HH Com Rd 2 - 41 (632)

hook here

The shout woke Brenda, along with insistent tugging at her shoulder, and she moaned. "Dave...I was having a really awesome dream..."

He ignored her sleepy mumble. "Honey, you okay? The bed's all wet."

It almost made her laugh, almost made her joke about how wet that odd dream had made her, but the concern in his voice stopped her. She turned and reached as he flicked on the lamp at their bedside. The sudden light made her blink.

"Holy Jesus," he choked out, stumbling to his feet, knocking the phone to the carpet before lifting it in shaking hands and punching in a three-digit number. All she could do was stare at the growing red puddle between her legs, barely hearing his frantic words into the phone, before the first pain took hold. That call was followed by a quick one to the neighbor, to watch Teagan. Then the ambulance was there, its whirling lights and strobes serving as a beacon to the neighborhood's curiosity.

The pain was all consuming, the physical pain and the mental anguish that the knowledge of what was happening to her caused. The sting of the IV placed in her arm was nothing. The motion as she was lifted, dripping, from the bed to the stretcher made her want to vomit. Strangers were taking her away from her home, pushing her cart into the ambulance and slamming the doors closed between her and her haven, but that would have been fine with her if only they could make the pain stop. They couldn't.

That didn't happen until she had arrived at the hospital and was surrounded by a confusing array of people. Hands stripped away her own nightgown, exposing her before covering her with something a little rougher. There were so many questions, and she was able to offer precious few answers. "Her husband's not here yet," she heard someone say, "but we can't wait any longer."

She began to feel groggy. She didn't know if it was death or sleep claiming her, but the pain was easing and she didn't care.

(ow, that abrupt shift in POV really bonked my noggin here)

It's called a "classical" incision, the cut that he made from just below her navel down nearly to her pubic bone. He used that cut when the situation was desperate, when life and death took precedence over appearance. Speed was of the essence if anyone was to be saved here. Too late for the baby, almost certainly, though a pediatric team had been hastily assembled just in case. They waited by a radiant warmer bed, watching intently. Of their faces, he could only see the eyes. (clunk)

Surgery was impersonal like that. Everyone in the room was garbed so that little of their faces was visible. If they smiled, you might see it in their eyes, you might not. Of the woman whose abdomen he opened, he saw even less, just a square of pale skin that his scalpel cut cleanly through. The rest of her was draped, out of his view.

The tissues were pale too, a bad sign. He frowned slightly and quickened his pace even more.

The situation was one he'd dealt with before, but not often. Most of his surgeries involved healthy women bearing healthy babies. The mood in the room would be bright, filled with happy anticipation. He'd be the director, maybe joking with the other attendants or even the parents. The mother would be awake, a needle in her spine having provided all the anesthesia she'd need. He'd make a neat "bikini" cut, in no particular hurry, and pull out a baby. Like a magician. The room would hold its collective breath until the baby cried, then they'd cheer when he announced boy or girl.

There were no jokes in this room. The knife made hurried cuts through layers of skin, fat, muscle, all too pale as the woman's body tried to hoard what blood was left to sustain life in her limp body.

The womb opened at last, filled with dark blood. In his hurry, the surgeon had cut through the membranes and into the infant's leg. Not that it made any difference. He lifted the small gray form through the incision and handed it off, by force of habit noting it was a boy. He didn't announce it to the room. His attention went immediately back to the gaping wound, to the bleeding that refused to stop. Glancing up, he saw transfusion bags hanging. He nodded at the anesthesiologist, and went back to work.

this is a disaster.
first, you open with sudden birth...yawn.
it's so commonplace as to be totally boring in a novel unless you do something unusual (unusual does not include delivery in a taxi cab anymore either).

Then you shift abruptly to the surgeon. Even he is boring (cause he's so usual)

You had a charming hook and a captivating idea. Start with Jonas arriving at the door or the spiders or something other than this.


alternatefish said...

I liked the hook and would pick that book up in a bookstore, but this 750 seems to belong to an entirely different book, one that I wouldn't want to read.

One of my main problems is that the 750 is doing a bad job of combining funny with not-funny:
"It almost made her laugh, almost made her joke about how wet that odd dream had made her..."
Funny, and gives an indication of character.

Lots of blood and surgery...
Not so funny. Or fun, at least to me. I've closed the book halfway through the surgery.

It just seemed to clash. But I like the hook, I want to read THAT story. You really just need to start later.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I disagree with Miss Snark. I thought this was gripping and human, and I thought the POV shift was done as smoothly as a POV shift like that can be done (which is not to say you shouldn't put a scene break in instead).

