Connecting Flight – ch. 1 – update

Roughly a year ago I posted a full novel, one chapter at a time, in order to get some feedback, and several of you were more helpful than I could have imagined.  After having revised it once, I am re-posting a few chapters but can send you more if you’re interested.  Saying “thanks” is not enough, but I will say it anyway.  “Thanks.”  Also – there are two questions at the end.  I hope you make it that far.

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Chapter 1

Of all the times that Chris Babbage managed to suppress his fear of flying, this was the one when he should have listened to the voice that told him to go back home.  He knew that his fear of flying was irrational and counterproductive, but something seemed different about the anxiety that was biting him while waiting his turn to pass through security.  He double-, triple-, and quadruple-checked that he had his driver’s license and boarding pass that he had printed at home only hours ago.  He zipped the chest pocket of his navy blue fleece pullover to secure the necessary documentation, then he patted the pocket once more just to make sure it was still there.  Reaching down, he felt the pockets of his pressed khakis to make sure his wallet and cell phone were also where they belonged.

Noises caught his attention up ahead, just past the security line, coming from where people have to stop to reassemble themselves after removing belts and shoes for the x-ray scanners.  Normally, he might not care, but his senses were on extra alert this day because, unlike most other flights, he was flying alone.  There was no wife or child to talk to, no pre-planning which Disney park to visit first or list of lunch and dinner reservations to review with anticipation.  This noise was different.

Craning his neck, he saw a huddle of people around one central figure, a mop of blonde hair.  Through arms and legs, Chris could see a black sweater, a gold necklace, and dark jeans.  He could see smiles and hear “Thank you so much.”  He could see college-age boys high-fiving each other while waving pieces of paper.  He could see others joining and then departing the small but growing huddle.

“Sir,” barked a man in an official, blue uniform, “step forward, Sir.”

Chris’s eyes snapped to attention.  “Okay.  Calm down.”

“When people don’t hear me the first three times,” the man said, “then I have to get their attention.”

“Sorry,” Chris said, his dark eyes sinking a little.  After the security officer waved him to exit the body scanner, he re-buckled the belt that matched his soft, brown shoes. It wasn’t until then that he noticed that his belt needed to be pulled one more notch. Over the past three months, his body had become less like four years as a third basemen in college and more like fifteen years as a high school math teacher.

By the time he left the security check area, both the huddle and the noise had dispersed.

___________________________

The twelve people still trying to stuff bags in overhead compartments were twelve people he wanted to grab by the neck and stuff into their seats.  His anxiety settled back to earth, he was relaxed enough to notice the woman sitting next to him.  He focused on her a little longer than he should have, feeling as if he had seen her somewhere before.  It took only eye contact and a forced “hi stranger” smile for him to feel flushed with guilt just for looking too long.  Fortunately for Chris, she seemed as unhappy as he was, and that was enough for him to not immediately dislike her.

They each fumbled for their seatbelts as the last few unseated passengers found their seats.  Then they both fidgeted in silence as they awaited the phobic horror to begin.  Chris reached for the little, one-inch arm that held his tray securely on the back of the seat in front of him.  The switch was not perpendicular to the tray, and he moved it slightly so that it was perfectly pointing at a 6 o’clock position.  Chris then reached to the same piece for the tray designated for empty seat on his left and adjusted that arm to 6 o’clock.  He turned to his right where another tray arm was not aligned perfectly, but that seat was not empty.

The woman in black sweater and dark blue jeans was fishing through her purse and didn’t seem to care about the misaligned arm that was not pointing at 6 o’clock.  Chris started, stopped.  Started again, then stopped.  When looked again at the little arm for the tray, pointing more at 5 o’clock instead of 6, his right leg bounced a little.  Then his right hand reached up, and he scratched at the short, wavy brown hair that had receded enough for him to pay more attention to commercials about hair growing products.  When the woman reached down to stuff her purse beneath the seat in front of her, Chris quickly flashed his right hand up, correctly aligned the arm to 6 o’clock, and folded his hands on his lap.

Although his eyes were aimed straight ahead, he could tell that she was eyeing him with curiosity.  He watched peripherally as she looked forward at her seat tray, then back to him a little, until she seemed satisfied enough by something to stop glancing in his direction.  The nervous anticipation had caused him to hold his breath, and he then exhaled with extra force.

“You hate flying too?” she said.

