Author Topic: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?  (Read 756061 times)

Offline scottslittlebrat

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more? FFEDBACK FORUM
« Reply #180 on: October 29, 2006, 06:40:18 PM »
First Lineers:Aella
   
    I hadn't expected the goodbyes to be so hard. After all, I'd been waiting for this departure for years.

    Mother followed  me around the house crying. "You'll be home by Christmas, you won't like it up there with all those Yankees."

    I never could look my mother straight in the eye after what had happened between us. So, I looked carefully over her shoulder and said coldly, "I want this, Mother. I'll love it."

Hi there Aella.  I'm trying to get back into writing some more, especially after the great responses I got from you and others after my first post.  I wanted to comment on your "first liner" post which may have been there for months but I didn't read any of this thread until today.  I agree with the others about the conflict between the first sentence and the fact that there were obvious problems between her and her mother.  I've got a suggestion for you.  How about this?

"Mother followed  me around the house crying. "You'll be home by Christmas, you won't like it up there with all those Yankees".  I hadn't expected my mother to take this so hard.  After all, I'd been waiting for this departure for years, and she knew it. 

I never could look my mother straight in the eye after what had happened between us. So, I looked carefully over her shoulder and said coldly, "I want this, Mother. I'll love it."

It definitely got my attention.  In fact, I pictured my own mom when I read it because it sounds so much like something she would've said to me and my sisters.  Are you sure you're not my sister?  ;)



Offline Ann

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more? FFEDBACK FORUM
« Reply #181 on: October 30, 2006, 09:03:40 AM »
Jennifer Jones sit's in her bedroom with a gallon of Vodka, her prescription of sleeping pills and some barbituates she wonder if it's enough to do the job, she has been doing this same routine for a year now. Wishing she has the nerve to take her own life, like she took life of her unborn child who was living and growing in her womb.

Hi Lynne-lynn.  This is my first review here.  Please, take what is useful and discard the rest.
I read your opener last night and have been mulling ...

I find this opener very intriguing.  I became very conscious of the 'props' and setting and felt they could be made more use of in this story:  the vodka, presciption, barbiturates.  A couple of points on the props - a gallon of vodka would be about 6 or so bottles?  You mean to imply 'lots of' vodka of course.  She would only be able to drink about a bottle, especially if she's going to be swallowing pills with it, so maybe there'd only be one bottle.  A prescription of sleeping pills - do you mean a piece of paper or the pills themselves?  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe barbiturates haven't been subscribed for many years now.  Perhaps you could use a  known brand name or just say, anti-depressants.

I think the story opening is brilliant in that you've instantly presented the main character and the problem and it's a big one.  I already want to know if and how she's going to overcome it.  I am already wondering, perhaps, if she is a Christian and is going through a crisis of conscience, or faith or both. The props in this scene could be used to hint at this.  If this were the case:  for instance, she's in her bedroom with a bottle of alcohol, some pills.  I see them on a table.  If she is a Christian, maybe she's wearing a cross or crucifrix, has taken this off and it's on the table with the bottle and pills.  Or maybe the bottle's not a bottle of vodka (which is clear), but a bottle that will reflect her face back at her.  Her face will be distorted in the bottle, hinting that she's got a distorted view of her life that's to be overcome.  If she's wearing a cross, maybe that's reflected back at her from the bottle, also distorted (which might suggest that her faith or conscience is distorted).  The pills might be quite large and flattish.  A bottle of liquid that looks reddish, a cross, a flat white pill on a table:  that's a bit like the 'props' used for Holy Communion.

I'm  just running wild with some possibilities here, but it does make me think about the role of appropriate props in stories.  What would Lord of the Rings be without the 'One Ring', for example? So I've got something back from doing this review already!  Thanks for that! 

As I say, please take what's useful and chuck the rest.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2006, 01:19:41 PM by Ann »
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Offline sleepycat

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #182 on: November 05, 2006, 03:45:04 PM »
First paragraph of a short story.

