[Critique Game] Post The First Three Sentences of your Short Story

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CJEvermore

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I like the sense of characterization in perceptions like “spiteful sunlight” and “optimistic heat.” I’m curious to know what has Emily in such a foul mood!

But it feels wordy, too heavy, like you can express the same ideas more economically. If the whole story reads this way, it might turn into a bit of a slog. Look at slightly awkward, bottom-heavy phrases like “as she marched through a throng of people who were clearly enjoying the weather more than her”, redundancies like “just as annoying, perhaps more annoying,” and two-adjective combos like “hot golden” and “sticky optimistic” and see if you can trim it down.

:e2coffee:

Thank you :) Yes, I do have a tendency to ramble on. It's almost as if I can't help myself. It'll be a fun challenge to edit this down and make it less awkward.
 

dpaterso

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Emily shielded her eyes away from the spiteful sunlight, cursing herself for forgetting her sunglasses. Hot golden light rained down on her as she marched through a throng of people who were clearly enjoying the weather more than her. Their smiles and laughter were just as annoying, perhaps more annoying than the sticky, optimistic heat.
Maybe "away" is redundant. "beat" instead of "rained"? I'm fine with this as an opening, I'd continue reading to find out where it's going. Hopefully there's some indication in the next lines.

-Derek
 

Bing Z

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Emily shielded her eyes away {redundant} from the spiteful sunlight, cursing herself for forgetting her sunglasses. Hot golden light rained down on her {also redundant-- see note below} as she marched through a throng of people who were clearly enjoying the weather more than her. Their smiles and laughter were just as annoying, perhaps more annoying than the sticky, optimistic heat. {this drags on}

I like the opening line. But part of the second line basically repeats what causes Emily's reaction (see below). The third sentence is again a repeat of the second. Maybe move what comes next forward will make the opening more attractive.

Note on golden light raining down on Emily: it's spiteful sunlight, enough said; trust your word power. I think it would be stronger to show what happens to her...sweats like a pig or her already red skin (from vacationing in her backyard, which is the only place she can afford), or skin that has adapted to the chilled wind of Davos where she attended the WEF, or what the damn sun/heat will cause an explosion of acne or whatever.
 

CJEvermore

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Thank you guys. This is really helpful :)

A note on the 'spiteful sunlight' bit. What I was aiming for is the feeling that she is utterly miserable, and the weather is refusing to reflect her mood. It's as if the sun is taunting her, saying "Look how bright and happy I am!" as she simmers in her gloom. Does that make sense?

This is an excellent thread :)
 

Lakey

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A note on the 'spiteful sunlight' bit. What I was aiming for is the feeling that she is utterly miserable, and the weather is refusing to reflect her mood. It's as if the sun is taunting her, saying "Look how bright and happy I am!" as she simmers in her gloom. Does that make sense?
Indeed—what I and a couple other critters are trying to say is it makes so much sense, and is so pleasantly startling, that you don’t need to go on and on explaining it with the next couple of sentences. The fact that you’re even here explaining it to us, when nobody has said anything about it except that it’s wonderful, is interesting! As Bing says, “trust your word power”—and then get out of your own way. :)

My opinion: You might not need to cut the rest of the paragraph wholesale but as I said before it can definitely be tightened, and I like Bing’s suggestion of using that real estate to build on the wonderful image of “spiteful sunlight” and add to it, rather than restating the same idea in a couple of different ways.

:e2coffee:
 

CJEvermore

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Indeed—what I and a couple other critters are trying to say is it makes so much sense, and is so pleasantly startling, that you don’t need to go on and on explaining it with the next couple of sentences. The fact that you’re even here explaining it to us, when nobody has said anything about it except that it’s wonderful, is interesting! As Bing says, “trust your word power”—and then get out of your own way. :)

My opinion: You might not need to cut the rest of the paragraph wholesale but as I said before it can definitely be tightened, and I like Bing’s suggestion of using that real estate to build on the wonderful image of “spiteful sunlight” and add to it, rather than restating the same idea in a couple of different ways.

:e2coffee:

Lovely :) Thank you Lakey. That makes a lot of sense. I'm halfway through draft one. Once completed I can go back to the start and follow the advice of you guys, and keep that momentum going throughout.

You've all be incredibly helpful. Thank you :)
 

Telvetta

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I'm new but this looks like fun. Here are my first 3 lines.


“It's a rock.” Macy brushed the unruly brown hair from her face and stared at the lump of stone on her workbench then at the princess across from her. “It is not even particularly handsome rock.”
 

The Second Moon

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I'm new but this looks like fun. Here are my first 3 lines.


