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Thread: Goofy (?!) Starts

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Whatever you want to make of Orwell's clocks striking 13, there's nothing in the following paragraph or several to indicate meaning. You could take that out of the book and nothing would change except the loss of a goofy first line. I guess it could contribute to mood, but it's almost more misleading.
    I don't think it's misleading and don't understand why you do. To me it is just an attention-grabbing phrase. One that quickly makes sense once we come to know the world in which the book is set.

    The point of 1984 is the creation of a reality containing insidious control and conformitiy. Part of that is simplification of language, or 'newspeak', and eradication of traditional terminology and colorful figures of speech. That theme is ever-present through the story. Entire chapters written on it.

    Many languages (in real life) have done this on a smaller scale - such as switching to metric measurements and introducing twenty-four hour time: 'Oh Three Hundred" instead of 'Three 'O' Clock. It is this kind of sterile, bureaucratically motivated world that Orwell is satirizing with 'The clocks struck thirteen'. It's not just random, Lewis Carroll mumbo-jumbo.

  2. #22
    Originally Posted by EmmaSohan
    The word "shatter" kind of means all at once. That's a small problem, but typical of these kinds of starts. It's like the author doesn't think about them.

    In this context shatter does not have to mean all at once. Shatter as in what happens to fragile objects, is an instantaneous thing - if the line was "The stranger didn't shatter the stained glass window all at once" I would agree but in terms of human psychology 'shatter' simply is another word for destroy.
    Sorry Lucky scars, I am going to agree with Emma on this one, shattered means shattered, no matter what you apply it to; if their life fell apart slowly you wouldn't call it shattered, or I wouldn't, it would be something like 'In pieces'. Shattered means a particular event destroyed it, 'He was shattered when she left him...'
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  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I don't think it's misleading and don't understand why you do. To me it is just an attention-grabbing phrase. One that quickly makes sense once we come to know the world in which the book is set.

    The point of 1984 is the creation of a reality containing insidious control and conformitiy. Part of that is simplification of language, or 'newspeak', and eradication of traditional terminology and colorful figures of speech. That theme is ever-present through the story. Entire chapters written on it.

    Many languages (in real life) have done this on a smaller scale - such as switching to metric measurements and introducing twenty-four hour time: 'Oh Three Hundred" instead of 'Three 'O' Clock. It is this kind of sterile, bureaucratically motivated world that Orwell is satirizing with 'The clocks struck thirteen'. It's not just random, Lewis Carroll mumbo-jumbo.
    No, but there is no great relevance is there?, I don't remember the time recording system ever being mentioned again in the book. Mentioning something for the only time in the first lines is not normal. Sure it establishes it is a different society, it also does it almost in the style of shouting and throwing its hat in the air, first line like. Yes you have a point, but so does she.
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  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    Sorry Lucky scars, I am going to agree with Emma on this one, shattered means shattered, no matter what you apply it to; if their life fell apart slowly you wouldn't call it shattered, or I wouldn't, it would be something like 'In pieces'. Shattered means a particular event destroyed it, 'He was shattered when she left him...'
    Whatever makes sense to you is obviously fine. I am merely going by the dictionary, which lists three definitions, only one of which seems to explicitly indicate that 'shattering' takes place quickly.

    shatter verb shat·​ter | \ ˈsha-tər \ shattered; shattering; shatters (Entry 1 of 2) transitive verb
    1 : to cause to drop or be dispersed
    2a : to break at once into pieces b : to damage badly : RUIN
    3 : to cause the disruption or annihilation of : DEMOLISH

    IMO 'Shatter', when we describe it as something that happens to people's mental state, describes more the severity and character of the destruction than the rapidity. So more Definition 3. That doesn't mean it can't refer to a single quick event, only that it doesn't have to.

    "I feel shattered," Tim complained, as he stumbled in the door from a long day at the factory <---If Tim's feeling 'shattered' has been the result of a LONG DAY at the factory, how can one say 'shattering' must take place in a single, quick event? It should not make sense to use this word as a description but people do.
    Last edited by luckyscars; February 7th, 2019 at 06:11 AM.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    No, but there is no great relevance is there?, I don't remember the time recording system ever being mentioned again in the book. Mentioning something for the only time in the first lines is not normal. Sure it establishes it is a different society, it also does it almost in the style of shouting and throwing its hat in the air, first line like. Yes you have a point, but so does she.
    I still don't see how anyone can consider Orwell's opening line anything but effective. It's 'odd' only in the fact that is is unexpected and a bit disorienting. It is supposed to be, regardless of whether the time system is mentioned again or not. That line has one job, to make the reader read the next line. It does that marvelously. The OP's implication is that 'odd' openings (whatever her definition of odd is) are somehow poorly written. In fact, they are often some of the best writing, that's why they are remembered. Comparing the openings in the two articles I linked to in posts #12 and #18 could be a good short-course on effective openings. Why are some considered good and the others laughable?
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    That line has one job, to make the reader read the next line.
    You are saying my point more strongly than me?! Really? How about: Some writers think that the only job of the first sentence is to get the reader to read the next line. That's exactly what it seems like. I want to say that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    In fact, they are often some of the best writing, that's why they are remembered.
    Yes! There are websites where you can read good first sentences! They stand alone as good!


