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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Does this work as a beginning?

   
Author Topic: Does this work as a beginning?
DeepDreamer
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Just a little something I've been working on. I don't have much of it so far. All I've got is just scattered pieces of a YA fantasy novel I've been trying to put together. I've tried about a dozen different ways to start this story. In it Tristan goes from being a whiny, stubborn, angry teen to following in the footsteps of a living legend (Jasmine). I don't want her to come across as being TOO whiny at first, though, or unsympathetic. As far as these 13 go ... (14 to finish the sentence and paragraph) does she seem likeable enough? Does this do the trick? Is it confusing? Is it interesting? Is it a good beginning, or should I try something else?


-=-=-=-=-
This was the last straw. We’d been on the run all day, my feet were killing me, I was starving, and “dinner” was a putrid stew with stringy chunks of some lizard-thing floating in it.

“What do you mean, no forks, no spoons?” I demanded. “Am I supposed to eat this with my hands, or do you expect me to, I don’t know, pull silverware out of the air with magic?”

In lieu of reply, Jasmine handed me another bowl of stew. “Tristan, take this to John?”

I hauled myself up – the grass I’d been sitting on had just gotten warm, too – and took the bowl to John. No way was I gonna cross Jasmine, not while she still carried that wicked-sharp crystal-bladed dagger. She’d slit a man’s throat clear through to the other side with that thing this morning. I wasn’t anxious for her to use it on me.
-=-=-=-=-

Thanks in advance for all your comments and suggestions. =)


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Josh
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Overall a good opening, I'd say. It starts off with good tension. Achy feet. It makes me wonder what they're doing, why they are suffering so much...so be sure to provide this info soon or I think you border on keeping secrets from the reader if you don't reveal the source of their troubles soon.

One thing I wonder about is whether you need to say "In lieu of a reply..." and just say
>Jasmine handed me another bowl of stew. “Tristan, take this to John?”

Or: Jasmine shoved another bowl of stew my way. "Tristan, take this to John."

Sorry, slap me if rewriting is unkosher. You could also cut out "clear through to the other side." That is the image you give already just by saying "slit a man's throat." That last sentence could also be cut in my opinion, because it's obvious by his obeying her request/demand and fear of the blade that he's not anxious to get his throat slit.

Just a few thoughts on how to tighten it up.


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Jenn
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Might be just me, but I did feel she was slightly too whiny, but only because I felt that if she's eating lizard goop and on the run, then wanting silverware was pretty prissy. In other words, she's clearly in danger, so if they're eating it's because they're ravenous...
Just a thought. Keep writing, I like the sense of something nasty coming. And also maybe play up her sassiness, because whining is just sassiness without bravado.

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Survivor
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It takes a special kind of whinyness to whinge on somebody that you sincerely fear.

I like little kids, and they like me, but most of them instinctively know better than to whine at or even near me. And I generally haven't killed anyone in front of them to make that point.

Also, since this is a novel (even if a short one), you need to consider your use of first person and how it helps you. As it stands, it doesn't. Not least because you're writing a story in which the POV character must undergo significant transformation, but mainly because you show no sign of understanding how a realistic first person account opens.


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wbriggs
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Where are they, why were they running, and why are they eating lizards?
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pixydust
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I have to ditto, Will. What, where, and/or why? Something needs a bit of clarity here.

It's like your dropping my in the middle of a scene instead of at the beginning. Start off with a few grounding sentences. I need to be firm in something before I'm thrown in full throttle.

Here are a few questions I have:

1. why are they running?
2. who are they?
3. and why are they eating lizards? And why is the kid complaining about it?

Now, we're in first person so these questions should be answered imediately.

"The three-headed aliens had been chasing us for three days now. I'd had it. I mean, as if it wasn't bad enough that the green goo on our feet was slowing us down, now we had to eat lizards! That work house behind us was looking a lot more enviting that it had before."

Well, you get the idea...


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