Late in the afternoon, on the final day of summer fishing season, the first of the great storms darkened the sky. Tristan had been in the hold all morning, scrubbing out the empty catch bins with Luthen; making up their demerit without a single word between them. A sudden blast rattled the hull around them, shaking the lone lantern that hung from the ceiling to shatter across the wooden floor. Tristan shot his eyes across the darkness, to the faint outline of Luthen. “The boiler?” In his mind, Tristan could see a hundred terrible images of the Aloris going down, engulfed in flames and smoke. Luthen’s head was cocked to the side. “Listen. The storm bell.”
You have some good tension here, with the boys not speaking to each other, a blast that shatters a lantern, sudden darkness, and fear of an explosion. I like the last line about the storm bell. That said…
I’d rather you started in Tristan’s POV in the hold, and let us see the storm when HE sees it. If you follow that suggestion and save the first sentence until later, “Tristan had been in the hold all morning…” is a passive start (I know, that’s not the right grammar term). What single action can he do? “Tristan scrubbed the empty catch bin…” BUT: I am not certain. The way you have it may be best—perhaps it just needs a paragraph break between the first and second sentences.
Luthen; making <-I think this should be a comma, not a semicolon.
“making up their demerit without a single word between them” opens questions that aren’t answered; what did they do wrong, and why won’t they speak to each other? Perhaps it should be cut or expanded (maybe let it wait until you have time to explain).
When you say lantern, I think oil and flame. That’s a pretty big fire hazard, and I’m worried--but then it’s just dark. If no flame, maybe state what type of lantern, or call it something else.
You’ve lost the second paragraph from your Take Two; it had some good stuff, including a good hook. Can you cut something to save space and get it back? If not I would hope to see it soon.
Very minor nit: Is there really a final day of the season? I thought “near the end of the summer fishing season” worked better.
Late in the afternoon, on the final day of summer fishing season, the first of the great storms[minor nit: too many fantasy books using the generic "great". How often do we say "the great war" or "the great hurricane" except in jest?] darkened the sky. Tristan had been in the hold all morning, scrubbing out the empty catch bins with Luthen; making up their demerit without a single word between them. [Why aren't they talking to each other? Do they hate each other? Are they forbidden to speak? I think it needs a context.] A sudden blast rattled the hull around them, shaking the lone lantern that hung from the ceiling to shatter across the wooden floor. [Did the oil spill and catch fire?]Tristan shot his eyes[I'm getting an image of guns and splatter. Shot his gaze?] across the darkness, to the faint outline of Luthen. “The boiler?” In his mind, Tristan could see a hundred terrible images of the Aloris going down, engulfed in flames and smoke. Luthen’s head was cocked to the side.[He can make that out in the dark?] “Listen. The storm bell.”
I haven't read the first version, so I don't know how this compares, but it's interesting enough that I'd keep reading.
"Tristan shot his eyes across the darkness." This image does not work for me. Why not something like "Tristan saw Luthen scrambling in the dark..."
"In his mind, Tristan could see a hundred terrible images of the Aloris going down..." Feels like you are just trying too hard here. If anything, I think "a hundred terrible images" weakens the tension here. Why is he thinking about the the boat sinking? If he were to have quick fleeting thoughts of his wife/kids - or his mind flashing through what he knows what it is like to die in near freezing water (or however cold it is) or ending up as shark fodder. I think thoughts like that would make it more personal and interesting.
Cut words not needed - it would be smoother and have more impact:
"Tristan (had been - del) was in the hold all morning scrubbing out (empty - delete, it's understood they are empty.) catch bins with Luthen."
[This message has been edited by nitewriter (edited May 25, 2008).]
Quick question: if I address the silence between Tristan and Luthen in, say, a page and a half, is that too long? The thing is, the reason why they are not speaking is kind of complex. I think it might break the tension of the moment to explain.
I liked the previous versions better. True they needed cleaning up, but I was hooked by the idea of a storm that was hunting him. That's totally missing here.
Posts: 3682 | Registered: Jan 2007
| IP: Logged |
Since a novel page is frequently longer than thirteen lines, and would most-likely include that paragraph, probably. However, on the deck, in the midst of the action, is where I'd prefer to begin.
Posts: 3682 | Registered: Jan 2007
| IP: Logged |
I like this one better than the previous. I like a moment to ramp up to the action. Contrary to current popular opinion, I guess, I don't care to throw open the door and have the party already going on. I like to feel like I'm on time.
My only hitch with this one was the "hundred" images thing, too. Felt a little overdone. Other than that I was hooked.
I think this is a very promising start. If I was a literary agent I would read further.
If I may make two suggestions, the first is to include more sensory information. Fishing trips I've been on involved a lot of smelly bait, bloody fish, wet feet, and inevitably a cousin who vomits all over the deck. Lotta smells and everything wet. Add in the wind, sun, waves, etc. and it's a descriptive writer's dream.
My second thought is to tighten the language. This is simply a reflection of my own style and shouldn't be followed if it doesn't work for you. But your beginning might read something like this: * * * Tristan scrubbed the stinking fish bin. The day, and the season, were almost over. Luthen sweated alongside him, still sulking about their demerit. The hull shook and the lantern fell to the wooden deck and shattered. "It sounds like the boiler," Tristan yelled. He imagined the Aloris engulfed in flames and smoke, sinking under the waves. Luthen threw a bucket of bilge water on the broken lantern and cocked his head to listen. "It's the storm bell!" * * * Again, this is just me imitating Hemingway, so don't follow this if it doesn't work for you, but it does cut about 30 words.
I wish you luck with your project. I think it's off to a good start.