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Old 07-31-2012, 01:16 AM   #1
Heartsong
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Is this the opening of your book?

Hi,
I've only been here for a few days. The first night I went reading on this forum, there was a writer who had a link to the first part of a book they'd written and asked for feedback.

Unfortunately, there was a glitch in the webpage, and when I went to post a reply to their request, it said I wasn't logged in and I lost the person's thread.

I had taken the liberty (and some time) to edit the first several paragraphs which I am copying here:

" During the dark days following the assassination of Earth’s first president of color, the first true superhero appeared. Unlike those to follow, he did not come from twisted mutation of the flesh or some inner longings of a mind driven mad by voices they did not know. Nor was he birthed from a womb destroyed by his exiting - a birth of flesh and blood that would later haunt the dreams of every operating nurse and doctor who witnessed it.

His arrival was heralded by a single sonic boom and a blazing light illuminating a star-studded night in the high country of Maine. A mass of charred, limp flesh, his body slammed into an open glen, the resulting heat and shock wave devastating the terrain for miles around, destroying all life, flattening the landscape. On the outer fringe, ancient oaks that spread their limbs wide when Columbus stumbled upon the shores were uprooted and flung about as easily as a child might swipe his arm over a table, scattering his toys. Alarmed animals, sensing the impending danger, bolted to escape the searing heat while many others met their doom in the outer rings of the concussive blast.

The earth moaned in response, trembling at the site of the impact, sandy mounds fused into glass. It appeared as though someone had dropped a pebble into the center of a perfectly still pond, ripples radiating out and, at the leading edge of the ripples, heat ignited a vicious wind, drawing debris in an upward plume high into the atmosphere.

In the center of it all he lay motionless and, for the first time in his existence, unconscious. The sensory part of his mind awoke and his body began to adapt, to heal. Lungs, collapsed and solid in the void of space, began to inflate. Arteries secreted away in his heart, designed to survive the vacuum of space, began to reach out from their hiding place and down strangely humanoid-looking limbs. He drew a breath, activating chemical receptors deep within his brain that analyzed the atmosphere, allowing his internal organs to adapt.

Horribly charred skin began to heal, taking on its natural bronze hue. His skeletal structure had not been damaged by the impact with the Earth’s surface, but he had suffered muscle and tissue damage. Were they caused by the impact or events that had come before? No matter. His body had healed.

He opened his eyes as the protective sheaths that had covered them in space, allowing him to see and retain fluid around his orbs, retreated. They were dim, but soon enough would be a mystical brilliant blue sapphire color, each a solid orb with no pupil or iris, in a face that glowed and pulsed in harmony with his biorhythms.

Still not totally attuned to the world around him, he lay there, looking up into the heavens. There was a time when he could discern the spectral analysis of stars and entire solar systems with little effort. But his mind was still acclimating itself to new surroundings. Instead, he simply gazed at the stars, not recognizing them for what they were.

He could feel something solid beneath his flesh, but did not move. He listened, but there was nothing to hear. Everything was quiet...deafeningly quiet. He was as if new born, a blank slate that needed to be imprinted. His brain, capable of processing information at rates incomprehensible to humans, could formulate but a single thought, “Who am I”?"

If you read your original words, while this is way far from where it needs to be, please see the necessity for an editor. A person writing a story or book has very little time to draw the reader's emotions and thoughts so that they continue to read.

Thanks!
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:56 AM   #2
Steven Lyle Jordan
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I was done at the end of the first paragraph.
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:24 PM   #3
Heartsong
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You should have read it before I did some editing. I wanted to let the author see that he needs lots of help with what he's initially written to even let it flow and not be repeating himself. It didn't grab my attention either.

We all would like to think what we are writing will hit the New York Times Best Seller List. This is not my book and I have no idea who the author is since I lost the thread.

While I've loved to write since I was very young, I leave that to others whose imagination far out-distances mine.

Thanks for your post....
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heartsong View Post
While I've loved to write since I was very young, I leave that to others whose imagination far out-distances mine.

The way to get that imagination is to start imagining. It is like anything else with the human body, the more you do it, the better you get at it.
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Old 08-03-2012, 08:33 PM   #5
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Heartsong (nice name),

did you search for the web page?

