Here are two possible openings for SEVEN STARS. Which is better for a YA novel?
quote:From her desk at the front of the command tent, Casora watched the large group of riders approaching. She wore the regulation leathers and enough of her armor to disguise her slender body. By reflex, she reached for her helmet to hide her face as well. No outsider ever saw the face of an Immortal.
The tent stood on a little rise overlooking the camp, where the flag bearing a circle of seven stars on a dark blue background could be seen for miles around. It was also above most of the mud, although the smell of wet earth, damp horses, and manure still reached her on the stiff breeze that whipped the flag above her.
The rise gave Casora a good view of anyone arriving at the camp long before they reached her.
quote: Casora paused on her way to the mess tent to watch Marcian and Derian sparring on the practice field. Another girl might have had her eye on Derian. His face was handsomer. Casora was fascinated by Marcian. Another observer, one less familiar with him, wouldn't expect so much grace or speed in such a muscular young man. Marcian was one of the best of the Immortals. Better, he was hers. She wished her duties were still uncomplicated enough to allow her time to spar with him--in lieu of other things.
While she was at it, she might as well wish that she was like her sister. Grita was lucky. She could marry whoever and whenever she chose. Having been born a blonde and free of the Curse, she wasn't required to be a warrior, either.
And here's a third:
quote: Casora stepped into the practice circle and saluted her opponent with a grin. The sword was not her best weapon, but the chance to spar with Marcian was too good to pass up. It was practically the only sanctioned time they could touch at all.
Marcian returned her salute and took up his stance, giving her the first move. Casora's smile turned to a frown. She'd make him rue that overconfidence. He might be bigger and stronger--with all those muscles how could he not be?--but she was quicker, more agile, and vastly more cunning. Well, she had to be. She was never going to beat him with brawn.
She rushed forward and spun at the last minute to hit Marcian from the side with the flat of her blunted practice sword. It was a move her oldest brother had taught her
Both are a little rough, though not very. I like the immediacy of the second one better.
With regards to your flag, I recommend using the word “field” in place of “background” as in, “…where the flag bearing a circle of seven stars on a field of dark blue could be seen for miles around.”
In the second I might change “His face was handsomer. Casora was fascinated by Marcian.” to “His face was more handsome, but Casora was fascinated by Marcian.” I think it flows better.
And, “Another observer, one less familiar with him, wouldn't expect so much grace or speed in such a muscular young man.” to “A less familiar observer might not expect so much grace or speed in such a muscular young man.” It seems a little tighter to me.
Just my random thoughts, good luck. -JK
Posts: 405 | Registered: Aug 2008
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I think the second one would be better for ya, but the first one is just smoother and more descriptive. In the first one, the writing is catchier, but in the second one what's happening is catchier (watching to guys practice?)
Posts: 73 | Registered: Jan 2012
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BTW, these are all starting in the same place, storywise. And whichever opening I use, I get to that first opening no later than page two. The others are attempts to get the character out there and hopefully get the reader to connect a little first.
Posts: 3936 | Registered: Dec 2008
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*From her desk at the front of the command tent, Casora watched the large group of riders approaching.* OK, so, this is an amazing sentence. Lately, I've been all about the amazing first sentence and this one grabs me. Lots of info, character, situation, atmosphere. I know a lot in very few words. (Maybe say head of command tent instead of front? That's an even more revealing word to her position?)
*Casora stepped into the practice circle and saluted her opponent with a grin.* Right away I'm thrown. She saluted with a grin? Or saluted and grinned? Saluted while grinning?
*It was practically* Whenever I see the words it was, I cringe. They have a backward feeling to them. I want the story to move forward. Go ahead and use the word *dueling* instead. Now I have an image of an action, instead of just two words.
*She was never going to beat him with brawn.* You said this earlier by pointing out his muscles. Which was a better/more character way of stating this.
*last minute* last second.
*It was a move...* Backwards. Her brother had taught her this move... etc.
In the end, I really like the first one for the grand fantasy feel to it. Sucks me right in. I know exactly what I'm reading and I'm ready for more. The 3rd is a duel and some tension, but I feel that can wait.
Aah, I know. The first is the start of a story, the 3rd is a scene in the story.
Meredith, I like the first opening the best. There are some hooky images/phrases and I find it more interesting than the other two. It gives a lot of information concisely, including that she's probably a commander, some physical description and, most intriguing, that she's called an Immortal. It introduces her as an individual rather than by her attraction to someone else. The nits I would have on this would be to tighten some of the wording in the second paragraph. Personal opinion here, but I think the following < > words could be cut. The tent stood on a <little> rise overlooking the camp, where the flag <bearing> (,) a circle of seven stars on a dark blue background(,) could be seen for miles around. It was <also> above most of the mud, although the smell of wet earth, damp horses, and manure <still> reached her on the stiff breeze <that whipped the flag above her>.
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