Thorne hadnít intended to stand at the top of a small knoll fifty yards from the Great Forest; heíd gravitated to it because it was the highest point in the area.
A cold wind blew past him and he shivered. In one yearís time his skin would become as hard as the trees in the nearby Great Forest. At age seven, the hardening had yet to occur, and those who designed the test knew this precisely.
He glanced at his soft, orange skin and wondered how it would endure the upcoming test. How, in fact, would it survive an invasion where the enemy brought, not the sharp claws of a forest creature, but weapons that expelled flame and death in the hands of every black-clad warrior who wielded them.
Thorne closed his eyes and concentrated on slowing his heartbeat.
================================== Original 13:
Thorne hadnít intended to stand at the top of a small knoll fifty yards from the Great Forest; he gravitated to it because it was the highest point in the area. He glared at the unambiguous military personnel standing nearby and tried not to despise them.
Commandant Sear scanned the group of boys that had lined up for the mandatory pre-test pictures. The Commandantís eyes found Thorneís, briefly, then moved on. Thorne exhaled. Heíd hoped for a salute, but the Commandant saluted no one of a lower rank. Some recognition that Sear was looking at the future General of the planetís armies would have been nice, but the look was as empty for him as the others.
Thorne ground his teeth, and tried to keep his growl at a lower volume than the constant wind that buffeted all in attendance.
EDIT: I believe I've found a way to solve both problems listed below. Hopefully this does it.
It still amazes me that a flaw in my entire story can be discerned within the first 13 lines...
Granted, sometimes the flaw is the 13, but after digesting the feedback I realized my conception of character was incorrect. Hopefully I've got it now, regardless of how the new 13 is received.
[This message has been edited by axeminister (edited May 27, 2010).]
[This message has been edited by axeminister (edited May 28, 2010).]
[This message has been edited by axeminister (edited May 30, 2010).]
Small nit first: "Thorne exhaled the breath he was holding." seems a bit redundant to me. What else would he be exhaling? Wait, that question is probably more fitting for a different kind of forum.
My biggest concern is that Thorne seems a bit of a whiner. The language concerning the lack of a salute or acknowledgement seems so weak. Now, if the character arc of the story is that Thorne must become heroic, I understand that he doesn't need to seem like much of a hero now, but he can be made to seem less a whiner and more of a nonhero.
Argh! Ok, I told myself I wouldn't change the 13 from my script, I would just copy paste, but I moved a few words around to fit the next sentence and that language was the most altered... I'm such a doofus.
That's why I post this stuff.
I'm going to change it quick before any more thoughts come in because it wasn't really supposed to be like that anyway. Grr...
Well, I wish I could have a more positive response, but this opening did not grab me. I'm not sure why. I just don't have a feel for who the characters are, what they are doing, or why.
If this Thorne person was really going to be the General of the planets army, then any career officer would at least acknowledge him, anything else would be career suicide.
Other than that, I feel like I need something to sink my teeth into. I don't know why any of them are there, why Thorne despises the military personnel, even though he is one of them, or why it's so important that the commandants did or did not give Thorne any recognition. If it's important enough to be in the first 13, it must be fairly important to the story. I know it's hard to get enough information in the first 13 without giving info dumps so if I found this story in a magazine, I'm not sure I would continue reading. Maybe another few paragraphs to see if story solidifies, but not more than that.
My main problem is that when reading the first sentence, I wonder why General (from the title) Thorne just aimlessly drifts to this hill. Why isn't he more decisive in choosing his location for a battle? I started thinking he was incompetent, but then in the 2nd paragraph I read that he's only seven. Maybe you can reference his age sooner? This might just be me (no one else mentioned it.)
The skin references are interesting, but they slow it down. I would combine the 2nd & 3rd paragraphs.
quote:A cold wind blew past him, and he shivered. In one yearís time his soft, orange skin would become as hard as the trees in the nearby Great Forest. At age seven, the hardening had yet to occur, and those who designed the test knew this precisely. He wondered how it would endure the upcoming test. How would it survive an invasion where the enemy brought, not the sharp claws of a forest creature, but weapons that expelled flame and death in the hands of every black-clad warrior who wielded them.
I think you also need to get us into WHAT Thorne is a little sooner. Is he human or something else? The growl (in the original), and the skin references got me wondering whether you are withholding, and the 7-year old boy in my mind is not the right image.
[This message has been edited by NoTimeToThink (edited May 30, 2010).]
Thanks NTTT, I like your combination quite a bit.
The thing about the opening sentence I'm trying to get across is not that he drifts there aimlessly, but that he gravitates there. The thing about gravity, is that it's an irresistible force. I'm trying to foreshadow that Thorne has no choice but to stand at the highest location in the area. He's a born leader, he just doesn't know it yet.
(A few sentences later, the other boys line up next to him. More foreshadowing that they too recognize Thorne for what he is.)
If that isn't coming across it's either because I didn't write it properly, or because you haven't yet reached the story's conclusion.
Then again, the whole idea of foreshadowing is that it's written properly up front...
Regarding revealing what he is, I'm not sure how to say he's not human other than the skin reference. It's orange and hardens at age eight. I'm not trying to withhold anything though.
That opening sentence doesn't grab me. I don't really care about characters standing on a blank stage. Or even that they gravitated there because it's a high point. The next sentences basically give me background I'm not interested in (yet). I AM interested in his skin and the implied impending change he will undergo, but I'm just not into his perspective until the final sentence. By then you've probably lost me.
Try starting from INSIDE his perspective and looking out. If he's surprised to find himself standing on that knoll, let us experience that surprise with him (right now we're being told about it); let us SEE what he sees (the essential detail that matters; A Great Forest is just a green blob in my mind; what does he focus on, specifically, and how does that trigger some reaction or insight in him? If he's an interesting character from the inside, I'll be more than happy to follow him through his adventure.