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Thread: [Critique Game] Post the First Three Sentences of your Novel (READ FIRST POST FOR RULES)

  1. #1
    Coffee Coffee Work Coffee AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    [Critique Game] Post the First Three Sentences of your Novel (READ FIRST POST FOR RULES)

    This is a thread inspired by the old Post the first 3 sentences of your WIP! thread.

    That thread, over time, veered away from the original purpose, which was this:

    This thread is inspired by the "first five pages" thread. Quite a few people expressed the opinion that it's not what happens, it's how it's said that hooks the reader. Personally, I read the back of the book to get an idea of whether I'll like the plot; then I open the first page and read the first few sentences to see if I like the style. If I get to the end of the page and I've read without skipping, I'll buy it.

    SO-- post your first three sentences! Are they gripping? Do they read well? I feel like the opening sentence of any novel is as important as the closing sentence.
    Posters: Three sentences only. (No, really. Post three sentences only. Trust me on this.)

    Also, please don't put them in a quote box. The way quoting posts on AW works, when the readers go to quote your post, anything in a quote box is not quoted, so then they have to copy and paste them from your post, etc. It's kind of annoying. So format things like this:

    --------
    Hey all, I'm going to try my hand at this! Here's my sentences:

    Gripping first sentence that captures your attention. Stunning second sentence that acts as a bridge. Amazing third sentence that causes your heart to pound and fingers itch to turn that page, but alas, there is no more.
    ----------

    See, that was easy, right?

    Readers: Are the sentences gripping? Do they read well? Would you keep reading? What questions do these sentences inspire about the character or story?

    The idea of this thread is not for folks to provide an in-depth critique of the beginning of your novel, but to gauge whether the beginning is hooky enough to keep a reader interested.

    If you would like an in-depth critique and discussion of the beginning of your novel, I would highly suggest checking out the Share Your Work section of AW (password vista).

    Finally, remember the golden rule of AW is Respect Your Fellow Writer. Be excellent to each other.

    ETA: Sentences from WIPs are fine, though I would strongly caution against posting the first three sentences of your brand new NaNo WIP on November 2nd. You know? I *would* like them to be from novels, though, since this is the Novels forum.

    When I talk about detailed crits, I'm more talking about line-by-line crits and picking apart every word, since those are better done when there are more words than provided by three sentences.

    ETA2:

    For those that are posting for the first time to this thread, you know that adage about being careful of what you ask for?

    That applies 100-fold to whenever you ask for a critique.

    Be very very very very sure you are willing to hear what people honestly think about your writing before posting in this thread.

    People on this thread will be honest. Sometimes that honesty will seem harsh and like a personal attack, since all writers are very close to their words.

    Remember, you are not the words. Someone not liking your words or having issues with them does not mean they are attacking you.

    You can always disregard a poster's comments. They may be wrong. But they took the time to answer, so either thank them or ignore them and move on.

    ETA3: The spirit of this thread is to improve our writing, not showcase it, therefore please only post your own unpublished work.

    There's another thread, called Favorite lines you've written, that is for showcasing (and not critiquing) lines from your work. Feel free to post your favorite lines from your published works there.

    ETA4: Please don't delete your previous posts if you decide to update your sentences. Also, give people the chance to critique before revising. This isn't a race.

    ETA5: There's nothing wrong with some line by line crits or explanations on why a hook doesn't catch you. There's also nothing wrong with someone asking folks to limit it to just whether the hook catches them, or to be gentle in any extra crit.

    There really ought to not be paragraphs upon paragraphs of critique for three sentences. If someone can't be succinct in their commentary, that's not the fault of someone's first three sentences--that's on the critiquer's head.

    If you don't like someone's commentary, scroll past. If you feel that it's egregious in its content or abusive, click the report post triangle.
    Last edited by amergina; 03-21-2017 at 01:29 AM. Reason: Adding some more things to clarify posting.

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    Feeling like an old timer rainsmom's Avatar
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    Okay, so here are my first 3 sentences.

