1. MHJr92
    Offline

    MHJr92 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0

    Very first paragraph of a story questions

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MHJr92, Apr 28, 2013.

    In the first paragraph of chapter one of my story, I introduce three names of characters. What are the thoughts on this? I'm a real amateur at writing and any help would be much appreciated. The writing is still very rough and I'm making changes daily to what I have written, but I'd like opinions on this matter. Below I have added the opening paragraph so there is an understanding as to why I'm introducing three characters. I get nervous when I share my work, but I very much want to improve and go about writing correctly.

    Chris is the main character, Mike plays a major roll in the story as it develops.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    The problem isn't so much the introduction of three characters so quickly as that it's flat, slightly confusing, and I'm sorry to say, boring. Your first paragraph needs to be exciting, or intriguing, or make us immediately identify with the main character. Your paragraph is just kind of setting out a situation, and one that's relatively common.

    If I were to write this, I'd get into Chris' head. Something like

    Drip.

    Damn it. That infernal non-stop dripping of the kitchen faucet.

    Drip.

    That fucking faucet, thought Chris. Why did it mock him so?

    Drip.

    Chris threw off the blanket and walked over to the kitchen. He moved the faucet to the left, and then to the right. He thought about ripping it right out of the God damn sink, but not only would that not fix the problem, it could make it worse. Worst of all, though, Chris wasn't even sure how to do that. He turned around to flip the switch so he could turn on the light, but then remembered that the kitchen light didn't work, either. What was that term? Oh yeah -- a money pit. That's what this fucking house was. A money pit. It wasn't even a nice house. It was supposed to get them started. But now, he and Jennifer sunk every penny they had, and plenty that they didn't into the house. What on earth were they thinking? Jennifer had watched one too many of those shows on that house and home channel, where people turned houses that looked like they should be condemned into houses that could be in Architectural Digest or Better Homes & Gardens. But those people knew how to do plumbing and electrical work. Or had some kind of natural talent. Chris was lucky to be able to change a light bulb and jump start the car battery. And the car -- of course that was something else that was going to need fixing. But this faucet needed attention now. Chris couldn't take one more sleepless night listening to it dripping nonstop. But one thing was for sure -- he was not calling Mike.

    That's not great, and I'm just throwing it out there, but I'd do something to introduce the situation through specific acts and thoughts. You'll do something different, depending on the type of voice you want, what kind of thoughts you want Chris to have, whether you want him to come across as macho or wimpy, a city guy or a country guy, a guy who swears, or who would never say anything stronger than "fiddlesticks." You can introduce in later paragraphs that Chris works for NYS, and what, exactly, he does, and where they live, and what Jennifer does, and how Mike became such a great handyman and what his relationship is with Chris.

    I don't know if this helps. Good luck.
     
  3. MHJr92
    Offline

    MHJr92 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good advice. I need to learn to be more descriptive in my work. I agree it's flat.
     
  4. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i have to agree completely with liz's assessment of that opening paragraph, though i can't agree with her suggested solution, sorry to say...

    getting into the main character's head is ok, but i can't see that 'drip' bit being a good opening hook... might work later on, though...
     
  5. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Awww -- cut me some slack, Maia -- I was writing it off the top of my head. I was ambivalent about starting it with "drip," though. It probably would work better to just begin it with the paragraph where he starts addressing the problem. Opening hooks are tough...

    BUT, I stand by my thought of getting into the character's head. It's something I say quite a bit.
     
  6. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Liz, don't back down just cus Maia says so, have some faith in your own work! I personally loved the "Drip" start - it made me smile and amused me, and immediately made me wanna read on. And in the end, if you've made someone want to read on, then you've done your job well - whether it's artistically "good" is a secondary issue. One that us writers dwell upon, as we should, but most readers wouldn't care, nor would they ever know lol.
     
  7. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks for the luv, Mckk!

    Also, I did want to clarify -- I'm not suggesting that MH *should* use my opening instead of his own. That would not be a good idea, since his writing style will differ from mine, so he needs to write it in his style, with his vision of his characters coming through. I was just (ahem, attempting) to show an example of how to convey most of the information he wants in a way that gives us some insight into the character, instead of laying out a scenario. (Actually, I think it would be an interesting exercise to see what other folks would do with that paragraph if they were to write their own opening. One hundred people would give us one hundred completely different openings, even though the scenarios would all be essentially the same.) I'm sure whatever MH comes up with will be very different from what I wrote. Going to the old 'show don't tell' adage, MH's paragraph 'told' us everything. I attempted to 'show' the same information. I'd like to see what MH 'shows' us.
     
  8. squishytheduck
    Offline

    squishytheduck Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2013
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    This perfectly sums it up, thanks Liz!

    I actually thought your introduction of the names was well paced and fluid, however, the main impression I got from this opener was that your writing is flat and lacks character (sorry!), and because of that, your characters weren't interesting to me.

    It might be helpful if you didn't just say some things outright, like "mike does this," or "Jenny is like this" Usually, when I describe a character in my head, and I think "Chris is.... [something]," that is a sentence I will never, ever put on paper.
     
  9. Xatron
    Offline

    Xatron Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2013
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    6
    Another problem is that you continuously switch tenses. One moment it is "leaked" and the next it is "is dimmed". You have to decide. Are you writing about events as they unfold or have they already happened and you are writing about them in the past.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Please note, from the site rules:
     
  11. MHJr92
    Offline

    MHJr92 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    That is one of my flaws, I struggle with that and work to fix it. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Also, sorry about posting in the wrong section.
     
  12. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I think there's a reasonable argument to make that this was posted in the correct section. It really is about character development. As far as belonging in the writer's workshop, although I see the argument for placing it there, I think this is such a small piece of writing, that it doesn't necessarily have to go there -- I think it's in some ways, more of a question about openings, rather than really posting a piece for true critique.
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It's larger than many poems. It was posted for feedback on the specific text, not as an example to illustrate a general character development question.

    Past experience shows that if this is not tightly enforced, it completely undermines the purpose of the rule in the first place.
     
  14. MHJr92
    Offline

    MHJr92 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    No problem. I just assumed I was developing characters too fast, hence why I posted it there.

    No biggie. Thanks for the responses.
     
  15. Isaiah JS
    Offline

    Isaiah JS Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2013
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Illinois, USA
    I don't have much to add after Liz, but remember to keep your tenses consistent. You switched between past a present a few times. Keep writing!
     

Share This Page