Better Version. 2I decided to rearange the beginning of abit. Hopefully, this new 13 makes the reader want to keep reading more so than the first 13.
Jeff Sully kneeled by the unnatural hole in the earth. He leaned over and peered into the long mouth. Did it have an end? Crouched down, he glided his hand over the smooth metal edge that circled around its width¬¬¬--¬maybe two men wide from shoulder to shoulder. Why would anyone make such a thing?
It was during that thought that Jeff spotted a quarter by the edge of the hole, half covered with dirt. He picked it up and looked it over. 2015. That's impossible. Must be a fake coin. But then he thought more about it. Could this coin be three years from the future? He glanced down the hole again. No, that's impossible.
When a breeze picked up, Jeff looked over the shrubs and trees on his property.
Lamer Version. 1 Jeff Sully kneeled by the unnatural hole in the earth. He wondered how far it descended. Did it have an end? He glided his hand over the smooth metal edge. As far as he could see, the metal covered the edge of the hole. Such a hole couldn't be natural, could it? Had to be made, but is it man made?
When a breeze picked up, Jeff looked over the shrubs and trees on his property. Then he wondered how he could have missed this hole for so long. How long had it been there? He let his hand hover above the hole. He thought he felt vibration and heat. He listened intently. He could have sworn he heard a humming coming from deep within the hole. What in God's name was this? It wasn't natural. Not at all.
A few things: Maybe combine a few sentences that you start off with "He". The first sentence could be combined with the second by the use of "wondering" instead of "He wondered".
Maybe instead of "Had to be made, but is it man made"... Try: "...but by whom."
the last few sentences start with "He". Combine a few of these sentences. It sounds like your listing just a little.
And I think you can make "He thought he felt vibrations and heat" a little stronger and you could eliminate "He" by either combining it with the previous sentence or try something more sudden like "Vibrations and heat?" Or something like that; I don't know if that's a very good example, but anyway... Then go on into "He listened intently..."
I feel like the repetition here makes it a bit slow and ponderous for my taste. Also, there's a lot of introspection but not a lot of characterization. My suggestion is rather than tell us what he thinks just show us what he sees. By eliminating some of the introspection I think you leave more room for characterization, and developing the story a bit further in the opening lines.
Jeff Sully kneeled by the unnatural hole in the earth. He wondered how far it descended [here's where you could show--he could just peer into the black depths]. Did it have an end [repetitive]? He glided his hand over the smooth metal edge. As far as he could see, the metal covered the edge of the hole [not sure what this really adds--you've already established there's a smooth metal edge. You could say something about the machining or the gleam that would suggest an other-worldly quality. Or even tell us just how big this hole is. Any more details would help build the mystery]. Such a hole couldn't be natural, could it? Had to be made, but is it man made [repetitive--you've already said it was unnatural, this seems like needless revisiting of that idea. Also, your description is strong enough that it seems obviously artificial]?
When a breeze picked up, Jeff looked over the shrubs and trees on his property. Then he wondered how he could have missed this hole for so long. How long had it been there [these two sentences are repetitive. Since we are firmly grounded in his POV I think you can get away with just the question. Another way to go about it is to say what _is_ factual, such as "In all the 13 years he lived here he'd never once encountered this thing]? He let his hand hover above the hole [word choice--"let"? Seems really static. He's controlling his motions]. He thought he felt vibration and heat [the way this is worded, i.e. "he thought", really emphasizes the introspection, which, to me, makes the piece slow and static feeling. Again, since we are safely grounded in his POV, you could just tell us he feels a faint vibration and heat.]. He listened intently. He could have sworn he heard a humming coming from deep within the hole. What in God's name was this? It wasn't natural. Not at all [repetitive].
By the end of this I get very little about Jeff and very little about the hole, except that he concludes that it's unnatural. But the first sentence already establishes that it's unnatural.
My 2 cents. Take what works and leave the rest!
Posts: 2185 | Registered: Aug 2007
| IP: Logged |
i think you don't need the word 'unnatural' in that first sentence. it breaks the flow and the rest of the prose will tip readers off that this isn't a natural occurring hole.
though i found the second and third paragraphs interesting, two thoughts sprang to mind: 1) this kinda reminded me of "House of Leaves", particularly the line, '...how did he and his wife miss a hole in his backyard' (on a side note, is it 'his' backyard or 'their' backyard? is he sole owner of the property?)
2) this also kinda reminded me of the movies mocking scary movies. if a normal person one day finds this weird, metal ringed hole in their backyard where one hadn't been ten years prior, would their reaction be to peer over the edge? even someone who's never seen the supernatural has seen movies about the supernatural and might hesitate before fulfilling their curiosity.
Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011
| IP: Logged |
I've never read House of Leaves, but I want to because it seems interesting how it was written.
The reason I wrote "his" backyard vs "their" backyard is because Jeff calls it his backyard. It's how he views it. He never thinks of their house, car, or property as theirs, but his because he paid for it all.
I've watched a lot of horror movies and supernatural movies. I'd look down the hole without hezitation. But it might add more suspense/mystery if I have him hezitate before leaning over.
Posts: 161 | Registered: Sep 2009
| IP: Logged |