    All for the want of a horseshoe nail. That pithy warning, one of his dad’s favorites, taunted nine-year-old Lucas Gibson as he watched a sleek, black bullet streak toward its target. In this case, the nail was a forgotten leash, the bullet was a dog, and the target was a fallen duck: Mister Halsey’s duck.
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  3. #3
    Back in the black, & staying there! Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainsmom View Post
    All for the want of a horseshoe nail. That pithy warning, one of his dadís favorites, taunted nine-year-old Lucas Gibson as he watched a sleek, black bullet streak toward its target. In this case, the nail was a forgotten leash, the bullet was a dog, and the target was a fallen duck: Mister Halseyís duck.
    I'd keep reading, just because I'm curious about where the duck fell from. Poor duck.


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    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainsmom View Post
    Okay, so here are my first 3 sentences.

    All for the want of a horseshoe nail. That pithy warning, one of his dadís favorites, taunted nine-year-old Lucas Gibson as he watched a sleek, black bullet streak toward its target. In this case, the nail was a forgotten leash, the bullet was a dog, and the target was a fallen duck: Mister Halseyís duck.
    I like! What's going to happen to the poor duck? Or will the dog get the worst of it?

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    Twitching ap123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainsmom View Post
    Okay, so here are my first 3 sentences.

    All for the want of a horseshoe nail. That pithy warning, one of his dadís favorites, taunted nine-year-old Lucas Gibson as he watched a sleek, black bullet streak toward its target. In this case, the nail was a forgotten leash, the bullet was a dog, and the target was a fallen duck: Mister Halseyís duck.
    Nicely done, it hooks and I'd like to know more.

    *I'm glad to have this thread back
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    Het loopt in de soep AW Moderator zanzjan's Avatar
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    Interesting, and flows nicely too. I would also keep reading.

    Thanks for sharing.
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    practical experience, FTW Accebera's Avatar
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    Though I'm personally not fond of the first line (probably because it's an expression I haven't heard before), I like it. Instant sympathy for the boy (and the duck). I'd keep reading.
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    Panda girls are the best! PandaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainsmom View Post
    Okay, so here are my first 3 sentences.

    All for the want of a horseshoe nail. That pithy warning, one of his dadís favorites, taunted nine-year-old Lucas Gibson as he watched a sleek, black bullet streak toward its target. In this case, the nail was a forgotten leash, the bullet was a dog, and the target was a fallen duck: Mister Halseyís duck.
    I think the first entry of this rejuvenated thread is a winner. It's also exactly the kind of book I'm in the mood to read right now. It reminds me of the Dennis the Menace comic strip I read in the newspaper every morning when I was a kid.

    Thanks for sharing rainsmom.

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    Feeling like an old timer rainsmom's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone!
    Melissa C. Alexander

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  10. #10
    figuring it all out Serani's Avatar
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    "No, no, no, no, no!" This foot stomp accompanying this shout caused Patrick and Rhys to exchange looks. "How long have you been working on this scene? ..."

    (this is not the end of the dialog)

    WIP is my current project, No Sacrifice.

    Also, my first sentence is usually one of the last things I work on. Since I'm getting close to the end, I figured it'd be time to post.
    Last edited by Serani; 10-26-2013 at 08:01 AM.
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    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    Rainsmom: Great writing. It's not subject matter that would normally grab me, but I'm hooked.

    Serani: Also fine writing, but unfortunately, I'm not hooked. I think it's because a temper tantrum isn't necessarily a promise that the situation is unstable and about to escalate. A person can blow a gasket, and it's usually something that will sort itself out relatively quickly and without repercussions.

    Edit: I had other comments, Serani, but then I remembered Amergina's warning and trembled in my boots. If you want to hear them, send me a PM. They're constructive comments, I promise!
    Last edited by jjdebenedictis; 10-26-2013 at 08:47 AM.
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    Someday. Kayley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serani View Post
    "No, no, no, no, no!" This foot stomp accompanying this shout caused Patrick and Rhys to exchange looks. "How long have you been working on this scene? ..."

    (this is not the end of the dialog)

    WIP is my current project, No Sacrifice.

    Also, my first sentence is usually one of the last things I work on. Since I'm getting close to the end, I figured it'd be time to post.
    This did not hook me - it sounded like something that would be written in the middle of the novel, not at the beginning, and I found myself confused about who was speaking and who Patrick and Rhys are. Also, it was strange that it says "this foot stomp" when we don't yet know what particular foot stomp is being referred to, which is another reason I initially thought this was from the middle of a novel rather than the beginning.

