Here is a one k thing I wrote in an hour. Interested what everyone thinks of the opening
They made up their mind and started packing. Should we bring our medicine? Helen asked John smiled at her. It was the first time in a month his wife was able to maintain a coherent conversation. She used to fade in and out, now moments of clarity were rare jewels he treasured. Equally as rare was his shaking had stopped. It was as if their decision had cured them. Lets leave it behind, he said. It hasnt been working all that well anyway. They put their single suitcase in the backseat of their 15-year old Buick and left before the sun came up. John drove south, sticking to the costal highway and off the freeway. He saw Helen looking up at the mountains. The glow of the rising sun
I don't believe -They made up their mind- is grammatically correct.
You have three uses of the word -it-. The first one should change because it refers to nothing. The second two refer to the medicine but after a break that's just long enough for me to have to go back and question what -it- was referring to.
You could remove the first dialog and make it an active scene.
-They put their single suitcase...- Telling again. I mean, I can see it, but it's past tense as if it already happened. The scene is a still photograph in my mind. Can you make it a moving scene?
Is -15 yr old- significant? With only 1k words, each fact should be necessary, or gone. (This may be too harsh, as this could be in for flavor, but I think flavor comes from -the glow of the rising sun-. The Glow isn't technically necessary either, but you are painting a picture, creating a scene, so it's a nice visual, while 15 yr old is simply an uninteresting fact.)
Lastly, -He saw Helen looking- is passive and tell-y. Make it active and emotional.
I don't know why they're leaving. But am willing to keep reading to find out. There's enough character and curiosity/hook for me to go on.
Remember, nothing above is fact. Just my opinion meant to get your creative mind working. Hopefully something was helpful.
[This message has been edited by axeminister (edited July 06, 2011).]
quote:Should there be a -ing word in the First sentence?
I would agree with you and Tiergan 99% of the time on this but there is a very good reason why I choose to write the first line that way. There is a relationship between the title and it. I was hoping someone would have pieced it together, and more hopefully, an editor will as well.
Nevertheless, this opening could use some improvements.
I admire that you can crank out 1k in an hour (the most I've ever been able to manage is 250 words) However...
> They made up their mind and started packing. Unless this couple is a hermaphroditic Siamese twin joined at the head, then I think they would have made up their minds.
> Helen asked John smiled at her. How about adding either a comma or and >and< after asked.
> It was the first time in a month his wife was able to maintain a coherent conversation. Try getting rid of these fuzzy was-ies: For the first time in a month his wife could maintain a coherent conversation.
> She used to fade in and out, now moments of clarity were rare jewels he treasured. Get rid of that passive >were<. How about: She used fade in and out and he treasured like rare jewels her moments of clarity.
Equally as rare was his shaking had stopped. Just cut >was<: Equally as rare, his shaking had stopped.
> John drove south, sticking to the costal highway costal, n. pertaining to the ribs or the upper sides of the body: eg. costal nerves. So these Siamese hermaphroditic twins are small enough to travel on someone's upper body. And this body also has freeway that they decided not to take. Interesting.
Well, anyone can see the road that they walk on is paved in gold...
Wow, I totally read it as coastal. That's not like me to miss that. In my own writing, sure, but not during a crit. Nice catch Wolf.
I'm totally missing the -ing thing in the first sentence. Does it have to do with -their mind- ? If you're saying you wrote the sentence very intentionally, and it's not like you to make such a mistake in the first sentence, then what are you getting at?
"Was" or "were" are simple past tense. They are not inherently passive constructions - they will occur in passive constructions but only if the past tense is being used.
"They were walking" is not passive. "They were hit by a car" is passive ("A car hit them" is the active equivalent. "They are hit by a car" is still passive, just in the present tense, so no occurence of "were").
"They were walking" sounds passive with both the were and the -ing word or it sounds like the what passes for passive in the do not do list. Or maybe it sounds too much like tell. but it both boils down to don't use either word if you can keep from using them.
I think cars are good "markers" with which to characterize. Instead of telling us the car is "a 15 year old Buick", maybe you could describe what a 15 year old Buick looks like. If it's been stored on the coast for years, there's likely to be rust spots, bubbled up areas of corrosion from the salt water.