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Workroom => Review My Writing - Getting Started => Topic started by: Mrs N on March 04, 2018, 04:26:05 PM

Title: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 04, 2018, 04:26:05 PM
Okay, back at the farm(old site) used to love these snippets, so thought to resurrect here! ;)

Here's a little something to kick things off.


On October 31, for no other reason than it falls on a Monday, I leave my wife. Monday’s make a tidy start. Later the irony of the date, Halloween, with a blackness of ceremonies, witches and curses, will not be lost on me. I should have picked a better day.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Dawn on March 04, 2018, 04:37:53 PM
Okay, back at the farm(old site) used to love these snippets, so thought to resurrect here! ;)

Here's a little something to kick things off.


On October 31, for no other reason than it falls on a Monday, I leave my wife. Monday’s make a tidy start. Later the irony of the date, Halloween, with a blackness of ceremonies, witches and curses, will not be lost on me. I should have picked a better day.

I loved first liners too. Glad it's been resurrected.

I like the tone of this, Mrs N. Almost reminds me of Gone Girl. I think personally I don't need the part about blackness of ceremonies, witches and curses. I think the reader knows enough about Halloween and this could be cut.

Only my opinion though
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mark Hoffmann on March 04, 2018, 04:45:23 PM
...
On October 31, for no other reason than it falls on a Monday, I leave my wife. Monday’s make a tidy start. Later the irony of the date, Halloween, with a blackness of ceremonies, witches and curses, will not be lost on me. I should have picked a better day.

Yes, I'd read on. As someone who was once married to a witch, I'm keen to see how the main character gets on.

BTW although I'm a fan of present tense I think that opening highlights some of the challenges!
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 04, 2018, 04:52:38 PM
BTW although I'm a fan of present tense I think that opening highlights some of the challenges!
 

^^^
Have I screwed up?

Thanks for the read. What happened to the witchey wife? :P
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 04, 2018, 04:54:19 PM
Thanks Dawn, Not so sure about losing the ceremonies. So glad you said Gone Girl, I have the same agent in mind... :P
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Dawn on March 04, 2018, 05:06:49 PM
I think some of it is past tense. However, I can see what you are trying to do and I’m not experienced enough to know if I’m right. If that makes sense?
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 04, 2018, 05:16:50 PM
Yeah, it bobs a bit, but can it work? Cheers Dawn, you and me both!! ;D
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mark Hoffmann on March 04, 2018, 05:19:54 PM
BTW although I'm a fan of present tense I think that opening highlights some of the challenges!
 

^^^
Have I screwed up?

Thanks for the read. What happened to the witchey wife? :P

No, I don't think you screwed up. But you go from what is happening (you leave) to what will happen in the future (the irony will not be lost). So grammatically correct, but for me at least, slightly jarring. How do you know what will happen as it hasn't happened yet? The irony might not occur to you.

The witchey wifie tried to cast a spell on me, but I grabbed a mirror and deflected it back at her. With a loud fizz, she turned into a bat and flew off into the night.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 04, 2018, 05:27:27 PM
BTW although I'm a fan of present tense I think that opening highlights some of the challenges!
 

^^^
Have I screwed up?

Thanks for the read. What happened to the witchey wife? :P


No, I don't think you screwed up. But you go from what is happening (you leave) to what will happen in the future (the irony will not be lost). So grammatically correct, but for me at least, slightly jarring. How do you know what will happen as it hasn't happened yet? The irony might not occur to you.

^^^ Okay. As long as it's correct that's fine. I'm a big fan of Kate Atkinson and she jumps all over the place and I love it! ;D

The witchey wifie tried to cast a spell on me, but I grabbed a mirror and deflected it back at her. With a loud fizz, she turned into a bat and flew off into the night. 

WOW! What a lucky escape.  8) 8) ;D
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Dawn on March 04, 2018, 06:41:15 PM
BTW although I'm a fan of present tense I think that opening highlights some of the challenges!
 

^^^
Have I screwed up?

Thanks for the read. What happened to the witchey wife? :P


No, I don't think you screwed up. But you go from what is happening (you leave) to what will happen in the future (the irony will not be lost). So grammatically correct, but for me at least, slightly jarring. How do you know what will happen as it hasn't happened yet? The irony might not occur to you.

^^^ Okay. As long as it's correct that's fine. I'm a big fan of Kate Atkinson and she jumps all over the place and I love it! ;D

The witchey wifie tried to cast a spell on me, but I grabbed a mirror and deflected it back at her. With a loud fizz, she turned into a bat and flew off into the night. 

WOW! What a lucky escape.  8) 8) ;D

Ah, Life after Life. 😍
I like present tense. To me it adds that modern feel to it.  I take it you switch tense and back again?
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 04, 2018, 08:49:40 PM
Actually Dawn, my favourite book of hers is Behind the Scenes of the Museum and she does a wee bit of jumping in that. 8) 8)
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Dawn on March 04, 2018, 10:32:02 PM
Actually Dawn, my favourite book of hers is Behind the Scenes of the Museum and she does a wee bit of jumping in that. 8) 8)

Ah, I’ve not read that one yet. Next on the list is Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine but might try that afterwards.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Jo Bannister on March 05, 2018, 08:50:49 AM
The plural of Monday is Mondays - no apostrophe.

