Darkness lay like a thick blanket on the city. The sky overcast, a moonless, starless black. By the light of torches, the city watch patrolled their rounds. Up the street, coming from the docks, down the street to the city center. Ian watched them pass. "Right on schedule" he said to himself. He knew that they would be. He knew their exact route down to the minute, he had been watching and studying their movements for days. It was the perfect opportunity, he wouldn't get another. Ian left the darkness of the alleyway and entered the darkness of the street. The new moon ensured that no eerie glow would betray his presence. Even the illuminating stars were snuffed out by the cover of clouds overhead.
I've decided to toy with the notion of adding some chapters to the start of the book. I know theres no specific hook, but there enough to garner some interest in what it is Ian is doing?
There is a lot of redundancy here. You tell us how dark it is five or six times. You might want to trim that down to only the first two sentences, and use the rest to introduce more of a hook.
<i>It was the perfect opportunity, he wouldn't get another.</i>
Now, I'm not one to come out and just say "this is my character's goal," but that's because I haven't found the proper time for the character to explicitly think about his goal. In this sentence, you have that opportunity, which makes me wonder why I don't know what that goal is. It feels like you're artificially keeping me in the dark.
Yes, I do suppose that there are a number of reference to how dark it is. (Its really really dark lol) They could probably be cut back.
My issue is that I don't want to bog the story down with still more backstory and exposition. I guess it could be said that if there's no way in the writing to tell the reader what they need to know without being cumbersome, then the writing needs to be changed. I'll have to play around with it.
I am hoping, however, that this is sufficiently far back in the story to avoid frontloading the narrative with explainations. There IS one more step back that I can take, and that is, when the Mages guild tells Ian that the theives guild will attempt to subvert his loayalties to them, and that he is supposed to play along. But I can't, for the life of me, think of a way that I can make a chapter out of it that includes any action of import. It WOULD be an ideal spot to tell the reader in depth about his involvement in the Mage guild, as he would be IN the Academy as the story happened, but I'm afraid that the chapter would be 45% "Where Ian has been", 45% "Where Ian is now" and only 10% "Where Ian is going"
My issue is that I don't want to bog the story down with still more backstory and exposition. That's understandable, and in that case I would recommend that the character not think about what a perfect time this is, as it naturally raises the question "perfect time for what?" Instead, have him thinking of a more immediate goal.
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