourite pale pink mini-dress with manicured nails and dainty heels to match; and with her perfect figure, she was more than able to carry it off. A combination of her stunning looks and the confidence she exuded made every head turn when she walked past – a fact of which she was well aware.
Lizzie had spent all night in Brighton’s new trendiest nightspot “Heaven”. The place was heaving with bodies bouncing to the thundering beats pounding out of the state of the art stereo system. They were puppets dancing to the tune of the headphone-wearing master in the glass booth above. Fluffy white clouds were suspended from the ceiling, in keeping with the paradisiacal theme, and the strobe lighting completed the effect.
The drinks were flowing and the atmosphere was electric – just how Lizzie liked it – and as she cast her chocolate-brown eyes around the dance floor a wave of euphoria swept over her. She felt as though she was perched on top of the world.
Already tonight, she had received fifteen requests to buy her a drink – a record even by her standards – and had accepted only one. This was one more than usual though. She may have seemed like the happy-go-lucky type but appearances can be deceptive and she was quite the opposite. Lizzie, a seasoned partygoer, was extremely cautious, especially after the letters…
Nevertheless, against her better judgement, she was drawn in by the hypnotic charms of this blonde-haired stranger and felt powerless to resist. His eyes were bottomless pools of baby blue and he had a passive, peaceful presence – she trusted him immediately and completely.
She began chatting to him and it suddenly dawned on her that she was telling her life story to a total stranger but she pushed the thought out of her mind just as quickly as it had surfaced. Besides with his crisp white shirt, soft voice and wide grin, he seemed harmless enough.
Chapter One (2)
The sun was playing hide and seek behind the rows of trees as Detective Flynn drove up to the Heaton mansion. He was filled with the giddy excitement of a man about to change his life. He knew how lucky he was to be here and that this case could potentially make or break his career.
Flynn was extremely tall and so scrawny one feared he might blow over in a sudden gust of wind. Through the flaming red curtains flopping over his forehead, intense blue eyes peered out inquisitively. As the mansion came into view for the first time he was awestruck. Beyond the wrought iron gates, it stood large and handsome. It was a huge stone structure with countless windows glinting in the afternoon sun and set in acres of sprawling grounds, of which every inch was flawless. The only thing blemishing this perfect watercolour was the black and yellow police tape running the length of the building.
The old rusty Ford Escort coughed and spluttered to a halt in the immaculate courtyard and with an almighty heave Flynn managed to force the door open. As he stepped out gravel crunched beneath his feet. He was dressed in a pair of old faded ‘Marks and Sparks’ jeans and looking around, was suddenly painfully aware of how old and faded they really were. He was also regretting the rest of his wardrobe choice. His slightly off-white shirt had a ‘straight out of the laundry basket’ look and his black leather loafers hadn’t seen a dab of polish since…well ever.
Despite this, John Heaton greeted Flynn with a warm friendly handshake. The two had been at school together and even though their lives had taken extremely different paths, they had remained the best of friends. As he was being introduced to Heaton’s wife Claudia, the detective couldn’t help but notice how much his friend had changed. A nervous and slightly awkward teenager, John Heaton had become a confident self-assured 35 year-old. He now spoke with the eloquence and poise that only a multi-billionaire could. He was dripping with expensive designer labels – a far cry from the washed out tee shirts and baggy jeans of his adolescence. Money oozed out of his every pore.
One thing, however, had definitely not changed. Observing the dreamy look that descended upon his face as he gazed at his wife, Flynn could tell his old chum was still a sucker for a pretty girl. And this was one pretty girl! 15 years his junior, actress Claudia Gilbert-Heaton was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty. Yet, as she tentatively extended her perfectly manicured hand to shake his, Detective Flynn took an instant disliking to her. Her broad smile was almost condescending and didn’t reach her eyes, which were icy and distant.
