12.17.2006

HH Com 127

Philippa arrived an hour before the Germans. It was a slow hour that didn’t last quite long enough. She counted each station between Paddington and Moorgate, surprised at her patience and at how little interest she had in what turned out to be her first memory of London: A pigeon flying up from the tracks, its wings splashing the windows of the carriage, then gathering itself to race the train into the tunnel. From Moorgate, Philippa found her way to St. Giles. She was sitting in her father’s pew when she turned toward the north doors and the bomb exploded.

That morning, Philippa walked the two miles from Low Fields Farm to Youlgreave. At least she hadn’t crept away in the middle of the night, she thought. Everyone in the village saw her traveling case in hand or heard from someone who heard from someone who saw her board the near noon bus to Matlock. The sky turned green with rain while she waited beside the sluggish current of the Derwent for the train to the city. The two-mile walk had made it necessary to send her trunk ahead by lorry a week earlier. She’d sent it even without a satisfactory answer to her question of expected delivery at the room she had let by mail.

“There’s a war on, Miss,” the lorry driver said.

“Yes, thank you, a war. We’re quite far off here in the country, you know. Never really heard of that fellow with the cute moustache.”

This isn't a hook. It's a first page. You know the drill by now: what's the dilemma, what are the stakes, the choices? What goes wrong if she fails in her mission? You've got a girl and bomb. We need to know there's a problem if it kills her, or if it doesn't.

5 comments:

HawkOwl said...

Like Miss Snark says, I don't know what the story is about. But considering how many excellent, compelling WWII stories I've read or seen in the last 30 years, and how few of them sounded at all like this, I don't think I'd like this. This sounds like "WWII Lite." Or the increasingly popular form of a cheesy espionage + love story against a backdrop of some historical event.

Anonymous said...

"Cute moustache" --yes, we know who you're talking about, but a lady of the time period would never have used the word "cute" in that context. She might have said "dear little moustache" or "that bloody kraut who stole Chaplin's moustache."

Anyway, the line doesn't make sense even as sarcasm. If they've never heard of him it's hard to describe him, in which case the ticked off lorry driver might point that out to her in a matching tone.

The writer is directed to read books of the time period to get the feel for the language and manners used. Autobiographies are good for this sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

While I'm going to agree about the dialogue, I have to say that I love the narrative. I think WWII stories will be a hit until those of us who listened to our parents tell them die off. I hope you don't give up on this, because I like the writing style and the imagery. Good luck.

carlynarr said...

Echoing Anon 2, I like the narrative and writing style. I think it's lyrical and nice. I normally hate stories that have anything to do with war and wouldn't give them 100 words' worth of my time (the only notable exception for me is Tim O'Brien), but I did read this and like it. It sounds lovely.

~Nancy said...

I don't know...I kind of like this. The "cute mustache" did throw me as I didn't have a clue about whom you were talking (thank you, first anonymous for the heads' up!).

I'm into American films of the 40s and have a particular like/affection for all WWII books and things.

This isn't a hook, obviously, but it's not a bad start. Keep at it.

~JerseyGirl