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Monday, March 31, 2014

Search for Knowledge

Well, it's finally Spring (or so the calender says) and I'm back with first page critiques for the week. If you're interested in having your first page appear here, send it along! For today, we have the first page of Charity Bradford's work in progress, SEARCH FOR KNOWLEDGE, the sequel to THE MAGIC WAKES.

Four tiny suns washed out the sky leaving the dragon council in a mauve twilight. The suns were too far away to bathe the planet’s occupants in golden light, but the dragon lords never stayed for long. Dragons of every hue and size filled the valley. Their breath filled the cold air with steam as they listened to the report.
“Lords Elvin and Jenska, the humans on Sendek have made a course change.” A medium sized green dragon stood in the center of the circle before two very large dragons. One blue, the other green.
The blue nodded to his companion who spoke their shared question.
“How does this concern us?”
“For the first time we may be able to return to a seeded planet. They need our help and at this time they are willing to be instructed.”
The blue dragon made a low chuffing sound and rubbed his foreleg across his chest. “I remember my last day on Sendek. Men do not want to be instructed. I have the scars to prove it.”
“Lord Elvin! You know this body does not carry the scars of the old one.”
“Maybe not physically, but they are there all the same my jewel. I’ve missed you Della.”
“Don’t change the subject. Our descendants have survived. The magic has awakened and they will need guidance. Your guidance.”
“What do you think Jenska?” Elvin once again deferred to the green dragon at his side.
“It is too great a risk. We should continue to the next world. Perhaps this time we will get it right.”
Della tipped her head back and roared. “I tell you I’ve searched their minds. Sendek still has the potential for success. They’ve made great strides on their own. They’ve protected their wild lands, the air quality is better than when you left, and they are reaching out to the stars.”
“Other’s have reached the stars, but their hearts were not ready to be one with us.” Elvin spoke low but all could hear his voice in their minds.
“Stubborn man.”
“I’m no longer a man, just as you are no longer a woman. We are more than we were.”
“You are the same spirit that lived in the body of a man. I met the children of our love. Sendek requires a second look.”


My first impression is that this is a good set up for a sequel, especially the last line, " Sendek requires a second look." This tells the reader that we'll likely be returning to the planet where the first novel takes place. The only problem I have is that for me, this isn't a very compelling opening. To be fair, I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who hasn't read what's come before but even so, the first page of a sequel needs to not only interest readers of the previous book but also draw in new readers. As it stands, I'm not curious enough to turn the page (sorry). 

Now comes the part where I'm supposed to make suggestions as to how to improve this first page, and here's where I'm having trouble, because there's nothing really wrong with this first page. It just didn't grab me. So, how can the author make this first page more interesting, especially to those who never read the first book? What comes to my mind is, again, that last line, which implies that these dragons will be heading back to Sendek. But are they all unified in their desire to help? Is there any conflict between them? If so, maybe that could be played up a little more here. For example, what if the perspective was changed from where the main players are (and I'm assuming that the dragons introduced here will be the main players) to somewhere beyond? This might give the reader the opinions and observations of someone else who might be able to hint at the greater conflict that is sure to ensue. Because if there's one thing sure to make people turn the page, it's trouble.

If you have any thoughts for Charity, please share - we love comments! - and if you want to read Charity's first book, click on the pic :)




Huntress said...

My problem with this submission is the adjectives. Too many. Way too many.

You begin with description--the sky, the light, the suns. The entire first paragraph is description. As a reader, I want something to pull me forward.

Action. Movement. This has little of it.

Patchi said...

My problem with the opening was that I did not get a sense of why Sendek needs their help. Most of the arguments suggest this would be a great place for the dragons to live in, but not the need of the people there.

Also I was a bit confused with the names of the dragons. Maybe rewording things here would help:

[Della, a] medium sized green dragon[,] stood in the center of the circle before two very large dragons. “Lords Elvin and Jenska, the humans on Sendek have made a course change.”
[Elvin, the blue dragon,] nodded to his companion[,] who spoke their shared question.