Author Topic: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?  (Read 697928 times)

hillwalker3000

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5160 on: December 10, 2017, 08:47:59 AM »
It all began as a means but with a most unfortunate end.
Gus Hannings’ wife couldn’t swim; water terrified her. At the age of twelve she had watched her sister drown in a boat at sea and never got over the tragedy.
Not sure about this opening line.
Lin

The opening line reads like a strapline to a newspaper article. . . but I have no idea what it means (presumably it's a play on the phrase 'means to an end').
The rest is backstory and it's not especially interesting. Why are you telling us this right now?

Would a publisher want to read more? I'd say 'probably not' because the story begins in the wrong place.

H3K

Lin

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5161 on: December 10, 2017, 09:14:38 AM »
I agree it was an experiment for a first draft.  I have made some changes now, and I think with time I can get it right.

Lin


Offline Vogel

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5162 on: December 14, 2017, 07:51:01 AM »
Hi Lin,

Sorry, I'm a little late.

The in the boat thing tickled me. This is a little slip up I wouldn't be surprised to find in my own writing. I'll second ST's advice. Let us know she's afraid and then jump right into the story.

Unless ...

Is the MC/POV Gus? That would explain things. If this is the case, I would open with Gus in the middle of an action, so we establish the POV first sentence, and then you can tell us that his wife is afraid of water, and then "show" us this in the following sentences by their behavior.

Just an idea, maybe you could show us a woman who is unnaturally terrified of water, but don't tell us why yet. Let us wonder for a little bit. This would give your reader a reason to read on to find out.

I'd definitely do away with that first line. It's too vague.

Lin

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5163 on: December 20, 2017, 06:53:21 AM »
Hi Vogel,

Yes that was silly of me. I'll probably change it to the following:

Mary Hannings couldn’t swim. At the age of seven she had watched her sister drown at sea and never got over it. 

Mind you the boat might have tipped up and she was still in it!  Which can happen in real life, but unlikely for this type of story. I must have been thinking about a situation that happened to a friend of mine many years ago. Her boat filled with water on a river with her in it!  Happily she survived. 

Thanks for feedback and Merry Christmas. x

Lin   

Dansinger

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5164 on: December 20, 2017, 09:25:05 AM »
Mary Hannings couldn’t swim. At the age of seven she had watched her sister drown at sea and never got over it. 

I'm not pulled in. The first sentence would be OK, if the second one were more active. More show, less tell, I'd say.

Offline bailish

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5165 on: December 20, 2017, 09:57:44 AM »

Mary Hannings couldn’t swim. At the age of seven she had watched her sister drown at sea and never got over it. 


Doesn't work for me, either. Telling us that she's watching it separates us from the action. I'd suggest rewriting without 'watch'

Jo Bannister

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5166 on: December 20, 2017, 10:01:00 AM »
I agree: the first sentence is fine, the second is already getting sloppy.  It's also a bit of a non sequitur - the same circumstances might have encouraged someone to learn to swim.

Could you try something like this:

"Mary Hannings couldn't swim.  Since childhood, the helpless terror of watching her sister drown had kept her out of the sea."


Offline Shortcross

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5167 on: December 31, 2017, 02:52:09 AM »
Not really a first line, more the first 200 words or so. I can't quite get it right, though!


His horse tossed its head and whickered as he rode past the hanged men.

It was a fine mare — swift, sure-footed — and had known the meaty stench of death many times over the years, being the horse of a priest. But these last few weeks had been unkind to it; the trail hard-going and strewn with corpses.

Petar whispered into its madly flicking ear, stroked its neck with a shaking hand. The chase had been hard on him, too, it seemed.

Other than the six hanged men (naked, rotting, turning slow circles in the afternoon breeze), the place looked like any other Borderland town: the roads of hoof-packed, red earth that would be mud come winter; the raised walkways and whitewashed buildings of timber and clay. Petar walked his horse to the gates of a small, stone-built church and slipped from his saddle. A girl-child gazed up at him, no more than five years old, bare legs dusty to the knees, grubby thumb planted in her mouth.

