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allyson17white
August 22nd, 2016, 06:58 AM
​I'm having trouble with my opening paragraphs for the first chapter of my novel. I think that it may sound a bit forced and even be rather irrelevant to the story. I would very much appreciate opinions on this and critiques on the overall writing of it. I have a short preface letter for this by the narrator as well which might put it in better context but I'm mostly concerned with this part. I wrote it to make a point because the book focuses on an apprentice at a printshop/bookshop which is the relevance. Anyway, I'm a bit uneasy about it. I apologize the spacing got a bit miked up when I submitted it. I tried to fix most but might have missed a few. Thank you. Here it is:


Come away with me.

Be you fair lass or dashing gentleman, come with me my friend. Come somewhere magical. Weíre going to an old place, back when it was new. But worry not, it isnít so difficult. You simply take a step and turn your mind in my direction. Yes, there you are, hello! Weíre going to a place where magnificent Kings and gentle Queens rule; a land in which great battles are fought, and monsters live in every unknown shadow just waiting to be slain. Golden fields roll over one another like the waves of an ocean and knights shine like stars in the distance. Is it the medieval times that your mind drifts to? Is that the land we have arrived in? Or perhaps you go further back to a riveting history lesson in which you first heard of the Renaissance. I would hate to tear you away from this place with such cruelty as to say that it has never existed, certainly you yourself have just seen it so vividly that you should believe it to be real. But that is how these things work is it not? I make you a world in which every action shifts at my very whim, I paint a picture with only the colors I fancy.

You see, though, I am not the author of the tale which Iíve been formed to tell. The weaver of such fates, who draws them all together so perfectly, is something far beyond myself. Here I am but a pawn and the tale quite lacking in kings and knights - though they may be featured avidly enough on the sidelines - because, of course, we know that my utopian picture truly hasnít existed in any form for it was simply all too... perfect. And no one wants to hear about an easy life. Thereís no risk. No triumph. What would be the point?

So this story starts with a boy, and though heís not devoid of monsters, they arenít lurking in the shadows. True monsters donít do that you know. Instead, they throw themselves right intoyour face and the more you struggle with them, the more you fight, the more they seem to keepcoming. Now this boy, whom my father called Matthew Bennet, had had his fair share of fighting and was just letting the monstersí grips loosen when he learned a very important lesson.The monsters donít care whether you fight them or not, they only wish that you suffer. Matthew, however, wasnít a knight or king and never would he fight in some grand battle, genuine heroesarenít made that way. Theyíre made the same way all of us are, through challenges and choices... and maybe some good friends to help along the way.

Oh, and me? My nameís Passus, in case you hadnít noticed. Itís a strange name, yes, but I come from a strange time and a strange place. The story Iím about to begin actually started very near here. And being from the land of the strange, as I am, you might ask just what qualifies me to tell youthis story. The answer is, well, because itís my favorite. And why else tell a story but because you love it?

Bard_Daniel
August 22nd, 2016, 11:32 PM
Well! I think it's definitely well done. I like what you're shooting for here and I like the style that you've developed. I'm also interested in your WIP as being about "an apprentice at a printshop/bookshop". Nice!

Definitely gets my thumbs up! How does the P.O.V work with the story? I'm just curious. Do you keep this P.O.V or does it go into third person omniscient? How does it work?

Thanks for sharing! :D

allyson17white
August 23rd, 2016, 12:08 AM
Definitely gets my thumbs up! How does the P.O.V work with the story? I'm just curious. Do you keep this P.O.V or does it go into third person omniscient? How does it work?


First of all, thank you very much for your kind review. Passus, if you are not familiar with the term, is an old word for a passage of a book or story (I'm kind of counting on people not being familiar with this) and the word comes from the latin for step or pace; as in to move forward. This is all very metaphorical and significant to the main character, whom at the end we will realize invented the charter of Passus as an entity to tell the story of this adventurous/difficult/etc. time he went through, the book. I find it interesting because the book is called Passus' Calling and it is in the very fact that the book is written that Passus is fulfilling this very calling. I love how it connects the book to the real world. He fades into something that sounds almost third person as we get deeper into the story of my main character, but at intervals (especially those which hint at who Passus is and how he came to be) he will speak up and voice his opinion about things. He actually makes it a very clear point to disagree with my main charter in certain areas; which I, from the all-knowing perspective, love because it's the same as the older version of my charter calling himself a fool as he reflects on his past. I did not, however, want to use the older version of the main charter for a few reasons. 1) He would reveal guilt that I don't want the reader to see, whereas Passus is far more thrilled. 2) Passus is not just the main charter in disguise, he draws from all the charters of the story because in a way he is the story. 3) I just think it's really cool how complex it is, because the real world is not really a linear thing, but is all jumbled up with many different motives in play at once.