“I’m sorry.  What?”  He turned towards her, but his eye was caught by the fingers and unpainted nails of her right hand that grasped a bright, gold chain and crucifix, one very similar to the one he had not taken off for roughly a dozen years until three months ago.

“You seem about as nervous as me, so I figured you hate flying too.”  She smiled and waited, but he did not smile back because he was too busy noticing how her blonde hair, both color and shoulder length, were nearly identical to his wife.

“I hate cookies that are not Oreos.  I hate meetings after work.  I hate traffic.  I hate store-brand orange juice.  But I don’t hate flying.  I’m terrified of it.”

“Then there must be something really important going on in L.A. if you’re willing to do something that terrifies you,” she said.

“Very important.”  He wondered if it would be rude to not introduce himself, and then wondered if he should care.  It’s only a three-hour flight, he thought.  I’ll never see her again.  I’ll just explain that I’m tired and need a nap because I got up at 3:30 in the morning to make sure I was on time.  Yep.  I don’t owe her anything, so screw her and everyone else on this frigging plane.

He cleared his throat.  “I’m sorry,” he said, turning back towards her and catching his reflection in the window beyond her face.  “I’m usually not this rude.  I usually like talking to people, but I’ve had a crappy week, and it’s barely started.  And now I have to fly in a death trap for three hours.  Please forgive me if I don’t talk much.”

“No problem,” she smiled again.  His eyes caught a reflection of her crucifix as she twirled it before tucking it into her black sweater, then his eyes caught hers again.

Great, he thought, she thinks I’m staring down her shirt.  His anxiety, already a ten, was a twelve.  Do I explain?  apologize?  Anything?  Dammit.  He thought about how much easier his life would be if his fear of flying proved itself to be true.  Then he thought about how stupid that was to say and that perhaps he had just jinxed the flight.  He reached for the armrest, but instead of feeling soft vinyl he felt a slight shock.  The woman next to him had also reached for the armrest but touched Chris’s hand instead.  It was if she had dragged her feet across the carpet before touching him.  Chris immediately snatched his hand away and gave her an unfriendly glare.

“Oh,” she gasped.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to -”

“No, it’s okay,” he explained.  “I’m not like germ phobic or anything.  I just got some kind of shock or something.  Didn’t you feel it too?”

“I think so.”

She began to say more but instead stayed quiet, looking up at him with eyes similar to his son after a scolding.  When she turned to the window, Chris was unnerved by what seemed like some kind of fire in her eyes.  Her whole face began to glow as the first peek of sunlight reached over the horizon and across several runways from the eastern sky.  He relaxed, a little.

Great, he thought.  Now I have an obligation to talk to her.  I was hoping to just keep to myself.  But once you talk to someone, you open the door, and now they think they can make all kinds of small talk.  Not as if I have a good track record talking to women.  If I had any skill at all, I wouldn’t even be on this plane right now.  I’d be at work, having a good day.  Well, a decent day.  And she would be home doing, whatever she does, and all would be good.  But I’m an idiot.  And because I’m an idiot, I’m on this plane doing idiot things.  This woman has no idea she’s sitting next to an idiot.  Congratulations, Miss Blonde Hair.  You got the seat next to the idiot.

A feeling of déjà vu struck him.  He was convinced he knew her name or had seen her before and was about to ask.  He turned towards her but saw the wires of ear buds snaking up her shoulders and connected to her head.  Chris watched as her lips mouthed words to something and her head nodded slightly.  He too closed his eyes, but instead of music, his ears were filled with doubts and complaints.

Hours later he was dreaming that he was very tiny.  So tiny that he was riding on a paper airplane that someone familiar but unseen had thrown through the window of a very tall building.  A strong gust of wind knocked him off the plane, sending him spinning and flailing towards the ground.  He awoke as if he were just punched in the stomach.

“What’s happening?” he gasped as his eyes almost left his skull.  He noticed Ann’s left hand gripped the armrest so tightly that she was pushing herself into the seatback.  The other set was tightly gripping her crucifix, holding it near her lips as she whispered something.

“We’re hitting a lot of air pockets,” she said through clenched teeth and teary eyes.

“They’re actually pockets of no air.  A lack of air,” he corrected.  “Like a vacuum.  Not like a vacuum for cleaning your house or anything, but when there’s- ”

“Whatever,” she grunted, “but that’s what most people call them.”

“Most people are stupid,” he replied.

