Okay some of you have seen this one before but this time I am looking for a few good men and women. That is anyone who is willing to look over the whole book. It's around 84,000 words. It's Urban Fantasy with a MC who does very little magic but has as special ability... two... both are described in the opening. Wizards are few and are more like alchemists. They spend their time gathering magic energy and experimenting. They actually do magic only now and then. They are also very eccentric and egotistical.
There are also elves, one unicorn and a mystery plus romantic misunderstandings in this novel. And time is running out.
I would send you a chapter at a time, that will give me a deadline to revise one every two weeks to three weeks. I may need that deadline.
So without further advertising here is the opening to "Storm Born".
Trying it over... does this change things to what they should be? Okay, another try:
I can see things that most people can't. I can see through most glammers and see invisible beings. It's talent I've had all my life. My fiancŽ thinks I should use it to investigate supernatural crimes. She thinks that and my bulldog tenacity would serve me well as an investigator. As I squat down next to a dead girl's body, I feel I'll need all the tenacty I have to catch her killer. Even though I'm even tempered, I can get stubborn and dangerous when I need to. As I begin to study her body, I figured there's a need. She died elsewhere then dumped in this alley. It takes a moment to perpare myself to look more closely at the stab wound. My sister and my best friend believe I have this ability because I was born in the middle of a terrific storm.
Okay, I revised it again. How is version three?
I can see things that most people can't. In my case that means I can not only see through most glamours but beings who can turn invisible. It's a talent I've had all my life. As I squat down next to a dead girl's body I think it will come in handy. My fiancŽ thinks I should use it to investigate supernatural crimes. Regen believes it along with my bulldog tenacity will serve me well as an investigator. As I look the body over I sense I'll need all that tenacty to catch her killer. Even though I'm even tempered, I can get stubborn and dangerous when I need to. As I begin to study her body, I figured there's a need. She died elsewhere then dumped in this alley. It takes a moment to perpare myself to look more closely at the stab wound.
[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited June 28, 2011).]
[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited July 09, 2011).]
You may want to change your character encoding to ASCII - I got a whole lot of funny characters that were clearly supposed to be other things. You can usually do this through the File->Options or Edit->Options menu on most text editors. You're better off with Notepad or Notepad++ than a full editor (which I'm guessing is taking in Unicode of some flavor).
Posts: 500 | Registered: May 2008
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It's not entirely coherent--jumping from "My fiance *thinks I should* investigate supernatural crimes," to being in the middle of one such investigation. The "thinks I should" implies that the MC does *not* currently do investigations.
You use a lot more "tell" than "show," explaining what you (the MC) can do, what your personality is like, what you're doing . . . without showing us even a hint of it.
quote:As I begin to study her body, I figured there's a need. She died elsewhere then dumped in this alley.
What led you to this conclusion? What clues did you see? Also, watch the tense shift there, in "figured." First person present is tough to make work, so you might want to consider changing the whole thing to past, but if you go with present you'll have to be extra careful with tense shifts.
The whole thing is way too distant in voice, what with all the dispassionate "telling," which is particularly odd seeing as it's in first person. Get more into the "now" of it--not meaning present tense. Meaning sensory details--what does he hear/see/smell/feel/taste? How does that make him feel, emotionally? How does he deal with those feelings?
And finally, one very small nit--"glammer" should be "glamour."
I would re-write the opening and take out everything that is not happening presently to your character i.e. the list of his abilities. Right now it reads like a game of who am I. Posts: 76 | Registered: Oct 2007
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I hafta kinda agree with hteadx about taking out the background stuff.
Suggestion: Consider starting with the action – specifically:
I squatted down next to a dead girl's body. Man, I thought, I'll need all the tenacity I have to catch her killer. It was apparent she died elsewhere then dumped in this alley. It took a moment to prepare myself to look more closely at her stab wound.
This starts with action, a problem, something that engages the reader. You could reach out to the reader even further if you gave the girl some kind of sympathetic aspect – is she young? Is she pretty? Is she a minority? Whatever.
Also, if you give the alley a hint of a description, that should give the scene even greater immediacy. For example, make the alley ‘strewn with litter and empty wine bottles,’ or, the alley is behind a bar and stinks of day old beer.