    I remember reading a post from an agent at WriteOnCon saying that it's generally not advisable to start stories with dialogue tags and I agree, because they generally confuse the reader more than hook them (unless the dialogue's amazing.) Here, at least, it is not working for me. I would prefer to be grounded in the scene first, even if it's just through one or two sentences.

    EDIT: Does this violate the new thread guidelines...? I mean what I say respectfully and I offer my insights based on why I would not read further in the book. However, I could also understand if this qualifies as an in-depth critique. I'm a bit unsure about what exactly an "in-depth critique" entails in the context of this thread.
    Last edited by Kayley; 10-26-2013 at 09:46 AM.

  13. #13
    figuring it all out Serani's Avatar
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    Thanks. I knew about the time I hit submit that it was going to undergo a lot of work and it will. My first paragraph is usually the last thing I write. I hate that part of it. I swear it's harder than the other 120k words in the book. XD

    Thank you!
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    practical experience, FTW chompers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serani View Post
    Thanks. I knew about the time I hit submit that it was going to undergo a lot of work and it will. My first paragraph is usually the last thing I write. I hate that part of it. I swear it's harder than the other 120k words in the book. XD

    Thank you!
    Totally agree. I usually write the first chapter last. It's hard! First impressions...
    gotta captivate them enough to continue with the rest.

    Having said that, here's mine. This is one where I didn't leave the beginning till the end, mainly because it was due. :P

    ~~~~
    If Lexie Grant had known what was going to happen in the next forty-eight hours, she would never have left her home. Instead, she would have locked the front door, pulled the drapes closed, maybe pushed her sofa against the front door, then barricaded herself inside until Monday morning.

    But of course that wasn’t what happened.
    Last edited by chompers; 10-26-2013 at 01:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serani View Post
    "No, no, no, no, no!" This foot stomp accompanying this shout caused Patrick and Rhys to exchange looks. "How long have you been working on this scene? ..."

    (this is not the end of the dialog)

    WIP is my current project, No Sacrifice.

    Also, my first sentence is usually one of the last things I work on. Since I'm getting close to the end, I figured it'd be time to post.
    I'd keep reading despite the 'seeming' subject matter/genre not being something I'm in to, I like 'the writing style'

    Well done.
    Last edited by Turhan; 10-27-2013 at 02:21 AM.

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    Derailed WriteMinded's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ap123 View Post
    *I'm glad to have this thread back
    Me too.

    Quote Originally Posted by jjdebenedictis View Post
    Rainsmom:
    Edit: . . . but then I remembered Amergina's warning and trembled in my boots.
    Me too. I keep reading the instructions over and over.

    Quote Originally Posted by Serani View Post
    "No, no, no, no, no!" This foot stomp accompanying this shout caused Patrick and Rhys to exchange looks. "How long have you been working on this scene? ..."

    (this is not the end of the dialog)

    WIP is my current project, No Sacrifice.


    Also, my first sentence is usually one of the last things I work on. Since I'm getting close to the end, I figured it'd be time to post.
    I am not gripped.

    The foot stomping reference threw me a bit. It seems like something is missing. - - - Huh, how's that for vague?

    Questions that arise: Who is talking?

    Well, that was totally unhelpful.

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    Derailed WriteMinded's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chompers View Post
    Totally agree. I usually write the first chapter last. It's hard! First impressions...
    gotta captivate them enough to continue with the rest.

    Having said that, here's mine. This is one where I didn't leave the beginning till the end, mainly because it was due. :P

    ~~~~
    If Lexie Grant had known what was going to happen in the next forty-eight hours, she would never have left her home. Instead, she would have locked the front door, pulled the drapes closed, maybe pushed her sofa against the front door, then barricaded herself inside until Monday morning.

    But of course that wasnít what happened.
    I would read the next paragraph to see if the story starts there.

    Questions: Omniscient POV? Does all of the story take place in a 48-hour period?

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    Twitching ap123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serani View Post
    "No, no, no, no, no!" This foot stomp accompanying this shout caused Patrick and Rhys to exchange looks. "How long have you been working on this scene? ..."
    This doesn't pull me in, sorry. I am not opposed to beginning with dialogue, but if you do, it has to be very clear and very intriguing.

    I'm not sure who's saying "No..." and foot stomping isn't making me say yes, I want to know more.