“Well, most people right now wouldn’t really give a shit because they’d care more about not dying.  So if you don’t mind, please stop arguing about vacuums and tell me something positive to convince me we’re not going to die.  Can you do that?”

The plane dropped again, losing a half mile of altitude in only two seconds.  He watched Ann’s eyes tighten and squeeze out a few tears.  More awake now, he looked around the cabin and noticed almost nobody else was talking, just a few soft cries and whispers.  He slowly understood that the whispers were prayers.

Chris looked again at Ann’s hand as it seemed as if she was trying to crush the armrest.  He turned forward, planted his back into the seatback as she had, and placed his hand on top of hers.  He remembered a few hours back when her hand touched his and they shared a shock.  There was no shock this time.  It was more like a burn.  It was starting to hurt, but he feared it would hurt more to not hold on to somebody.

Again, the plane dropped, and with it dropped the hearts of everyone on board.

“I’m not ready to die,” whispered Ann.

“Huh?” Chris asked.

“I’m not ready to die.”  A little louder but more frightened.

“Who says you’re going to die?”  She smiled a little.

“Are you always this practical?”

“Pretty much.  One of the things that annoys people about me.”

“How many more are there?”

“Depends on who you ask.”

A fiery branch of lightning outlined the black storm clouds as a deafening crack sent a jolt through the plane as well as another static shock between the hands of Ann and Chris, but it was more than just static.  It was enough that they looked at each other with questions.  Good questions.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the pilot.  “We’ve lost an engine, and we’re going to attempt an emergency landing.  We need you to brace yourselves in crash positions.  Please listen to your flight stewards as they repeat the procedures that you saw before takeoff.”

An Asian woman stood twenty feet up the aisle from them.  They could see her arms and lips moving, and they could see she was slightly trembling and wiping her eyes with her sleeve, but they couldn’t hear a word of her directions.  They both focused elsewhere.  First, they were still trying to decipher the electricity that passed between them when lightning struck plane.  Second, they repeated the words, “I’m not ready to die.”  For the next two minutes, thirteen seconds, they said nothing else.  “I’m not ready to die.”  As they repeated it, the shock that had struck their hands had not subsided.  It was not a static, dry-winter-air zap.  It was a sustained and continuous shock that had begun but had not ended.

Chris and Ann kept their eyes closed tight with hand gripped over hand.  Neither they nor anyone else could see the ground of the open field ahead coming closer.  They couldn’t see the pilot or the rest of the crew mumbling their own prayers as well.  Random moments of life flashed within each individual.  Hugging a loved one.  A first kiss.  Lost in a forest.  A wedding day.  A child’s birth.  A walk in Italy.  A secret moment in the backseat of a car.  A graduation ceremony.  Moving away from home.  The death of a pet.

Everyone on the plane was reliving their own peace and acceptance, hope and fear, promises and bargains.  Chris and Ann were sharing a space.  Within them, they were seeing each other’s moments of remembered life before the approaching threat of death.  Chris could see Ann as an 18-year old getting a new car.  Ann could see Chris as he watched his son get dressed for his first day of school.  Somehow, they had this access to each other, but each was not aware of the other.

There was a growl, a squawking and squealing of a giant silver bird, like a metal hawk about to pounce on a rabbit running across a farm field.  The squawk turned into something more like waves rolling across sand on a beach at both sunrise and sunset at the same time.  And then there was so much sound that there was no sound.  There was a rush of wind and light rain, tinted with the smell of fuel.  Some remembered being a kid and going to the gas station with Dad and thinking how they liked that smell.  They remembered how everything seemed safe with Dad.  Dad the protector.  They wanted and prayed for the protector.  Now.

There was a warmth and a chill at the same time, each distinguishable from the other, not felt but just known.  Some things you just know, like in a dream when you’re in a house that looks like just any house, but somehow you know whose house it is without them being there or ever having been there yourself.

There were some on the plane who could now hear Chris and Ann repeating “I’m not ready to die.”  It echoed in them, and they joined in.  They could all hear each other, feel each other.  They just knew it.  Some of them stopped, not all at the same time but scattered.  Some of them continued.  Some stopped pleading, but they didn’t want to stop.  They had no choice.

________________________________________

Question 1:  I was told that I have issues with point of view.  Was that evident to you?

Question 2:  Was it clear or unclear that the plane crashed at the end of the chapter?