“I’m so pleased to finally meet you,” she said, looking him up and down, staring pointedly at the ink stain on his shirt pocket. The disdainful look in her eyes betrayed her words and he could tell she was quite the opposite. The reason for this, he would soon discover…
Chapter One (3)
It screamed at me. Its waving arms taunted me as they jerked up and down and the smiley face was more of a sneering face. At that moment all I wanted to do was shatter it into a thousand pieces but it was so far away and my legs were still sound asleep. I picked a rolled up sock up off the floor and with all the energy I could muster, sat up and launched it. It hit its intended destination with satisfying thud and mercifully, the screaming desisted.
Putting the bright yellow, “Little Miss Sunshine” alarm clock so far out of reach had been a pre-emptive strike by mother against my Sunday morning lie-in. Ha, I thought, she’ll have to think of something better than that! I managed the beginnings of a triumphant grin before, exhausted from my exertions, I slumped onto the lumpy mattress and slid back into a peaceful slumber.
Ten minutes later I heard the sprightly purposeful pounding that could only be her bounding up the stairs. She burst through the door, wearing her mechanical cheery smile.
“Morning love, sleep well? Why aren’t you up yet, I heard the alarm go off ages ago?”” she asked, ruffling my unruly brown curls. She then marched over to the window, with unnatural liveliness considering the time and spread the curtains wide.
“Oh Mum, it’s too bright,” I mumbled in complaint, raising an arm to shield my bleary eyes from the light. She ignored me.
“I sometimes think you wouldn’t know an early morning if it came up and bit you on the behind. Now get up, I’m sure you’ve plenty of work to do today and we don’t want you falling behind now do we?” she chirped, practically, it seemed, in unison with the birds outside.
“I need sleep,” I whined, yearning for some pity. It didn’t come.
“You shouldn’t let sleep get in the way of things. Heaven knows I don’t; I can’t. What would happen if I did? Nothing would get done around here – that’s what!” she tutted and continued with renewed vigour, “Goodness, look at the state of this room! I’m sure you’ve forgotten what colour the carpet is! This is not a positive working environment. How on earth can you get anything done in here?” She asked and without pausing for an answer, delved into the abyss that was my bedroom floor. She began sorting tidying and organising like an unstoppable whirlwind of efficiency, her neat blonde bob bouncing up and down. I merely lounged on the bed and watched on in amazement. Within minutes she had transformed the cluttered chaotic mess into a tidy, orderly bedroom.
When she finished, she stood up, brushed some imaginary specks of dirt from her skirt and staring at my sprawled out figure, flashed me the look. Oh no, I groaned inwardly. It was the I-am-so-disappointed-you-didn’t-turn-out-more-like-me look. This look was always followed by a stream of criticisms, of which most, to be fair, were usually quite accurate. I sighed and braced myself for the oncoming tirade.
Literary Analysis of Story Beginning (1)
When writing my own story opening, I tried to use techniques that would make the reader want to read on.
For example, I described the main character’s appearance in detail so that the reader would be able to form a mental picture of her. Just from the first few paragraphs, the reader knows that she is “a beautiful girl” with “endless jet black locks” and “chocolate brown eyes”. The effect of this is to make the reader relate to her with empathy rather than objectivity because they feel they know her.
I also tried to show her personality was sweet and kind. Her clothes and shoes are “powder-pink” and “dainty”. I also mentioned that she “seemed like the happy-go-lucky type”. I did this so the reader would like her and be affected by anything that may happen to her.
I included her full name “Elizabeth Anne Johnson” so that the reader would feel like they were getting a complete picture of her. However, for the rest of the opening, I referred to her as Lizzie. This created a bond between the reader and the character because she is “Lizzie to her friends” so the reader feels like her friend.
It is written in the 3rd person narrative so the reader can get a full overview of all the events in the story.
The narrative structure deviates. This creates suspense, as there is no development of the action in the first paragraph in the rest of the opening.
