[PLEASE READ FIRST POST] Post the First Three Sentences of your Novel

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amergina

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By popular demand, we're bringing this game back to Novels. PLEASE follow the rules. This thread has gotten out of hand before. I know folks like this one, so PLEASE please be nice to each other.

People Posting Sentences: 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.

Some Follow up Rules:

1)
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. I would like them to be from novels, though, since this is the Novels forum.

2) 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 is more to work with than provided by three sentences.

3) 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.

4) 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 or unpublished works there.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) This is kinda the last shot at trying this. Please, again, be nice to each other.
 

frimble3

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I may as well go first, as I have the least to lose. Sharpen your claws, or practice your manners, on this:

Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of fire. Not the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting "Come out witch and work your magic!"

I promise not to get upset or argumentative.
 
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Tocotin

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Hello! I'll try.

I may as well go first, as I have the least to lose. Sharpen your claws, or practice your manners, on this:

Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of fire. Ooh, the dreaded waking up opening! ;) But seriously, I have nothing against it here, because there's something out of the ordinary happening right away. Also – and this is a big thing with me – I like the rhythm of this sentence. And the name. Not the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction. It's interesting that a fire can be "practical" to her. Intriguing.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting "Come out witch and work your magic!" And here's someone who is apparently evil, and in control of the fire. That's good – it's a person she's against, not just the element of fire.

I promise not to get upset or argumentative.

So what I understood from this is that Linna is a witch, or someone similar, who is in training or freshly graduated, and she can fight fire? And someone is trying to hurt her – why, I don't know, but it does make me root for her. I am deadly afraid of fire, so there's that; I'd rather not read about fire... But if she is a witch who can douse fires, she's got my 100% support, for personal and historical reasons.

Now one more thing – with the "come out witch and work your magic" line, I have a feeling that commas might be put after and before "witch", but I'm not sure. All in all, I liked this.

:troll
 

janeofalltrades

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Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of fire. Not the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting "Come out witch and work your magic!"

This is a great hook, and I would definitely want to read more if I saw this in an ad or a blurb. I agree with Tocotin, I think 'witch' needs a comma after it at least. I can't tell if the person saying witch is a friend or foe, however. It could be the person who set the fire. But it could also be someone who doesn't really like Linna under normal circumstances, but knows they need her help regardless. It's suspenseful and makes you wonder who it is, and who Linna is.

Makes my first three sentences look boring AF. :Ssh:
 

Bing Z

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I may as well go first, as I have the least to lose. Sharpen your claws, or practice your manners, on this:

Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of fire. Not the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting "Come out witch and work your magic!"

I promise not to get upset or argumentative.
The third sentence makes me want to read on.

The first two sentences, I believe you can improve them by tailoring the senses. As is, they read bland. Is it just the smell of smoke, or chocking/suffocating smoke? What is 'the feel of fire?' As if her skin is charred? What is a 'maddened blaze'--one that sets her clothes on fire and she feels like she is being grilled, literally? What is in her mind...that this is a nightmare she has been having, or no biggie let me return to sleep, until the shouting?<--you do not need to give us the whole feeling, perhaps a one or two-word hint can send our minds go wild ^_^
 

janeofalltrades

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So here are the boring first three sentences of my romance WIP.

On a quiet street in Riverton Park, a suburb of Riverton, Pennsylvania, sat a buff brick two-story house. Remnants of the last snow storm lingered around the edge of the yard. A maple tree stood proudly in the middle of what would be a flower bed when warm weather came.
 

TulipMama

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So here are the boring first three sentences of my romance WIP.

On a quiet street in Riverton Park, a suburb of Riverton, Pennsylvania, sat a buff brick two-story house. Remnants of the last snow storm lingered around the edge of the yard. A maple tree stood proudly in the middle of what would be a flower bed when warm weather came.

I'm going to refrain from the 'word by word' nit-pickery, though a part of me is itching to pick -.-

Anyway, it paints a lovely, quiet scene. I know where I'm standing as it opens up, and I have a sense of calm. Going into a romance, it's nice to have a clean palette, which this gives me.