“It's a rock.” Macy brushed the unruly brown hair from her face and stared at the lump of stone on her workbench then at the princess across from her. “It is not even particularly handsome rock.”

A fun and humorous start, but the sentence I bolded feels very long. Maybe try separating it into two sentences?
 

dpaterso

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I'm new but this looks like fun. Here are my first 3 lines.

“It's a rock.” Macy brushed the unruly brown hair from her face and stared at the lump of stone on her workbench then at the princess across from her. “It is not even particularly handsome rock.”
Hallo hallo, welcome.

I'm okay with this, I'd keep reading to see what the princess says and why the heck she's brought a rock, so your opening lines have tickled curiosity. Although the persnickety part of me says this doesn't have to open so abruptly -- it could have as easily have opened with a little bell above the door tinkling, and Macy putting down her sammich and stepping through to the shop front, and finding her customer is none other than the princess. What's the hurry?

-Derek
 

mrsmig

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I'm new but this looks like fun. Here are my first 3 lines.


“It's a rock.” Macy brushed the unruly brown hair from her face and stared at the lump of stone on her workbench then at the princess across from her. “It is not even particularly handsome rock.”

I agree with The Second Moon that the second sentence is overly long (and needs a comma after "workbench"), but I'm intrigued enough to read on.
 

Telvetta

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TY all. And I agree with the sentence being a bit long. An easy fix. It's a short story touching 6k plus words and that is why I started the story as I did. Could it be better? Always.

Again ty I appreciate the input.
 

Fancy

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I'm new, but here goes:

Jenny stands naked as a jaybird, knees wobbly, right in her own front yard. It’s burns behind her eyes but she closes them until she sees stars and the hot goes away. She lifts her chin, knowing she’d best just get this over with.
 

Lakey

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Hello Fancy -- welcome to AW. Looking forward to having you around.

Your first sentences are intriguing -- I want to know why Jenny is naked, what's burning her eyes, and what it is she wants to get over with! But I do have some issues with the writing.

Jenny stands naked as a jaybird,

George Orwell's famous advice for writers includes: Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. "Naked as a jaybird" is a hackneyed old figure of speech -- your first sentence needs to be more arresting than a tired old expression that doesn't even really mean anything (how is "Jenny stands naked as a jaybird" different from "Jenny stands naked"?).

knees wobbly, right in her own front yard. It’s burns behind her eyes but she closes them until she sees stars and the hot goes away.
Is "It's burns behind her eyes" what you mean to say? It isn't grammatical and I can't figure out what it means. If it means "It burns behind her eyes" then I really think you need to tell your readers something about what "it" is -- otherwise it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. "until ... the hot goes away" is also not strictly grammatical but with that one I can at least get the jist of what you mean, and can even imagine that "the hot" might be a deliberate variation on "the heat". Following "It's burns behind her eyes," though, I can't tell what's language play and what's just error.

She lifts her chin, knowing she’d best just get this over with.
Still, notwithstanding some mechanical issues, you've created an intriguing situation and you're starting right in the middle of it, which is great.

:e2coffee:
 

Fancy

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Hello Fancy -- welcome to AW. Looking forward to having you around.

Your first sentences are intriguing -- I want to know why Jenny is naked, what's burning her eyes, and what it is she wants to get over with! But I do have some issues with the writing.



George Orwell's famous advice for writers includes: Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. "Naked as a jaybird" is a hackneyed old figure of speech -- your first sentence needs to be more arresting than a tired old expression that doesn't even really mean anything (how is "Jenny stands naked as a jaybird" different from "Jenny stands naked"?).


Is "It's burns behind her eyes" what you mean to say? It isn't grammatical and I can't figure out what it means. If it means "It burns behind her eyes" then I really think you need to tell your readers something about what "it" is -- otherwise it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. "until ... the hot goes away" is also not strictly grammatical but with that one I can at least get the jist of what you mean, and can even imagine that "the hot" might be a deliberate variation on "the heat". Following "It's burns behind her eyes," though, I can't tell what's language play and what's just error.


Still, notwithstanding some mechanical issues, you've created an intriguing situation and you're starting right in the middle of it, which is great.

:e2coffee:

Thank you for taking the time to critique. I appreciate it. Jenny is 11, so I am attempting to explain things as an 11 year old might. Very good feedback. Thanks again.
 

Ichabod

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Here is my WIP which may turnout to be more than a short story.

My father, Steve, was a lieutenant colonel with the 10th Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, CO. He had told me about the 10[SUP]th[/SUP], which had coordinated the ground relief effort to save the Kurdish people from Saddam Hussein’s ethnic cleansing.
They had deployed three battalions of 10th Group to the area for Operation Provide Comfort, a UN humanitarian effort.
 
