Share Your First Three Sentences

Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tenderiser, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. Veloci-Rapture

    Veloci-Rapture Member

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    From my as-yet-untitled urban fantasy novel-in-progress:

    The prison cell was cramped and hot, and the shiny ochre of the curved walls bored into Khalviin’s eyes. It had only been a few decades, by his reckoning, but each moment of silence and solitude felt like its own separate eternity from which there could be no escape. It was no wonder many Djinni lost their minds long before the end of their sentence, descending into irrationality, babbling, and shapeshifting for their own self-amusement.
     
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  2. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I loved how they shape-shifted for their own amusement. I would probably drop self.
    There was a little bit of a disconnect for me in the beginning, with the prison cell which brought images of a darken inside containment, and then the narrative says that the ochre walls were shinning so much that they bored into Khalvin's eyes. If there was sunlight maybe it could say...The prison cell roasted under the summer sun, with its reflection shining off the ochre walls.......
     
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  3. Veloci-Rapture

    Veloci-Rapture Member

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    Good call on "self"!
    As for the prison, I was trying to describe the inside of a traditional genie lamp; maybe I can add a bright point of light coming in from the hole in the top to strengthen that connection.
     
  4. David Lee

    David Lee Member

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    I did actually get that! I was a little unsure but felt that's what you were aiming for :bigwink:
     
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  5. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    I only work under one convention. Something either works, or it doesn't. Artistry be damned.;)

    Your short story, The Ballad of Donnie Loinsigh works wonderfully. One of the best pieces of fiction I've found on the forum. The three lines you posted aren't quite up to that snuff.
    Along with your story of Donnie, I've copied and pasted a handful of other stories I really enjoyed here on the forum and from time to time, when my writing needs a good kick in the ass, I read them for inspiration.

    Here's three lines of mine, though not the first lines of a chapter.

    Adeline held the book open against her bosom, pausing to look down at the magpie peeking her head out from under the blanket, and decided that she had the most unlikely audience ever; looking on were two daring girls, an unfathomable magpie, a fearsome mongoose, and a one-eyed tomcat that’d squandered all but one of his nine lives. She thought of Captain Baptiste and the crew of the Viola and everything that had happened since leaving home. Is this what it’s like to be on an adventure?
     
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  6. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Definitely loved the idea of the Djinni shape-shifting to amuse themselves. And like another person said above, the description of the prison cell didn't really connect with me. Without context, I was imagining a regular prison cell and black walls - despite what you say about it being ochre and shiny lol. Right up until the final sentence, I found it dull - someone was imprisoned and feeling the weight of solitude - it's pretty typical, which I don't feel does your work justice when the last sentence reveals that this is not a typical POV at all. You also don't want the reader to have to go backwards to correct an image they've already formed (in my case, in my head it was: typical cell... oh there's a Djinni? Wait, where's he again?)

    Personally, I'd put the last sentence first. It's amusing, colourful, and immediately gives us context of who, what, where etc. It tells us, immediately, that this is 1. not human but a Djinni (which immediately sets the POV apart from the typical and boring), 2. because it's a Djinni, the shiny ochre now works much better because most people can assume this could be the inside of a lamp, whereas without the context of it being a Djinni, as I said, the cell becomes a typical, boring setting.

    I'd consider changing the words "prison cell" to something more distinct, something that would suggest a lamp if you don't wanna come right out and say it's a lamp.

    So imagine it like this: (I deleted/tweaked a few words here and there)

    It was no wonder many Djinni lost their minds long before the end of their sentence, descending into irrationality, babbling, and shapeshifting for their own amusement. The shiny ochre of his prison bored into Khalviin’s eyes. It had only been a few decades, by his reckoning, but each moment of silence and solitude felt like its own separate eternity from which there could be no escape.
    ETA: forgot to say, I'd read more regardless based on your three sentences :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
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  7. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I really like it. YMMV but I would trim it down a little.

     
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  8. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    I enjoyed this and wanted more. It started slow, but the mention of ochre was interesting in the first sentence. You followed that up with "only a few decades", which ramped up my interest. The final sentence was the best and the shape shifting was very interesting.
     
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  9. Quixote's Biographer

    Quixote's Biographer Active Member

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    This was it. This was the end of the world. And it had been communicated to her in a f**king text message.


    (First draft, need work, hopefully interesting enough to 'hook' the reader).
     
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  10. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I smiled. I'd read on - sounds like it'll be a funny story! With a line like that, I think your main concern would be whether the rest of the paragraph and subsequent story can actually carry the expectations of the reader. Because now I expect something simple but witty, and I have no idea if "the end of the world", as your story is clearly about, is interesting enough for me to continue once I'm past the joke regarding the text. As first lines go though, these were cool :D
     
  11. Quixote's Biographer

    Quixote's Biographer Active Member

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    Thanks! That's very interesting though that you expect a funny story. Makes me think knowing the genre and seeing a book cover has at least some influence on how we interpret and/or react to a book's opening. Let me ask you this (since I'm curious); how - if at all - would your reaction to my opening have changed had you known this was a thriller or superhero story or medieval fantasy?
     
