This is topic Middle School Fantasy in forum Fragments and Feedback for Books at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by MikeB (Member # 9635) on :
So here's my first paragraph. What am I promising? What has to happen for you to be satisfied with the story? And what needs to change to make this more engaging? I've been hanging on to this beginning for four years, and I suspect that it really could get a lot better.

Tadenc was a bright and inquisitive child, so naturally, his parents tried not to love him very much. When little Tad was three years old, it became obvious what kind of life he was suited for, so his parents made the hard choice as best they could. It was difficult to harden their hearts to a cheerful and loving child, but considering where his future obviously lay, it was for the best. So Tad grew up feeling separate from everyone around him, out of step from everyone who could have loved him, but didn't; and this was right and proper.

Have at it!

Posted by Devnal (Member # 6724) on :
Hi Mike!

I actually hated your first sentence at first. Mainly because I had no way of correlating brightness and inquisitiveness as a reason to not love someone. But as I read along it would seem to me that, in this society, that is how you are to treat a child like this (eg - this society is different from ours). Kind of like preparing them for their future, which I would assume also is going to be hard and possibly involve decisions and actions that would best be suited for someone who hasn't been loved or loved (?). This is confirmed with your last sentence "and this was right and proper.

The use of comma's in this first thirteen is the first thing I notice. I would suggest trying to cut that down a bit, have a couple of shorter sentences. For example:

"Taderic was a bright and inquisitive child, so naturally, his parents tried not to love him very much."

"Taderic was a bright and inquisitive child. Naturally, his parents tried not to love him very much."

or something along those lines.

Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
The concept sounds interesting.

However, everything in this first paragraph is telling and therefore I can't connect with Tad. I don't know whether or how much this treatment hurts him. I don't know what he tries to do to gain the love that's being withheld. I don't know Tad.

Is there some way you could show this instead?

Posted by MikeB (Member # 9635) on :
Yep, that's kind of what I figured: I was so enamored of my first creation that I never worked on making it better. And it needs it. Thanks!
Posted by shimiqua (Member # 7760) on :
I like the idea, and the first line.

My issue is this line "considering where his future obviously lay, it..."

I( the reader) don't know what you are talking about, and the word obviously makes me feel like you are talking down to the reader, or withholding information in order to build suspense, but it didn't work for me. I suggest you try not to be vague.

Good luck with it.

Posted by MikeB (Member # 9635) on :
Unfortunately, Tad is the pawn of a long-running plot, and the reader is getting just a little more information than Tad himself. That means that either a) I have to reveal NOTHING, no hints, nada, or b) I have to reveal the whole thing from the beginning. (Or c) work out another way to tell the story.)

I'll have to ponder this one. Thanks!

Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
If Tad doesn't know, and the story is told from Tad's POV, then it's not withholding. Just switch to showing from Tad's POV and it becomes something he doesn't understand and a source of tension right at the beginning of the story.
Posted by MarinaLee (Member # 9623) on :
This sounds more like a summary than a place to start the story. I agree with Meredith that making it from Tad's POV would make more sense. You could start him out as an awkward teen or some such thing. I understand your problem with getting too attached to the words, but maybe you could use them as a blurb later.

Also, the very first sentence is so incredibly alienating that first I got a little bit angry, and it took me a bit to keep reading and realize that this was a different society. But that's actually kinda nice

Posted by MikeB (Member # 9635) on :
Ah! I've written the blurb! So the question becomes - at what point in Tad's life do I start this? I need to put expository info somewhere...

Thanks, everyone!

Posted by RyanRussellLunde (Member # 9649) on :
I would take out "obviously". I want to read a little more to determine how well this intro really works and to find out what this unfortunate (or maybe fortunate) kid has been born into. Very interesting concept.
Posted by MikeB (Member # 9635) on :
So glad you asked!

Magic can not change anyone's destiny. Fate must be conserved. SO ... magic is successfully done by those who are outcast, who will not have their life changed by being powerful in that way.

One implication is that magicians work at being outcast, being revolting. Tad was an intelligent boy - a requirement for being a magician - and the village needs a magician. His parents therefore help him to his life's work by rejecting him early and completely.

Yes, there are some logical holes in that story line, and those holes form part of the basic plot. And the springboard for the next book, if I ever make it that far.

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