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Reynard
November 27th, 2018, 09:37 PM
Hello everyone,

I'm a little nervous about posting this but need to work on getting feedback as part of my growth in the craft. 8-[

This is the first couple of paragraphs for the first chapter of the novel Iíve been tossing around in my head for a bit. After a series of revisions, Iím still not sure if it has the right hook to draw the reader in. What do you all think, any suggestions on ways I could tweak this?

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The early afternoon sun struggled to shine in through the old windows of the lobby, their glass long having been clouded with age and soot from the now barely visible city beyond. The once elegant room had only a few sparse inhabitants that either waited to be seen themselves or sat relaxing, using its cool interior as a convenient place to rest and speak quietly. Of the many stations that once played host to busy bank tellers only two were now open and theÖ beingsÖ that now occupied them didnít have any expectations of customers that day. One of them, an elderly looking Goblin, was more focused on the model ship he was painstakingly inserting into a glass pumpkin; while the other one, a young Human woman, rested her chin in her hands as she stared at the far wall dreamily, her eyes half closed. None of the lobbyís occupants seemed to stir or give any concern to the sudden rumble of thunder or the air beginning to shimmer in the middle of the room over the faded red carpet.

The Wizard appeared in the sudden, loud, and flashy way wizards have always seemed to insist on entering a building, although, it didnít have the slightest effect on those within the room. The man who now stood dramatically amongst the smoky remnants of his arrival was oddly thin, for a wizard anyway, with a short scraggly French-cut beard and long, dark hair. His dark robes were well worn, but still had the obligatory regal-ish wizard look to them, even though the stitching on several of the sigils had begun to unravel and now the spelling was wrong. One of the tellers casually looked up at him and smiled in a way that suggested assistance was a possibility, but he should consider very hard whether it was worth the trouble of asking. Malgarvis gave her the evilest smile he could manage to combat hers and began looking around the lobby at the small collection couches and cushy armchairs.



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Ralph Rotten
November 27th, 2018, 11:06 PM
Twas good opening. I'd replace ...creatures... with creatures in italics. It'd be more visually pleasing.

I don't usually associate a hook with the intro to a book. To me a hook goes in the blurb (or your sales pitch).
But the story starts off well enough.

Always remember that you don't have to start with a scene introduction. Lotsa times I will start with the character (for example, starting by introducing the woman, or starting in her head.)

Keep working at it. Books don't write themselves. :)

Reynard
November 27th, 2018, 11:15 PM
Thank you, sounds good.

I can move the scene description further down then; I originally had it starting at the second paragragh but felt it needed a bit of world-building first.

bdcharles
November 28th, 2018, 07:46 AM
Not bad. Some of the writing could be tightened up a little but you paint a clear enough picture without pausing the motion. In terms of hooks, in the opening pages I would try and think of what makes this moment a little different than the norm. What slightly unusual thing is afoot? It can be subtle, like this wizard’s lettering being unstitched, but just draw our attention to that as a thing to go ‘hmm’ about and that can form your hook. Good luck and well done for posting :)

MrTickle
November 28th, 2018, 01:15 PM
i like the descriptions and the detail you have put into your opening. It definitely gives me a sense of the atmosphere and too feel engrossed in the world. Look forward to reading more!

Reynard
November 28th, 2018, 06:30 PM
After a little revision with the suggestions provided, I think this looks a lot better. Thanks for the feedback!


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The room thundered and rattled as the Wizard appeared in the sudden, loud, and overall flashy way wizards have always seemed to insist on entering a building. Although, it didn’t have the slightest effect on those within the room as none of the lobby’s occupants seemed to stir or give any concern to the sudden rumble of thunder or when the air began to shimmer in the middle of the room over the faded red carpet. The only attention he received was a pair of deep green eyes that lifted up from what they had been reading to give the wizard a complex and serious regard, while every now and then, they flashed and shimmered with flecks of gold.

The man who now stood dramatically amongst the smoky remnants of his arrival was oddly thin, for a wizard anyway, with a short scraggly French-cut beard and long, dark hair. His dark robes were well worn, but still had the obligatory regal-ish wizard look to them, even though the stitching on several of the sigils had begun to unravel and now the spelling was wrong. So that instead of it giving him protection against “Demonic Forces,” he was now instead warded against powerful “Demon Forks.” It is sometimes rather fascinating the difference a couple inches of thread can mean within the realm of magical fashion.

The early afternoon sun struggled to shine in through the old windows of the lobby, their glass long having been clouded with age and soot from the now barely visible city beyond. The once elegant room had only a few sparse inhabitants that either waited to be seen themselves or sat relaxing, using its cool interior as a convenient place to rest and speak quietly. Of the many great financial institutions that had comprised the Banking Guild of Dun-Guldur, this had been one of the grandest with it located at the heart of the old city. However, the procession of time and a shift in the political climate within the Commonwealth had put an end to power of many of the Guilds.

Of the many stations that once played host to busy bank tellers only two were now open and the… creatures… that now occupied them didn’t have any expectations of customers that day. One of them, an elderly looking Goblin, was more focused on the model ship he was painstakingly inserting into a glass pumpkin; while the other one, a young Human woman, rested her chin in her hands as she stared at the far wall dreamily, her eyes half closed.

