I’m writing a portal fantasy and I’m not sure how to start the fantasy part off. Here’s how things start off initially.
Camilla is a selfish 13 year old girl who is dealing with her mother marrying a new man with two daughters. After a falling out with her new family she runs out into a storm. Wanting a shortcut, she tries to cut under a bridge (despite her mother telling her to stop doing this before) and gets whisked away in a flash flood. She wakes up in a brand new land.
Here’s the two ways I was thinking to portray her first arriving in the new land
1)Camilla wakes up from a comma, groggy and confused. She notices that she’s laying on a cot under a warm blanket in clothes that she didn’t originally have on. Upon further inspection she notices that she’s in a house/room that is not her home and is surrounded by people who she doesn’t recognize. Suspecting she’s been kidnapped, she tries to look for an exit. When she finally finds a way out she learns that she is in the camping grounds of some kind bohemian-esque nomadic caravan. Still scared, a group of people explain to her that their leader, Claudia, actually found Camilla unconscious in the stream that rolls past their camping ground. Claudia herself meets her and tells her she gave her the dry clothes and put her in her quarters. She explains to her further that their camp is in the middle of nowhere and that Camilla must have been floating a while to have made it this far. Freaking out at the situation she’s in, Camilla asks them to help her contact her mom. It is here that Camilla starts to recognize that things seem even stranger than she thought; the phones all look completely different and won’t call out, her actual clothes, despite being the same size, look completely different, and none of the nomads she’s met recognize the name of Camilla’s city or even her state. Claudia gets a piece of Camilla's hair and puts it into a strange machine. With this they're able to ascertain that Camilla has somehow traveled across worlds and made it to the Puzzlelands. Camilla recognizes the name as its the same name as the book series her Grandpa wrote years ago. Confused, but still realizing she has to get home, Camilla takes the advice of the nomads and heads towards the nearest city to ask the Prince to make a portal for her to get home.
2) Camilla wakes up on the bank of a stream, soaking wet and coughing water. When she finally gets her senses together,she realizes she's in the middle of a nowhere with no buildings in sight. Figuring that she got washed away in the flood, she chastises herself for not listening to her mom. In search of help, she walks for miles in one direction hoping to find civilization. After a while she finds a very large, stone, building sitting in a forest. She makes her way into what seems like a library just before sunrise. She looks around at the books and nothing seems amiss, until she sees mist-like figures floating between the book cases. Before she figures out what they are, she's pulled into a room by a young woman wearing a trench coat ( Camilla will meet and be helped by this girl later in the story). She explains to Camilla how dangerous the figures are and leads her up a hallway and into a room where they'll be safe. Camilla explains to the woman her situation and asks her if she can help her contact her mom. The woman finds her a phone but it won't call out to the number Camilla dials. Camilla asks the woman how far away they are from her hometown, but she doesn't recognize the name of the town. Camilla gets more and more frustrated as the woman doesn't even seem to recognize the name of Camilla's state or even the word "Earth". As she listens though, she comments on how Camilla's situation sounds familiar, so she takes Camilla to a professor of the college they are currently at. Camilla is shocked to see that the professor has cat ears and a tail! She sees the view of a sunlight covered town from his office and recognizes it as Solaris- a town from the stories her grandfather told her of the Puzzelands. After a short mental breakdown, the professor explains to her that she has been "displaced", meaning spontaneously jutted from her world and into this one (her grandfather was probably displaced at some point too, explaining why he has such accurate stories). He scans her with a machine and finds out that she's from some place called "The Orbis", another name for "Earth". Under normal circumstances, they could send her home rather quickly, but there has been a bit of a magic shortage recently and the only one with the resources to send her so far would be someone at the castle- most notably the Prince. Not wanting to be stuck here forever, Camilla makes her way (or is given a ride, I haven't decide yet) to the Prince.
My biggest issues
1) The first one introduces us to some rather fun characters, but they're rather irrelevant to the story later.
2) The second one moves the plot along, but I'm not sure if starting journey in the confines of a library at first is the best (especially if it just leads to a big info dump).
3) I wonder if Camilla is independent enough. On the first one she get pulled from the stream, on the other she gets out and goes to look for help herself. I guess someone who's in a situation like this would need help, but I've noticed that heroines in these kinds of stories get dragged around by other characters a lot.
Any advice here would be appreciated.
P.S. Does anyone know is the whole bohemian/caravan nomad thing is offensive to some culture or not? I had trouble finding info on that.