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Topper88
January 6th, 2013, 07:36 AM
At this very moment I am fifty feet above the ground and the only thing that will keep me from falling to my death is grabbing onto a wooden bar suspended from two ropes. I have to earn a living somehow, right?

Being in mortal danger has a funny way of putting your life in context. I think it’s related to how your life will flash before your eyes when you know you’re about to die. Even though I get scared every time I do this, I know that I’m not about to die. I’ve made this jump thousands of times before and in thirteen years I have never missed that bar. Until right now. A deafening bang went off from somewhere below me, a boom that I could feel reverberate in my chest, and I did the worst possible thing I could do in my position: panic. I grabbed for the bar too early and my hands fell past. I flailed my arms upward to try and snag the bar before it was too late, but the moment I realized I missed, it was already much too late. I was too stunned to even be afraid. All the nightmares of falling I thought were tucked away in my subconscious for good came rushing back in full force as I watched the ground quickly approach. I remember one where the rope holding me aloft breaks, one where I reach for the bar only to find it vanish before my eyes, and an especially bad one where the entire world crumbles out from under my feet and I fall into total darkness. Wow, your life does flash before your eyes.

I wrote this just five minutes ago. It's my third attempt at opening the story; the last two just didn't grab attention. I took some advice I heard and "started with chapter 2"

Kyle R
January 6th, 2013, 08:41 AM
Looks good so far. I'm hooked.

I would say, though, something I've always said about openings--the time to craft them is after you've written the full story, from beginning to ending.

Then--and only then (in my humble opinion)--will you have the necessary perspective, and familiarity of character, to craft that perfect opening.

So if you haven't written the entire story yet, I recommend sticking with this one and continuing on until you reach "The End". Then come back to this and see what you think of it! :encouragement:

If it IS a story you've completed and you're hammering the opening now, then I'd suggest simply tightening it by eliminating unnecessary wordage. Something like:

I am fifty feet above the ground. The only thing keeping me from falling to my death is a wooden bar suspended from two ropes. Have to earn a living somehow, right?

Danger has a funny way of putting your life in context. Even though I get scared every time, I know Iím not about to die. Iíve made this jump thousands of times, and in thirteen years I have never missed.

Until now.

There was a deafening bang from somewhere below me, a boom I could feel in my chest, and I did the worst possible thing I could in my position: panic. I grabbed for the bar too early. I flailed. But it was already too late. I was too stunned to even be afraid. All the nightmares of falling I thought were tucked away in my subconscious for good came rushing back as I watched the ground quickly approach. I remember one where the rope breaks, one where I reach for the bar only to see it vanish before my eyes, and an especially bad one where the entire world crumbles under my feet and I fall into total darkness. Wow, your life does flash before your eyes.


Something like that. Mostly I just removed a bunch of extraneous words. But there are still tense issues that need to be addressed (the tense oscillates between present and past).

In either case, I like the subject matter. It's a very compelling situation. Hope any of this helps!

Topper88
January 6th, 2013, 09:34 AM
Looks good so far. I'm hooked.

I would say, though, something I've always said about openings--the time to craft them is after you've written the full story, from beginning to ending.

Then--and only then (in my humble opinion)--will you have the necessary perspective, and familiarity of character, to craft that perfect opening.

So if you haven't written the entire story yet, I recommend sticking with this one and continuing on until you reach "The End". Then come back to this and see what you think of it! :encouragement:

If it IS a story you've completed and you're hammering the opening now, then I'd suggest simply tightening it by eliminating unnecessary wordage. Something like:

I am fifty feet above the ground. The only thing keeping me from falling to my death is a wooden bar suspended from two ropes. Have to earn a living somehow, right?

Danger has a funny way of putting your life in context. Even though I get scared every time, I know I’m not about to die. I’ve made this jump thousands of times, and in thirteen years I have never missed.

Until now.

There was a deafening bang from somewhere below me, a boom I could feel in my chest, and I did the worst possible thing I could in my position: panic. I grabbed for the bar too early. I flailed. But it was already too late. I was too stunned to even be afraid. All the nightmares of falling I thought were tucked away in my subconscious for good came rushing back as I watched the ground quickly approach. I remember one where the rope breaks, one where I reach for the bar only to see it vanish before my eyes, and an especially bad one where the entire world crumbles under my feet and I fall into total darkness. Wow, your life does flash before your eyes.