My goal, anyhow, is to get the reader wondering about Passus in this opening, and then to keep them wondering until the very end. So the fact that you say your "just curious" is a great complement to me, because this is exactly what I am hoping to do. Thank you.

Bard_Daniel
August 23rd, 2016, 12:42 AM
First of all, thank you very much for your kind review. Passus, if you are not familiar with the term, is an old word for a passage of a book or story (I'm kind of counting on people not being familiar with this) and the word comes from the latin for step or pace; as in to move forward. This is all very metaphorical and significant to the main character, whom at the end we will realize invented the charter of Passus as an entity to tell the story of this adventurous/difficult/etc. time he went through, the book. I find it interesting because the book is called Passus' Calling and it is in the very fact that the book is written that Passus is fulfilling this very calling. I love how it connects the book to the real world. He fades into something that sounds almost third person as we get deeper into the story of my main character, but at intervals (especially those which hint at who Passus is and how he came to be) he will speak up and voice his opinion about things. He actually makes it a very clear point to disagree with my main charter in certain areas; which I, from the all-knowing perspective, love because it's the same as the older version of my charter calling himself a fool as he reflects on his past. I did not, however, want to use the older version of the main charter for a few reasons. 1) He would reveal guilt that I don't want the reader to see, whereas Passus is far more thrilled. 2) Passus is not just the main charter in disguise, he draws from all the charters of the story because in a way he is the story. 3) I just think it's really cool how complex it is, because the real world is not really a linear thing, but is all jumbled up with many different motives in play at once.

My goal, anyhow, is to get the reader wondering about Passus in this opening, and then to keep them wondering until the very end. So the fact that you say your "just curious" is a great complement to me, because this is exactly what I am hoping to do. Thank you.

That sounds really cool actually! Good stuff! I'd be very interested in reading more for sure! I think it would be a very effective way to tell your story and it assuredly piques my curiosity.

Jay Greenstein
August 23rd, 2016, 02:26 AM
Try an experiment. Record yourself reading the opening paragraphs. Listen to them, and then have your computer read it to you to see what the reader gets.

Unlike you, the reader gets no tone, cadence or intensity changes, They get not a trace of the warmth and enthusiasm you hear as you read, because while you know how you want it read, the reader, who doesn't know what a line will say till after it's read, can't even guess at how to read it. Nor can they see the lively expression you wear, or the emotion in your hand gestures. So they get the words, yes, but none of the emotion that makes your performance interesting.

There's another thing that matters. This opening is telling the reader that they're going to hear a good story. But isn't that what they expect from us? And isn't it true that while they're reading this there's no story? So what does this do but delay the arrival of what the reader came for?

In short:

“Don’t inflict the reader with irrelevant background material—get on with the story.”
~ James H. Schmitz

bdcharles
August 23rd, 2016, 09:29 AM
I like this alot. The mystical, prologguey voice, the lands far away in time. Oh, and knights shining like stars in the distance - what an exciting image! I get a direct sense of their valour, aflame endlessly in a bedark't world, just from that.

A couple of things I would change if it was me that had written it - very minor, wordy-formatty things:


Be you fair lass or dashing gentleman, come with me my friend. Come somewhere magical. We’re going to an old place, back when it was new.

Maybe remove some of the talky stuff and just spin out the magicality of everything:


Be you fair lass or dashing gentleman, come with me my friend, to somewhere magical - an old place, but a time when it was new and bright.

Then again I have a propensity for "the mauve" in text.

Same with this:


Or perhaps you go further back to a riveting history lesson in which you first heard of the Renaissance.

which might become:


Or perhaps further back, to a long-ago lesson that first told of the Renaissance.

But it really hinges on the voice you want. Perhaps Passus is rather verbose, quite the people-person. Your choice :)

I loved the way it starts, with the first two paragraphs, about this sort of idyllic time, but then says how that's not good enough, and then swoops us into the boy. And I love the way you present him too, where monsters aren't that much of a threat (which tells me that they will become exactly that, that they will make us suffer all right - and how exciting is that?!) Great introducing of the father too, very subtle and clever, contextualising the boy like that but doing two birds with one stone effectively.

Is it worth, do you think, splitting the first paragraph in two, to emphasise the voice a little, here:


Be you fair lass or dashing gentleman, come with me my friend. Come somewhere magical. We’re going to an old place, back when it was new. But worry not, it isn’t so difficult. You simply take a step and turn your mind in my direction. Yes, there you are, hello!

We’re going to a place where magnificent Kings and gentle Queens rule; a land in which great battles are fought, and monsters live in every unknown shadow just waiting to be slain.

Couple of comma weirdnesses:

Matthew, however, wasn’t a knight or king and never would he fight in some grand battle,[<- that one; replace it with a conjunction, a full stop, a dash, a semi colon, anything but comma!] genuine heroesaren’t made that way.

