This is what I've been working on. Fear of 'the first 13 lines' caused me to create a new opening for my story. This agrees more with the tone of the entire 'thing.' Eventually I'll post the original opening I had to see what everyone thinks.
I have about 33,000 words so far.
Thank you in advance.
“I’m so sorry,” Stanley’s father said to him. With that, the elderly man, whose hands were calloused and voice was always stern, whose perspicacity was second to none, who taught him and his brothers how to clean their hunt and make use of all its parts – that man fell to his side. He clutched his stomach, but blood still flowed through his hands.
Stanley was speechless. He and his brothers Jeremy and Bradley went to their father. Bradley was in tears.
“Tell your sister…” their father whispered but the rest of the words were too low to understand.
Jeremy picked up his father’s rifle and mounted his horse. Bradley cried out to him, “Jeremy, wait!” Stanley was too busy holding his father. He’s not dead yet, he thought, I
Posted by enigmaticuser (Member # 9398) on :
It paints a picture, I'm speculating that a either what follows will be able a hunting accident or that Jeremy is going after another shooter or something.
It causes curiosity, what just happened? Though the "Tell your sister . . . " line as the old man fades seems a little cliche. I mean, the setting seems like it was sudden, so he just got shot, one guy is instantly in tears, and the guy's already making last confessions? Maybe it just feels a little rushed. That could be where we are dropped into the story? Would it hurt to step in a moment earlier, and build up to the drama? I mean we're dropped in halfway through some action?
I guess I wonder if this was just chosen so open with someone getting shot? It might be much more impactful if we dropped in a couple seconds earlier which could leave space for hinting at whatever was meant for the sister and what dynamic is going on, only to have it interrupted quickly by this mishap?
I would keep reading to get more bearing.
Posted by GhostWriter (Member # 9963) on :
Thanks for posting up your work Tank! 33,000... ah I remember when I was stuck in the 30ks... Worst 2 years of my writing career... Just by cruising over your intro though, it sounds like you should be writing along just fine! Haha I am glad that the 13 lines let you rethink the intro. It is good practice to say the least. Anyway, down to business.
I love how you intro this. There is action: the father was just shot (or stabbed or whatever. He is bleeding none the less.) and there is gut wrenching description of the father, which makes me sympathise with the dying dad. I also like how Jeremy gets up and goes, Makes me wonder where he's off to in such a hurry.
I am going to have a agree, as well as disagree, with Enigmaticusers (mind you, this is just what I think...) I agree that the "tell your sister" line is a little overused (I might suggest making it more drawn out. Characters make stories un-cliche, but it is still overused... change as you see fit) I also agree that the brother already crying seems too quick, maybe he bursts out right then and there as you describe it.
But I like how we are thrown right into the action. It is fast and leaves the reader with questions that will make him want to read more to find out, and that is your goal. Again though, this is just what I think.
"Jeremy picked up his father’s rifle and mounted his horse. Bradley cried out to him, “Jeremy, wait!” Stanley was too busy holding his father." I would put "but" right after he yelled for Jeremy to wait. It is a bit confusing with out it and slightly sporadic.
Overall I say well done! This leads very well into a book! I like it! I hope my more positive critiques were still helpful anyway. Good luck and may your pages be ever full.
Posted by JSchuler (Member # 8970) on :
I think you have a good start in that it sets the scene effectively, but the writing doesn't grab me.
"With that, the elderly man, whose hands were calloused and voice was always stern, whose perspicacity was second to none, who taught him and his brothers how to clean their hunt and make use of all its parts – that man fell to his side."
-This second sentence is, essentially, a flashback. It's telling us all about who this man was, what he did before the story started. Telling us in one long sentence. That doesn't help with the flow. There are opportunities to sprinkle this information in. For instance: "..blood still flowed through his calloused hands."
"Stanly was speechless."
-The description here is weak. Lots of things can make you speechless, like your wife suddenly belching the national anthem in a five star restaurant. What's really going on? Is there so much that Stanly wants to say--has to say--that it all gets jammed up and chokes him?
"He and his brothers Jeremy and Bradley went to their father."
-Shouldn't Stanly go to his father first, then realize he's at a loss for words?
-Again, the description is weak. They "went" to their father. Did they skip, saunter, take the bus, sprint, dive, dash, leap? If they weren't next to him, where were they? This is a great place to introduce the setting. If one of them has to jump over a water trough to get to their dying father or plow through a snow bank, that improves the reader's grasp on the situation.
"Jeremy picked up his father’s rifle and mounted his horse. Bradley cried out to him, “Jeremy, wait!” Stanley was too busy holding his father. He’s not dead yet, he thought, I "
-In these few lines, I suggest you pick one character and stick to him. It seems you focused on Stanley. Tell us this scene through Stanley's perspective. The narrator can still be omniscient, but you would present this information to emphasize Stanley's state of mind. Example: "Stanley buried his head in his dying father's chest. He couldn't see that Jeremy had picked up his father's rifle, or hear Jeremy's horse gallop off."
Posted by Tank1982 (Member # 9959) on :
Thank you, enigmaticuser. I didn't notice the cliche until you pointed it out. I'll rework that part.
Thanks, GhostWriter. You're right, it definitely needs a transition or two in the lines you mentioned. Thank you for the kind words.
Thanks, JSchuler. I see what you're saying with the second sentence. You certainly provided plenty of food for thought.
You guys wouldn't believe how much I stressed over the first 13 lines. For me, my instant reaction was "it's so much more than the first 13 lines."
JSchuler, considering what you were saying about sprinkling in the discriptions of the father through his actions, I was thinking:
I’m so sorry,” Stanley’s father said to him in his usually stern voice. With that, the elderly man, whose perspicacity was second to none, who taught him and his brothers how to clean their hunt and make use of all its parts, fell to his side. He clutched his stomach, but blood still flowed through his old calloused hands.
Again thank you all for your take on the lines. It's very much appreciated.
Posted by JSchuler (Member # 8970) on :
I think the main problem with that line is that, as I read on, I don't see the hunting experience being relevant to this scene. It strikes me as something that could be better incorporated later on, perhaps when one of the brothers has to clean and butcher a deer.
It's just not urgent information and there's someone dying right now!
As for the stern voice part. "Stern" and "I'm so sorry" don't quite mesh well. It could be that, even in death, and even apologizing, the old man is just that authoritative. But, you need to help me bridge that gap.
I imagined it more along the lines of his _formerly_ stern voice. This is where picking one character's POV and sticking to it can pay off. You can draw a contrast: Stanley always remembered his father's voice heavy with authority, strong and stern. Now, broken and sad, all that voice could manage was "I'm so sorry." or... Even now, clutching his stomach as blood flowed through his old calloused hands, that voice still portrayed his father's inner strength, even if the words could not. "I'm so sorry."
Posted by Owasm (Member # 8501) on :
This seems a bit slow. For one thing the Stanley's father had me searching for relationships, but all of these people are related, so you could just call him 'Father' or 'Their father' and that would tighten up the relationships better. I think it might read more strongly if you started with the blood flowing and then talk about the father's injury. It seemed a little odd to talk about perspicacity and calloused hands then the guy has a stomach wound.
I'd also like to know where I am. In the woods? I'd like to know before Jeremy mounts his horse. I like the thrust of the opening though. The idea is strong and it might be a powerful beginning to the book so I'd read on.