Something like that. Mostly I just removed a bunch of extraneous words. But there are still tense issues that need to be addressed (the tense oscillates between present and past).

In either case, I like the subject matter. It's a very compelling situation. Hope any of this helps!
Thanks for the feedback, I definitely agree about the wordiness and the past/present tense flipflopping. I usually write that way on a first draft for some reason.

Jamie
January 6th, 2013, 11:08 AM
Hi Topster,

Good first effort, and certainly enough to make your reader carry on that little bit further, so well done.

I can't really add too much more than Kyle has already. What he said is spot on. What I would say is to try writing the entire thing in present tense and also writing the entire thing in past tense and see which one of those has the most impact.

Good stuff though, nice one.

Flith
January 6th, 2013, 02:30 PM
I read fantasy almost exclusively, the only other thing that can really hold my interest is sci-fi, so I have to say from a subjective standpoint, I am not hooked, HOWEVER, trying to force objectivity on my part, the writing does seem to be done well, and the opening does build intrigue and suspense, so if this writing were my genre, I think I might be hooked into reading more

Topper88
January 6th, 2013, 03:23 PM
I read fantasy almost exclusively, the only other thing that can really hold my interest is sci-fi, so I have to say from a subjective standpoint, I am not hooked, HOWEVER, trying to force objectivity on my part, the writing does seem to be done well, and the opening does build intrigue and suspense, so if this writing were my genre, I think I might be hooked into reading more
Heh, ironically this story is fantasy and sci fi. Or rather it will be as soon as I get it all down on paper.

Flith
January 6th, 2013, 03:53 PM
you really don't get that vibe from the sample paragraph, would you post more?

Topper88
January 6th, 2013, 04:11 PM
you really don't get that vibe from the sample paragraph, would you post more?

I will eventually. The fantasy and sci fi elements should become apparent in the following paragraphs where the setting is introduced. I want the fantastical elements to be revealed organically throughout the first act rather than exposited in one big information dump.

Flith
January 6th, 2013, 04:21 PM
I'll be looking forward to reading more, if you post it in a separate thread, you should post a link to the new thread here to be sure we find it

Foxee
January 6th, 2013, 10:03 PM
I'm going to go against the conventional wisdom in your title and explain that the first paragraph that I write is almost always the first paragraph to get cut in editing (if not more). While there are exceptions, usually I write the story, then go back and search for the 'real' beginning. The reason for this is that the first paragraph of my rough draft is pretty much a warmup to saying all of the same things better later.

I'd suggest that rather than starting with a paragraph and agonizing over it, write the story. Then go back and see if the first paragraph is a keeper or if your true beginning is further along in the text.

Lex-a-licious
January 7th, 2013, 09:25 AM
I like what you're trying to do here - if it were a Tarrantino movie, it is like you are starting somewhere epic and going to regress to the events that lead you to this point... *thumbs up* I'm interested to see where it is going. A touch wordy... but it has the scope to really transport the reader to the surrounding

Elvenswordsman
January 7th, 2013, 10:02 AM
Kyle has it right. I second his motion, the opening only comes at the close (hehe Harry Potter reference). It's true, the whole story illuminates the intro in the writer's mind, and allows for a perfect vision of how the intro should go in the context of the book.

Cheers,
Elven

Topper88
January 8th, 2013, 05:12 AM
I'm going to go against the conventional wisdom in your title and explain that the first paragraph that I write is almost always the first paragraph to get cut in editing (if not more). While there are exceptions, usually I write the story, then go back and search for the 'real' beginning. The reason for this is that the first paragraph of my rough draft is pretty much a warmup to saying all of the same things better later.

I'd suggest that rather than starting with a paragraph and agonizing over it, write the story. Then go back and see if the first paragraph is a keeper or if your true beginning is further along in the text.

I know that the first paragraph is usually cut because people have a tendency to not start out in the midst of action (which is why the advice is to "start with chapter 2"), but if you know how best to start a story you shouldn't eschew it because "it will be cut anyway". Of course it would be unrealistic to nail a story in one draft, but you should still try to make your rough draft good.