True monsters don’t do that[<- and slap that comma right here] you know.


I like Passus as a narrator. I suspect he or she (guessing he, from the Latinate) has a knack of making any tale sound perfectly fascinating. Keep me updated - I really like the sound of this! :)

Olly Buckle
August 23rd, 2016, 11:07 AM
Is it the medieval times that your mind drifts to? Is that the land we have arrived in? Or perhaps you go further back to a riveting history lesson in which you first heard of the Renaissance.

Something is adrift, I may be getting on but I wasn't taught history before the Medieval period, and thr Renaisssance came after the Medieval.

allyson17white
August 23rd, 2016, 06:13 PM
Something is adrift, I may be getting on but I wasn't taught history before the Medieval period, and thr Renaisssance came after the Medieval.

Yes I see. I meant to say that you think first of medieval times, and then the more knowing would think of the Renaissance. However, you are correct that it sounds like I'm saying the medieval times came before the renaissance. I will fix that.

Makili
August 23rd, 2016, 09:32 PM
This pulled me in straight away, and I would deffinitelly continue reading.
I liked the tone of the narration - classic storytelling by the fire in the winter's night.
The paragraph about the boy was also intriguing - I understod it as an alegory and would expect the boy to fight some inner demons during his rite of passage...

Riptide
August 25th, 2016, 10:45 AM
I liked it, but in moderation. I'll show you where and why I got discouraged.


​I'm having trouble with my opening paragraphs for the first chapter of my novel. I think that it may sound a bit forced and even be rather irrelevant to the story. I would very much appreciate opinions on this and critiques on the overall writing of it. I have a short preface letter for this by the narrator as well which might put it in better context but I'm mostly concerned with this part. I wrote it to make a point because the book focuses on an apprentice at a printshop/bookshop which is the relevance. Anyway, I'm a bit uneasy about it. I apologize the spacing got a bit miked up when I submitted it. I tried to fix most but might have missed a few. Thank you. Here it is:


Come away with me.

Be you fair lass or dashing gentleman, come with me my friend. Come somewhere magical. Weíre going to an old place, back when it was new. But worry not, it isnít so difficult. You simply take a step and turn your mind in my direction. Yes, there you are, hello! Weíre going to a place where magnificent Kings and gentle Queens rule; a land in which great battles are fought, and monsters live in every unknown shadow just waiting to be slain. Golden fields roll over one another like the waves of an ocean and knights shine like stars in the distance. Is it the medieval times that your mind drifts to? Is that the land we have arrived in? Or perhaps you go further back to a riveting history lesson in which you first heard of the Renaissance. -reminds me of those pokemon dungeon games, wher eyou answer questions to become your pokemon I would hate to tear you away from this place with such cruelty as to say that it has never existed, certainly you yourself have just seen it so vividly that you should believe it to be real. But that is how these things work is it not? I make you a world in which every action shifts at my very whim, I paint a picture with only the colors I fancy. -this is where it begins... bc it seem as if the voice tries and introduces you, the author, which I don't particularly care for

You see, though, I am not the author of the tale which Iíve been formed to tell -formed to tell - tells me he knows he's some figment of the imagination and there I am out of the idea. The weaver of such fates, who draws them all together so perfectly, is something far beyond myself. Here I am but a pawn and the tale quite lacking in kings and knights -this: you capitalize Kings before, why not now? - though they may be featured avidly enough on the sidelines - because, of course, we know that my utopian picture truly hasnít existed in any form for it was simply all too... perfect. And no one wants to hear about an easy life. Thereís no risk. No triumph. What would be the point?

In this paragraph we get back on track and I back into it. I really do love this last paragraph. But I just don;t understand why you have to mention a higher force? So this story starts with a boy, and though heís not devoid of monsters, they arenít lurking in the shadows. True monsters donít do that you know. Instead, they throw themselves right intoyour face and the more you struggle with them, the more you fight, the more they seem to keepcoming. Now this boy, whom my father called Matthew Bennet, had had his fair share of fighting and was just letting the monstersí grips loosen when he learned a very important lesson.The monsters donít care whether you fight them or not, they only wish that you suffer. Matthew, however, wasnít a knight or king and never would he fight in some grand battle, genuine heroesarenít made that way. Theyíre made the same way all of us are, through challenges and choices... and maybe some good friends to help along the way.

Oh, and me? My nameís Passus, in case you hadnít noticed. Itís a strange name, yes, but I come from a strange time and a strange place. The story Iím about to begin actually started very near here. And being from the land of the strange, as I am, you might ask just what qualifies me to tell youthis story. The answer is, well, because itís my favorite. And why else tell a story but because you love it? -I liked this last paragraph but it seems to contradict the other one, that he was formed to tell the story and how he is a pawn in some bigger scheme of things.