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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » First 13, ADULT URBAN FANTASY, Mature reference included (Nothing vulgar)

   
Author Topic: First 13, ADULT URBAN FANTASY, Mature reference included (Nothing vulgar)
TerryS
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I meant Adult URBAN FANTASY, can a mod please change the title accordingly?


Take 1

"Hun you never know what life will bring you. We can't account for the journey. I mean, most of the times best laid plans hit a wall, a dead end or one of several curves." I usually became depressed on my birthday. My old bones ached lately. The shadows close to the window offered little comfort.

Danielle curled under the sheets, her heavy-lidded eyes on me. She ignored my mood. "Shawn, darling," she said impatiently. "You coming to bed any time soon?" She pulled the sheets down and the silver light highlighted naked curves. "Something says that sleep solves sadness." She had a teasing twinkle in her eye now.

She knew that lisp of hers did things to me. Sadness brushed my heart. "Life sucks." Before the sentence finished I had crossed a dozen feet to the bed and ripped into her throat.

Take 3. Used some of several suggestions to convey more without giving too much.


Brooding. Again. The last few years had been spent like this but today would be worse. I felt it in my old aching bones, and the whispering shadows close to the window offered little comfort. After millennia in existence I should have seen this coming. Plans in life hardly ever pan out. I gazed at the bed.

Danielle curled under the sheets, her heavy-lidded eyes on me. She ignored my mood. "Shawn, darling," she said impatiently. "You coming to bed any time soon?" She pulled the sheets down and silver light highlighted naked curves. "Sleep solves sadness," she added, a teasing twinkle in her eyes now.

She knew I always fell for her lisp. But not tonight. Regret brushed my heart. "Life sucks." Before the sentence finished I had crossed a dozen feet to the bed and ripped into her throat.


[This message has been edited by TerryS (edited August 24, 2010).]


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Osiris
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Hello Terry,

I'm somewhat hooked by the opening, I think you can probably do better.

quote:
"Hun you never know what life will bring you. We can't account for the journey. I mean, most of the times best laid plans hit a wall, a dead end or one of several curves." I usually became depressed on my birthday. My old bones ached lately. The shadows close to the window offered little comfort.

Here, minor nit pick but I'm immediately put off by the spelling of "Hun". It should be "Hon", short for honey. I know its a minor point.
My sense is that of a speaker consoling the first person narrator. It only comes off as birthday depression though, and to it is a bit mundane. Now it seems to me that perhaps we have a vampire here, and in that case, birthday depression becomes interesting in the context of a narrator who has seen many. Maybe you can go with something like this:

"Hon you never know what life will bring you. We can't account for the journey. I mean, most of the times best laid plans hit a wall I cut dead end, its redundant to wall or one of several curves." I usually became depressed on my birthday. After two hundred and fifteen of them, its easy to see why. My old bones ached lately. The shadows close to the window offered little comfort.

This adds clarity to the reason for the depression. To me, it also provides a hook: Who is this supernaturally old person and how did live so long?

quote:
She knew that lisp of hers did things to me. Sadness brushed my heart. "Life sucks." Before the sentence finished I had crossed a dozen feet to the bed and ripped into her throat.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I'm left wondering if Danielle had any idea that this was going to happen, and if so, why does she offer herself like a lamb to the slaughter? Right now it sounds like she is being murdered, thought it could be she is just offering some blood to sustain the vampire. Really, the nature of the relationship between the two is a little vague. Maybe a line or two that clarifies before this scene might work.


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TerryS
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I guess I could cut that part of the dialogue although the point of showing the three things was that walls can be broken, curves can be navigated but dead ends are just that, the end. And it also ends up being a quirk of my protagonist's speech. He tends to be redundant about most things. a representation of his own redundant life. The statement actually comes into play later.

I didn't include an age because I did not want to spoon feed my reader. I could add the age bit though, I agree it could add more spice, which in this would read more like "After millennia, or After several millennia (several being again redundant)"

And Danielle had no clue he was going to attack her. Although she did know what he was. And she didn't end up dead.