Query widely. I think an agent with different tastes might snap this up.

Heidi the Hick said...

I'm confused: Dave shouts and tugs insistently, but then asks her if she's okay...and why is the bed all wet...if he was shouting and tugging insistently, why would he be asking if Honey's okay?

Furthermore I'm not sure how realistic it is that Brenda's having an awesome, and possibly sexy dream, but as soon as she sees the blood all over the bed she is in sudden pain.

I've had two babies. That pain'll wake you from near death. You won't be having lovely dreams followed two minutes later by emergency birth pain.

Also, when you call 911, they don't let you hang up and call somebody else, do they????

Listen, author, you have a killer hook. Go straight to what's happening in the present of your story and use what you've worked on here as backstory.

I'm no published author but I'm learning how to cut the fat real fast.

Virginia Miss said...

This opening doesn't establish a character well enough to hook me.

And of course, all the medical stuff on page one didn't help. Too easy to go "eeew" and put the book back. I'd have to really care about the characters before I'd read this scene.

Dave said...

oh boo...
I hate to say it but ER has an episode with Bradley Whitford where Dr Green has a woman giving birth die on the table (it's an episode that really grabs the viewer because it hits all the right buttons of how tragic it is)...) The story just rips your heart out and after four times is still hard to watch. Go watch that episode if that is the type of scene that you want in your book.

This isn't tragic like that. It's revolting.

Your hook promised Adept children. This isn't adept children. This is something else.

Show us those kids with the glowing eyes from Children of the Damned or the some cute silly kids throwing creamed spinach and grits at each other without touching it.

A Paperback Writer said...

Uh, is this from the same manuscript as you wrote the hook about? It certainly doesn't seem like it.
I liked the hook. This is ER/soap opera stuff.

McKoala said...

I remember this hook, and agree with the fishy one that this seemed like a different book altogether. Not just the topic, but the style - it just had a totally different feel. The content didn't really grab me either, and the POV shift was hard to handle - but maybe you had some kind of separator there that didn't survive translation. Still, might be nice to see Brenda actually swallowed by darkness first.

Twill said...

The problem I have with the POV shift is that there's no one there in the new POV. The guy has no name and thinks of himself as "the surgeon"? He doesn't know any of his co-workers? Instead of the work in front of him, he thinks about what other techniques he'd use in other circumstances?

Even if the surgeon knows his team well enough to read their minds (ha) he would be using words to direct the operation. Because lives are at stake and you can't risk a misunderstanding.

Can you imagine what a nod means to an anesthesiologist(sp)? Neither can either of them. Orders are verbal, so are questions, so are readouts of conditions. "She's under." etc.

This thing screams of too much research and not enough focus.

What does the reader need to know? What sets the mood and fulfills the purpose of the scene? Delete everything else.

Anonymous said...

Huh. This is the only one of the batch I find at all compelling.

Anonymous said...

I found the surgeon's POV odd. Unless he's going to be an important character, why are you delving into his thoughts so deeply.

I work in an OR. When a patient's doing badly, you don't think back to the good-old-days. You're more likely to think stuff like "Shit, this one's gonna die" or "We'd better get that F***in baby out now". Plus, there's a lot more talking and a lot more action.

The hook made this sound slightly funny and quirky, but this part's a lot more dark by far.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine any reputable surgeon being so careless with an emergency C-section that he'd slice up the baby's leg by mistake.

writtenwyrdd said...

The first section is very vivid, but I still didn't know it was a birth...shouldn't there have been some hint? After that, you go into a textbook and bore me.

I can see you are a capable writer. Keep working at this. You have a great voice in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Can I have the name of that surgeon so I never ever go near him?

'Lifted' the baby? How big was the incision? He'd have to pull that little sucker out as if it were Excalibur in the stone.

Fuchsia Groan said...

I thought the actual writing here was not bad (with the exception of the POV shift). Maybe I'm alone, but I find descriptions of surgery fascinating-- this reminds me of a doctor's account of a caesarean from a recent New Yorker article.

Question is, what the hell is it doing here? I'm curious to know how on earth the book goes from this to the oddness described in the hook, which seemed much lighter in tone.

The POV shift to the surgeon, for me, smacks of what some people are calling a "maximalist" novel, eg, Franzen's The Corrections. Very hard to pull off. Chris Bohjalian did something like this in his last novel: starting with a horrible bloody accident and giving us the POV of the EMT so he could show off his technical research, then switching to a lighter, semisatirical tone. Personally, I don't think it worked, but that book did sell.