I just started this piece today. I thought I would put the first 13 up here while I worked on the rest. All thoughts welcome. Full readers are welcome too, once I complete it.
The shimmering evening light on the ocean waves caused Alexander to squint. This was his relaxing place, here with the waves. He had come here many times to reflect on past lives. Mistakes he had made, things he had done right, and what might await him next. He heard the car door shut on the ridge behind him. He didnít look behind him, instead he glanced to the cliffs on the right. There was likely a sniper team watching him from there, in fact he hoped there was. He could hear the footsteps in the sand approaching from behind. Alexander took one last deep breath of ocean air. He wasnít nervous about death, that part had become easy, it was waking up again that scared him.
I find the concept of multiple lives intriguing - I have an on-again-off-again story of my own about a person skimming through the multiverse and becoming uncomfortably aware of various incarnations of himself.
Some people have told me that multiple lives alone isn't a big enough hook. Your possible sniper and the ominous approaching footsteps (possibly some guild of assassins) are compelling enough for me to keep reading.
However, my biggest criticism is that aspects of this opening seem disconnected in two ways.
Firstly, the MC seems to feel something between melancholy and apathy about his situation - he's just waiting to be killed, again. I suppose that's okay, and I could see how getting killed over and over again might cause this reaction. I just wonder if this is what you are trying to convey. He seems to have just given up on this life. It also makes me wonder if you've started in the right place - what has happened recently to bring him to this point of despair? I almost feel a flashback coming on. The last sentence describes him as being scared, but I'm not getting that from this opening.
Secondly, I'm not really feeling the imagery. The opening sentence seems weak - I'm not feeling the need to squint from the "shimmering evening light". It may be due to the word use - I do not associate either of these two words with very bright light. I'm not hearing the waves crash, or the car door shut, or even the nearing crunch of sand behind me as the mysterious person approaches. I can't taste the ocean air as I breath it in. I've been on an eliminating the sensory filters kick for some time, and I've read some recent professional stories that are including them a little, but the vast majority are leaving out the "I heard's, I saw's, I thought's, I felt's, etc." - not wrong, just a consideration.
I like the concept of past lives, but to me these 13 lines feel like a sequel and not a scene. The first couple of lines are character introspection - thinking back on things. He's reacting to something we haven't seen yet. Personally, to hook the reader I think you should start with the character actively doing something, instead of passively reacting. To me it seems like this scene is actually starting at the end of the 13 lines ... "he wasn't nervous about death...it was the waking up that scared him." That last line gives the impression that the main character is about to do something. Posts: 525 | Registered: Sep 2010
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Thanks guys. I was going for a sense of melancholy with a touch of apathy for this MC. The piece actually is fairly short. Some background maybe helpful. The MC is ending his 27th life (that he remembers) here. His 28th is a bit more promising (though he doesn't know that in this first 13).
I am going to give my first draft a look over today.
I would take a look, but I am so backed up with (redundant) work paperwork, I have no idea when I'd be able to read it and even less of an idea of when I'd be able to critique it and get it back to you.
[This message has been edited by philocinemas (edited October 03, 2011).]
I agree with what has been said so far, except about where the story starts. I'm guessing some pieces may be filled in along the way, but I don't feel they all have to. Just make sure that the story is charactor driven, make us care. Explinations may just slow down the story.