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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Working title: Ink and Stone (fantasy), first 13

   
Author Topic: Working title: Ink and Stone (fantasy), first 13
Daniel_W
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Hi everyone [Smile] .

Here's something I've been playing with for a while. I'm just looking for thoughts on the opening 13 for now - I figured some fresh pairs of eyes might help me improve it. Usually, I try to create my hooks with dialogue, or with narrative voice, but this time I've gone for description alone - does it work?

All comments welcome. Hope you enjoy!

*

The stone floor of the library was cold under Erynís feet as she slipped into the room; a chill night air blew in through the open windows, and she shivered as it brushed against her skin. There was no warmth in the magic up here. She glanced around. Starlight dappled the endless tomes of magic, their glittering symbols bound in hoary pages that buckled the dead wooden shelves of the stacks. Fine silver dust had settled on every surface, residue of the power stored in this room, and the air glinted as she disturbed it with her quick movements, hurrying between the shelves.
She stopped abruptly and crouched to inspect a lower row. Eryn ran her finger across the spine of every book there, noting how each lit up a different colour: some silver, some red,

*

Thanks for reading [Smile] .

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History
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Love the setting of the scene and the quality of the writing and the engagement of the senses. Don't know much about the character, her purpose, or the conflict yet (but its only 13 lines). I'd read on. Thanks for sharing.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Wonderbus
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Hi Daniel,

I like this, I think you could trim it just a touch though and get some more into your opening 13:

a chill night air blew in through the open windows you don't need the 'in'
She glanced around. I'd cut this, it pulls us out of a pretty tight POV.

Starlight dappled the endless tomes of magic, their glittering symbols bound in hoary pages that buckled the dead wooden shelves of the stacks. Bit of an awlward sentence, made me wonder what was happening here. Are the books open? Can she see inside the pages? I'd probably cut "their glittering symbols bound in hoary pages" and "of the stacks" and think the sentence reads better.

Fine silver dust had settled on every surface, residue of the power stored in this room, and the air glinted as she disturbed it with her quick movements, hurrying between the shelves Another long awkward sentence. I'd cut "residue of the powder stored in this room" I think you can add that info later if its important, and maybe cut "hurrying past the shelves."
She stopped abruptly cut the weak adverb.

She stopped abruptly and crouched to inspect a lower row. Eryn ran her finger across the spine of every book there, noting how each lit up a different colour: some silver, some red, Maybe something like: "She stopped and crouched to inspect a lower row, running her finger along the spine of every book. Each lit up a different colour: silver, red..."

[ January 19, 2012, 11:35 PM: Message edited by: Wonderbus ]

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Matthew Jonathan Wilcken
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The scene here does engage the reader. The addition of "; a chill night air blew in through the open windows, and she shivered as it brushed against her skin." can be summarized in the first clause before the semi colon. In fact, it is implied to a certain extent already in the first sentence.

"Starlight dappled the endless tomes of magic" was cool. Are you saying that starlight was shining in through the window, or that the magical characteristics of the books -- the silvery dust -- was the cause of the dappled light?

All in all, this is a great opening. Mild tweaking and I think you've got it.

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Daniel_W
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Dr. Bob, Wonderbus, and Matthew Jonathan Wilcken - thanks to all three of you for reading and for the comments [Smile] . I guess the consensus so far is 'pretty much fine, although you could tighten the odd sentence here and there to slip in a little more detail'. I must admit, I never feel that my writing is 'visual' enough, so I might try to sneak in some extra imagery (though I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so maybe a little experimenting is in order).

Glad you liked, and thanks again!

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Tryndakai
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I concur with the previous comments, for the most part. [Smile] Having the snippets about some kind of magical residue dusting the shelves is intriguing, and the books lighting up as she runs her fingers along them. [Smile]

I'd say the whole tightening-up of sentences would really help to suck the reader more solidly into Eryn's pov, and make all the visual and tactile things you're going for pack a bit more punch, and feel more real. i.e.:
quote:
The stone floor was cold under Erynís feet as she slipped into the library;
The "of the library" interrupted the flow and separated the coldness of the stone from Eryn's feet, IMO, lessening the impact. Also, saving "the library" for the end in place of "the room" not only lessens your word count, it also gives a better feel of "showing" over "telling," because you're not *explaining* that we're in the library, we just *are.*

As far as a "hook" goes--you've got the barest notion in there that she's maybe sorta hurried . . . you could probably use a word or two to increase that, if it's what you're going for. I'd like to know if she's at all anxious. Is she *supposed* to be in the library at this hour? Just that tiny level of suspense, combined with the interesting little details of apparently moth-eaten magic, would be quite enough to keep me turning pages. [Smile]

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Jess
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I think the descriptions are beautiful and it flows nicely. It feels more like a middle of the book sort of thing than beginning. I'd say if you planned to keep this then to have some action happen very soon after these thirteen lines.
I do love how you mention the magic. It isn't a hit the reader over the head "There's magic!" and it isn't a have the character ponder about how her world has magic. It is just a natural thought that gives the reader a big heads up about the fact that there is magic. Well done!

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Daniel_W
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Thanks for the comments, Tryndakai and Jess [Smile] .

Tryndakai: you're right that she's hurrying because she's not supposed to be in the library at the moment, but I agree I could emphasise the hurrying a little more to make this clearer, as well as tighten up the sentences.
Jess: she's about to get caught doing something she shouldn't be, lol, so there's definitely action to come! This is a prologue, so hopefully that excuses it feeling like the middle of a story? I'm glad you like the magic, too; I'm really pleased with how the magic is turning out in this story.

Glad you both enjoyed, and thanks for reading [Smile] .

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MartinV
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I like it. It gives me the feel of the scene rather than describing it rationally.

I do get stuck on some of the words. Since I have to stop and think about what they mean, it breaks the reading flow.

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henriksen.laura
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I want to read more of this, a sure sign that it works overall.

You start in the passive voice, your first sentence could be more gripping with revision. The sentences are a little too "full" for my taste; they had tons of adjectives and multiple clauses. Still the descriptions are lovely and I'm already hooked. I would like to read more when you have more to send.

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