I'll rework and repost in a bit.

[This message has been edited by TerryS (edited August 23, 2010).]


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Osiris
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You might get some differing opinions from mine posted later. May be worth it to wait until then to rework.
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bemused
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It is definitely a striking opening. Only having the first 13 and it cutting off where it does is a little jarring and disconcerting as the quite scene quickly shifts into something more violent. I will say that it would keep me reading just a little bit to see what happens immediately to Danielle, but I don't know how much it is a hook for the grander plot of the story.
I don't know if opening with a quotation works that well. As you told Osiris, the redundancy of the language is on purpose and is part of the character, but when it is the very first thing that greats the reader it is a little off putting.
I don't think giving a stronger hint about how old the protag is would be spoon feeding the reader (there is more than one way to be extremely old)and since it is his birthday his age is probably on his mind.
I didn't get the sense that Danielle was really responding directly to what Shawn had said. It left me wondering whether he was talking to her, himself or to the reader. A little clarity there could help the flow of the opening.
The overall tone of the opening is very somber, and the "life sucks" pun (if Shawn is in fact a vamp) breaks the mood and is rather jarring, especially coupled with the violence. I don't know if this was the intended affect. It may be something to look at.

*edited to fix some typos*

[This message has been edited by bemused (edited August 23, 2010).]


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TerryS
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quote:
It is definetly a striking opening. Only having the first 13 and it cutting off where it does is a little jarring and disconcerting as the quite scene quickly shifts into something more violent. I will say that it would keep me reading just a little bit to see what happens immediately to Danielle, but I don't know how much it is a hook for the grander plot of the story.

Danielle is integral to the plot and so is the beginning. Everything in the beginning involves key elements of the plot.

quote:
I don't know if opening with a quotation works that well. As you told Osiris, the redundancy of the language is on purpose and is part of the character, but when it is the very first thing that greats the reader it is a little off putting

Maybe it's not the right way to go but I don't want my reader to be comfortable in the start.

quote:
I don't think giving a stronger hint about how old the protag is would be spoonfeeding the reader (there is more than one way to be extremely old)and since it is his birthday his age is probably on his mind.

After reading a bit again and reading further into the story as it's written, I agree.

quote:
I didn't get the sense that Danielle was really responding directly to what Shawn had said. It left me wondering whether he was talking to her, himself or to the reader. A little clarity there could help the flow of the opening.

She isn't responding to him directly which is why it mentions she ignored his mood. She in fact thought he was just sad not depressed (Of course since it's in first person I can't show "why" she ignored the mood, that comes later in dialogue). She also has her own interests in mind. Later on it is revealed she is a succubus.

quote:
The overall tone of the opening is very somber, and the "life sucks" pun (if Shawn is in fact a vamp) breaks the mood and is rather jarring, especially coupled with the violence. I don't know if this was the intended affect. It may be something to look at.

The pun was intentional and I want to jar my reader. I want them to see a somber mood. I wanted them to relax a bit with Danielle's actions. Then I wanted to jump on them with Shawn's own action. Did I achieve this?

[This message has been edited by TerryS (edited August 23, 2010).]


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MAP
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This definitely is interesting, but it doesn't totally work for me.

quote:
"Hun you never know what life will bring you. We can't account for the journey. I mean, most of the times best laid plans hit a wall, a dead end or one of several curves." (This is speech is vague, full of cliches, and not really making me excited to spend a book with this character. Could he be more specific to give us a little insight into his character and why he is depressed?) I usually became depressed on my birthday. My old bones ached lately. The shadows close to the window offered little comfort.

Danielle curled under the sheets, her heavy-lidded eyes on me. She ignored my mood. "Shawn, darling," she said impatiently. "You coming to bed any time soon?" She pulled the sheets down and the silver light highlighted naked curves. (I like this description and how Danielle isn't really listening to him) "Something says that sleep solves sadness." (This alliteration is a bit much, and the "Something says" part is a little unclear. How about her just saying "Sleep solves sadness") She had a teasing twinkle in her eye now.