By the time the police found Casey, she had been missing for over ten hours.
   She lay on her left side. One arm was flung up by her head, her little fingers curled like a half-open flower. With the other she clutched a fluffy white teddy to her chest. She was wearing pink checked pyjamas with plastic ladybird buttons, and her hair was carefully brushed back off her forehead. 
   ‘She looked so peaceful,’ one of the officers said later. ‘I just wanted to leave her like that, forever.’

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #183 on: November 05, 2006, 03:51:39 PM »
Liked it. The peacefulness of the scene came across well. Although to grab my interest to read on I would expect to read something shocking about the scene in the next paragraph.

Offline DougD

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #184 on: November 07, 2006, 05:16:11 PM »

By the time the police found Casey, she had been missing for over ten hours.
   She lay on her left side. One arm was flung up by her head, her little fingers curled like a half-open flower. With the other she clutched a fluffy white teddy to her chest. She was wearing pink checked pyjamas with plastic ladybird buttons, and her hair was carefully brushed back off her forehead. 
   ‘She looked so peaceful,’ one of the officers said later. ‘I just wanted to leave her like that, forever.’


I was intrigued by your opening, sleepycat. May I make a couple of suggestions. It sounds like you want your reader to see a peacefully sleeping child with one eye, and a terrible murder scene with the other. The shock of discovering a murder scene is something you want the reader to discover. Always remember this cardinal rule: "Show, don't tell."

Here's how I'd take a stab at it --

Casey lay on her left side, her head cradled by her left arm, her cherubic fingers curled like a half-open flower. She snuggled a fluffy white teddy bear to her chest. She was dressed in her favorite pink-checked pajamas, with the plastic ladybird buttons. Her hair was carefully brushed back off her forehead. The three-year-old's  eyes were closed. "She looks so peaceful," said the man leaning over her, "that I hate to disturb her."

The officer's heart went cold as he pointed out the ugly bruising around the child's neck to his partner. A ten-hour search had ended with the gut-wrenching discovery of her body in the abandoned warehouse.


In the first paragraph you paint a touching scene of a sleeping child. All seems well. Then, in the next paragraph, you contrast that with the grisly scene of her death. The contrast grabs the reader!

Hope this gives you an idea or two.   :)

Doug

You know you come from a dysfunctional family if every conversation begins with, "Put the gun down."

Offline sleepycat

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #185 on: November 09, 2006, 12:38:40 PM »
Quote
It sounds like you want your reader to see a peacefully sleeping child with one eye, and a terrible murder scene with the other.
That's spot on - that's exactly what I aimed for.

Quote
Always remember this cardinal rule: "Show, don't tell."
Well, sorry, but I thought that's what I was doing. What this beginning deliberately doesn't tell you is that she isn't actually dead. She hasn't been attacked. There's another explanation for the opening scene that I didn't want revealed till the end.

But I'm glad it made you think she was dead. That was the plan - so thank you! :D

Offline DougD

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #186 on: November 09, 2006, 07:31:30 PM »

What this beginning deliberately doesn't tell you is that she isn't actually dead. She hasn't been attacked. There's another explanation for the opening scene that I didn't want revealed till the end. But I'm glad it made you think she was dead. That was the plan - so thank you! :D


OK, then you did a good job! You had me fooled. And now you have me intrigued as well. I've got to hear the rest of the story.   :)
You know you come from a dysfunctional family if every conversation begins with, "Put the gun down."

Offline ccff22290

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #187 on: November 09, 2006, 08:38:38 PM »
I am new here, and this idea of getting feedback on the first line of my book is interesting. Let's see what you all think.

David turned with a whip at every creak and scrape that broke through the darkness of the house. The air was stale and stifling—streaked with the gold and magenta light that crept off the setting sun and into the desolate living room.

What do you think about it?


Offline DougD

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #188 on: November 10, 2006, 12:51:35 AM »

David turned with a whip at every creak and scrape that broke through the darkness of the house. The air was stale and stifling—streaked with the gold and magenta light that crept off the setting sun and into the desolate living room.