One of the tellers casually looked up at him and smiled in a way that suggested assistance was within the realm of possibility, but he should consider very hard whether it was worth the trouble of asking. Malgarvis gave her the evilest smile he could manage to combat hers and began looking around the lobby at the small collection couches and cushy armchairs. One of which was filled with a large, brown, and rather furry object reading a newspaper, upon closer inspection it turned out to be a bear wearing a fedora and reading glasses but not much else, to which Malgarvis was glad the newspaper obscured most of its body. It looked up from its paper at him as he stared, the bears odd eyes giving him a searching look for a moment before it grunted and went back to reading.

The wizard continued looking purposely about the room he had just transported himself into, having never been in the building before Malgarvis was a bit lost but would not dare to ask any of these common fools for help. So, he continued to scan the area as though simply appraising the once princely bank lobby, in one corner there was an old, squat, round looking man in blue overalls taking a nap in the way that made him still look somewhat busy that all professionals mastered.

Leke A
November 30th, 2018, 01:42 AM
Positives
Hey, firstly you have a clear and easy writing voice which I like.You have some great descriptions, particularly the Wizard and his entrance.

What could be improved
In my opinion, you're doing too much. I say that because I feel your telling too much rather than the story with a scene that will grip the reader and make them want to keep reading. You reveal too much,too soon and me, as a reader, I was just a little too overwhelmed by what exactly was going on. You need to streamline this if you want this to be your hook to your novel. Right now, it reads like the middle of a chapter further into your story.

Reynard
December 1st, 2018, 06:17 AM
In my opinion, you're doing too much. I say that because I feel your telling too much rather than the story with a scene that will grip the reader and make them want to keep reading.

I agree, when I get descriptive and world-build, I get a little carried away as I love detail. Which I think is slowing up this first, and important, chapter; as well as making it rather long, over 6000 words after my last revision. I will have to sit down and look at ways to cut some material without impacting flow or the information presented. Although, every time I do I feel that I may have broken something and think "Oh crap, I need to change this a bit" and then it gets even longer.

Thank you for the advice, I will look at it as you have suggested to try some streamlining and maybe even breaking it up a bit.

Jeko
December 1st, 2018, 06:46 PM
The room thundered and rattled as the Wizard appeared in the sudden, loud, and overall flashy way wizards have always seemed to insist on entering a building.

I almost love this opening line, much stronger than what you initially had in your first post. I think the 'insistance' of the entrance is the hook here - it really gets the character of the wizard 'in' right away, if you know what I mean. So it might be better if what comes before it is a bit smoother and less cluttered. I'd change 'sudden, loud, and overly flashy' to just 'sudden and loud'. Cuts the adverb that carries an authorial voice, and cuts more quickly to the entrance itself. If the entrance is indeed sudden, we probably don't want the narrator to take too long to describe it.


Although, it didnít have the slightest effect on those within the room as

You imply this with what you describe right after it, so I don't think this is needed.

As for the rest, my main concern is that this 'sudden' entrance is followed by very little action or agency on behalf of the wizard. The descriptions are fine in terms of establishing the scene, but the wizard seems like a statue to me. Right after he's made his entrance, I think it would bring the scene to life a lot more if we began to immediately follow his agency - what is he there for? What he want to do? What does he think of his surroundings? Otherwise we just have a picture of a wizard who's going to start our story, and not yet the start of the story.

Reynard
December 1st, 2018, 09:16 PM
I see, that does make a lot of sense now that a re-read it with that in mind. I will revise it to keep the pace up and weave in the scene description a little better so as not to be a flow clogging info dump.

Thank you. :)

NicaNieves
December 2nd, 2018, 04:34 AM
Hi, I’m new too and learning as I go. My only recommendation is to literally pour details about the setting into this. It was good but vague until you mentioned a goblin. I wasn’t expecting that, but pieced it together in my mind. I’d try to expand these two paragraphs into three or maybe four. Quirky furniture, outdated decor, human “look” despite the occupants. Pretend you’re there and the reader has their arm locked with yours and its your job to turn him this way and that to take it all in. I hope this helps. Don’t stop writing! Best of luck!

NicaNieves
December 2nd, 2018, 04:36 AM
I didn’t see this! Well done. You got this

Fatclub
December 2nd, 2018, 10:23 AM
I found this too descriptive for my own taste and the sentences far too long. It's almost like you're sad to finish off a sentence.This slowed the read down and had me sometimes having to work out what you were saying. I think it's over ambitious as far as creating a 'sense of place' is concerned and there's too much information too soon. The prose of most novels in your genre is usually quite clear and simple. I would be wary of working on this opening again and again. Art is rarely (never?) perfect and you'll become too familiar with what you're writing to see it as a first-time reader would and you could end up going round in circles. I would proceed with chapter two, then three, etc. Then when you eventually return to chapter one it'll look fresher and you may even change things back to what they were before the over-familiarity. Also, Stephen King said his 2nd draft = 1st draft minus 10%. i.e. "...over the faded red carpet." would be removed. Sometimes whole sentences would be cut to reduce the word-count.
I suggest getting on with the action and the book. Kill the cliches like the opening sentence of the second para. Though, in this genre there's a lot of cliche-type things even in the biggest bestsellers so what do I know? French-cut beard? Is this a mistake?
As I said - this is my own taste and we-readers (and writers) are all different.
I would strongly urge you to continue with the book and not dwell (yet) on the opening paragraphs.
...hope this helps.