Writing: Unluck by E.C. Orr


I haven’t posted anything of my own writing on here before, but I was thinking about it and maybe I should. After all, if I’m going to go around running my mouth about “how to write a novel” I should probably give you guys an idea of how I write, right?

Anyway, I’ve been working on a handful of different things (my personal stuff, not my work stuff which I can’t share because of legal reasons; NDAs anyone?) that are at varying stages of undone. I was trying to pick something that I could share that was short, but good – the hardest part, really… some are just awful – and I decided I would just wing it with the prologue of my would-be-novel Unluck. It’s about a group of teens who are cursed by what’s known as the “unluck”, something that was placed upon their family generations ago by a sea witch.

Here’s the opening scene:

We stand in a row, a line of evenly spaced bodies, bare feet tucked into the damp sand. Thirteen of us, thirteen kids on the edge of adulthood, standing beneath the moonlight at the water’s edge, just staring. From here, it looks like eternity. Like the night sky pin pricked with white cap stars and rolling nebulae of impossibly beautiful colors. Colors that don’t exist in a black ocean, that couldn’t possibly be shining from beneath the waves, but somehow are.

It’s not beautiful like it should be though, not to us, not to me. It’s just an endless ocean with dark secrets and promises, beckoning us to search.

We stand there together for long minutes, just long enough for the waves to start lapping at our ankles. The water’s cold against my skin, sending a skittering of goosebumps up along my flesh, but I don’t flinch, I don’t shiver. I just stare. And then I take a step forward.

We all do, in unison. That first step is always together, a joint effort on our part, a reminder that we are in this together, as one. After that first step though, we become disjointed and erratic. Sawyer shakes out her wispy blonde hair, longer than it was, but only barely brushing her moonlit shoulders. Beside her, Jessica is already thigh deep in the water, Emma and Rileigh trailing after her, all three looking like sirens about to call poor, hopeless men to their untimely deaths. Casey is carefully undoing his shirt, frowning at it, muttering about nice clothes and not having any foresight, because that’s Casey. He’s the kind of guy that reminds you this isn’t magic—or maybe it is and he’s just on the wrong end of it.

Levi cannonballs into the water and it splashes at me. Several drops hit the sirens in front of me and I can see Jessica glare, but no one speaks. No one ever speaks.

I’m halfway into the water, my hips finally submerging into the icy, lulling waves. Ahead of me Sawyer waves me forward. She isn’t under yet, but her shoulders are only barely above the water, pale and silvery in the moonlight. I can tell even from here that her clothes are gone and maybe I’d blush at the thought that I’ll lose mine, that everyone will lose theirs, too, except that it happens the same way every time and maybe I just can’t make myself care anymore.

Besides, I’m not looking at Sawyer. And I’m not thinking about Levi losing his shorts or Casey mumbling about his ruined slacks or Jessica bravely removing her bra before she’s even completely under.

No, I’m not looking or thinking of any of them. I’m looking at him.

I turn back, twisting my body at the hips, because I can’t not go forward and I can’t go back, but I can look. I can watch as he stands there, taller than me and everyone here, even Levi. I can see that he waits longer than the rest of us, but not from fear. There has never been fear in his eyes, the color of the sea, of crashing waves, of foam and summer and storms. No, he’s not afraid. He’s waiting.

When his gaze catches mine, that’s it. My breath hitches and everything slows. The world seems softer in that moment, the sounds far off and whispering, the waves stilled as though the ocean is holding its breath, too. Then he takes a step forward. And another. I don’t move and his eyes don’t leave mine, not until he’s standing beside me. Beneath the surface, I feel his hand brush against mine.

Then he looks away and we dive.

I know it’s very short, but there you have it. The opening to Unluck. I’ll try to post more excerpts from my own stuff once in a while. Let me know what you guys think and share some of your own stuff, too, if you’ve got it!


E.C. Orr


4 thoughts on “Writing: Unluck by E.C. Orr

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