'turned with a whip' sounds kind of awkward in my ears. I'd suggest using a stronger word than 'turned,' too ('jerked,' maybe?). And I've never heard a living room being described as 'desolate.' That being said, I think you have the beginnings of a great story. Your character is terrified, alone in a dark and scary house (maybe not?). What more do you need for a spooky tale? Another note, in my ears 'gold' and 'magenta' are pretty colors. If this is a spooky story you might want to select colors that connote more fear, i.e., blood red, burnt orange, etc.

Doug
You know you come from a dysfunctional family if every conversation begins with, "Put the gun down."

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #189 on: November 10, 2006, 05:37:19 AM »

David turned with a whip at every creak and scrape that broke through the darkness of the house. The air was stale and stifling—streaked with the gold and magenta light that crept off the setting sun and into the desolate living room.


I like the 'beat' of the prose, but there are some inconsistancies of the 'it was a dark and story night' type. I'm with Doug here, 'whip' makes me think of the noun not the verb. You could say 'jerked his head' or 'whipped round' to bring some movement into it. I think you can have a 'desolate' living room, but gold is a warm colour. Silver, black, grey, blood red/crimson/scarlet bring an edge of desolation to a scene. 'Broke through the darkness' I like but in this context it is a bit of a mixed metaphor because 'dark' has no sound or substance. And it is not 'dark' because you go on to say the room is streaked with 'magenta and gold'.
But, that's not to say that all these points should be changed. Just saying, keep it simple.

Offline bugaboo

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #190 on: November 10, 2006, 11:31:33 AM »
OK, here goes -

'Edna McInnis' soul had left the building.

Edna, once so full of vim and vigour had been a vital, if not cantankerous member of Sunnyside Rest Home. A vinegary little Scottish woman with a strong opinion on everything from the state of dinner to the state of the Nation.

N.Mott

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #191 on: November 10, 2006, 02:06:26 PM »
Sounds a lot of fun. A hoot, as my granny would say.  :)
Are all the v's deliberate?

Offline Ann

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #192 on: November 10, 2006, 02:29:42 PM »
First paragraph of a short story.

By the time the police found Casey, she had been missing for over ten hours.
   She lay on her left side. One arm was flung up by her head, her little fingers curled like a half-open flower. With the other she clutched a fluffy white teddy to her chest. She was wearing pink checked pyjamas with plastic ladybird buttons, and her hair was carefully brushed back off her forehead. 
   ‘She looked so peaceful,’ one of the officers said later. ‘I just wanted to leave her like that, forever.’


I'm writing this having read other responses, so I am aware that Casey is not dead, apparently, at this stage in the story. It is reminiscent for me of the film Sixth Sense.  Full of herrings - red ones of course! By the end of the first sentence, I 'know' that Casey is dead (wrong).  I don't know why I need to know she is lying on her left side.  Maybe the side she is lying on is important?  I like:  One arm 'was flung'.  It suggests (to me) that someone else flung it there other than Casey = violence.  'Flung' is a very apt word, I feel, suggests vigour and again, maybe violence or an act by the child of self-defence (wrong again).  The 'half-open flower'suggests the child is approaching puberty, therefore her approximate age.  The pink pyjamas - brilliant selection of 'props'.  This short piece of writing has me emoting all over the place and the hair standing up on the back of my neck.  Who are you?  Shakespeare?  I am definitely going to plagiarise this.  (Joke).

   
« Last Edit: November 10, 2006, 03:31:24 PM by Ann »
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Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #193 on: November 11, 2006, 10:25:55 AM »
'Edna McInnis' soul had left the building.

Edna, once so full of vim and vigour had been a vital, if not cantankerous member of Sunnyside Rest Home. A vinegary little Scottish woman with a strong opinion on everything from the state of dinner to the state of the Nation.


Did you really mean "if not contankerous" or were you intending to say "even if cantankerous"? 
Since you go on to describe her as having strong opinions on everything across the board I suspect it is the later.

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Offline allyrose

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Re: Sticky: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #194 on: November 11, 2006, 11:39:32 AM »
She sounds like a real fiesty old lady, and I would want to read more about her and her views.