    That said, I think re-writing could allow the same opening scene to be more effective. Good luck!
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    Coffee Coffee Work Coffee AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    A few notes:

    Sentences from WIPs are fine, though I would strongly caution against posting the first three sentences of your brand new NaNo WIP on November 2nd. You know? I *would* like them to be from novels, though, since this is the Novels forum.

    Kayley, your crit is fine. I'm more talking about line-by-line crits and picking apart every word, since those are better done when there are more words than provided by three sentences.
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    υπείκωphobe Wilde_at_heart's Avatar
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    Hurrah - the thread is back!

    Rainsmom - good job. Don't know if it's an actual saying, but that doesn't matter here, because it fits. Love the dog-bullet.

    Serani, I think the problem might be the word choice that follows - it creates distance when a (toddler freaking out?) might bring me in. It's sort 'come-here, go-away' for me.

    chompers I'm not sure - it would hang entirely on the next few paragraphs though. It feels like a false hook that might be a I promise I will get to the interesting bit if you just wait through the next six pages of set up and back story! However I'd read the next bit just to be sure one way or another.

    As for my own in the closed-out thread, I tend to think of 'tell oneself' as not saying something aloud, but I guess I'll change that. And 'woke' should be 'roused' maybe? The whole point was she realizes quickly she's undergoing sleep paralysis but still freaks out at first. Still, for now I've got a different opening but DID want to thank all who participated.

  21. #21
    Feeling like an old timer rainsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chompers View Post
    If Lexie Grant had known what was going to happen in the next forty-eight hours, she would never have left her home. Instead, she would have locked the front door, pulled the drapes closed, maybe pushed her sofa against the front door, then barricaded herself inside until Monday morning.

    But of course that wasnít what happened.
    I'm torn on this, Chompers. My gut says this could be dropped, and you could start with what happened and let us find out what happened the same way Lexie does. I also wonder if the whole novel will be omniscient POV, or if this is just a little omniscient narration to orient us before we drop into the story.
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    Moar Whine Little Anonymous Me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chompers View Post
    If Lexie Grant had known what was going to happen in the next forty-eight hours, she would never have left her home. Instead, she would have locked the front door, pulled the drapes closed, maybe pushed her sofa against the front door, then barricaded herself inside until Monday morning.

    But of course that wasnít what happened.

    I like this. It reads a little humorously (I hope it's supposed to, because that's what I like ), and I want to know why her Monday was so terrible. The only thing I might recommend is shortening the list of actions in the second sentence, because it reads a touch long for my taste.

    Nice work!
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    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    I'm glad to have the thread back, too. Thanks, amergina.

    This is something I've been playing with as a potential start to the fourth book in my fantasy series:

    He wandered through the mist with his soft flabby feet barely touching the ground, peering into each soul as if it was a window, smelling and tasting and touching. He sucked out whatever piqued his senses: innocence tangy with new-found guilt, brooding sulphur-scented anger, sleek lust and greasy gluttony and bitter, sticky avarice. He absorbed them all and drifted on, bloated as a tick but still hungry.
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  24. #24
    υπείκωphobe Wilde_at_heart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsmig View Post
    I'm glad to have the thread back, too. Thanks, amergina.

    This is something I've been playing with as a potential start to the fourth book in my fantasy series:

    He wandered through the mist with his soft flabby feet barely touching the ground, peering into each soul as if it was a window, smelling and tasting and touching. He sucked out whatever piqued his senses: innocence tangy with new-found guilt, brooding sulphur-scented anger, sleek lust and greasy gluttony and bitter, sticky avarice. He absorbed them all and drifted on, bloated as a tick but still hungry.
    I'm not sure about 'window' being followed with non-visual senses, but I do like the general idea of this 'soul sucker' so far, along with the way it's presented for the most part. A few too many adjectives for me though.
    Last edited by Wilde_at_heart; 10-26-2013 at 09:55 PM.

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    Knight Templar richcapo's Avatar
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    He had never before dreamed in such blackness. Perhaps as a child, but never since puberty had the General spent a night without fattened rumps, swollen breasts, or bulging rifles surreally glowing in his head. Sleep had since his first cum and gun shots brought him such colorful diversion—each night, every night; it’d always been wonderful—but now everything was shadow.
    Last edited by richcapo; 10-26-2013 at 10:05 PM.
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