Nathanael crouched low in the brush, waiting for his courage to come. Courage was at the center of every Kings heart. And while he had everyone believing he would be the next King,he certainly was not among the believers. Most kings were born with the courage deep inside and it was just a matter of waiting for it to surface. But Nathanael was no King and he knew waiting would not surface anything, other than more fear. Regardless of how prepared he felt, now was the time. Iím not ready, he thought, just a couple more minutes until I have it. He clenched a handful of dirt, beginning to feel an inkling of what he hoped would get him through this. His whole body felt tense, his heart thrashing,adrenalin pumping and sweat drenching his brow. He definitely felt something, it just
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited January 27, 2010).]
Courage to do what? My issue with this opening, is that I don't know what he is trying to get the courage to do. It feels a bit too soon to be so heavy in his thoughts without any clue where the rest of him is other in the bushes somewhere.
The line "I'm not ready" needs a finisher. I'm not ready to fight a dragon, to kiss a girl, to turn in my thesis... Whatever it is will give me so much more of a clue as to what is going on, and what kind of a world I (the reader) am going to be experiencing.
There is definitely a lot of good here though, please don't get me wrong. I would keep reading, and will if you are looking for readers.
I think you could pare it down a little and still get across the main points, which I'm taking as: He doesn't think as well of himself as other people do He's about to do something really scary He really wants to be the king in every sense of the word.
If you can trim it, you'll be able to get a little bit more of what he's facing into the first 13.
On first reading this I felt you emphasised "courage" and "King" too often. The word "Courage" appears three times and "king" four. If you include "it to surface", "not surface anything", "until I have it", "inkling", "felt something", and "it just" as variations on the word courage (as I read them) then you have 9 appearance of courage in your first 13 lines. Space that needs to be used more wisely.
I think you can emphasize (1) his lineage (2) his reluctance (3) his lack of courage early on and in one sentence leaving open space for more information such as the struggle you describe toward the end of your opening. In fact, it is that struggle you write about that most intrigues me and I think that should be your focus, NOT his becoming king and needing courage. Those belong there I'm sure, but not as much as the struggle, I think. Just my humble opinion, is all.
I think it would work better if you told us what he was about to face. I understand the idea behind leaving it a mystery, but if you said he was abot to fight a dragon, or whatever, that woudl be more tense.
Also, I think you could shorten this a lot. For example:
Nathanel crouched in a bush, waiting for his courage to come, but he knew it wouldn't because he didn't have the heart of a king, and he believed he never would. He wasn't ready to fight the wizard, and he knew it. He clenched a handful . . .
While I value Sheena's opinion very highly I rather like that we are so deeply in his thoughts this early. So many authors, myself included, have so much trouble getting into our characters' heads. I would pare it down a little though just so we can get a glimpse of what he's facing. Just a glimpse would be all we need at this point though.
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