This is how the short story “Cadets” began, as I wrote it the very first time, in German:
Seite an Seite standen die Kadetten der beiden Schwesternstaffeln Albatros Alpha und Albatros Omega in ihren dunkelblauen Uniformen neben dem Flugfeld der Westerhaven Airbase Academy. 50 Köpfe mit akkurant sitzenden Berrets auf kerzengerade gehaltenen Körpern hatten ihren Blick unverwandt nach vorne gerichtet, während die Mittagssonne erbarmungslos gleißend am wolkenlosen, augustblauen Himmel stand. Die wabernde Luft über dem Beton verwandelte die geparkten Camaro-Fighter auf der anderen Seite der Startbahn in undeutlich flirrende Schatten.
This is how it looked like after I translated it into English:
Side by side the cadets of sister squadrons Albatros Alpha and Albatros Omega stood in their dark blue uniforms next to the airfield of Westerhaven Airbase Academy. 50 heads with accurately placed berets, on bodies held straight as poles, were staring steadfastly ahead, while the midday sun burned mercilessly from the August blue sky. The flickering air above the tarmac turned the Camaro jets on the other side of the runway into hazy shimmering shadows.
Pretty close. And both are pretty boring. Something was missing. I couldn’t feel the sun, the airfield, the heat. So this is how it looks now, as the beginning of the prologue for the Apples of Eden:
The air over the tarmac of the runway flickered. Camaro jets, parked and ready for combat, were glimmering shadows behind a hazy veil. The light breeze felt as hot as jet exhaust against the skin of the 50 cadets, standing on the scorched grass next to the airfield of Westerhaven Airbase Academy. The sister squadrons Albatross Alpha and Albatross Omega suffered silently, while the August sun burned mercilessly on their dark-blue uniforms.
Of course, in all three versions I knew how this scene looked like, because I could see the 50 cadets standing there, but it took me several rewrites to finally find the words that would make the scene come alive, to make Nate’s wish for a cool drink in the next paragraph understandable.
The following was the beginning of the actual story of the Apples until this afternoon. It is not working the way I want it to work.
They were playing their favourite game: Comparing the customs on their respective home planets. She was packing up her desk after a sixteen hour workday, while he was casually leaning in the doorframe of her office, watching her and explaining a special flirting technique.
“… and they often employ a manoeuvre that is called the bend and snap.”
“That sounds more like a pretty painful combat move than anything I would use to gain a man’s attention. What do Earth girls do then, when they ‘bend and snap’?”
My original idea was to start with the main characters and introduce the setting bit by bit. But I feel like the whole part (not just the paragraph above) is sort of hanging in nothingness. Ironically, this what they actually do, but I want to give the reader a better impression of where we are before actually telling. So this is what now precedes the paragraph above:
The corridor stretched along in a slight curve, a gleaming tube of sterile whiteness. On one side, long windows interrupted the seamless wallpanels in regular intervals, showing nothing but pitchblack darkness outside. On the other side the windows were mirrored by a endless row of identical looking doors, one after the other, like pearls on a string. It was late, and all offices were empty, except one.
Not quite there yet, but better. The hunt for better words continues.