‘A penny for you, if you find my horse an apple,’ he said, looping the reins over a fencepost. The girl answered with an idiot stare. Petar dropped a copper penny at her feet anyway and made his way to the church doors. It was a common sight in these lonely border towns: slack-jawed kids with filthy faces and soulless eyes. Too many fathers ramming their daughters up against pantry walls, no doubt. Too much time to cope with, in those long, dark evenings. He pushed the doors open and stepped into the shadowed church.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2017, 03:14:48 AM by Shortcross »

Offline Gabriel Lopes

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5168 on: December 31, 2017, 08:34:12 PM »
Don't know if I should add more, but currently this is what I have.

   The Gates of Iron were before him on that dark and empty night. This is it, he thought to himself. This is the end.

Offline dawnpowell

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5169 on: January 03, 2018, 05:57:23 AM »
    Looking back Dorian realized it made perfect sense she was living on the water. Their place provided an ideal scene to be released from her mother’s womb all over again. And water is so emotional. She and her husband Francis were completely surrounded by it, having recently bought a floating home on Lake Union, with a sailboat parked right alongside that could take them downtown in minutes, even quicker than if they took their car.

   

Offline Emery

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5170 on: January 11, 2018, 10:49:15 AM »
Don't know if I should add more, but currently this is what I have.

   The Gates of Iron were before him on that dark and empty night. This is it, he thought to himself. This is the end.

This is completely subjective, but I'm not a fan. I'm assuming here's a fantasy by the opening line, which is successful in that purpose, but the Gate of Iron just seems cliché even to someone who doesn't know the genre. The verb is simply a state of being, nothing exciting, and then you try to set the mood with dark and empty night, which is another clichéd line. The next line isn't all that bad (except for thought to himself, as opposed to thought to Jane?). Also, why not use the protagonist name? I'm not trying to rewrite it, but here's what's in my head:

This is it, Aragon thought. This is the end.

He gently touched the intricate, metal work of the Gates of Iron, wishing those who had started with him would've been fortunate enough to be standing there.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offline Emery

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5171 on: January 11, 2018, 10:55:24 AM »
    Looking back Dorian realized it made perfect sense she was living on the water. Their place provided an ideal scene to be released from her mother’s womb all over again. And water is so emotional. She and her husband Francis were completely surrounded by it, having recently bought a floating home on Lake Union, with a sailboat parked right alongside that could take them downtown in minutes, even quicker than if they took their car.

 

First, the second and third sentence are just trying too hard. These may be some of the thematic elements you want, but you shouldn't have to spell them out in the opening paragraph for the reader. Trust your writing to convey the message. Without those two:

Looking back, Dorian realized it made perfect sense she was living on the water. She and her husband Francis were completely surrounded by it, having recently bought a floating home on Lake Union, with a sailboat parked right alongside that could take them downtown in minutes, even quicker than if they took their car.

I'm not excited by it, but I'm assuming this is going to be a relationship/character heavy piece so the pace and expectation would fit. The only thing that I'm not a fan of is there's nothing moving the story forward. The only active part on the thing is when Dorian is 'looking back'. Otherwise, it's the protagonist foreshadowing something and the author using it as a vehicle to set the location. Personally, I always feel like a story should grab a reader by the throat and not let go of them until you're finished with them. Here, I'm pretty much still waiting for it to start.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offline kmplum

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5172 on: January 13, 2018, 03:13:53 PM »
Hi!

Really like this thread so far. Lots of interesting responses, so I thought I'd give it a shot and see what you guys come up with. I'm pretty sure there was a 75-word limit rule from the OP, so here goes:

"Along stark, granite peaks as far as the eye could see, a great fiery serpent stretched to the ends of the world and beyond. Brilliant veins of light as vibrant as molten lava traced every cloud in the sky while dark shades of crimson and violet in every combination imaginable waltzed effortlessly into the night."

Okay, go! *Eagerly waits for the hackin'n slashin' to start*

hillwalker3000

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5173 on: January 13, 2018, 06:27:20 PM »
Oh, dear.
Probably the purplest prose I"ve read in a long time. Rather dreadful,  I"m afraid.
And when you break this down, it tells us next to nothing, even though it sound wonderful no doubt.

H3K