1. Hero-Jean629
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    Hero-Jean629 Member

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    Does this beginning sentence hook/pull you in?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Hero-Jean629, Dec 19, 2011.

    I wrote the prologue to my story which is a big first for me and I'm wondering if the beginning sentence pulls one into reading more? If you'd like, I'll post the prologue but I was just wondering if this first sentence seemed...good enough.

    "She had personally held that statue responsible for everything that had ever occurred in her life subsequent to the dreadful, angst-ridden age of fourteen."

    Not much but when I looked through all my other books, they didn't seem to have much either.

    Please and thank-you for reading and responding :)
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It has potential, but I think it is needlessly wordy, and that takes away from the effect it might have. I don't like prologues, as a rule, but if you're going to go with one I'd prefer to see a name instead of "she" and some tighter writing. For example:

    Sarah held the statute responsible for everything that happened to her after the dreadful age of fourteen.

    Not that you should use that; it merely illustrates a point.
     
  3. Hero-Jean629
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    Hero-Jean629 Member

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    I have a problem with things being too "wordy" :( I just feel like if I make it too simple then it won't attract enough attention. I don't think I need the prologue either but I feel like it just sets a setting inside the book which I have been told is often wrong. And as for the name, I just didn't want to reveal what it was until the near end.
     
  4. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    For me, it's too long to be a good hook and goes through too many topics: she, a statue, everything in her life, her age, and the fact that it's dreadful. I find it hard to wrap my mind around everything the sentence wants to tell me. The idea for your hook is there, so it's in the right direction. It's just a matter of giving it more oomph, and to do that, you need simpler and fewer words.

    The wording doesn't sound natural. It's a level toward academic. Try for wording that someone might say.

    The word "personally" is unnecessary. Like "perfectly" or "generally," it's a qualifier, and those can usually get axed. And what does "personally held" mean that "held" can't get across?

    You probably don't need both "dreadful" and "angst-ridden"; without any context in this case, these mean the same thing to the reader. Adjectives (more so than any other word apart from the adverb) should get cut whenever you can, or at least the noun should get changed to something that incorporates the adjective. One of these two adjectives should go. I'd get rid of "angst-ridden." It sounds too melodramatic.

    There are simpler words than "subsequent": try "before."

    "That had ever occurred" is just word fluff and can be cut without any loss of meaning.

    Overall, there are probably too many words, and a lot of these words have more familiar synonyms.

    Maybe cut it down to "That damnable statue had caused every wrong turn she'd made after she'd turned fourteen." This has fifteen words versus the original's twenty-four, and only one of those words is longer than two syllables. It's still not very punchy, but see what you can do with that.

    But I think a first-sentence hook is based on opinion. The trick is to find the one that most people find "hookish."
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Well...many people might review your work and say it is too wordy. I wouldn't worry too much about that - I like wordiness; it can be done quite well. For an opening sentence, I feel like a short, punchy sentence is more like to attract attention. But if that deviates too much from your style, then go with your vision for the story. Same with the name. I'm giving my initial impression based on the one sentence, but that impression lacks an overall view of the tale. And besides, you should stick with your vision of the story irrespective of the fact that some people may not like certain things about it. That's unavoidable.
     
  6. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    "She had personally held that statue responsible for everything that had ever occurred in her life subsequent to the dreadful, angst-ridden age of fourteen."

    What's good about it: I want to know who she is, and how a statue is responsible for her life. It's an uncommon statement and I want to learn more.

    What doesn't work about it: I agree with others about the wordiness. What I like to do is take out every word that is unnecessary, that doesn't propel the story forward. What about this:

    "She held that statue responsible for everything that had occurred in her life before the dreadful age of fourteen."

    Same information, but easier for the reader to absorb.

    And post the prologue in the short story section of the community, why don'tcha? :)
     
  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    it might just be me, but if it is the very first sentence I get kind of confused by the "that statue", as if it was already mentiond earlier and now referred back to, just that there is nothing before to look back to. As someone said earlier, "the statue" might work better. At least to me it sounds less pronounced.
    as for the rest I agree with Joanna. It's a good sentence, it makes me curious to know more.
     
  8. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    No.

    There's a difference between making a reader want to read more to learn more and confusing a reader so much they have to feel like they need to keep reading just to figure out what the hell that first sentence was about. One is fun, one is work.
     