____________________________________________

117 thoughts on “Connecting Flight – ch. 1 – update

  1. 1) I don’t even understand this question. It was always clear to me we are hearing his thoughts, very clearly.

    2) No, it wasn’t clear. But if chapter two starts and the plane is at rest I would still be a satisfied customer. I don’t need further explanation of how it goes down because I will tell you, I was right there….hmmm I guess at smelling the gas I sort of thought it landed roughly but wasn’t sure.

    I got chills twice, loved his inner dialogue, had a hunger to know where they were headed and why. This connection they have, I can’t wait for more.

    I am really glad I can start your book, I never wanted to jump in halfway through a story. You are a superb writer.

    • i will probably put up a chapter every other day to give people time to read each one before another is there. i don’t want anyone to feel rushed if they choose to read them all. thanks very much for your nice thoughts and for reading.

  2. Amazing!!
    You may want to go to my blog and re-follow me, I lost all of my followers when I deleted the other blog and re-named it, also if you could like my facebook page Author_4_U while you are there, I would so appreciate it.
    I am going to your page now to see if I can do the same for you:)

  3. Hi Rich
    Firstly to answer your questions, I don’t think you have issues with point of view and it was clear that the plane crashed at the end of the chapter.
    Secondly, I’m glad you have revisited your novel, I look forward to reading more chapters.
    Hope you are OK
    Dee

    • and i look forward to hoping that you find it interesting enough to continue reading. thanks very much for visiting and giving me some of your time.

  4. Hi Rich
    I enjoyed this tremendously (here comes the but…)
    Ann doesn’t introduce herself – so how does he know she’s called Ann?
    I can see why people would say you have issues with point of view – we’re firmly with Chris until the crash – then we pan out and we’re not only seeing Chris and Ann’s shared flashbacks, we’re also seeing what everyone else in the plane is thinking. I’m not sure how you resolve this – if you want to stay with Chris then you could have him realising that everyone else must be experiencing their own flashbacks, then realising that he’s experiencing Ann’s life and wondering if she’s experiencing his.
    Finally, have you considered starting the story with the paragraph that begins “A fiery branch of lightning outlined the black storm clouds as its deafening crack sent a jolt through the plane.” – showing a little of the crash and then jumping back to when he got on the plane? That way you grip the readers from the start – they’ll invest in the characters much more because they know they’re about to fall to their doom.
    Just suggestions – I’m looking forward to reading more.
    ELA

    • i need to carefully re-read your comment to make sure i know what you’re thinking because i’m sure this will help improve the chapter. at the end, or during the crash, there was a point of view shift that is supposed to be like one, big, group out-of-body experience, as if the consciousness of everyone joined together, and then after the impact, they all broke apart again.

      as for chris not knowing ann’s name, that will be explained, or at least it will be more evident in the next chapter.

      thanks very much for such careful reading and sharing. this will greatly help.

      • I think it all works just fine. The flashbacks offer up a perspective that correlates with the turbulence and eminent landing/crashing.
        BRAVO – Rich

    • someone else suggested a more gripping opening paragraph. working on that now, and i’ll update this post when i revise it. i’ll let you know so you can give it a peek. thanks again.

  5. At first, I’m ecstatic with this one, but to hear it crashed displeases me greatly. I like this one, fix it, don’t kill them, and finish it. I wanna know more about this electrical shock.

    • i’m glad you like it. as for finishing – it is finished and will be posted one chapter at a time, every other day, all 20 chapters. the electric shock is important and will develop more in the next few chapters. as for “fix it,” i’m not sure what you mean, but i do want to know. thanks very much for reading.

  6. Very interesting story. I must say, admittedly, I didn’t come upon your blog with necessarily enthusiastic intentions after reading I’m to critic a story..but I am a defiant little Duck if I must say so myself. Was hooked from the way you wrote, the sentence structure, the flow, and the first paragraph altogether.

    To answer your questions, I don’t think there was much trouble with character distinguishing, or points of view. Although I must say it was rather surprising to discover how the woman reacted to the emergency. The realism of it? Disappointment that she was not this super cool calm and collected, but exhilarating that she’s so mundane – paradoxical as they may sound.

    The plane crash I got somewhat vaguely. The smell of fuel really hinted me. In retrospect I think the last sentence gave hint to the end as well, but I didn’t see it until I read your question. For me, it was mostly because of how calm(?) the ending was, or the fact that Ann and Chris were still able to chant their mantra that disillusioned their crash.

