I'm determined to make this story work. First I tried it from an outsider's perspective so the ending would be a surprise. Didn't work. Then I tried alternating POV's between Julie & Toka. Still didn't work. So I switched totally to Julie's POV. Better but then someone pointed out too much went letter perfect for my MC. The story needed more conflict.
Time to ditch the old and try something new. Same characters, same problem, but a different locale (outside the village) and added some twists. I just finished a very rough 1st draft (I'd rather call it a rough draft with the 1st draft yet to come .) and feel the first 13 is how I want it. Now it's up to you folks to see what you think of it. I will add that I really like this beginning :
Empathized frustration swamped Julie when the saddle hit Blue Smoke’s back harder than normal. “Sorry,” she said and let the krega know she didn’t blame him. Practiced hands snugged the girth against Smoke’s belly and dropped the stirrup in place.
She asked Smoke to follow her out and found Nika scanning the village’s morning traffic near the stable entrance. “You know you’re blowing this all out of proportion,” Nika said.
No she wasn’t. Not with the events of the last few days.
“Will you at least hear me out?” Nika said.
Hear her out when her son’s life could end? No, Julie couldn’t snub Toka’s mother, just so she didn’t take all day.
“No matter what you think,” Nika said, “Toka’s and Degan’s rivalry has been going on since childhood. Degan feels he should ****************************************************************
After reading everyone's comments, here's my revision. See what you think:
Julie snugged the girth against Blue Smoke’s belly, and asked the krega to accompany her down the aisle.
“You know you’re blowing this all out of proportion,” Nika said from where she stood at the stable entrance.
No Julie wasn’t, but Nika was Toka’s mother. And Julie’s future mother-in-law. So she waited for Nika to ease her fears about Degan’s intentions to kill Toka. Today, if Julie didn’t get moving.
“No matter what you think,” Nika said, “Toka’s and Degan’s rivalry has existed since childhood. Degan feels he should be the next chief because he’s older. That he’s the chief’s nephew instead of his son makes no difference to him.”
“And this proves what?” Julie asked.
[This message has been edited by Crystal Stevens (edited April 13, 2011).]
So lets start with the bad news. Over all I have to say that I am not hooked. You have some good elements here but I think there are some things missing, and in the end I am left with a feeling of why should I care. I mean as a parent the fact that someone's child's life is in the balance I do care, but since I know nothing of the situation I still don't know that I need to care.
As I said, you have the element of someone's child in danger. That is good. I like that. You have Julie, trying to go somewhere on her horse(?) and people getting in her way. I like that too. The problem is that you spend most of this 13 lines in description that is not needed to get me to understand and care about these characters.
Since you are using dialogue, I would stick with it, and have Julie speak this line out loud, or a modified version of it. "No she wasn’t. Not with the events of the last few days."
If it were me, I would start with your second line so that we could get more of the conversation and maybe learn more about the characters.
I think jeffrey.hite has a good point about starting with the second sentence.
Just say that after Julie saddled-up her krega, Blue Smoke, she found Nika near the stable entrance, scanning the village's morning traffic, etc, etc.
Starting out with "empathized frustration" (which could make the reader think you meant "emphasized" as in stressed, because it fits) and something about letting the krega know she didn't blame him, doesn't really tell us enough. The dialogue between Nika and Julie is more important.
Also, calling Nika "Toka's mother" doesn't tell us anything useful right now either. Since Toka can't be her son, then why should we care? Is Degan her son? Why not say so first?
Also, what connection does her saddling-up a krega have with her son's life ending? Maybe the "hear her out" sentence should say something more like "Hear her out when her son Degan's life could end if she and Blue Smoke didn't get to him in time?"
Just some nit-picky thoughts, anyway. The idea of starting where you have is good. It could just use a bit of tweaking.
I agree about the first sentence. It's too complicated and not very clear at the same time. Of course that may partly be due to those funny characters that seem to be popping up again. And the fact that it took me a second to realize you were starting the story. That may have been just me but it might help to skip two or three lines, instead of just one, and/ or indent.
Over all it is a sound idea, but its kinda plain. I'm not sure how to change that though. I was wondering if it was too passive and/or the pacing is off. I reread it and didn't find too many passive verbs, at least of the usual type. The pacing is off I think but the things sometimes post that might not be your doing. The emotion is there but it's almost like it's not too. I'm sorry I can't explain that further and it could just be me. See if anyone else makes a similar comment.
A child's life is in the balance? Where did you read that? Just teasing. I can see where you might get that idea. I was trying to find a way to let you know that Toka is Nika's son. This is the reason why Julie is rushing to leave... to keep Degan from killing Toka. I thought I made that connection. Evidently, I was wrong.
The beginning was to show that kregas are nothing like horses except that people ride them. Kregas share an empathic bond with their partners. The rider and the krega share each others emotions through their thoughts and feelings. This comes out all through the story.
I also can't understand why no one seems to make the connection that the only "son" being discussed is Toka. There is no lost child. Amazing how that conclusion keeps popping up. I'll see what I can do about that.
[This message has been edited by Crystal Stevens (edited April 12, 2011).]
Part of the problem, Crystal, is that it isn't clear which "her" has the son in "her son's life could end." In fact, the things you've just explained show that other things aren't clear either.
The hook isn't that Julie has an empathic bond with her krega. Just knowing she's saddled-up something other than a horse is enough to let us be interested to learn (LATER) about what a krega is. You can leave the empathic bond till later and show it to us when it actually means something. So I'd say don't worry about that part in the first 13 lines.
Instead, tell us that (if not why) Julie is afraid that Degan (is he Julie's son, or isn't he?) is going to kill Toka, and give us some hint as to why Toka's own mother isn't worried about him.
The need to stop the killing is your hook, and that should be a lot clearer.
Much better, Crystal. It's good to know Julie's reason for being concerned about Toka, and for her reason for being willing to listen to Nika when she's so concerned about Toka.
Two little nits/questions, though.
1--Would she actually say "And this proves what?" to Nika? (Makes her sound flippant.) Could she say something that hints at why she thinks she isn't blowing things out of proportion--as in "Then why are they going to Deadman Falls?" or somesuch?
2--Is Julie from our world and somehow has found herself in some other world (I ask because her name doesn't seem to fit the other names)?
Also, though maybe this is okay because it does make me want to turn the page--but why does Julie think she can do anything to stop Degan from killing Toka?
It sounds like there is an interesting story here.
You lost me at girth. I'm not a horse person, so when I hear "girth" I think of a fat Viking. I didn't realize that she was dealing with a horse!
The second draft is a definite improvement over the first. However, I was lost in the last few paragraphs. There were so many names and relationships coming at me at once that I didn't know what was going on.
The second version was written better but I still prefer the first.
In version one you showed your MC's irritation the way she was saddling her (whatever it is). version two is a 'person walking out her door' opening. Boring. V1 sets up a mood and a reason why she is that mood. that in itself serves as a hook. It needs a rewrite (I had a crit working on it but I see you already rewrote it) but you had the right idea in that version at least.
Thank you so much, Snapper. You're right. That was the reason for starting V1 that way. I just didn't see it. That would also explain why Julie is short tempered with Nika. Now if I can just find a way to squeeze it all in the 1st 13 . The reason I got more into Julie's and Nika's discussion was because of dropping the beginning of V1. It let me put more in the 1st 13 about what's going on. I'll see what I can do to combine the two and still have a well crafted beginning.
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