On the writing-
It is over the top. Too much production is one way to say it.
The ideas are ok, but I would first recommend "simplification" and then see what comes out. If it is still grandiose, work some humbleness into it.
It basically goes back to what the author believes about how a story is told. I personally believe in coaxing the reader more than trying to deliver a slam bam at the onset.

But, I am carrying on. I am reminded of a thread that I started some time back about Writing and Inspiration that people wanted to go in another direction.

Good luck.

Last edited by frahse; 08-03-2012 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:07 PM   #6
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I was done at the end of the first paragraph.
Yep. Me, too. Yikes!
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:59 PM   #7
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I can sympathise with this opening because I, too, have trouble with the opening of my novels. But it's easier to see it in someone else's work.

One of the difficulties I find is that, everywhere you look for advice on writing, you read how important it is to have a strong opening, to grab your reader from the first line. You get given examples of how great books have set their scene perfectly with the first line (but they don't point out that this is exception rather than the rule). I must say I am getting sick of such advice, advice that reads like it makes sense, but you discover that nothing is ever that simple. I would say that while the opening pages of the book should try to gain the readers attention, it is probably more important that you don't put-off or offend your reader (with your writing, is some genres offense in the content may be part of grabbing the reader's attention). Imagine your prospective reader in a bookshop, they've picked up your book because the cover attracted them, and they're about to read the first page. Yes, gaining interest would be good, but offend their reading sensibilities and you will be sure to land back on the shelf.

Perhaps we should instead look to medicine for our advice: first, do no harm. (And then you can worry about doing good.)
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:11 PM   #8
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I can sympathise with this opening because I, too, have trouble with the opening of my novels. But it's easier to see it in someone else's work.
I know I've rewritten more than one opening line in my day. Usually after the book is nearly finished.
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Old 08-04-2012, 05:27 AM   #9
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One thing is certain: whoever wrote it is not going to admit to it in this thread after the adverse comments! Maybe Heartsong will get a PM.

As for Steven Jordan's comment, I didn't even get that far.
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Old 08-04-2012, 06:34 AM   #10
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Condensed version:

Hurtling through space without benefit of a ship or a suit and crash landing on a strange planet had always sucked, and this time was no exception. Bill groaned.

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Old 08-04-2012, 04:36 PM   #11
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Come on now.

Look for that high road.
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Old 08-05-2012, 02:02 AM   #12
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I would say that while the opening pages of the book should try to gain the readers attention, it is probably more important that you don't put-off or offend your reader (with your writing, is some genres offense in the content may be part of grabbing the reader's attention).
I can't speak for others, but in my case you get about two paragraphs to make me want to read the rest of the book; if I don't want to read the third, then I'll move on. Getting those two paragraphs right is something I need to work on more in my own writing.

I remember reading a comment from an agent on the web a couple of years ago, which was something along the lines of 'there are few things wrong with most first novels that you can't fix by cutting the first three chapters'. Most new writers put far too much back story in their novel before the real story gets going. I suspect this is an example, and I would have read further into the book if it started with Betty's version up above.

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Old 08-06-2012, 02:14 PM   #13
Steven Lyle Jordan
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I can't speak for others, but in my case you get about two paragraphs to make me want to read the rest of the book; if I don't want to read the third, then I'll move on. Getting those two paragraphs right is something I need to work on more in my own writing.
I don't have a specific number of paragraphs required in order to "sell" me; but I assume the first paragraphs will be indicative of the tone of the rest of the novel, and if it doesn't work for me, I put it down.

This opening reminds me of the novice actor who, in order to try to hide his novice nature, overacts to the point of distraction. The opening reads like a writer's fervent attempt to be "clever to impress," but taken too far over the top. It hits the reader over the head, and like a good Punch & Judy show, promises more whacks to come. My advice would be to relax and dial it back.

OTOH, I've seen quite a few romance novels that read no better than this, and they seem to be popular enough...
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Old 08-06-2012, 04:40 PM   #14
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Well, there can't be any harm in opening with a flaming mass of something from space smashing into a stretch of rural Maine. I assume even those who are neither fanatical about Maine nor wish to see it struck by space objects would be interested to see what struck.
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Old 08-06-2012, 05:17 PM   #15
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How about urban DC.

I know the place!
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