I think you could do away with the 'a suburb in Riverton' bit, it feels informative, not descriptive. Instead you could tie it into the description of the houses, the lack of traffic sounds, the kids playing in the uncleared street. You could also bring in more senses, how hard does the cold bite? Is it the fresh sting of a Winter hitting it's stride, or the gentle nibble of a season in transition to warmer weather? Can you smell the snow melt? I love that smell myself, and it's the first thing I remembered when you said 'remnants of the last snow storm'.

All in all, it's nice. I'm not much of a romance reader, but if I were in the mood I'd definitely continue.
 
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Tocotin

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So here are the boring first three sentences of my romance WIP.

On a quiet street in Riverton Park, a suburb of Riverton, Pennsylvania, sat a buff brick two-story house. Remnants of the last snow storm lingered around the edge of the yard. A maple tree stood proudly in the middle of what would be a flower bed when warm weather came.

Oh, not boring at all! This has a very delicate quality of an unhurried, well thought out tale. I like the length of the sentences, and I appreciate how the house and the maple tree are made alive by the choice of words. It has a bit of a 19th-century feel, and I mean it in a good way. I would definitely read on.

(My mind keeps seeing "snow storm" as one word, but I might be wrong.)

:troll
 

Lakey

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Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of fire. Not the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting "Come out witch and work your magic!"

I like this, content-wise -- it's intriguing that this person can control fire (whether magically or otherwise) and is perceived by others to do so by magic. There's something intriguing too in the way she's being addressed -- addressing her as "witch" doesn't suggest a lot of respect, but given the situation, her witchiness is clearly needed, and that sets up a conflict right there. (Or I'm reading too much into it.)

Mechanically, it could use a little smoothing -- I'm not sure how I feel about the two sentence fragments. And the third sentence is not punctuated correctly in several respects -- rather than fixing it, though, I'd rework it, because "the pounding on her door and the shouting" feels awkward and not sufficiently punchy for what's going on.

-------

On a quiet street in Riverton Park, a suburb of Riverton, Pennsylvania, sat a buff brick two-story house. Remnants of the last snow storm lingered around the edge of the yard. A maple tree stood proudly in the middle of what would be a flower bed when warm weather came.

You labeled your own sentences as boring; is there a reason you are starting this way? I should say that it's not necessarily boring -- I have no problems with novels that start with a bit of scene-setting. This scene-setting has a fairy-tale quality to it, a "once upon a time" sort of feeling. If that's the tone you're going for, then all right! If it's not, though, I think scene-setting is most effective when done through the eyes of a character, or in a way that sets an emotional tone. You've got no character here, but you have set a tone, a rather tidy, small-townish tone, with a modest house and a "proud" maple tree. Again, if that's what you want, then great! But just make sure you are setting your stage with intent.

I can't read any description of a house without thinking of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, which shows in so many ways how the physical description of a home can be deepened to contain an entire emotional experience. This is almost certainly not the mood you're going for, but it's instructive as to how moody a description of a house can be:

Shirley Jackson said:
No human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice. Almost any house, caught unexpectedly or at an odd angle, can turn a deeply humorous look on a watching person; even a mischievous little chimney, or a dormer like a dimple, can catch up a beholder with a sense of fellowship; but a house arrogant and hating, never off guard, can only be evil. This house, which seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles, reared its great head back against the sky without concession to humanity. It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. Exorcism cannot alter the countenance of a house; Hill House would stay as it was until it was destroyed.

Damn!

:e2coffee:
 
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janeofalltrades

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You labeled your own sentences as boring; is there a reason you are starting this way? I should say that it's not necessarily boring -- I have no problems with novels that start with a bit of scene-setting. This scene-setting has a fairy-tale quality to it, a "once upon a time" sort of feeling. If that's the tone you're going for, then all right! If it's not, though, I think scene-setting is most effective when done through the eyes of a character, or in a way that sets an emotional tone. You've got no character here, but you have set a tone, a rather tidy, small-townish tone, with a modest house and a "proud" maple tree. Again, if that's what you want, then great! But just make sure you are setting your stage with intent.

Sorry, my insecurities tend to manifest as self-deprecating comments. I appreciate your comments - it's a contemporary romance and my action opening from my rough draft was too...choppy. The fairy tale feeling fits. :heart:

I can't read any description of a house without thinking of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, which shows in so many ways how the physical description of a home can be deepened to contain an entire emotional experience. This is almost certainly not the mood you're going for, but it's instructive as to how moody a description of a house can be:



Damn!

