Author Topic: Your opinions of this opening line?  (Read 1567 times)

Offline Butterfly21

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Your opinions of this opening line?
« on: February 12, 2012, 06:07:01 PM »
Opening lines are so hard for me to grasp. Sometimes I think I may have it nearly right, but it's completely wrong.
So rip into this one for me guys. Be brutally honest, use fists, please.  :D


Fear plays on Ela’s mind during the night, and every morning she lies awake, waiting for the order to get up.


I don't know if it's too vague, but I would elaborate on this further down the track. Not all at once in the first chapter, just a bit at first, and the rest throughout the whole novel, because her fears play the most important role.

Any and all thoughts and opinions will be greatly appreciated.  :)

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2012, 06:13:01 PM »
It's complete 'tell' and though there is interest piqued as to what Ela's 'fears' might be and also why she has to wait for orders to get up -- for me it's not enough and lacks action. :-[ :-[ :-[

I'd prefer her having night sweats/wet bedsheets/damp hair stuck to her forehead or something to show me her discomfort/reaction to her nightly fear. :-\

Offline Dawn

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2012, 06:25:54 PM »
I agree with Sio. I need more. Why not try right in the middle of the action, rather than past tense?
Time to take it serious and get the job done

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2012, 06:39:25 PM »
“Ela Jean Francis McSchnard, you’d better not be in bed, young lady. Your father is reaching for the cattle-prod.”

Wolfe

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2012, 07:28:57 PM »
You opened with a character waking up in bed. You know the rule about that one. And you reference a dream. It's a double whammy and instant rejection.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 07:32:07 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Butterfly21

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 09:25:05 AM »
You opened with a character waking up in bed. You know the rule about that one. And you reference a dream. It's a double whammy and instant rejection.

Man, I didn't even notice that. I pinched myself twice for making these two mistakes and not noticing.
I feel like my brain's working but it's clearly not and I need to get more sleep.  :D

Thanks for all your help guys. I'm awake to notice my mistakes now.  :)

Offline SparkyDashforth

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 02:44:46 PM »
Don't write a first line that is a 'start' in a story
Start on a peripheral thought or observation.
By the way, being inside someones head on a first line is a big mistake,
especially waking up with a vague 'fear.'

*edited. My original comment was drivel. :)
« Last Edit: February 13, 2012, 03:06:30 PM by SparkyDashforth »

Offline Butterfly21

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 10:04:07 PM »
You guys have been so helpful, and I'm very thankful.

Every time I jump straight into the action I tend to get carried away with it and lose depth of the characters and their actions, which is why I try for a slower but still interesting start.

This is how I've been trying to open for a while (action-first), but I feel like it's too much at the start. What do you guys think?

Heart pounding, Ela presses her bare back against the cold wall, finger poised on the trigger. Melted against the metal, her skin peels from her back as she pulls away, and a chilled breeze whistling through the open door sends shakes through her body. Ela can’t run.

I'd love to know what you guys think of this as a novel opening. It's been sitting for a while though and I have been too scared to change it or scrap it. With some outside perspectives from you guys I'll decide whether to work with this or scrap it, because I can't keep hanging on to it.  :D

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 10:09:47 PM »
Heart pounding, Ela presses her bare back against the cold wall, finger poised on the trigger. Melted against the metal, her skin peels from her back as she pulls away, and a chilled breeze whistling through the open door sends shakes through her body. Ela can’t run.

A bit confused as to what she's pressed against or melted to. :-[

Offline Butterfly21

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2012, 10:25:08 PM »

I can't believe I've missed the fact I didn't mention her burns.  :D I am sooo slow these days.
Good thing I have you guys to help me.

Heart pounding, Ela presses her burned back against the cold wall, finger poised on the trigger. Skin melting onto the metal, it peels from her back as she pulls away, and a chilled breeze whistling through the open door sends shakes through her body. Ela can't run.

I hope that makes more sense. But if not, I trust you to point it out.  :-[ ;D

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2012, 10:35:19 PM »
I like the idea and I can see it well enough, but reading it [though correct] sounds clumsy --- why? Look at the mixture of verb tenses in the first sentence: pounding/presses/poised :-[

Also -- being uber picky here . . . although presumably it is a gun's trigger upon which she has her finger poised, the object of the sentence is the wall so it could be misread [by dorks, admittedly] as if the wall possesses some sort of trigger.

And -- cold wall, I'm thinking traditional brick/stone/plaster, yet it seems it must be metal, so I had to have an extra wee think there. So a couple of stumbles if your reader isn't sharp when they first come across this. And for more pickiness sake [and hailing the really dumb dorks; tired travellers between flights picking up a book for the second half of their trans-Atlantic journey] -- the phrasing of the second sentence could also be misread as the metal peels from her back as she pulls away.

Work this so the picture is absolutely clear and I think it's a goodie.

I am being deliberately picky of the phrasing, not you, Butterfly. ;) ;) ;)

Offline SparkyDashforth

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 10:38:59 PM »
Heart pounding, Ela presses her burned back against the cold wall, finger poised on the trigger. Skin melting onto the metal, it peels from her back as she pulls away, and a chilled breeze whistling through the open door sends shakes through her body. Ela can't run.


Our heroin would be screaming and on the point of unconsciousness from these kind of third degree burns.
If this is your opening line you are setting yourself up for reader-disbelief. :)  Don't over-kill the circumstance.
Name the gun and its caliber.  The "heart-pounding" gambit is unnecessary.  I doubt she would feel the 'cold' of the wall.
"send shakes through her body" is un-skilfully said.

Max_with_word_processor

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 10:41:44 PM »
I think you are trying too hard; too much packed into the first line. I'de be happy with: "Ela pressed her back against the wall, finger poised on the trigger."

Then the melted skin, with cold metal, cool breezes, and her shaking is all a bit much to digest. Not sure what is happening, but perhaps you can ease into it better. We can only assume the wall is so cold that her skin sticks, or it's so hot it burns her more.

Max.

Offline Butterfly21

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2012, 10:56:08 PM »
Thanks, 510bhan, SparkyDashforth and Max WWP. I see what you're all saying.

It's all extremely helpful. I appreciate it a lot that you guys take the time to help me out.  :)

Wolfe

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Re: Your opinions of this opening line?
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2012, 11:57:51 PM »
Personally, I think you're trying to hard too. The ideal hook opens with the reader 'needing' to know what happens next because a question is asked, indirectly, from the sentence or sentences.

Let's use an example.

This was the place where it happened.

The question the reader should ask is, "What happened?" In order to find out, they need to keep reading.

Let's try another one.

Abby didn't mean to do it. It was an accident. She told the judge the truth. But he didn't believe her. Neither did the jury. Twenty-five to life sounded grim on television. When a judge says it to you in person, it crushes your soul. When the jury stands and applauds, you'll sell your soul to make them pay. And that's exactly what Abby did.

There are two hooks in play. One is what did she do? And the other is what will she do?

Try something more along those lines. Also, I recommend you avoid the combination of bare and back together. Backbare has a very different meaning than what you want to give a reader. . . .
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 12:05:45 AM by Wolfe »