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  #61   Report Bad Post  
Old 09-13-2017, 10:37 PM
budigart budigart is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

It was short . . 1,759 words.
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Old 09-14-2017, 01:35 PM
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La_ La_ is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

the newspaper writer definitely came out in you in this last bit. summary factual.

fiction, imho, is so much more fun, to write whatever ending suits me and hopefully satisfies the reader.

to each their own tho, right.

la

Quote:
Originally Posted by budigart
They were misguided. They were "in love." I titled it "Franky and Johnny All Over again." Somebody done somebody wrong. He drank and went out for the night. She got pissed and stabbed him. I called police. She was arrested. His collapsed lung was re-inflated. She was prosecuted. I and a witness testified. She was let go. These few statements tell you all you need to know about today's world.

Here's the end of the story:

In the end, she loved him and he loved her. All she was doing was trying to say how very much he had hurt her, and how very much she loved him . When she drove the knife into his chest, she was saying, “This is how much I hurt,” and when she saved him, she was saying, “This is how much I love you.”
The really sad thing about humans and love is that, often, we just don’t know how to take the hand of the one closest to us and say simply, “I love you.”
I don’t know what happened to this couple. The case was dropped in spite of our testimony. Maybe, just maybe, love overcame all that night. That’s how I think about it. After all, this world spins on very little of any importance. But of all the things that make it go, love seems to be the best -- and worst – of it.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:30 PM
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bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

I'm coming rather late to this thread.

The original question, about 2 different opening sentences, is misguided. They are about 2 different subjects and not comparable / substitutable for each other. It's like asking about an apple and a bicycle.

The merits / demerits of the individual sentences are analyzeable, and others did so. Generally I side with those who said, "Tighten them up".

Will they work as openings? I do not think the opening of a book is a single sentence. I think it is the first few sentences, and you must make your sales pitch rapidly. There is not enough context offered to make a judgment on whether they can work, whether they are strong or weak. It's like looking at a painting through a pinhole card and being asked whether the painting captures attention on 1st glance. How about showing more of the work before I commit to that decision?

A seemingly banal 1st sentence, might be great when combined with the following 2 or 3 sentences. Context matters. I think it is important to have a strong image in one's mind as to what one is trying to convey. And why it is front and center to your work. Why is it an opening? Of all the possible things you could open with, why this one thing?

The opening doesn't have to answer the 'why'. It does have to create the interest. The bones of the 'why' are present in your opening. The reason should be induced, either explicitly or by intuitive sense, that there's a reason to keep reading.
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Old 12-10-2017, 10:56 PM
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La_ La_ is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

post #24 shows page 1
it's been edited somewhat since then tho

all in all it's more about apples than bicycles and metaphors run wild.

la
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Old 12-11-2017, 02:56 AM
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bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

Ok... the 1st page. I really don't know what this is about. To the extent that it might be about something, it could be a schizophrenic murderer. It definitely loses me, and hasn't offered me any reason to care. The internal state of the character being presented, is self-absorbed. This may be how she wishes to think about her life, whatever is going on around her, but why am I the reader supposed to care about that?

Pieces of the descriptions might be interesting, but it is difficult to see them in the service of a goal. Except "disjointedness". Which is a rather problematic goal if that's the intent. Consider: a story about boredom probably shouldn't be boring. One might try making a "boring boredom" story as an artistic experiment, but I'm the kind of person who didn't make it through Chapter 1 of Ulysses. As are most people.
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Old 12-11-2017, 04:21 AM
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La_ La_ is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

hedonistic murder suspect might be more accurate, but i've noted your dismay of thought monologue as a character/environment descriptive tool, thanks.

out of curiosity, what is your preferred genre of literature and do you have a favourite author(s)?

la
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Old 12-11-2017, 10:36 AM
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bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

Quote:
Originally Posted by La_
hedonistic murder suspect might be more accurate, but i've noted your dismay of thought monologue as a character/environment descriptive tool, thanks.

I think that's missing the point. What has she told me to make me care? How do I get "the book is about..." from her rambling?

Is there a 3 sentence version of your book opening? If you think that's impossible, why?

Quote:
out of curiosity, what is your preferred genre of literature and do you have a favourite author(s)?

I have been interested in fantasy and science fiction, but I'm not willing to call them out as preferred. I don't have any favorite authors. I have contemplated various popular authors and noted their strengths and weaknesses.

Last edited by bvanevery : 12-11-2017 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 12-11-2017, 02:25 PM
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Re: the first line of a novel

hrm ... as an introduction to the main character, alone in a new environment, it's meant to give you a glimmer into her history, her character. if you're not in the least bit intrigued or curious about her [for the book is about Her] about the thoughts of death, the body, the skeleton, then i've either not given enough of a hook, or this simply isn't the book for you to be reading.
Should i be starting with a car accident? Details of death? Something more Dramatic?
I certainly could start things off with a flashback of blood and body parts. Would that make you care?

la
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Old 12-11-2017, 03:40 PM
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bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

Quote:
Originally Posted by La_
hrm ... as an introduction to the main character, alone in a new environment, it's meant to give you a glimmer into her history, her character.

