I feel this doesn't work so well for me - it needs polishing up, some trimming. Pierced... like a blade sounds... redundant. Pierced my "thick" leather jacket sounds like you're putting two opposite ideas in the same line back to back. Is "thick" important here? If you really wanted that there, I feel it should be unpacked more, but the question is whether it's needed in the first place, esp given this is your first 3 sentences of the book. Every crack of a twig or rustle of leaves sent new waves of paranoia through me as my eyes scanned the swampy terrain This sentence is very wordy, and the rhythm does not flow well. It makes you want to stop reading almost at every word and you're not too sure what the words mean. Crack, twig, rustle, leaves, new waves - I'm not sure, when read together, which ones are nouns and which are adjectives. As in, of course I know which is which if I read it slowly and carefully - the meaning of the sentence is clear. But when read at speed, as you do when you read a novel, the meaning of the words kinda all jumbo up together. even the slightest movement amongst the trees whose branches had turned to claws in the dim moonlight That's a really convoluted sentence. You've got the character scanning the terrain looking for movement, then you've got a clause suddenly describing the trees, mixed into that is a metaphor (claws) plus more description (not just moonlight, but dim moonlight). It's way too much. Split it up into two sentences or more. It's also very, very repetitive - you've got crack of twig, rustle of leaves, swampy terrain, trees, branches into claws. Like, I get it. There're lots of trees around. You don't need to tell me in so many words. I feel like the only thing you've really told me is that there're way too many trees and the guy's scared. That, at the end of it, is all you've said in a lot of words. And more repetition: Crack of twig, rustle of leaves, gust of cold air. Do you see a pattern? X of Y structure is used 3 times in 3 sentences. Then you have: thick leather jacket, swampy terrain, dim moonlight, new waves. Lots of adjective-noun pairs. Too many in 3 sentences. (Actually, new waves of paranoia - another X of Y structure. So you have 4 such structures in 3 sentences) Add to the existing repetition, you use: even the slightest. "Even" adds very little and because it's already long-winded, adding length to your sentences now is a very bad idea. I think you're trying very hard to create atmosphere and if you really want to achieve that, you need to vary rhythm a lot more - do that by varying sentence structure and sentence length. Use beats and pauses to convey emotion, not just words. Give us a better idea of how he perceives the trees and sounds - you can get more creative than crack and rustles and claws, all of which are... not very original. Not that you have to be always, but these are very ordinary adjectives for what is supposed to be an unsettling environment for your character, so you must use descriptors that will equally give the reader a feeling, or an image, of something unsettling.