I purposely created a huge contrast between the eerie and spooky first paragraph and the rest of the opening, which seems like an ordinary night out, by using varying degrees of character and event description. In the first paragraph I did not use any description at all and just used non-specific terms like “she”. This was to create mystery and apprehension.
In sharp contrast to this, I fully described character and events in the rest of the story. I began with telling the reader her full name so they felt they were being formally introduced. I then went on to describe her appearance, clothes what she is doing: “tonight she was wearing…” “She had spent all night…” because I did none of this in the first paragraph.
I did however make some links. For example, in the first paragraph, the words “angel”, “uplifting” and “glowed” are used. In the rest of the opening, the words “Heaven”, “fluffy white clouds” and “euphoria” are used. This is to create a link between the two parts of the story and establish an ongoing theme of heaven and the supernatural.
I also used a sense of vulnerability to link the two main characters. With the girl in the first paragraph it is obvious. I used carefully chosen vocabulary. “She willed her mouth…it wouldn’t obey” shows that she isn’t even in control of her own body. “She fought to against the uplifting force…was completely at its mercy”, “her mind…succumbed to the black cloud that eventually engulfed her”. Also the word succumbed is quite passive.
However the vulnerability in Lizzie’s character is subtler. At the end, she is “drawn in” by the stranger and feels “powerless to resist”. This links Lizzie and the girl but also “the angel” and “the stranger” because they hold the power in the respective relationships.
I think the links make the reader want to read on because it’s like giving them some pieces of a puzzle. They can see some of the picture so they read on so they can find the rest of it.
To create further curiosity, the phrase “especially after the letters…” is not explained at any point in the opening, forcing the reader to form their own opinion. The fact that she was “extremely cautious especially after the letters” makes the letters seem sinister and let the reader know they were a cause for concern. I used ellipsis at the end so show it is an unfinished thought and an unanswered question.
I carefully chose vocabulary to foreshadow dramatic events. For example, ‘on top of the world’ is a well-known phrase, which means in a position of great happiness or success. However I used the phrase “perched on top of the world” in my story opening. The word perched suggests instability and precariousness so implies that her happiness may be short lived.
I also used the progression of time to create effect. The story begins with the girl trying to speak and then finally collapsing “…she willed her mouth to finish the sentence but it wouldn’t obey…succumbed to the black cloud that was threatening to engulf her” and then goes to a lively vibrant scene. I did this so the scene would seem like a flashback or a dream – as we know the main character is unconscious. The strobe lighting in the scene adds to the dream-like quality.
I tried to create an image of the setting (the club) being beautiful and pure. I did this by calling it “heaven” and using description like “fluffy white clouds”. I then used words like “heaving with bodies” “thundering beats” and “pounding” when describing the people and what they are doing to create a contrast. I did this to imply that clubbing itself is innocent enough but the people make it dangerous.
I used alliteration in several places for effect. “…drab dreary wall” emphasises how dull and grey the wall in contrast “dazzling white” of the angel, to to make it stand out more. In “bodies all bouncing to the thundering beat”, the ‘b’ sound is repeated to try and mirror the beat of the music. I used the phrases “bottomless pools of baby blue” and “passive, peaceful presence” because they are quite soft sounds and I wanted to make the stranger seem calm and therefore contrast with the setting, which is “electric”.
I used a metaphor “They were puppets dancing to the tune of the headphone-wearing master in the glass booth above” because it emphasises the submissive nature of the clubbers and the idea of a person wielding power over someone else. The issue of power is explored in many different parts of the story.
I also used repetition. The word seemed is used at the end the last paragraph. “She may have seemed like the happy-go-lucky type but appearances can be deceptive and she was quite the opposite” and “he seemed harmless enough”. This is to suggest that just because the stranger seems harmless he “may be quite the opposite” and to foreshadow him doing something harmful in the future. I put it in italics both times to add emphasis and draw the reader’s attention to it.
In conclusion, I think the techniques I used were effective because there are unanswered questions right at the beginning, which are never answered and this appeals the curiosity of the reader, making them want to read on.