Now I'm sure you've heard the common crit. of not enough character intro in first thirteen. You didn't say their name. You didn't give an idea of personality. You didn't apply the protag into an appropriate enviro. Not enough action. Not enough mystery. Not enough hook in the first line.
In my continuing look at first thirteen importance, I couldn't help but point out the success of Jonathan Renshaws, Dawn of Wonder. Read his first thirteen and then I will sum up.
quote: Even the wind now held its breath.
A hush of anticipation swept through the trees, causing forest creatures to hesitate in their scratchings and birds to falter in their songs. The woods grew still as everything was pressed under a deep, vast silence.
It came from the east, from the mountain wilderness of DinEilan. It was like a swelling of the air, a flexing of the ground, as if some enormous power had been hurled into the earth hundreds of miles away sending tremors throughout the land.
Directly over a country lane, a young squirrel was clamped to the limb of an ancient walnut tree. Tawny hair all over its body now
On the start of Dawn of Wonder, the main character is not even intro'd for another ten paragraphs, yet out of the fifty plus top fantasy fiction first thirteen I researched, it hooked me to keep reading deeper into the book.
I only bring this to the group's attention as a broadening of how first thirteen should be approached. I've noticed this setting scene first thirteen more commonly used in classic lit, but dawn of wonder takes that classic style and adds an element of action and suspense instead of the classic lit. info dump start.
This is also an example of how to avoid too much emphasis on first thirteen with no follow through. Yes, you want to hook your reader but it is just as important to keep them engaged.
This is a very old story teller’s trick; the artful development of setting to foreshadow the arrival of something dire. This creates in the mind of the reader a feeling of anticipation as they wait for the resolution of a mystery solved, “What comes this way?”. This grabs a reader by the snarglies as they wait to find out what’s going on. If the words aren’t up to the job though you’ll loose your reader in a flash. In this instance the writer has used setting, however the same result can be achieved by using character or circumstance. Or all three in concert.
Anticipation is different to tension. To create tension the writer needs to engender a feeling of both suspense and apprehension. I guess you can use the same tools to create suspense that you’d use to create anticipation. However apprehension is a different kettle of pudding: I think I know what’s coming, but I wish it wouldn’t.
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The fragment contains more than meets the eye: not overly purple poetic language strengths countered by idiolect language shortfalls, craft skill strengths countered by convenient habit shortfalls, causation movement and emotional disequilibrium and curiosity's tension strengths countered by low complication, conflict, and tone clarity and strength, voice strengths countered by expression shortfalls, appeal strengths countered by aesthetic distance shortfalls. A greater overall works for me than doesn't work for me -- I'd read on though on notice my degree of engagement won't hold me close to the reading spell immersion degree I favor, which, if the overt action movement doesn't, herein, pendent menace foremost, subtext decipherment would. Little, if any, promise of the latter is implied, though.
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