My point of view, heavily influenced by contemporary screenwriting, is you have far more of a job than just giving someone a glimmer of something, at the beginning of a book. I need a reason why I'm supposed to be spending time digesting this. A value proposition. "This is interesting because..." ?

I'm not alone in thinking this. To the minimum extent that I've studied the process of submitting writing to publishers, something that doesn't "grab" the lackey who's reading hundreds of manuscripts at low pay, is going to be quickly and immediately put down. There are tiers of progress you can be making. They got through the 1st page, they got through the 1st 20 pages, etc. If you can't establish your value proposition in these time intervals, you're done. You'll have to learn how to publish it yourself. Or see writing as something done for yourself, not for large audiences that will read your work.

Quote:
if you're not in the least bit intrigued or curious about her [for the book is about Her] about the thoughts of death, the body, the skeleton, then i've either not given enough of a hook, or this simply isn't the book for you to be reading.

The job of the author is to make the audience interested. For commercially saleable work at any rate. Hoping that I am interested, without "priming the pump" in any way, is not a good strategy for sales. It could work if tons of people already know a story and are deeply invested in it, i.e. Jesus Christ. But you're writing about someone random.

Quote:
Should i be starting with a car accident?

Many screenwriters do that, because they think action, shock, and stress is something the mass public can understand and maybe identify or empahtize with. They think they can manipulate the audience with rollercoaster visceral responses. I don't advocate that per se because for my intellectual bent, it's boring. An easy crutch. Also it's often not credible: I know the protagonists will come to no real harm, because they are highly paid actors who need to do the movie for the next 1.5 to 2 hours. Rarely does a film violate my metacritical knowledge that this was made by actors who want career screen time.

Your opening has gone pretty far in the direction of the completely esoteric. I don't think this is about my taste... why would most people lock on to her introspective ramblings? You put the reader inside someone's "crazy mind" and what does it mean to them? How is it supposed to make sense to them? What are they supposed to do with it?

An action scene, people know what to do with. Inside random crazy person we don't even know or have met yet, all bets are off. Might as well toss the audience into a black void, for all the reference points you're offering them.

If you go down the road of the experimental and obscure, you have additional duties to keep audiences following what you're on about. Doesn't mean people have to be spoon fed, but it does mean you have to think about how you're communicating with them. If you're even trying to communicate with them, or just leaving it all as "some unresolved mystery". People don't like things they don't understand at all. Most people aren't conscientious puzzle solvers, and nobody's got a previous investment in this specific character, other than yourself.

Quote:
Details of death? Something more Dramatic?
I certainly could start things off with a flashback of blood and body parts. Would that make you care?

None of those ideas guarantee anything.

I would suggest being deeply honest with yourself as to what your story is about. And then immediately do the most focused thing possible in your opening, that communicates that.

I don't see that you've done that. I doubt that you made the effort to do it. I think you probably intended to discurse about the internal state of the character you had in mind, without concern as to whether I would care or whether this is interesting to someone other than yourself, the author. Since I don't think you have the reader in mind, I see continuing to read as not a good value proposition. There are many things out there I could be reading. Whole libraries, book stores, and internets full of them.

I've also wondered whether you are imagining some extremely specific narrow niche audience, like everyone in "Literature" who has read some 1 famous esoteric book, along the line of Ulysses. Now clearly, I'm not part of that crowd and don't know what that book would be. I define commercial success in writing, as the ability to sell enough copies to make something of a living off of it. I don't know what the "esoteric Literature" market looks like, whether there are enough "fans of 1 kind of book" to support you. Based on what I know about writing to date though, I doubt it.

An additional note: if you have any interest in ever adapting your work to film, this intro with all the internal state is not basically filmable. It would definitely take some work to get the point across visually, someone would have to improvise. I'm not trying to say "internal state is bad". It is what it is. I am saying, visual stuff is usually easier for audiences to lock onto and navigate. Consider your car crash example. Well, it's cars, people drive them every day, they may have even seen a wreck before....
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Old 12-11-2017, 06:20 PM
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La_ La_ is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

noted, thanks, That's a critique i can chew on.

la
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Old 01-31-2018, 07:01 PM
AgentofCrom AgentofCrom is offline
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Re: the first line of a novel

If Travis Bickle owned a pawn shop...
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Old 02-10-2019, 02:06 PM
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Re: the first line of a novel

gotta love Martin Scorsese

la
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