I am new here so I do not know if posting the beginning of a story is a good way to start. I finished this a little while ago; the first twelve lines, second draft of a short story. Fantasy: less than 5,000 words.
Edited for coherance (I can't belive that it made sense when I posted it) --
I have always been able to do things that others could not: all my life I have been an object of distrust to everyone I have met. there were many who fear what I might be able to do and many who pity my situation in light of that fear. That fear has made my life in some ways easier: it is the only shield I have against the hate many people feel when they see me. It has brought me momentary friends who think they can benefit from my power, but fear does not breed love, only hate and distrust.
There have been many times, with problems both solved and created, that I have used my power to help. I was constantly trying to prove that I could do some good. Sometimes my interference did more harm then good and there are many things, looking back, that I wish I had done when I had the chance, but any chance to prove myself is now gone.
Since the first two paragraphs can be discarded without affecting the story I could take the following thirteen lines, which seem necessary to the story even though they are not a hook either. They merely set the scene for the next paragraph. Further Suggestions?
My mother was a witch-woman, a potion-maker and the healer of a small village on the northern border of Bretony. I am told that my father appeared and stayed with my mother a few months. Nobody knew where he came from and nobody knew what happened to him other then that he left to travel further south. Something must have gone wrong, or he had decided to leave my mother forever.
I will not pass judgment on my father but his sudden appearance, as if he walked off of the lake, and his quick departure, along with my motherâ€™s reputation for sorcery combined to make me, in the eyes of the villagers, the son of a demon and the bearer of evil powers.
I had no reason to suppose that the villagersâ€™ hasty conclusions might be nearer to the truth than I, or even my mother had previously thought until I was nearly ten years old. At first there was little to show that I was unusual, nothing but a few coincidental dreams.
[This message has been edited by Merlin (edited October 18, 2004).]
[This message has been edited by Merlin (edited October 18, 2004).]
Jut taking a quick look at the opening lines, I found myself asking what would hook me into the story. Perhaps you could take a quick look at your story and see if there isn't a "hookier" opening within the next few paragraphs?
If you'd like, email me the entire thing and I'll look at it. The character of Merlin has lots of potential and I'd like to see what you are doing with it.
IMO and I say this as a hypocrite, we need to get to the story as soon as possible. While a few lines to establish a theme is fine, here it being a individual whose differences make him an object of fear and distrust (a common Marvel theme), all the other variations upon the theme can be handled in the story.
Otherwise by the second paragraph the reader will demand like Tim the Enchanter, "Get on with it!"
If you can sum up the main theme in one or two sentences in a grabbing way, and then begin into the story, where the reader can see what the narrator means, and not merely hear him go on about it. Later on sub-themes could be dropped in, one drop at a time.
Like Mike, I find this opening does not hook me. In your first sentence, you hint at wondrous things this character can do, but you stop short of telling us what they are. This has great potential to hook the reader, if you were to continue with your very first thought.
Instead you go into the fear and distrust the character (Merlin?) meets with, but again without ever explaining why. You are unfairly withholding information from the reader, as surely the POV character knows why s/he is met with such distrust.
You hint at much that *could* hook a reader, if only you would give us details rather than dancing around it. Withholding the information won't hook us: plunging us squarely in it very well might!
If this is about Merlin, I too am curious to see what you are doing with it. I'm always up for a Arthurian tale!
The viewpoint character here is Merlin, though I never really say it in the story. I have not gotten to the Arthurian part of this story (a different story) and am not planning to work on it in the near future. All I have is Merlin.
I can see what you say about the hook, I could get into it faster (even though I already dropped a paragraph off the beginning of the story.) I will see what I can do to get a â€˜hookâ€™ of some sort (there must be one around here somewhere.)
Now as to the e-mailing the story, is there some format I should follow? Should I put Hatrack (or some other indicator) in the title line?
Mikemunsil: it really is not my call is it. I will send it, I suppose (if someone tells me there is something I need to knowâ€¦) that is what it is here for.
Welcome to Hatrack. Don't let the feeding frenzy frighten you too much.
Most people want .rtf format and Hatrack in the subject line to help pick your story out of the spam.
For me, I began to start skimming fairly quickly because your narrator was repeating variations on a theme. "I'm powerful; people fear me." These two paragraphs did not begin resonating again until "any chance to prove myself is now gone." That's a hook. It makes me wonder what happened, and it makes me trust that the narrator will tell me.
The rest seems more like whining, in part because it's not specific. I don't know what things he can do that others can't. Play basketball? Balance his checkbook? Throw fireballs?
Why do people who see him hate him? Does he have a physical difference, or has he made himself so notorious by indiscriminate use of his power that everyone knows who he is? (The phenomenon of recognizable celebrities is something that is a product of television by the way.) Do you see what I'm getting at? There's very little about this that gives me a clear, specific idea of this guy. Even knowing the Arthurian legends, I am looking for what makes your spin on Merlin unique. What is the new thing that I will get out of reading this.
I like the second start much better. It interested me.
quote:Mikemunsil: it really is not my call is it. I will send it, I suppose (if someone tells me there is something I need to knowâ€¦) that is what it is here for.
It absolutely is your call. It is your story, after all, and you control it. Read the comments you get, but take them with a grain of salt. Every reader reads differently, and reads differing meanings into the same text. Trying to satisfy every reader is futile.
Only you can move this story forward, but critiquing helps. I think it is a story worth reading, so please send it and I will do my very best to provide you with some value in my critique.
For me, if it is available, please use either MS Word (.doc or .rtf), Word Perfect or Star Office formats. If none of those are available, please just either append a text file to the email or paste the text into the body of your email. It all works for me.
Please let me know what type of critique you are looking for, or what questions you might want to have answered.
I look forward to seeing it!
[This message has been edited by mikemunsil (edited October 18, 2004).]
Wow! My vote is discard the first two paragraphs entirely and just start with the next two! I really like the additional work you posted and it serves to interest me much more than the original ones.
I do wonder how old the POV character is, though. Any hints soon to be forthcoming in the story?