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"The artist’s journey is not so much about self-expression as it is about self-discovery."
-- Steven Pressfield, from his blog
Howard kept his eyes on the road, but the bars on the windows were still imprinted in his mind. As was his father’s disfigured face, a permanent reminder of the disaster. And his father’s admonishments against that wretched lake hadn’t ceased to haunt Howard’s ears.
One of the dangers of having an opening with a MC traveling someplace is that the MC is often passively thinking thoughts - usually memories. Those memories are largely backstory. That's the problem here. It's bits of backstory that aren't going to mean much to a reader. For example, without a setting, a reader isn't going to know if the "bars" are from a prison, an mental institution or an NYC jewelry store. Same with "disaster" and "that wretched lake." (Not crazy about those haunted ears, either - they're making me envision ghosts floating in and out of them.) They're all little hints about stuff that's happened, but no real story.
I'm afraid I wouldn't read on.
I swear folks, I didn't pay her to say that.It's well written, as usual.
I used to have a sign taped to my desk. Said, "More Hemingway, less Proust." I think maybe I need to find that sucker and hang it again.The prose style feels quite serious and weighty, with long and information-dense sentences. That does suggest this is going to be a slow start though, and my interest might start to wane if the writing continues in this style all the way through.
Just finished reading your latest in SYW. I'm glad to see there's going to be a sequel, and I'm dying to know where those chariots are headed. Too early for Kadesh, too late for Seti's campaigns against the Shasu. So I'm stumped AND intrigued.But then you knew that already, because this is right in my wheel house, being set in Egypt only 5 years after my own story takes place
Does the pope wear little red shoes? If left to my own devices, I'll turn out a 500,000k doorstop full of pedantic 90 word sentences and entire chapters composed of nothing but characters tending to their livestock. I'll have to call it Dances With Mules.need a beta?
Thanks everyone for your great feedback. Looking over everybody's comments, I noticed a common thread:
Asha Hebsed came to the palace for pleasure that night, not duty, yet the first hour of the night's final watch found him crouched beside a lotus pool in a secluded corner of the royal gardens, scrubbing blood from his hands.
He cursed the twists of ill fortune that had forced him to bare blade in the very halls of the Great House. Times of strife and discord indeed, when stealing a tumble with a lesser man’s wife could mean a turn of unexpected sword work.
Last edited by Jack Judah; 03-21-2017 at 12:45 AM.
Okay, I just took a whole lot of time and went back several pages to figure out where this discussion came from.
Short form: 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 its egregious in its content or abusive, click the report post triangle.
In other words, nothing has changed in the way this thread is operating.
The thrust of this thread is whether the first three sentences hook you. Please stay focused on that.
ETA: Added an 5th ETA to the rules post.
I've rewritten my opening per earlier comments. Thanks again to everyone for the feedback. Read on or not read on? Historical fiction in the vein of Tracy Chevalier...
George thanked God as he lunged for the book still sitting on the kitchen table at dawn. The night before, his Methodist father had threatened to use the “gift of sin” as kindling. But the man never threw Leaves of Grass into the fire.
A still, dark November night lies over the grey, concrete University campus. Hanna is sleeping softly, breathing slowly and deeply, her forehead wedged against the keyboard of her laptop. Its blue-white light pulses over her long brown hair.
I can't help feeling this exercise is a bit unfair on me. The fourth sentence explains a lot!
I like this pretty well, except for "the night lies." "Lays" would be correct, and even then, it's a fairly dull verb. Something more evocative would help, e.g. blankets, smothers, swaddles, etc.
I do wonder if we're about to head into waking-up territory, which comes with its own set of issues.
I like what you wrote. You create an interesting mood, and are telling us something about what may be you MC. I did stumble a bit at "her forehead wedged against the keyboard of her laptop". It just feels a bit awkward to me, but I'm not sure how I'd change it. It's hard to wedge your head against a laptop. Maybe her cheek could be pressed against the table beside her laptop keyboard?
I'm an outlaw.