Also, if you aren't a published author, editors cut you even less slack. Consequently, your opening has to be as good or better than that of a published author. It isn't fair, but that's the way life is.
I hope this helps.
Remember the first rule of writing… Write! MBW p.s. did you take a look at my first thirteen?
[This message has been edited by mbwood (edited June 30, 2011).]
I agree that the opening could be a little cleaner but I like the premise. I would be happy to read for you a chapter at a time. Can't promise perfection but I will do my best to offer help if needed. P.S. I like the title. I always have such a hard time with titles.
Posts: 55 | Registered: Jun 2011
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Okay sounds good. And I see about redoing the opening for you. I have the first chapter part way revised since I let myself get sidetracked with new stories. There are the first 13 lines of four of them in the F&F for stories folder. Another story is waiting for the Wotf Q4 group.
Anyway, I should be able to get the first chapter to you--mostly cleaned up-- in a week if that is fine with you. I say mostly cleaned up, I never find all of the nitpicks and comma mistakes etc..
I like the first sentence it's a good hook. From there watch out for repeating ideas. the line
"I can get stubborn and dangerous when I need to. As I begin to study her body, I figured there's a need"
seems to be repeating the same idea that you are trying to get across with the "tenacity" sentences above it.
also the 3rd line.. "I think it will come in handy" you say about three times in these 13 lines that this special ability will be needed. You could probably say it once and get all the aspects across that you are trying for and move into the scene sooner. just some ideas. hope it helps.
It seems to me this fragment could be smoothed out a bit, made a bit more taut and dramatic. Examine it and ask for every phrase, "what does this phrase do to establish mood or voice?" For example, what does "In my case" add to the opening paragraph?
One possible way of maximizing the punch of the opening would be to rearrange the information slightly to backload the backstory and world building, saving them for after the basic situation has been established and the reader needs to know. For example, you could move everything in the first paragraph but the first and last sentence well later in the story. Then we get the right to question facing the protag and why it's important.
Leaving a reader with questions is OK, in fact it's good technique in my opinion, provided that the reader feels he understands *why* the question is worth raising and answering. Its kind of the opposite of bedside manner. Imagine you're sitting in a johnnie on the examining table, and the doctor pulls out a weird and intimidating looking stainless steel instrument. It would be good bedside manner to explain what the device is before it is shown, and then explain again when it is pulled out, and then again as the procedure is done.
You the author can dispense with the preliminary explanations. You pull out the terrifying instrument, stick it under the patient's johnnie and then explain what it is as you use it to probe his body. Why? Because you don't *want* to set the reader at ease. You want him paying attention!
I think the narrator can be excused for adopting a rather terse and tense voice given the opening. Then he can loosen up as he goes through his routine, introducing the limits of his powers, how they differ from other powers, and what his fiance thinks he should do with it. It strikes me that the fiance situation has a certain potential for comedy that could be better exploited with a little higher ambient discomfort level.
Let me know if you'd like more help with this.
[This message has been edited by MattLeo (edited July 12, 2011).]
The bedside manner joke was to illustrate the point that you don't need to answer all the reader's questions, you need to motivate the reader to read on.
There's not a rigid, mechanical rule for how to do this. Sometimes I find my interest flagging because there are too many questions raised by an author and I don't know why I should care yet. Other times the author overwhelms me with explanations and jargon I'm not prepared to care about yet. It's a tricky balancing act. While your opening doesn't fall to either extreme, it *might* work better if there were more focus on setting mood.
My suggestion her isn't based on the idea that there is only one correct way of doing this. It's based on a feeling that it *might* be possible for *this* passage to be more compelling. What I'm suggesting is that you experimentally rewrite the first four or five paragraphs to focus a bit more on establishing mood and a little less in background briefing. It's not guaranteed to be better than your current opening, but it will only cost you three hundred words or so of composition.
I think the reason I feel your opening could be improved is that you've posited a compelling scenario. MC encounters a dead body under mysterious circumstances. What should he do? I think the opening might stand out better if you exploited the ready-made drama of that scenario by giving the scene opening a bit more emotional shading. You have an opportunity here not just to launch the story, but to establish a distinctive voice right on the opening page of the story.
My critique style tends to focus on these kinds of issues: voice, characterization, and plot logic. If this is what you're looking for, feel free to send me your MS for a read through. I'll look through the opening chapter at the very least.