Here are the first 500 words of my novel Reason to Be, now in draft 3 (officially).
I remember the first time I saw Diana. I still see her, even now, when I close my eyes, the afterimage of a dream.
I remember the way her long, dark hair flowed around her face when she threw her arms around some tuxedo, embracing him, kissing his cheek, smiling at some stray remark. I remember the way her face glowed like a candle glimpsed through branches in the woods when she waved at some other guest across the room. I remember the black sheath of her dress riding on her body like silken air as she danced among the reception crowd, a form lean and graceful as a cat.
Most of all, though, I think I remember her laughter best. It was husky and rich, as if she wouldn’t be able to breath if she continued because it came from so deep within her. I could hear it over the burbling of the crowd, over the saxophone-heavy light jazz from the trio on the corner, over the clink of silver on black-and-gold-leaf china and cut crystal. I could even hear it over the voice of the commanding, silver-haired gentleman standing right in front of me. I recalled, vaguely, that his words, mere seconds before, had some purpose, some meaning to me. His voice joined the sounds of the rest of the room, blending into the background, leaving only a whisper of her laugh, and the steady click of her heals on the heavy Italian tile as she walked toward me.
“Daddy!” No, not me — the silver-haired man. She grasped his arm and rose on tip-toes to peck him on the check. He patted her hand, and his face brightened with a smile that was almost, just almost, out of character for the man I knew. His princess had arrived.
“I’ll bet you’re still talking business, business, business.” Her voice was like her laugh, rich and musical. “This is a party; you should be enjoying yourself.”
“For you, dear, it’s a party.” He hugged her, kissed her forehead. “For me and the rest of the Board, it’s a ‘fund-raiser.’”
“And I suppose I’ve interrupted your pitch to your latest mark.” Her voice still laughed, at least for me. She aimed her eyes at me, pale blue-gray with a dark ring around the edge, and I felt myself begin to melt. My expensive designer formal suit felt odd, as if I had, inexplicably, put it on backward. Or maybe it was the feeling that, perhaps, those sparkling blue-gray eyes could see through it like rice paper held up to a lamp. I took a quick drink and tried my best to avoid not looking back at her.
“Oh, I wouldn’t put it that way. Please, Ben, allow me to introduce my daughter, Diana. Diana, this is Benjamin Locke, one of the University’s distinguished alumni.”
“Ms. Van Der Meer.” I extended a hand. She grasped it, light but firm, confident; I fought the urge to kiss it. “I’m pleased to meet you.”
2 thoughts on “Reason to Be | The first 500 words”
Really descriptive beginning! I like the dialog in this, and I like the way you’ve shown us the setting and professions, and the relationships between the characters without explicitly saying it.
I have a few language nitpicks, but they’re minor. My major criticism is that, after 500 words, I don’t know what these characters are after. I don’t know what any of them want in the novel, in the scene, or at all. The narrator is remembering the first time he saw Diana, so I assume she has some significance to him. I think leaving her significance a mystery actually decreases the tension at this point. I want to know what she means to the main character, because that will tell my why their first meeting is so important, and give me some indication of what’s to come. 🙂
glowed like a candle glimpsed through branches in the woods when she waved at some other guest across the room <–pretty, but I don't really get what this means. She's a light in the darkness when she waves? Her smile stops and starts, as if through branches?
lean and graceful as a cat <–I'd leave out "as a cat", because it takes the description into cliche territory.
saxophone-heavy light jazz <–took me a sec to understand the heavy/light combo
I recalled, vaguely, that his words, mere seconds before, had some purpose, some meaning to me. <– this sentence has a lot of stops and starts. Consider rephrasing
almost, just almost, out of character for the man I knew <–Since he's introduced as "the silver-haired man", I was under the impression the narrator didn't know him. if the narrator knows who he is, he should introduce him as if he knows him.
My expensive designer formal suit felt odd <–"designer" implies both expensive and formal, so I'd stick with just "my designer suit"
as if I had, inexplicably, put it on backward <– no need for these commas
Hope that was helpful! Really nice job. 🙂
A comment! I got a comment. [Doin’ the little happy dance.] I got a comment!
Thanks for the critique. I appreciate it.