I liked the concept, but I found it a bit over-complicated for an opening paragraph.  Partly because of the tenses; partly because you're trying to cram too much in.  The idea is to make sure readers keep reading, not to condense everything that might interest them into the smallest possible space!

Trust us.  Mention Hallowe'en and our own experiences will supply the rest.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 05, 2018, 10:07:50 AM
the idea is to make sure readers keep reading, not to condense everything that might interest them into the smallest possible space!

 ;D ;D ;D

Thanks, for the read, Jo. And the correction. This is only on the second re-read, so no doubt changes will be implemented. Also the fact Dawn and you said the same thing makes it worth considering killing the baby! . ;D :-*
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 05, 2018, 10:11:42 AM
@Dawn. Scenes from the Museum was, I think, one of Kate Atkinson's first books. She won the Bridport prize with the first chapter, which is brilliant and worth a read on its own. :-*
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Dawn on March 05, 2018, 11:19:01 AM
@Dawn. Scenes from the Museum was, I think, one of Kate Atkinson's first books. She won the Bridport prize with the first chapter, which is brilliant and worth a read on its own. :-*

Fantastic, thanks for the heads up, sounds a good read.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: ST on March 20, 2018, 12:48:52 AM
Okay, back at the farm(old site) used to love these snippets, so thought to resurrect here! ;)

Here's a little something to kick things off.


On October 31, for no other reason than it falls on a Monday, I leave my wife. Monday’s make a tidy start. Later the irony of the date, Halloween, with a blackness of ceremonies, witches and curses, will not be lost on me. I should have picked a better day.

On Monday, I will leave my wife. Monday's make a tidy start.

*
For now, I thought this was all you needed. That's about as far as a step into the future, I'm willing to step foot in, and that is to an event with open possibilities. Using words like 'later/will not/should have' end up finite and lead no further.  So with your next edit, consider looking ahead in the story and see if some of these facts can be of better use then. I can picture all sorts of directions this can go. :)

Thanks for the offering
 
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on March 21, 2018, 11:46:46 PM
Thanks for the read, ST. Always love your thoughts. 8)

Still revamping, so much will go... :D :D
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Lin Treadgold on April 02, 2018, 12:36:10 PM
I hope I got this right.

Monday's? Do you mean this to be plural
Mondays make a tidy start.

You do have an impact beginning, but I thought you could do better.

How about

 On Monday I left my wife.

 I dont think you need the rest.  Those six words say it all, I think. I think it best to say the character has already left his wife so that the reader wants to know more and why. 

Good luck
Lin



Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on April 02, 2018, 01:02:32 PM
Thanks Lin. I see what you are saying but the story is present tense and multiple viewpoints. And also the date is significant, so I can't leave it out.

Below is a little rewrite. No doubt there will be more! :P ;D

On October 31, for no other reason than it falls on a Monday, I leave my wife. Mondays make a tidy start. I’ll be gone two nights, I tell her readily enough but hold back on for good, forever, words I’ve been mulling over for a while but have done nothing about. Later the irony of the date, Halloween, will not be lost on me. I should have picked a better day.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Lin Treadgold on April 02, 2018, 03:59:29 PM
Ah now you're talking, well done! ;)

Lin
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: hillwalker3000 on April 02, 2018, 04:42:23 PM
On October 31, for no other reason than it falls on a Monday, I leave my wife.
Your opening sentence is still rather clunky, especially the 10 words following the date. Try reading it out loud. It suggests he's only leaving his wife because it's a Monday when I guess he has other reasons for doing so.

How about
On Monday, October 31, I leave my wife. Mondays always make for a tidy start.

Then we have another sentence that tends to run on and on. Maybe it's intentional, to convey the woolly-mindedness of your MC, but it's not great reading:
I’ll be gone two nights, I tell her readily enough but hold back on for good, forever, words I’ve been mulling over for a while but have done nothing about.
Does this achieve anything? We already know he's not included the words 'for good' and 'forever'. It seems unnecessary, I feel.

And finally:
Later the irony of the date, Halloween, will not be lost on me. I should have picked a better day.
That's OK, but in danger of coming across a little contrived because you make such a big deal of the date.

As usual, just one opinion. Use or lose.

H3K
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on April 02, 2018, 08:14:54 PM
Hey, Hilly, thanks for the comments. Yeah, I quite like your line change for the first line.

The date is a really big deal, so I'm still attached to the Halloween line. The bit in between... well jury still out on that. ;D

Just doing a second draft rewrite, so time will tell.

Thanks 8)
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Laura on April 23, 2020, 03:26:56 AM
So, we haven't had any first lines posted in quite a while.