:e2coffee:

That's a really good example. Also terrifying.
 

janeofalltrades

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I'm going to refrain from the 'word by word' nit-pickery, though a part of me is itching to pick -.-

Anyway, it paints a lovely, quiet scene. I know where I'm standing as it opens up, and I have a sense of calm. Going into a romance, it's nice to have a clean palette, which this gives me.

I think you could do away with the 'a suburb in Riverton' bit, it feels informative, not descriptive. Instead you could tie it into the description of the houses, the lack of traffic sounds, the kids playing in the uncleared street. You could also bring in more senses, how hard does the cold bite? Is it the fresh sting of a Winter hitting it's stride, or the gentle nibble of a season in transition to warmer weather? Can you smell the snow melt? I love that smell myself, and it's the first thing I remembered when you said 'remnants of the last snow storm'.
Great thoughts! I hear so much about avoiding exposition that I'm still getting the descriptions down.
All in all, it's nice. I'm not much of a romance reader, but if I were in the mood I'd definitely continue.
THIS means SO much! Thank you!
 

janeofalltrades

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Oh, not boring at all! This has a very delicate quality of an unhurried, well thought out tale. I like the length of the sentences, and I appreciate how the house and the maple tree are made alive by the choice of words. It has a bit of a 19th-century feel, and I mean it in a good way. I would definitely read on.

(My mind keeps seeing "snow storm" as one word, but I might be wrong.)

It's actually a contemporary romance, but I guess my early exposure to the classics shows here. And yeah, I think snowstorm is one word too... OpenOffice's spellchecker is weird like that.
 
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Chase

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Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of fire. Not the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting "Come out witch and work your magic!"

Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of [fire--not] the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction. Fragments are certainly okay in novels, but the shorter the better in my opinion and perhaps not sprung on readers in the first line. Nothing gets lost by attaching the fragment to its parent sentence.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting[,] "Come out[,] witch[,] and work your magic!" As several observed, a comma is required to set off dialog. Then, two more are needed to set off direct address when Linna is referred to by her job description. :greenie
 

Chase

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On a quiet street in Riverton Park, a suburb of Riverton, Pennsylvania, sat a buff brick two-story house. Remnants of the last snow storm lingered around the edge of the yard. A maple tree stood proudly in the middle of what would be a flower bed when warm weather came.

I like descriptions of setting upon opening (or close to it). They draw me into the story as much as action at the get-go. I'd definitely read on.
 

Chase

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"Linna" opening.

I tried multiple times to add to my comments the all-important part that I'd want to read more 'cause I luvs me some witch story. :mob:mob
 

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All righty, since I’ve given a bunch of comments on this thread and its previous incarnation, it’s only fair that I offer others the opportunity for same. Here are the first three sentences of the novel I’ve been plugging away at, on and off, for four years now. I recently dove back into it after spending the whole year so far on short stories.



Eddie hadn’t made a fool of herself yet. She sat at the end of the bar, leaning into her second rye and soda, and considered forgetting the whole thing. She could drop a couple of bucks on the bar and head down to the Village, to someplace where she might run into some of the girls from her circle.



:e2coffee:
 
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janeofalltrades

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All righty, since I’ve given a bunch of comments on this thread and its previous incarnation, it’s only fair that I offer others the opportunity for same. Here are the first three sentences of the novel I’ve been plugging away at, on and off, for four years now. I recently dove back into it after spending the whole year so far on short stories.



Eddie hadn’t made a fool of herself yet. She sat at the end of the bar, leaning into her second rye and soda, and considered forgetting the whole thing. She could drop a couple of bucks on the bar and head down to the Village, to someplace where she might run into some of the girls from her circle.



:e2coffee:

Intriguing!!

Ugh now I want to read everyone's WIPs.
 