    My two cents. Apologies for this incredibly long comment. But really enjoyed the story, look forward to more of your story (:

    • your two cents are very important to me, so please dont apologize for a long comment. i am indebted that you would not only take the time to so carefully read the whole chapter but also to share your very clear thoughts in order to help me improve it.

      so thank you very much for your generous time and attention. i hope you can put up with further chapters without giving up on it. i hope it keeps your attention.

  7. Just catching up with blog reading since I’ve been away. Was very excited to discover that you’re posting more writing: give your audience what they want – and I definitely wanted more of your writing after the last few examples!

    As for this piece and your two questions – I did have some reservations about point of view – similar to elappleby above: such as knowing the female character was called Ann! Will look out for that explanation in future chapters.

    I understood the jump to the collective conciousness though, and thought it worked well to build to the climax of the chapter. It became clear that then it wasn’t just Chris thinking, but almost a commentary on what everyone in that situation would be thinking…about not wanting to die and why not…etc.

    However, the following paragraph – from Ann’s p.o.v – is what bothered me the most about p.o.v:

    “She wanted to say more but decided it would be better to just give him some quiet time. She turned to the window and smiled when the first peek of the sun was reaching the horizon across several runways towards the eastern sky.”

    Everything before and after these two sentences is from Chris’ p.o.v and in this Chapter Ann’s thoughts are never apparent as clearly as this. So this does stick out as a point of view issue. Maybe you could have Chris comment on how she then turns away to look at the view and him appreciating her understanding that he needs some quiet time?

    As for Question 2: I think your last line says it all. It’s very final. I would start reading Chapter 2 assuming that the plane had crashed, unless told otherwise.

    Having never critiqued any one else’s work but my own I hope this is the type of feedback that you were after. I am very harsh on myself, so if my comments seem very pernickity, that’s probably why.

    I do love your style though – you certainly have a unique voice, and one I’d like to read more of.

    Take Care,
    Cat x

    • As far as being too critical, that is not possible. Please examine and slice and dice as much as you care too. Your thoughts are extremely helpful

      You are perfectly correct about the point of view shift. When I write, I imagine that I am watching a movie, and I simply write what I see as the movie plays in my head. That causes point of view problems. I clearly have to pay better attention to this.

      As for your very kind compliments, I will do my best to live up to what you have suggested about my writing. I hope I really do deserve such kind words. Thanks and double thanks.

      • No problems – I will endeavour to offer constructive criticism, which is the only useful kind!

        I know how difficult it can be to find people to give honest feedback on writing, so I will do my best to try and answer your questions at the end of any chapters.

        Feel free to ask me to clarify anything – sometimes it’s hard to make complete sense in a comments box!

  8. 1. It comes from Chris’s POV very well. However, you need to have Ann introduce herself because otherwise, how does he know her name?

    2. It was clear to me that the plane has crashed – the terror you depict in the steward trying to give them the instructions for the emergency landing shows that the airline staff think it’s too late – and also the way you talk about the other passengers “joining” Ann & Chris indicates that they’re either all dead or having some sort of joint spiritual experience/hallucination type thing.

    • I am glad that you are a little frustrated in that anns name was known but should not be known. What I mean is I am glad that you were able to notice that. You didn’t just read pass it and accept it.

      Fortunately, it will be explained in the next chapter.

      • I tend to notice these continuity things. More so when I’m reading or when it’s plot-related (like in “Bones”, it gets really confusing about when Brennan went into the foster system – she was 15, but then says a grandparent got her out, but then later there’s no grandparents and she says she can’t really remember her mother).

  9. Pingback: Connecting Flight – ch. 4 | brainsnorts inc >.<

  10. Hi Rich
    this is a big improvement – the first paragraph sets the story up nicely. You still don’t have that killer first line though. If you look at pretty much any modern book you’ll find something that draws you in straight away, and I reckon that’s what a publisher will look for too.
    If you don’t want to start with the crash, have you considered starting with the electric shock? Or with Ann and Chris connecting in some way. I sort of feel like you’re starting too far back, when you should jump in where there’s action.
    something to think about anyway – I’m off to chapter four now – see you in a bit!

    • thanks very much, and i don’t disagree with you about the first sentence. for example, i already worked on the first sentence of my next book: “When Ed’s eyes stayed focused a little too long on the woman across the street as she leaned forward into the trunk of her car, he never would have guessed that it would eventually lead to at least two deaths in the neighborhood.” it’s just a start, but is that the kind of thing you mean?