Who's game?
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mark Hoffmann on April 23, 2020, 07:49:01 AM
The Author asserts his immoral right to be identified as the bloke who dreamt up all this stuff. This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, toxins, and forensic autopsy procedures are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, dwarfs, were-weasels or seagulls, living, dead or yet to be born, is purely coincidental.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Jo Bannister on April 24, 2020, 08:57:06 AM
I've been missing this thread too, Mark.  So here are the first lines of my next book - see if you're tempted.
*


RACHEL SOMERS, running.  Not for pleasure; not for prizes.  With the blood pounding in her ears and fear pumping through her veins.  With her shirt torn and one shoe lost; with her face and her hands scratched by the undergrowth she’s forced her way through and the brambles she cannot allow to slow her.  Running as if the hounds of hell are snapping at her heels; as if she doesn’t mean to stop, as if she doesn’t know how to stop, as if only the bursting of her young heart will stop her.  Her eyes wide with terror, and disbelief, and something akin to indignation, because this sort of thing does not happen to girls like Rachel.  Except that it has.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mark Hoffmann on April 24, 2020, 09:48:47 AM
Heh! I thought you said no present tense?

Yep, obviously it leaves you wanting to know what she's running from.

I assume there's still work to be done on that para though? That sentence with the brambles was a tricky one. 
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Laura on April 24, 2020, 02:01:32 PM
The Author asserts his immoral right to be identified as the bloke who dreamt up all this stuff. This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, toxins, and forensic autopsy procedures are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, dwarfs, were-weasels or seagulls, living, dead or yet to be born, is purely coincidental.

I always enjoy the humor inherent in your work, Mark. I would read on.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Jo Bannister on April 24, 2020, 05:12:26 PM
Heh! I thought you said no present tense?


A clear case of Do what I say, not what I do...  In fact, this opening paragraph is the only part of the book written in this tense - which is ambiguous rather than clear and present.  From here on it's past tense all the way.

And no, I'm happy enough with the brambles.

ps: I think I owe you an apology.  Until I saw Laura's post I didn't realise you weren't just reminding us of the thread, you were posting an entry.  I took it for the bit that precedes all novels rather than the start of a novel itself - that it was you jogging us into creativity in your own inimitable way.  I'm sorry if I trod on your heels.

Of course it's funny, particularly to writers.  It'll be interesting to see what follows it - not, I suspect, a treatise on the import of caramel and caramel products into the European Union.

It reminded me forcefully of the disclaimer Howard Spring wrote for "Shabby Tiger".  I can't just lay my hands on my copy so I'm paraphrasing, but what he said was: "The characters bear no relationship to any actual persons, living or dead.  There is no such city as Manchester."
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Emery on May 12, 2020, 05:54:51 PM
Thread looks dead but this used to be one of my favorites, so I’ll throw one out there.

Eddie huddled inside the guest room closet, the meth easing further off and the synapses of his mind reconnecting like frayed wires, and counted the seconds of each inhale and exhale. How much longer did he have to get himself together, he thought, as his hand went back to the gun.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Jo Bannister on May 13, 2020, 08:25:33 AM
OK, well, you've caught my interest.  There's obviously a story to be told here.

The second question a publisher will ask himself is, Can the writer tell it?  I'm a little concerned that he'll consider these opening sentences too unpolished, and worry that he'd have to spend a lot of time (and therefore money) editing.

"The meth easing further off" is clumsy at best - I take it to mean that the effects of a previous high were receding, but there has to be a crisper way of putting it.  The same with measuring his breaths: may be perfectly accurate, but it's too detailed and acts like a brake this early in the story.

And then, you've set yourself a punctuation conundrum with your last sentence: you've started with a query but can't finish with a question-mark.  Try something more like: "Wondering how much longer he had to pull himself together, his hand went back to his gun."  (Wondered, in this context, works better than thought, which is a bit of a last resort for when nothing else works.)

So, intriguing, but needs tidying up.  Good luck with it.

Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mark Hoffmann on May 13, 2020, 10:33:40 AM
Flick knew she was in for an entertaining evening when she spotted, on his bookshelf, a well-thumbed copy of The Dummies Guide to Cunnilingus. She kicked off her boots, undid the top button on her uniform jacket, and relaxed on the sofa while she waited for Mack to come down from the attic.
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mrs N on May 18, 2020, 12:22:41 AM
Hey Mark, I'd read on, but on his bookshelf was not really needed and broke up the flow of the sentence. Also top button doesn't create a lot of excitement! :P  And really, that's her relaxing?? ;D
Title: Re: First Lines. Would a publisher or anyone want to read on?
Post by: Mark Hoffmann on May 18, 2020, 07:34:21 AM
When Mack came back carrying a box containing all the voles in his taxidermy collection, Flick re-fastened her tunic. She also put her knickers and trousers back on; the last thing a girl should do is flash anything fury to a man who enjoyed stuffing small animals.

"Are you leaving?" Mack said

Flick paused and pointed at the cunnilingus guide on the bookshelf. "Why do you have that?"

Mack shrugged. "My nan bought it me for my birthday. I've not started it yet; I'm not keen on Scandinavian Noir. Is it any good."

Flick flicked her hair revealing how she'd got the nickname. "It can drag on a bit, but just when you think it will never end, it reaches a climax."

What a strange woman, Mack thought as Flick left, closing the shed door behind her.