    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    The OP's implication is that 'odd' openings (whatever her definition of odd is) are somehow poorly written.
    Implication? We seem to agree that I didn't say this.

    To be more dispassionate, some writers try to make their first sentence as likely as possible to keep the reader reading. I don't see how that can be criticized; it might be a good decision. In doing that, they ignore the jobs that the rest of the sentences in the book are supposed to do. Probably unintentionally. Like being true, or not spoiling a scene, or being in chronological order.

    That's what makes them odd, or unusual, or whatever you want to say.

    Ignoring my implications, we seem to be saying the same thing. You and luckyscars seem to like very interesting first lines. I usually don't. But that's just reader preference, right? Readers like different things. I feel like I'm in the minority, if that helps.
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  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    I still don't see how anyone can consider Orwell's opening line anything but effective.
    I assume clocks that "strike" cost more, and that world has so many that he can hear more than one at once (!), suggesting a somewhat affluent society. Getting them to all strike at once is amazing and speaks to efficiency. There's no way they could all strike perfectly at the same time (though it's a wonderful image and effective writing just for that, I suppose), so technically it would be a cacaphony of sound and impossible to count the number of strikes.

    Am I over thinking this? Um, that would be my point.
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  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    To be more dispassionate, some writers try to make their first sentence as likely as possible to keep the reader reading.
    Yes. They are called published writers.

    I don't see how that can be criticized; it might be a good decision.
    And yet you've criticised it by calling them 'odd'.

    In doing that, they ignore the jobs that the rest of the sentences in the book are supposed to do. Probably unintentionally. Like being true, or not spoiling a scene, or being in chronological order.

    That's what makes them odd, or unusual, or whatever you want to say.
    No. No. No. They ignore nothing. If the sentences following the first one are bad the reader will still put the book down. The idea of spoilers in the openings of books (good books, The books we are talking about in this thread) is ludicrous. Many readers, I'd be willing to say the vast majority, don't mind thinking a bit, or being challenged at the start of a new book. We aren't -- most of us anyway -- writing for entry-level readers. Things don't have to be absolutely sequential in time, or in events. That doesn't make the writing unusual, or odd. It makes it engaging and interesting. In fact, I would be willing to bet that most published books today start with an opening that is more complex than a simple series of mundane events. The days of, 'She awoke at 6:00 AM. showered and brushed her teeth before sitting down to a breakfast of avocado toast and cup of civit-coffee with soy milk.' are long gone.

    Ignoring my implications, we seem to be saying the same thing. You and luckyscars seem to like very interesting first lines. I usually don't. But that's just reader preference, right? Readers like different things. I feel like I'm in the minority, if that helps.
    I think you hit the nail on the head, but I'd caution you not to think that most readers don't want 'interesting'. We are in a time of instant gratification where most readers aren't willing to wait for your story to get rolling, they are probably too far behind on streaming back episodes of Orange is the New Black, or American Gods.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    I assume clocks that "strike" cost more, and that world has so many that he can hear more than one at once (!), suggesting a somewhat affluent society. Getting them to all strike at once is amazing and speaks to efficiency. There's no way they could all strike perfectly at the same time (though it's a wonderful image and effective writing just for that, I suppose), so technically it would be a cacaphony of sound and impossible to count the number of strikes.

    Am I over thinking this? Um, that would be my point.
    Haven't read the book? Nowhere does Orwell say the protagonist heard any of the clocks. The omniscient narrator says the clocks were striking thirteen. This is only confusing if you are seeking to find confusion.
    Last edited by Terry D; February 7th, 2019 at 09:41 PM.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    No, but there is no great relevance is there?, I don't remember the time recording system ever being mentioned again in the book. Mentioning something for the only time in the first lines is not normal. Sure it establishes it is a different society, it also does it almost in the style of shouting and throwing its hat in the air, first line like. Yes you have a point, but so does she.
    I don't get your point, Olly.

    People mention all kinds of things in novel openings that don't necessarily recur again directly - weather for example - but they are still relevant because they introduce a theme. Which the clocks striking thirteen does for the reasons I mentioned in my last post.

    More than happy to agree that specific image may not work for some, but then we are squarely in the theater of 'not my cup of tea' aren't we?

    I am not one for elaborate metaphors myself, but I still see a link between the concept of a 'clock telling a time that is technically correct yet still seems wrong' and the novel's messaging. So I disagree its irrelevant.
    Last edited by luckyscars; February 8th, 2019 at 10:24 AM.

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