      • Yes, exactly – it makes you want to know what happens next.
        I got the Man Booker Prize shortlist (well 6 of them) for Christmas – here’s some first lines for you:
        Hilary Mantel (the winner) – “His children are falling from the sky.”
        Deborah Levy (brilliant writer and probably more your kind of style) – “When Kitty Finch took her hand off the steering wheel and told him she loved him, he no longer knew if she was threatening him or having a conversation.”
        Jeet Thayil – “Before Dimple came to be called Zeenat, she worked part-time for Rashid and disappeared every evening to the hijra’s brothel.” (BTW – The prologue to this is a four page single sentence!!!)
        All very different and very different books but all show the writer to have that special something and make you want to read more.
        Food for thought – I may have to do some writing tonight – you’ve inspired me!

      • i’ve inspired you? well, your reading and critiquing is doing a great job of bringing me encouragement and inspiration as well. as you said, it works both ways.

      • i recently saw a mention of the booker prize on a website called “etherbooks,” where i have one short story and a few more on the way. thanks for those examples.

  11. Question 1: I was told that I have issues with point of view. Was that evident to you? I had no problems following the points of view.

    Question 2: Was it clear or unclear that the plane crashed at the end of the chapter? A little unclear, but I also had identified with the two of them and couldn’t see them dying in a crash in the first chapter. We will see.

    Good start.

    • thanks for the “good start” and identifying.

      about the point of view, you had the advantage of me getting previous feedback and then making adjustments before you were able to read it. so i may have fixed those issues before you got to it.

      regardless, thanks very much for reading and enjoying.

  12. I have late to the party, but here I am! I must say I am a fan of the idea of putting the crash as your first paragraph. Is it critical that we know-know that the plane crashed? Unresolved pulls us into the 2nd chapter before turning off the lights to go to sleep.
    I am looking forward to reading my way up your blog.

  13. “”Great, he thought. Now I have an obligation to talk to her. I was hoping to just keep to myself. But once you talk to someone, you open the door, and now they think they can make all kinds of small talk.””

    ….I missed that before….nice

    • i tend not to do that. i tend to let each reader decide that for themselves. when i read, i don’t pay much attention to features of characters. i tend to select my own “actors” to play each part in my head while i’m reading. however, just because that works for me doesn’t mean it works for everyone, so maybe i should add those things.

      • now wait a minute, you’ve given insight into what your mind’s eye sees when looking at Ann, what’s the deal with Chris? You afraid we won’t like him?

        Oh, btw…just because he’s an “idiot, OCD, with ….omg…say it ain’t so…

      • you’re right. i need to add a little visual touch. doing that now. not sure what you mean about the OCD – say it ain’t so.

      • ok. i added this: “When looked again at the little arm for the tray, pointing more at 5 o’clock instead of 6, his right leg bounced a little. Then his right hand reached up, and he scratched at the short, wavy brown hair that had receded enough for him to pay more attention to commercials about hair growing products.” think that’s enough? maybe a little more?

      • it’s a good start. how tall is he? how does he dress? is he acid white, warm honey, or a creamy caramel? Little details…

      • after the crash we see his clothes, but i guess i can put that before. yes, little details that i overlook because they’re in my head already, so i can’t see the need for it, but you can see the need more easily than i can. thanks.

      • that’s why I enjoy being read to or being told a story. when you say it out loud for someone else to hear, it typically breathes a different life.

      • is this enough for his clothes on page 1?

        “He zipped the chest pocket of his navy blue fleece pullover to secure the necessary documentation, then he patted the pocket once more just to make sure it was still there. He reached down to feel the pockets of his pressed khakis to make sure his wallet and cell phone were also where they belonged.”

      • That tells me he’s rather understated in his dress, clean, but casual…not a trendsetter. I’m talking about his body structure, frame, stature, things along those lines.

      • how’s this?

        After the security officer waved him to exit the body scanner, he re-buckled the belt that matched his soft, brown shoes. It wasn’t until then that he noticed that his belt needed to be pulled one more notch. Over the past three months, his body had become less like four years as a third basemen in college and more like fifteen years as a high school math teacher.

      • It’s good.

        Math teacher, huh?
        I’ve known some math teacher…hmm… this one used to flex his butt while standing at the board. Inappropriate, but frickin’ entertaining.