Bing Z

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Eddie hadn’t made a fool of herself yet. She sat at the end of the bar, leaning into her second rye and soda, and considered forgetting the whole thing. She could drop a couple of bucks on the bar and head down to the Village, to someplace where she might run into some of the girls from her circle.
:e2coffee:
The second and third sentences are good, but the opening line tells us nothing about Eddie or the place. Personally, I would love to either dig deeper into Eddie's head or get to know about the scene a bit.
 

mwritesdragons

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All righty, since I’ve given a bunch of comments on this thread and its previous incarnation, it’s only fair that I offer others the opportunity for same. Here are the first three sentences of the novel I’ve been plugging away at, on and off, for four years now. I recently dove back into it after spending the whole year so far on short stories.



Eddie hadn’t made a fool of herself yet. She sat at the end of the bar, leaning into her second rye and soda, and considered forgetting the whole thing. She could drop a couple of bucks on the bar and head down to the Village, to someplace where she might run into some of the girls from her circle.



:e2coffee:

I like the first sentence. To me the "yet" promises that Eddie will soon make a fool of herself, and I'm curious as to how, and also why she expects herself to be a fool. In the second sentence, I'm not sure if "the whole thing" refers to her second rye and soda or something else. I'd like some more atmosphere in the third sentence. Overall though, I think I'd read on to finish the paragraph at least if not more.
 

Chase

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Eddie hadn’t made a fool of herself yet. She sat at the end of the bar, leaning into her second rye and soda, and considered forgetting the whole thing. She could drop a couple of bucks on the bar and head down to the Village, to someplace where she might run into some of the girls from her circle.

I'd read further to find out if Eddie stays for a third drink and to discover exactly what kind of foolishness she's contemplating. Nah, the safety of her circle in the village would be a cop-out, which wouldn't produce the best novel. :greenie
 

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Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of fire. Not the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting "Come out witch and work your magic!"

I'd definitely read on. I don't have any nitpicks either. I don't think the sentence needs a comma. Granted that this impression comes without a blurb or cover (which may change it) but I took the setting to be more like someone being accused of being a witch in Medieval times rather than a fantasy about an actual witch. Either way I'd read on. (And the cover/blurb would make the setting and genre clear in any case, so it's not an issue.)
 

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On a quiet street in Riverton Park, a suburb of Riverton, Pennsylvania, sat a buff brick two-story house. Remnants of the last snow storm lingered around the edge of the yard. A maple tree stood proudly in the middle of what would be a flower bed when warm weather came.

The prose is well-written in terms of how things are worded, etc, however this isn't my cup of tea. I'm not into romance so maybe I'm not your target audience, so please bear that in mind and ignore my suggestions if they don't fit with the expectations of your genre.

The main issue for me is that there's nothing here to suggest anything going on besides that it's suburbia and it's winter. I'm not against quiet, descriptive openings but IMO the best ones have some hint in there somewhere that there's something else going on in this quiet scene. A hint of something not right or a hint of an interesting person living there, or something. The only hint you have here is that they're going to remove the maple tree and make it into a flower bed, or maybe they're going to make a flower bed around the tree without removing the tree. Maybe change that to hint at something a bit more ominous or plot related. Or if there's a reason why the maple tree's important to the main character, have something about why it is.
 

frimble3

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So here are the boring first three sentences of my romance WIP.

On a quiet street in Riverton Park, a suburb of Riverton, Pennsylvania, sat a buff brick two-story house. Remnants of the last snow storm lingered around the edge of the yard. A maple tree stood proudly in the middle of what would be a flower bed when warm weather came.
Not a romance reader, but l like the feel of it. It sets up, in remarkably few words, a setting, and a calm, peaceful setting - just right for emotional turmoil to come!
It's got time of year, style of house, and a general feel of a well-kept suburb.
The stage is set.
 

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I was intrigued and would read on. I liked the implication that fire had some sort of consciousness or personality, although I'd agree with Tocotin that it might be worth seeing how the speech would work if you added commas, or switched it round, e.g. "Witch! Come out and work your magic!" However, that's more nit-picking than anything else.

I may as well go first, as I have the least to lose. Sharpen your claws, or practice your manners, on this:

Linna woke to the smell of smoke and the feel of fire. Not the trained, practical fires she knew, but a maddened blaze intent on destruction.
Then, the pounding on her door and the shouting "Come out witch and work your magic!"

I promise not to get upset or argumentative.
 

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