  12. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    there is certainly enough there to hook me but, like @Mckk, I also perceived it to be comedic - it has elements of Gaiman/Pratchett's Good Omens alongside Hunter S Thompson's fear and loathing. If the cover was of a serious medieval fantasy I would think that the book had either the wrong cover or the wrong pages...
     
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  13. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would be confused, if I'd seen a serious medieval fantasy cover and got that as an opening. Text message implies there are mobile phones, which immediately implies 21st century technology, so we're either dealing with the contemporary world or a world set in the future, at the very least. The apocalypse is also, generally, a dystopian theme - again setting me up for a story set in the future. I would not expect the middle ages. Did it surprise you that I found it funny? Was it not intended to be funny? Because if you hadn't intended it, then I strongly advise you start differently. But what made you think contrasting the severity of the apocalypse with the casual nature of a text message wasn't going to be funny? You knew it was, that's why there's the expletive in the line - it's ridiculous to get such news through a text message.

    So what's the tone of your story? Your opening lines, however great, will disappoint readers if you lead them to expect one thing and then deliver something else entirely. It is my opinion that, whatever your opening is, a "good" opening is one that not only hooks your reader (which is a given), but that must match the overall tone of your whole novel. If what you've written is deadpan serious and you start with comedy, that, in my opinion, is a bad opening - even if it does make the reader laugh. Your lines need to serve the story.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
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  14. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'm struggling a bit with this one. You're certainly opening with a dramatic scene, but I feel like it gets a bit muddled. I mean... obviously "screamed" rather than "scream", but then... can hair be "hazel"? I'm used to seeing that term for eye colours, and for eyes it's a sort of brownish/greenish colour... kinda strange for hair. And I'm not really sure messy hair should be on anyone's list of concerns when she's also battered, tied up, bitten, etc.

    Then the last sentence is less clear than I'd like, mostly because you're getting creative with the grammar... I'm not sure what "the glance" means, and then it's not really clear whether it's his eyes or hers that are "rusted silver". Maybe clearer as something like "All he did was look at her, one glance from his rusted silver eyes."
     
  15. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    This feels like a show/tell issue to me. You're opening with a lot of telling, which doesn't grab me.

    You also have some verb tense issues. I'm not sure if you're avoiding past perfect on purpose, but I'd expect the first sentence to be "Mandy had struggled..." and then either "the male journalists all said" or "a war-torn desert is no place". Then I'd expect past perfect again for "She'd had other thoughts".

    Mostly, though, I'd hope for a more immediate opening, not one that summarizes a character's past actions.
     
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  16. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I like this. I'd read on.
     
  17. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

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    It didn't sound funny to me. I imagined someone crying, angry, feeling utterly furious because all she got to tell her of the end of the world - whatever that may be - was a text message. I expected a sad story. I wondered if her partner had broken up with her.
     
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  18. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    An angry and furious character, sure. Interesting you didn't find it funny - funny how we all interpret things differently. However, it's still the wrong genre you're expecting, so I'd still say the lines need to be rewritten, even though I do like them :)
     
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  19. Quixote's Biographer

    Quixote's Biographer Active Member

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    To clarify;

    The genre obviously isn't medieval fantasy and I shouldn't have included that in my original question as it doesn't make any sense, as pointed out above. I just listed genres as examples but one of those listed shouldn't have been there :)

    I like the contrast of the biggest event in the history of the world being communicated through a text message although when writing it, I didn't find it funny. And I still don't. It's the opening to a post-apocalyptic story which deals with lots of dark and serious issues, but even if I had written the opening as a joke, I don't think the genre excludes jokes to lighten the mood every now and then. Especially if you're dealing with very dark themes, I think they sometimes become necessary.

    Thanks for the feedback! It's really helpful to see how different people react to something like this and getting two very different reactions was very interesting indeed :)

    Edit: maybe I should just start writing comedy instead...
     
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  20. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Member

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    This was it. This was the end of the world. And it had been communicated to her in a f**king text message.

    I...think this is more about someone breaking up with her than an extinction level event.

    I'm not sure why, but I think it's the voice. it's terribly flippant, so it makes me think the narrating character is young, and therefore likely to blow stuff out of proportion.
     
  21. Quixote's Biographer

    Quixote's Biographer Active Member

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    The character is female and young, you're right about that :)
     
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  22. Alastair Woodcock

    Alastair Woodcock Member

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    You could convey the idea in the first two sentences in just one:

    It was the end of the world. It had been communicated to her (who?) in a text message. A f*cking text message!
     
  23. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    I think both the second and third sentences are too long.
     
  24. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    I know you didn't ask for punctuation advice and I hate to be a Punctuation Nazi, but you don't use a comma after and. "And" replaces commas.

    Her name was Aurora May, and she lived in a world of gears. Looks better as: Her name was Aurora May and she lived in a world of gears.
     
  25. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    Here's the two sentence epigraph that currently starts out my book:

    To my friend, I send this message as my last shred of hope vanishes into the night. Those who have extinguished the stars themselves now close in on my location.
     

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