She knew that lisp of hers did things to me. Sadness brushed my heart. (I think something is missing here. I don't understand this change in him, and that is jarring. I know you don't want to spoon feed your readers, but there is a fine line between giving them too much and not giving them enough. This is not enough IMO. What does the lisp do to him? Why does "sadness brush his heart?" Does he know he is going to kill her and doesn't want to? I just think you need a line here to explain his sudden mood shift.) "Life sucks." Before the sentence finished I had crossed a dozen feet to the bed and ripped into her throat.


I would keep reading, but these were some issues I had with this opening, but I am just one reader maybe others feel different. Good luck with this.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited August 23, 2010).]


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TerryS
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Updated it from several suggestions.

My point mainly is to keep the reader reading after the first 13 which can only convey so much. Once he gets past that 13, all those questions you are asking gets answered. Much of it is by design to make you ask those questions.

[This message has been edited by TerryS (edited August 23, 2010).]


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JSchuler
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To me, the MC's dialog does not read like someone who is depressed. It reads more like someone trying to comfort another. "It's not your fault. These things sometimes happen. You can't be expected to know everything. Life throws everybody curveballs. etc. etc." That actually confused me for awhile, and I thought it was Danielle talking there.
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Osiris
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I actually thought it was Danielle as well. Either way, it needs to be clarified.
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TerryS
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Removed the dialogue and changed a couple more things. What do you think?

[This message has been edited by TerryS (edited August 24, 2010).]


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JSchuler
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I like the new version a lot better, except that you're explicitly telling us he's brooding, habitually, in the first two words (which are given a lot of prominence as their own separate sentences). I'm two words in and I already want to slap the MC and tell him to get over it, and I don't even know what "it" is.

Also, in the last paragraph, I'm trying to visualize him finishing saying "Life Sucks" with his teeth tearing through her neck.

Anyway, from the first thirteen, here's what I'm getting.

He likes Danielle, thinks she's a swell girl. He believed that this time, he could live a normal life with her. But, he's got a recurring addiction to the sweet red stuff. He's been fighting it for awhile, but realized long ago it was a losing battle, (just like it was a losing battle the last several dozen times this happened). So, tonight's the night he surrenders and Danielle becomes an entree.

Am I close?


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MAP
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The latest version is so much better. You set a dark tone from the beginning, and even though we don't know that he is going to eat Danielle, it is not so jarring when he does.

Well done.


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TerryS
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To Shuler. You aren't too far off, but no. Although your idea has some intrigue. And yes, my idea originally was to get away from the telling and show he is brooding and depressed. I wanted to do it with dialogue but it seems to not have been working right. I guess it ended up as: "Show don't tell except where telling is better than showing." Which in this case the telling is fine.

As for the words. He actually said "Life Sucks" and moved at the same time covering the twelve feet in the space of time it took him to say them. That was the effect I went for, don't know if you got that from it or not.

To Map, Thank you. I did want the jarring effect but I guess it still works.

Basically the gist of it is he's something like a vamp/succubus, she's a pure succubus. He actually doesn't drink blood. He thought he found the one he could spend an eternity with until he found out that she betrayed him to an old enemy. Now he must find out what she has told his enemy and he can do that through her blood.

I was in the middle of writing my other novel that I had posted on here and this idea came to me so rather than waste an idea. I wrote. Right now, I am one chapter into this one.

[This message has been edited by TerryS (edited August 24, 2010).]


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MAP
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LOL Terry. Believe me, you don't want the jarring effect, at least not the way I define jarring.

You may want to surprise, shock, or cause alarm, but you don't want pull me out of the story and question if the author really knows what he is doing (that is how I define jarring).

I've realized that my problem with your first entry was that I couldn't get a hold on the MC. He felt inconsistent. And that is okay if you intended him to be a little wacky, but I didn't think you did, and that is what caused me to question you as an author.

In your latest entry, your MC feels very consistent although I do think the moment he attacks Danielle is surprising. I really think your latest version is a solid, strong opening that gives me confidence in you as a writer.

JMO. Good luck.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited August 25, 2010).]


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