On a cold winter's night, he lay. It was late December, and stillness rang through the countryside, as quiet as the softly falling snow. It came to be that on this night, all were quietly passed into the realm of unconsciousness, and so hence came the peace which nearly echoed through the bleak darkness. All, but one. The silent figure, who twitched at every snowflake falling, his muscles so tensed that it seemed he was nearly shivering. But then again, he was not. It was merely the intuition that he taught himself to live with, the grim reflex which let him survive for such a time as he had, one of the manhunt which now had passed away, but which once rang throughout Arkanasia, a blisteringly cold continent that lay at the very roof of the world.
I'll admit... The beginning seems a lot cheesier than when I originally wrote it. Hm.
I've followed your suggestion, and frankly, I'm not taken with it. Not that I'm enjoying being the first at something, but I don't see anything that really intrigues me.
quote:On a cold winter's night, he lay. It was late December, and stillness rang through the countryside, as quiet as the softly falling snow.
Consider combining the information of these two sentences. We know that December is winter, so...? Secondly, don't leave us hanging with "he lay" and not finish it. This isn't a poem, it's a story. Thirdly, how the heck does stillness "ring". I know you're going for the poetic, but I got hung up on that sentence four times before finally giving up and moving on to the next. When given the opportunity, the reader will take your words literally. Keep that in mind.
Anyway, here's what I meant by combing the two:
"On a cold December night, he lay (where?)"
quote:, and so hence came the peace which
And so hence? What does that mean? Any one of these words would suffice alone and you used all three together. Pick one, consider cutting out the others.
quote: It was merely the intuition that he taught himself to live with, the grim reflex which let him survive for such a time as he had, one of the manhunt which now had passed away, but which once rang throughout Arkanasia, a blisteringly cold continent that lay at the very roof of the world.
I have no idea what this sentence means. It's a run-on, and everything after "live with" is well... I dunno, but I'm not seeing. And again, there's that word again: "rang". What "rang"? The manhunt?
Crumbs. I don't want to read a poem, I want to read a story. Don't try to impress the reader with fanciful sentences that mean nothing. Show us (and give us) something to care about.
OK, not too bad. I think the "cheesiness" you refer to is mostly due to using a somewhat elevated (and occasionally purple) prose style to suggest an archaic land or time. This can be made to work, but it's hard to maintain; I usually opt not to try it.
However, it did make me curious about the guy, and what he's doing, and I'm a picky reader, so I don't think you need to assume failure.
First sentence: I'm not sure about "lie" or "lay" in this instance; I think "lay" is probably correct but the sentence reads a little awkward to me, like a fragment, even if it isn't. (You can get away with using frags, mind you, but I wouldn't begin with one.)
I would also insert a break between "he was nearly shivering" (I think _merely_ would be a better choice than _nearly_, BTW) and the next sentence, and lop off "But then again" entirely. I think it would be a little bit punchier.
Actually, one thing you could do with this opening is think of it in cinematic terms. OK, here's a fairly deadly guy (I'm assuming) sitting in the shadows, tensed up and waiting for something to happen. What you would want to do is the literary equivalent of panning in (it's close to what you're already doing in this passage). The second half is pretty much OK here (apart from the occasionally stilted bits)--what you would want to do is change the first part to get to this guy a little faster (all you need to do is note that it's December, it's cold and rotten, and everybody's asleep).
I'm not taken, either. You seem to be saying that it gets better after this - maybe you need to rework the beginning a little to be more like the rest.
To me there are a lot of words here but not much is actually said. It's a cold quiet night and a guy is hiding out and twitching.
You haven't told us what the guy's name is - if he's important, I need to know that up front. (if he's not important, maybe this isn't the best way to open the novel.)
From what's here, I don't have any reason to care about this guy, or what happens to him, or actually, any reason to believe that something's going to happen. I don't even know if he's a good guy or a bad guy. I think you're putting too much effort into the elevated language, which I don't think works very well, and not enough effort into the storytelling part.
Part of the purpose of the beginning is to convince me to read the rest. Promising that it gets better doesn't do that. Telling me that you don't have the time to make the beginning better certainly doesn't do that. I'm sorry, I'm not willing to read any more based on this.
Posts: 1750 | Registered: Oct 2004
Point 1: One reason for posting your first 13 is to convince us to read more. Therefore, if this forum is going to be any good to you, first and foremost you must be willing to spend the time and make it better so we WANT to read more. There are some expert critiquers (I have no idea how that's spelled) on Hatrack and I would pay attention to what they say. Resistance is futile. Or at least, not helpful. If you are going to resist criticism, you not doing yourself any favors. Your critiquers will simply not look at any more of your stuff. You should know that as a writer, your job is to listen to the comments and then utilize them as you feel best, but to argue with them is in very bad form. Second point. The "he lay" line made me think of a chicken. Chicken's lay. Men do not. Finish the sentence. Third. Your words sound lovely but if a reader has to start fighting to understand them and has to go back and reread them, as I did, then most readers, myself being one, give up. The one that got me was the "silent figue twitching" sentence, which has no predicate. Arg. It still needs work, my friend. So roll up your sleeves and do what we all have to--rewrite. That's what it's all about. Welcome to Hatrack. Judith [This message has been edited by Rocklover (edited March 30, 2005).]
[This message has been edited by Rocklover (edited March 30, 2005).]
[This message has been edited by Rocklover (edited March 30, 2005).]
Well as this story is already published, what are we supposed to be helping with? You have posted it on an open website, so even if you edit it you will be lucky to find a publisher to take this one on. Actually lucky is the wrong word.
Of course you may be using this to imporve your writing, in which case tell us what you want us to look at. And don't validate by saying it gets better. The beginning should be at least as good as the middle and the end.
Crumbs, I've run out of tissues to hand out.
Look. We're here for two reasons--or most of us anyway.
1. To improve our writing by critiquing stories and having our stories critiqued.
2. To help others improve their writing by critiquing their stories and having them critique ours.
That's it. And maybe there's a third reason that we like many of the people here. Some days that's debatable, but I digress.
So, Proximus. Instead of looking for the ol' pat on the shoulder, why not get involved and learn something with us? Your fragment has issues; you're entire prologue (which I read fully, despite not needing to do so) has issues; which leads to me think the rest of the story has similar issues.
We aren't here for your ego, Proximus. Keep that in mind if you decide on participating. We'd love to have you, but if you're gonna feel sorry for yourself every time someone crticizes your work, well... it's going to be a long, hard road ahead of you -- and I'm all out of tissues. Capisce?