Here's the first 13 lines of the first page of my novel, leading into a battle for the city of Dresil's fate, whether it will be forced to leave the beloved Kingdom of Haven Kah to join the parliament of Drissidia. The very beginning of the book, so I'm not sure if anyone will get into it by then. I dunno, I'll stop rambling, here goes.
The moonlight shone brightly through the thick foggy night. Battering swords sung the bitter lullaby of death for many, and the screams of agony could be heard all around. A huge figure stood staring into the distance, his elegant armour gleaming strongly in the torchlight. A lot was on this manâ€™s mind, mostly because the people crying out were his army. He swallowed. â€śSemina, locate that commander of theirs, and report to his majesty. Pel, Jace, go with her. With haste!â€ť Semina nodded and ran off into the night, her lean body making no sound as she weaved through the alleyways of Dresil. Pel and Jace, moving just as quietly followed behind her. When the three disappeared into the shadows, General Salik turned to the rest of his elite group he had recently summoned.
moonlight and a thick foggy night seem mutually exclusive, unless the moonlight is coming through a break in the fog.
"A lot was on this man's mind" - it would be easier to read if you knew his name right away. You've already delayed this with "A huge figure". It would also help to know he is not standing alone (as I first pictured him).
Is there a particular reason Semina and her companions should move so quietly?
I like the swords singing analogy, but I think its a little overdone - maybe simplify to something like "Swords sang a lullaby of death". A lot of the description is quite general - "for many", "heard all around", etc.
All that said, I like it as an opening. When I say it leaves me wanting to know more that's both a good and a bad thing. I feel there should be more detail in the information you've already given.
My preference is to be introduced to the POV character immediately, and then view the scene through his/her eyes. The lengthy descriptions that start this scene are not interesting to me because I don't have a "lens" to view them through. Also, it is hard for me to feel the sympathy for the folks dying below because I donâ€™t know yet if they are the â€śbaddiesâ€ť or â€śgoodiesâ€ť.
Oh, and you have 5 adverbs in these 13 lines. They are often "crutch" words. Try removing them and strengthening your sentences.
I do like that you took us to the action quickly.
[This message has been edited by NewsBys (edited July 13, 2005).]
take those lines and drop all the adjectives and see how it fares. then put back just a few, and see how you like that. then compare to the original and see if you feel that you can or should pare down the remainder in that same manner.
Posts: 2710 | Registered: Jul 2004
I agree, you're actually being too descriptive. Brightly, foggy, strongly, quietly: you have a plethora of words ending with the letter 'y' that don't necessarily have to be there. Two pieces of advice:
First, for descriptions you want to make clear, consider replacing your adjectives and adverbs with metaphors and similes. Yes, I'm referring to those horrid things your English teachers drilled into you. But believe it or not, this particular lesson served a purpose. You keep the reader's mind working when "The moon shone brightly" is amended to read" The moon shone forth like a flaming pearl." Or you can even use personification, and have the moon take an active role: "The moon sent streamers that trickled down in waves through the thick, foggy night." Your descriptions aren't just informative, but delightful.
Second, there's still such thing as overloading your writing. If you're beginning a high fantasy novel, then your reader, at this point, will be ready to imagine just about anything. Their mind is switched on and ready to go: use this to your advantage. If you can keep from truly describing things, and merely imply them by using action or dialogue, excellent. But keep the gears turning in the readers' minds.
But one thing I do love: the image I got from your introduction is powerful. Reading about a peaceful night scene, and then about a bloody battle, Mozart began playing in my head. The juxtaposition is wonderful! Good job.
Ransom, I've been here for about three days, yet I think you might be my favourite person here. Your advice is always lengthy and fair, showing both good and bad points. Keep up the cool.
I was wondering if this was a bad bit to show. I dunno, I did it because of the beginning. I don't show his name right away, because I don't think it's necessary, as I like the suspence. Oh well, I'll play around with it. I'll look at my adjective usage and such.
But do know this: I am not overly descriptive in most of my writing. I truly am a person that favours using dialogue to move the story along. So do not fret there. I just have trouble beginning stories. In fact, the first draft of this manuscript started with dialogue. Thank you though. Keep the comments coming. If anyone would like the est, let me know. Thanks.
I like this without all the adjectives and adverbs. It actually works better just taking them all out and then throwing us into this guys head.
Like this: "Salik (The first time we see him use the name that he thinks of for his own, not the name of his rank.) watched the bodies writhing before him. Moonlight shone through the foggy night, illuminating them like tormented spirits. Swords sung the lullaby of death for many, and the screams of agony could be heard all around. He stood, staring into the distance, his armor heavy and soaked with blood. Much was on his mind. His army cried out before him (I don't really like this line. Maybe there's another way to say this). 'Semina,' Salik said. 'Locate that commander of theirs, and report to his majesty. Pel, Jace, go with her. With haste!' Semina nodded and ran off into the night, her lean body making no sound as she wove through the alleyways of Dresil. Pel and Jace, moved swiftly behind her. When the three disappeared into the shadows, General Salik turned to the rest of his elite group ((maybe give this group a name)) he had summoned."
This is just an example of what everyone is saying. Fiddle around with it and see what you come up with. I like the idea. I love battle scenes. This one could definitely work. Hope this helped.
I'm not an english expert so I will leave that to the many on here that willing share their knowledge. On the sword image maybe try "Battering swords singing their bitter lullaby of death, screams of those not yet dead ofering a counter melody mixed in his ears. " also, try "torchlight danced in flickers from the armor of the man...or something like that. Over all a good start and I would read more. I too hate the 13 line limit but am learning the value in jumping in quick. Also on moving quiet maybe throw in something about it coming natural to them due to their training etc.
Posts: 40 | Registered: Jul 2005
Just, your narrative diction is...a little uneven. The phrase "locate that commander of theirs" is as good an example as any. What sort of person combines all three diction levels shown by that one phrase? Really, there are other individual phrases that are just as unlikely. But it isn't enough for each phrase to have a consistent diction and voice, all the words in the text have to work towards creating a consistent narrative voice for the entire story.
Still, individual phrases that manage to incorporate multiple levels of diction...they're a rarity, to be sure. The effect is not good, however unique it may be. Maybe if you just had one minor character that talked that way, it would be sorta cool, like having a hunchback or one-legged pirate. Or those might be total cliches, I can never keep track