These are the first 13 of my newest piece, Gwenhyfar. Would love to hear what you think of it.
The power of memories is a strange thing. As I sit here looking out on the yard a gentle breeze plays over the trees, sways the grasses and wildflowers and it’s almost as if I am transported by the similarities of another wood, another time. If I close my eyes and let the past wash over me I almost feel the cool earth, as yet damp from recent rains, under my feet as I did that day…as I fled from them… # I had just left the market, my muscles straining slightly from the weight of the goods in my basket, and turned down the road home. At first I paid no mind to the sound of footsteps behind me, expecting they would belong to other market goers.
[This message has been edited by LLRook (edited March 01, 2010).]
I have a couple of questions. One, what age group is this for? Just curious because you're writing in the first person, which should be an intimate pov, and I am used to seeing it in YA. But your choice of words are closer to a fantasy or literary novel for adults. Also, is this story about the past, or is this scene a flashback? The reason I ask is I've heard (and agree) that flashbacks should never open a book. Reflecting is a passive activity best saved for after I am invested in the characters. If the entire novel is set in the past, then I like the way you jump right in there. From the very first sentence I expect to be thrown into the past. If not, maybe this should be a prologue or you need to start earlier in the novel. (Or you could always embed this into the back-story later in the plot.) It's a little wordy. I like simple, crisp writing. Even in fantasy (which I'm hoping this is). A lot of description is superfluous, especially right at the beginning. I'm partial to books that jump right to the action. For example, I like how at the end you tell about the guys being too close. That is where my interest picks up. That is where I want to start knowing about the character. I'm a little on edge because any time a girl is alone and a guy (or group of guys) gets close enough to make her uncomfortable, I'm expecting the worst. And as soon as I feel the makings of conflict, I am sucked in. (The line "as I fled from them..." was preceded by too much passive information that I didn’t feel the tension right away. Not until that last line.) This is just my opinion, of course, and if this does turn out to be fantasy, I'm excited. I love a good fantasy novel. (The reason I'm reading it that way is you make her memories almost magical the way they "transport" her back to "another wood, another time." I just don't read a lot of contemporary books that begin by describing wildflowers and woods and market places.) It's hard to tell if I'd read more from these 13 lines. They don't jump out and grab me, but I do want to know what happens to the MC because of that last line. So...I'm conflicted. I guess it depends on if this is a temporary flashback or if the story is set in the past. (Either way, you almost don't need that first part about remembering back.) I don't know if that helps any. I hope so, but if not, I'm sorry. Good luck with this!
[This message has been edited by TrishaH24 (edited March 01, 2010).]
While the opening paragraph is very nicely written and the description is quite vivid, it's pointless. I suggest starting with the second paragraph. Get us into the action. It sounds rather interesting.
This story is written from the MC's POV. The first part is more or less an opener, to give the idea, or the impression that she is about to tell you a tale. It is adult fantasy, actually a twist on the King Arthur legend.
Posts: 8 | Registered: Feb 2010
| IP: Logged |
If I close my eyes and let the past wash over me I almost feel the cool earth, as yet damp from recent rains, under my feet as I did that day…as I fled from them…
I like it actually. Reminds me of those italicized openings in Robin Hobb's books. As such, I think you could expand on the opening a bit. "as I fled from them" seems a little vague. Maybe you could set the stage for things to come by giving us more details about the MC and his world. Not too much, but if it's given seperate from the actual beginning I think it could work. I really like the old-style fantasy feel to this. I would read on.
Is the story going to go back and forth in time? Or is there going to be some conclusion that indicates why the MC would still be around at and (apparently) much later time? If that's not somehow critical to the story, I think starting with Gwen being followed home is more engaging.
Posts: 4633 | Registered: Dec 2008
| IP: Logged |
I think the first part is well-written, but it is vague. It really gives no sense of character, setting (other than being outside), or hints about where the story is going. It is only someone musing about memories.
I think that the first part needs to have something compelling in it to justify why it is needed. Foreshadowing would be nice.
Someone mentioned Robin Hobb's Assasin's Apprentice. I think you should look at how Hobb does this very same thing in that novel in a compelling way.
I am considering dropping the little piece at the beginning, since it seems to be a problem for many. That would leave the following as my first 13... comments? Suggestions?
I had just left the market, my muscles straining slightly from the weight of the goods in my basket, and turned down the road home. At first I paid no mind to the sound of footsteps behind me, expecting they would belong to other market goers. When I heard laughter, though, I knew them to belong to the hostelry patrons that had stood clustered by the door, laughing loudly and at obvious expense of those that worked and visited the market. I hefted the basket into my arms, holding it tight to my chest and quickened my pace. “Where are you hurrying off to, girl?” I hesitated only briefly as I spared a glance behind me. Three men, their dress shabbier than typical patrons of the hostelry, though still better than most that lived in this area, were already much too close for
I suggest a few changes - see below - some whos instead of thats, for instance. I like this version better. I did have a little logical pause here, though. The patrons of the hostelry are not frequenters of the market? I think what you mean are that these men are not locals. Though even foreigners will visit local markets when they visit the area so it's a little odd to differentiate these fellows the way she has. Maybe she could identify them as something a little more colorful than patrons. "The yahoos still celebrating from the night before" or something. Maybe just 'strangers passing through' or 'still reeking from a night of drink'. Or something. Otherwise it looks fine. I would keep reading.
I had just left the market, my muscles straining slightly from the weight of the goods in my basket, and turned down the road home. At first I paid no mind to the sound of footsteps behind me, expecting [that] they would belong [belonged] to other market goers. When I heard laughter, though, I knew them to belong [be] to the hostelry patrons that [who] had stood clustered by the door, laughing loudly and at [the] obvious expense of those that [who] worked [in/at] and [or] visited the market. I hefted the basket into my arms, holding it tight to my chest and quickened my pace. “Where are you hurrying off to, girl?” I hesitated only briefly as I spared a glance behind me. Three men, their dress shabbier than typical patrons of the hostelry, though still better than most that [who] lived in this area, were already much too close for
I really like that first paragraph "The power of memories etc..." but would perhaps re-phrase it a little.
It does not have to be part of the first 13, but if you're not going back to the present until maybe the end of the book, that paragraph could be a small insert before chapter 1. #1 It would tell the reader you're going back in time. #2 It would tell the reader the MC is ok, no matter what happens in the book. (not sure if you want that) Would that work? Does it break the 'First 13' rules? I don't know.
Hope it helps. Keep in mind I'm new to this too Good Luck! Marta