I have flip flopped the opening for this book so many times that I can no longer see straight. Sendek is currently at 84K and growing (It may end up as book 2 in a series, or stay book 1 in a series--some decisions need to be made about the ancient history). I have been accused of snowballing, so I am trying to add more setting details and things to slow it down. However, my first page may not have been the place to do this.
Thanks for any feedback in advance.
My heavy lidded eyes opened slowly, but after a few blinks I could make out a sickly yellow light flickering somewhere above me. Reaching out I felt the cold, damp wall beside me, the rough stone curved upward into shadows above me and stretched several feet in both directions before fading into the gloom. Shivering, I took a step forward and the sound of water around my ankles startled the silence. Why did I not notice the water before? It was almost like my body was coming online, one piece at a time.
My heart deafened me as I looked for clues along the corridor. Where was I? More importantly, how do I get out? The familiar panic started to build. Shaking my head to clear my mind only made me dizzy. As I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm myself, I heard a distant splashing down the tunnel. I
Summary: Talia Shannon is caught between the world of science and her secret world of magic. She uses science to search for the answers brought to her on the wings of prophetic dreams. Along the way she must learn to trust the only man who truly understands her secret in order to destroy a race of beings created by magic in Sendek's past. These creatures have returned to claim the planet as their own, and their science and technology is superior. Only the return of magic can give the people a fighting chance.
There's probably more opinion here than solid crit, so please take that into account.
This is more of a personal thing than anything, but I really cringe when I see these type of beginnings. The "I woke up in a strange place" is so cliche and is hard to do well; it just screams amateur at me. However, if you're going to do it, then I suggest starting with the second part of the second paragraph "Where was I? More importantly, how do I get out? The familiar panic started to build. ..." That's the point were the story seemed to settle and start for me. Of course, now you're beginning the scene with an internal voice speaking to itself, and that will make other people cringe and complain!
"My heavy lidded eyes" -- how often do people describe themselves using these type of adjectives? This line sounds unnatural. If I talk about myself, I might talk about my eyes, but I will never talk about my "heavy lidded eyes". To be honest, I was a little bit turned off after this point. Sorry.
In the first paragraph you make a comment about having a sickly yellow light above you, then go on to say that the rough stone curves into shadows above you. These statements seem at odds; there's either a light or there's shadow above you, not likely to be both.
I don't understand what "startled the silence" means. I might be startled, or you might be startled, but how is silence startled?
Welcome to Hatrack! Your story idea is promising, and the word count is impressive.
I do agree with dropbear that you are starting in the wrong place, but your writing definitely does not scream amateur. I do suggest starting closer to the action, and give us a bit more of the who, what, why, and where of the situation. Maybe start with the splashing behind the character. That is interesting. I wish for a name for the character, or a gender. Have you considered switching to third?
This line "It was almost like my body was coming online, one piece at a time." is the hook for me, but are you talking about in your mind, or in actuality. Characters should be living before the story starts.
Thanks Dropbear. It is hard to fit it in the 13 lines, but she is dreaming her dream--which is integral to the story. The next 13 lines introduce the aliens which kill her in every dream--and then she dies. The good news is the whole scene is short, which will hopefully be a slight redeeming factor for it.
Ok, I agree about the cliche part too. I'll work on that some more. Maybe it will work to cut out the opening of the eyes altogether like you suggested, and I need to describe the light better. It is a single bulb hanging on a long cord. So the shadows hide the ceiling, but there is the dim light closer to where she is. (adding to my revision list)
Shimiqua, I'm probably doing a big no no, but my book is first person for Talia and 3rd for everything else. Originally it was all third, but I was able to get inside Talia's head better when I switched. I have thought about going back to third now that I've heard her voice, we will see.
[This line "It was almost like my body was coming online, one piece at a time." is the hook for me, but are you talking about in your mind, or in actuality. Characters should be living before the story starts.]
I'm not sure I understood what you were asking, but I was thinking that her sensory perceptions were "coming online" one at a time. That general waking up and not noticing everything at once, but one thing adding upon the other. Sight in a dream like silence and then the sound rushing in, followed by feeling cold.
I'm so excited to get real feedback that will help me make this story better. Thanks to both of you!
I'd agree with shimiqua -- skip the first paragraph (waking up is cliche-ish), start with the second and get killed (or almost) before the end of the 13 lines, with a hint that that always happens. That would be enough of a hook for me to plunge on.
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You said, " It is a single bulb hanging on a long cord. So the shadows hide the ceiling, but there is the dim light closer to where she is. (adding to my revision list)"
So why not write that?
I forget to do this a lot to, but some of the best advice I ever heard was to write the first draft like you are telling a story to a friend sitting next to you. See if you were doing that, you would have mentioned the bulb hanging from a long cord.
I also agree with starting with her doing something besdis opening her eyes.
I love examples, so I always try to give them.
I gripped a wall of cold , damp cobble stone, which curved upward into shadows above me, as if I were in a wide cylinder. Sickly yellow light flickered from a bulb above me. It dangled from a long cord, and lightly swung from the breeze. The light gave off no heat in the cold that pierced me to the bone. Shivering, I wiped my nose on my sleeve, and then crossed my arms while taking a step. The sound of my ankles treading water broke the silence. I wondered why I only just noticed the water, as if my senses were coming online, one piece at a time.
Here is the updated 13 lines. Is it an improvement, I'm thinking of cutting out the two men she watches get toasted before the creatures turn their attention to her. However, I wanted them in this scene for foreshadowing since these guys play minor roles in the book.
A single bulb dangled from a chord that disappeared into the shadows above my head. The sickly yellow light barely cut the gloom of the hallway. Clinging to the cold, stone wall beside me, I took a step forward and the sound of water around my ankles broke the silence. My heart pounded in my ears as I looked down and noticed the six inches of water. How did I miss that? My senses slowly registered my surroundings piece by piece bringing the familiar panic to the surface. As I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm myself, I heard a distant splashing from down the tunnel. I quickly pressed myself into the wall, trying to sink farther into the shadows as the sound grew louder and the water around my bare ankles began to ripple.
[This message has been edited by CharityBradford (edited February 17, 2010).]
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited February 17, 2010).]