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Bing Z

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Here is my WIP which may turnout to be more than a short story.

My father, Steve, was a lieutenant colonel with the 10th Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, CO. He had told me about the 10[SUP]th[/SUP], which had coordinated the ground relief effort to save the Kurdish people from Saddam Hussein’s ethnic cleansing.
They had deployed three battalions of 10th Group to the area for Operation Provide Comfort, a UN humanitarian effort.
The issue with this opening, for me, is that it tells nothing about the MC, who is supposed to be the star of the story. Instead, the opening is about the 10th. And the MC is not even with the 10th--his/her dad was--so it is very distant.
 

Ichabod

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The issue with this opening, for me, is that it tells nothing about the MC, who is supposed to be the star of the story. Instead, the opening is about the 10th. And the MC is not even with the 10th--his/her dad was--so it is very distant.

I did struggle with her describing herself in first person.
So I put it in the preface:
Mandy Fortier, a blog reporter, had posted stories from her room she has had since childhood, with posters of One Direction still on the wall. Most days, she wore Levis and an Army T-shirt and felt more at ease hanging out with the guys than dressing up with the girls. She had always been a self-proclaimed Army brat, daddy’s girl, and somewhat of a tomboy.

I don’t know, maybe it should be my opening paragraph.

This is my third novel in first person, and the opening always stumps me. Here is the opening line from my published work:
The year was 1801, and Mother Superior of the Ursuline convent of Rouen sent me to Haiti. Little did I know when I stepped off the ship that in a few months I would be fleeing for my life.

I did finally get to her description in paragraph two:
My mother, a beautiful woman, named me Elizabeth, but everyone called me Beth. My dark skin and black hair were an inheritance from her Roman background.
 

Bing Z

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I did struggle with her describing herself in first person.
So I put it in the preface:
Mandy Fortier, a blog reporter, had posted stories from her room she has had since childhood, with posters of One Direction still on the wall. Most days, she wore Levis and an Army T-shirt and felt more at ease hanging out with the guys than dressing up with the girls. She had always been a self-proclaimed Army brat, daddy’s girl, and somewhat of a tomboy.

I don’t know, maybe it should be my opening paragraph.

You are in the wrong thread ^_^. This is about opening lines for SHORT STORIES. The opening line thread for NOVELS is here: The new -Post the First Three Sentences of your Novel For Feedback- thread. I think that thread has more traffic.

Anyway, I would read on a bit with this new opening but it depends if the story starts soon enough. So far, what you have is background information of Mandy. The story has not started yet.

Further, these info is generalization (most days she wore Levis & hanging out with dudes...) while readers may be more concerned with the present specifics (eg what she is wearing to meet with the group of anti-war superheros or a cute boy); you have Mandy growing up being a blogger (past), whereas readers may be more interested in what she will be doing (to overthrow a government or to seduce the cute boy). Background info is best served sprinkled in bite size.

Hope this helps.
 

Ichabod

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I misspoke when I said it is my third novel. It is at this point a short story. I have considered making it a three act novel, which would require a rewrite of the first act and a compelling quest for the next two. This short story ended when Mandy lost her leg in Iraq fighting with the Peshmerga. Now I’m thinking I should probably leave it alone as I have enough on my plate. I appreciate your insight, and I will apply it to my new work.
 

dpaterso

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They caught him. No one outside law enforcement knows how, but they caught him. Hell, most of us don't even know who he is.
That's annoyingly skimpy on details, lol, but curiosity is tickled and I'd read on, expecting to learn a bit more in the next few lines. Especially what he did. And who he is. :)

-Derek
 

yesandno

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That's annoyingly skimpy on details, lol, but curiosity is tickled and I'd read on, expecting to learn a bit more in the next few lines. Especially what he did. And who he is. :)

-Derek

I agree!
 

mafiaking1936

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Twenty days without a post, so here's one I'm working on:

Victory finally came seven years after the war ended. The news arrived not with some grand battle or head-chopping treason trial, but a breathless courier barging into Royal Spymistress Vinian's office. The king was dead, and no doubt the queen would be delighted.
 

dpaterso

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Victory finally came seven years after the war ended. The news arrived not with some grand battle or head-chopping treason trial, but a breathless courier barging into Royal Spymistress Vinian's office. The king was dead, and no doubt the queen would be delighted.
Works for me, I'd read on to see what's afoot.

-Derek
 

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Daddy stood in the surf with his eyes on the horizon, watching the sun set, as the man struggled in his grip. He was thrashing in the waves, clawing at Daddy’s thick arms and round belly. When the struggling started to fade, he looked down.
 
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