  14. Hello Rich,
    Susie sent me! I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait to read chapter 2 (and the rest, of course). I do not see any issues in connection with “point of view” and in response to your second question, yes, it is clear that the plane crashed. “They were not given the choice” did the trick for me.

  15. Hi Rich… I guess I’m slightly biased, or know too much… my first read of this was chapert 18 nor 20 or 22 or so… by that point it was clear who/what Chris and Ann wre, which is what made me search to find the beginning so I could start there…
    knowing Ann’s name? seems like there’s already unexplainable stuff from the shock – that “shoick scene” should be highlighted in some way to set it apart and set up it’s importance.
    That said, the collective consciousness after seemed already other worldly definitions of things as we know them (sharing experiences, etc)… don’t focus too much on the start (I agree a punch it first line wold be awesome) until we see what becomes of our already engaged to/with us Chris and Ann.
    Lastly, I must say, as I slept I think my mind went of into LOST and similarities, but I didn’t want to influence my understanding too much by other plots/stuff…
    I’m off to ch 2 now… probably won’t add such long comments unless really necessary – I want to see what Chris and Ann are up to…

    🙂

    • you feel free to make your comments as loooong as you are motivated to make them. and thanks very much for giving it the time and attention. i will look for a way to “punch” up that first line. thanks again.

  16. Like this first chapter. Point of view seems fine to me. The third person narrative with Chris as a focaliser works well. I think it’s fine to shift the focaliser from time to time. It seemed clear to me that the plane crashes. For me, though, the use of Anne’s name from within Chris’s mind jars.

  17. I too was wondering when Ann became Ann and not Miss blonde hair, however, if it’s part of the story and will play out, then may not stumble the reader.

    I’m intrigued by the shock and knowing, however, I actually have that ability in life (knowing and seeing images) so I am not so shocked (pun intended ; )

    I do see the point of view thing when you are talking about all the passengers and what they see as the plane descends (or maybe I misread that?). Unless that is part of this that develops later in the story, I would take it back to the two of them knowing what is passing through their minds etc. I may not be understanding that part though.

    A couple of small things, say “anxiety biting” versus “anxiety that was biting” has more physical impact. I would remove the “giant silver bird” part and just lead into “like a metal hawk…” Again, small things but thought I’d share anyway.

    You have me hooked, but it wasn’t so much from the guy in the airport so much as the interaction between the two. I read someone recommending a little foreshadowing with the storm, that may help a bit. In that the storm is not doing anything to help the mounting anxiety biting him inside… like an outward reflection of how he feels inwardly. I look forward to reading the next chapter : )

  18. Just finished Chapter 1, will continue with later chapters as the story has a good grip already. Similar to other posters I found the sudden sweep out to “3rd person omniscient” style writing to be jarring, and the sudden knowledge of Ann’s name without introduction to be jarring. It reads like an error. I see that you intend this to be a moment where consciousness merges for the people in the plane, but it makes for bumpy and awkward reading as it is now. Perhaps you can consider whether this is a gradual transition or a sudden switch for consciousness and make it clear to the reader that something has changed. Since you are focused on Chris’ point of view up until this point, perhaps starting with Chris being surprised he knows something about Ann (even her name) and questioning how he knows this would be a good way to start it, as you are slowly pulling the reader’s perspective out?

    • the POV switched to kind of a communal consciousness because they were all sort of praying and hoping to survive the crash. so i was going for a moment when they weren’t all actually mentally connected, but they were all mentally doing the same thing, like a very solemn moment.

      but, regardless of what i’m going for, if it doesn’t work “great” then it doesn’t work well enough. i’m going to have to revisit it very soon. thanks very much.

      • Yep, totally get what you are going for and I think it’s a good moment. I don’t think it needs replacing, but you need to guide the reader into the moment a little more. Not a major rewrite, just minor additions or tweaks, I think.

  19. okay I think I’m going to like this story too. But I better only read one at a time. So Woodbury First. Though I suspect this is more my cup of tea.

    Only one little thought….. When you wrote ……First, they were still trying to decipher the electricity that passed between them when lightning struck plane…… I wanted this sentence to end with passed between them. Not directly tying the electricity to the lightning again. More ambiguous (leaves room for something so much greater).

    • This story is 25 chapters but not all are online. When you get through the seven chapters here, let me know, and I will put links to the rest where you can find them.

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