  9. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    Personally, I don't so much need the very first sentence to "pull me in" as much as I do the entire setting. As a writer, I have watched people shop for books. Sadly, most take less than 10 seconds to see if it interests them, most just read the back flap.

    A large percentage, such as myself will read the first few paragraphs so "wordiness" should not be an issue unless it is extreme. I'm no professional by any means, but if the setting grabs you as well as what is going to happen, I want to read more....

    Mexico
    The east coast of the Yucatan.
    1614


    After the days work was done, Felipe would go to the barn to see his Uncle and learn the art of the sword. After several hours of this his Uncle would also teach him to read and write. This evening, as usual he went to the barn. The barn was filled with the good, familiar scents of oiled leather, sweet oats, hay and the tallow from the burning candles. Andreas was honing a sword, he put the sword down . He smiled and said “Hello Felipe, have you been practicing with your weapons?”

    “Of course, every day. You know this, you practice with me Uncle.” Felipe smiled.

    “What about at night?” Andreas asked.

    “When the moon is full I practice with my bow and lance, you also know this. Why are you asking me these questions?”

    Andreas looked at him for a few moments then said “We have lost three calves to a jaguar over the past few weeks. He hunts every three nights and has marked our pasture as his feeding ground. Tonight he will feed again, how old are you now eighteen?”
     
  10. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    Would that intrigue you to read more? You see what Andreas is leading up to, don't you? More men are interested in this type of story, I would imagine but then again more women read than men. Do you wonder what is going to happen at this point? That is your goal to make people want to keep reading after the first few paragraphs..

    “Yes Uncle, almost nineteen.” he replied.

    “I was seventeen when I killed my first jaguar.” Andreas said as his mind went back to that time.

    “How did you kill it? Felipe asked.

    “I used a bow and a lance, they do charge you when the arrow strikes, they do not run away. I am getting a little old for this type of thing, are you up for this task? We can use a musket if you wish”

    Felipe was afraid but he would not let that show. He had killed many charging wild boars with his lance. He buried his fear and answered. “I will kill it and have it’s pelt on the wall tomorrow at this time.”

    Andreas looked at the boy in the flickering candlelight, he loved him as he would his own son. He had taught him from a small boy how to use his weapons. He knew that it was time to test him against a worthy adversary. Still ,he was worried about the boy’s safety, after a few moments, he spoke. “Felipe, you do not have to prove anything to me, this is not a pig. This is a 300 pound jungle cat with reflexes as fast as lightning. They can see in the dark and have claws and fangs that can shred a man. Do you know how a jaguar kills it’s prey? He does not bite the throat and suffocate it as a lion does, he bites the head and drives his long fangs deep into the brain. At times they actually crush the skull.

    They are so quick and agile, they can hear the sound of your bowstring in time to leap out of the way. This beast will not leave his kill, he will charge you and kill you if you do not kill him. You will only have one shot with your bow and your lance must take his heart when he charges, are you certain that you are ready for this?”

    “Yes, I want to prove this to myself.” Felipe replied. He then reached for the brandy flask and his uncle stopped him.

    “Do not dull your senses with brandy, for this night will be full of danger. We will celebrate after the beast is killed.” Again he paused, then said “You do not have to do this, I can simply shoot it and be done with it. I thought that you might want to test your skill against a worthy opponent.” Andreas looked him in the eyes.

    “Yes, I want to do this.” Felipe said.

    “Very well then.” he said nodding his head. “ Go and gather your weapons. You only need bring one arrow, you will not have time for two, and sharpen your lance. Tell your father nothing of this and meet me back here. We will stake out a calf, at least the beast will come to you.” With that Andreas got up and walked out into the pasture with a rope in his hand.
     
  11. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    She had personally held that statue responsible for everything that had ever occurred in her life ....i prefer it slighty shorter than your original line, BUT i do like it. you're never going to pull in everyone. if it feels right to you then use it. it's better than a lot of first sentences i've read in published books.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree with the bloated wordiness issue, plus a lot of it is redundant... short and punchy would be a better hook... something along these lines, perhaps:

    it's certainly an intriguing opening, making one wonder how the heck a statue could have affect one's life; what kind of statue it was; what havoc it had caused; and what was so awful about the birthday... so you're on the right track...
     

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