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Friday, December 7, 2012

Of Oak and Dragons


Our final crit of the week comes from Huntress' Urban Fantasy, Of Oak and Dragons. She wants to know if this first page draws the reader into turning the page. Is it confusing or does the change in tense work? 



     When I found the skull, (for some reason I want you to write it this way: Id didn't tell anyone when I found the skull.) I didn’t tell anyone. Not because I was scared or shocked. I was six after all and stuff like that only fueled my imagination.
     My dad thought I hadn’t seen it. (seen or found?) He’d have been sick with fear if he’d known. But coming face to face with a skull – so to speak - wasn’t the problem.
     It was after that day. The dreams. Of being the hunted and worse.
     The screaming.
     Not counting the original owner, only my dad knew about the skull.
     But he died soon after and couldn’t help me.


     (I assume that this is many years after the finding of the skull. If so I think I want to know how long after. Like maybe say: Fifteen years later it isn't my face reflected in the pool...) It isn’t my face reflected in the pool of rainwater or my boots walking through the dry leaves. The hands that caress the iron weapons and trace the molded grips are long-fingered. Callused, not soft like my hands.
Movement from my left makes my belly flutter. They are hunting me.
     They are here.
     The emotions are the same, of desperation and regret. Of defeat and unmet purpose. And my screams when utter failure is all I can expect… I wonder if italicizing might help make it clear that this is a dream...or is it a memory?
     …and waking in my bed.
     With a groan, I fought my way out of the twisted, damp sheets.
     Once again, the dreams had returned crushing my hope that I had seen the last of them. An irritation now that I was in college and on my own. (I hope he(?) has his own place...just sayin' )When I was a kid, sleepovers were nonexistent. One scream-fest was all it took to seal my fate with school friends. Looks of ‘there goes a crazy person’ followed me until I graduated from high school. Saluting them with a mental middle finger helped me to cope.

I think this IS an intriguing first page. It's also got voice and the two combined would make me read on. And I saw the reference to college in the last paragraph but I still want it noted when we are once we move into the future. I like clear transitions. But that's just me so I do hope everyone will chime in and offer their opinion as well.

 

8 comments:

Huntress said...

I was cleaning the kitchen counter when BAM! the thought hit me. *Italicize*

Funny how the mind works, huh? Thanks Marcy.

Charity Bradford said...

Oh, Huntress! You have the same problem I did with my novel. The first section is like a prologue (and we know how agents hate that!), but it's super short so it might be worth setting it apart as a prologue. Or at least on a page of it's own even if you don't label it.

Then you start with a dream (I did too, but later bit the bullet and changed it). However, my guess is the dreams are VERY important to the story, at least character development wise. Here's what agents told me, just for your reference and thoughts:

1. dreams make the reader feel cheated once they realize its a dream
2. if you tell us its a dream all tension is lost because we know its not real.

*$^#! Really?!

Having said that, my question is, how can you prove them wrong? I know tough question.

I love the voice though, and the mental finger is awesome. Here's another suggestion to help with some passive voice.

Movement from my left makes my belly flutter. They hunt me.
Here. Now.
The emotions are the same, of desperation and regret. Can you show us this instead of telling?

I'd keep reading because your stories always suck me in good. ;)

Lauren said...

Possibilities. "I was six when I found the skull" would eliminate the need for "after all" and also set up the future feel for the next section. It also starts you with a passive verb, which is not necessarily a good thing, but it's an idea.

The other thing is that I would hesitate to start with a dream. Are the details of the dream absolutely necessary? If not, I would suggest simply combining the two sections and cutting the dream.

Lauren

It was after that day. The dreams. Of being the hunted and worse.
The screaming.
Not counting the original owner, only my dad knew about the skull.
But he died soon after and couldn’t help me.
The emotions are the same each time, of desperation and regret. Of defeat and unmet purpose.
With a groan, I fought my way out of the twisted, damp sheets.

Huntress said...

Think of me as that kid in the corner, bottom lip stuck out, cross as all get out.

Yeah, I know about the agent vs dream thing. I figured if I kept it short, maybe readers won't know what hit 'em. And yes very important although I don't visit it much through out the ms.

Huntress said...

*sigh* The dream thingy is a buggaboo, I know. Some agents loathe them because they see too many like this.

If I keep this opening, I'm guilty of walking up hill in a snowstorm. "But," she said in a small voice. "I LIKE it."

Charity Bradford said...

LOL, been there, done that, and I SO understand! The shortness is something that will work in your favor, and I'm not saying give up on it entirely. Maybe just taking out the line " …and waking in my bed." End with "expect" and then have her trying to untangle herself from the sheets?

Angela Brown said...

I'm intrigued enough to turn the pages. Addressing a bit of the vagueness may add to my need to turn the pages. And the items mentioned would definitely up the ante for me to turn the pages.

Huntress said...

Inquiring minds want to know:

Does this conversation between the protag and her roommate help/hurt the ms?

“You said something this time,” Eva said.

I swallowed too quick and choked. “What…”

“It was, I don’t know, more like a yell or a challenge, defiant-like.”

“What’d I say?”

Eva mangled her bottom lip as she hesitated.
“You yelled…no, you screamed, ‘my life is just beginning’.”