Author Topic: How's This For A Start ....  (Read 406 times)

Offline rewh2oman

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How's This For A Start ....
« on: October 24, 2018, 03:14:30 PM »
Folks

Here's the beginning of a story I'm working on. Please let me know your thoughts of what I have so far.


Choking to death woke up Jimmy Doyle.

Getting to his knees, he began spewing up saltwater and gasping for air. His chest heaved violently trying to get rid of the air bubble caught in his throat. It acted like a cork that trapped the water in his airway. With one final push he emptied his lungs and passed the bubble, allowing him to throw up the remaining water. He slumped over, feeling like he’d just gotten the wind knocked out of him. Slowly he began to take in small sips of air until he could suck in a long, deep gulp of oxygen. The effort caused a sharp pain in his chest. Not the heart attack kind, more like the cracked bone kind. And he knew what that felt like after breaking his right foot in a freak car incident. You should never be so angry as to kick the tire of your friends ’68 Mustang. You’ll always come out on the losing side.

Jimmy grabbed his rib cage, thinking he busted a few, and collapsed. His rapid breathing underscored the sharpness in his chest. He lay still for some time until he was able to relax. As the pain let up he could finally breathe normally. What just happened?

He sensed the ground moving. Bouncing. Not in any constant motion, but in a haphazard one. What is happening?

Then Jimmy remembered.

...

Offline hillwalker3000

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2018, 04:14:51 PM »
An arresting opening sentence - and likewise, an intriguing cliff-hanger at the end of this extract.

But the filling of the sandwich is mostly just that - filler. I began to skip ahead, looking for a clue or two to what might be about to happen next. And I'm no nearer discovering that. It's not great when your reader is already skim reading what I assume is going to be the opening paragraph to a much longer piece.

The good news is that we all fall into the same trap. When you're close to finishing your story you'll probably realise the opening can be cut back. At the moment it's acting like scaffolding, supporting your vision of how the story unfolds. But like any building, once it's completed the scaffolding can be safely dismantled.

H3K

Offline jkalman

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2018, 11:48:00 AM »
I agree with H3K because I also started skimming ahead.
There was nothing to connect me to the character, and the mystery of what happened wasn't revealed to hook me. You even went into a mini flashback. I would say, hook the reader first, before going into painting details.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 04:24:12 AM by jkalman »

Offline JanTetstone

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2018, 07:19:22 PM »
I also started skimming ahead. I too agree with H3K.         jt

Offline rewh2oman

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2018, 06:20:25 PM »
Thanks for your feedback.

Russ

Offline JanTetstone

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2018, 08:45:23 PM »
You welcome.          jt

Offline BenSolo

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2018, 09:07:14 PM »
Overall, you did a great job making this scene exciting, clear, and vivid, although there's not much to give feedback on since it's so short. I want to know what happens next!

I have a couple points of feedback. The first is with the bit about the air bubble blocking his airway. I don't really think air can act like a cork as you described. After all, it is called an airway. I would cut the part about the air bubble, and just have him cough up the water. The other feedback I have is the part about the car accident. First, you say that it was a freak accident, but then you say that he kicked the tire and injured himself. That doesn't seem like a freak car accident to me.

Anyway, these are small niggles. Great job! Are you going to continue this story?

Offline rkeller1373

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2018, 12:52:37 PM »
I really like the in medias res that the reader is thrown into with the start of this story.  One suggestion I would make is to give us a setting or at least describe where the protagonist is or near or something to give the reader an idea of locale.

Offline rewh2oman

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2018, 05:01:19 PM »
thanks, Ben and Rkeller.

as the story continues you'll understand the locale etc.

Offline Tak

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2018, 05:22:15 PM »
I think the descriptions are fine but you went off focus at the mention of him breaking his foot on the mustang. You were in the moment and then wrenched me out of that painful moment to talk about an injury already recovered from.

This is the danger of such flash backs when they aren't active or attached to the scene.

So you could cut that out, stick to what's happening then and there.

Have fun.

Offline Everyman

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2018, 05:45:32 PM »
Choking to death woke up Jimmy Doyle. Sounds clumsy. Better would be: Jimmy Doyle woke up—he was choking to death

Getting to his knees, he began spewing try to avoid passive voice like 'he began, and use active, he spewed. up saltwater and gasping for air. His chest heaved violently trying to get rid of the air bubble caught in his throat. It acted like a cork that trapped trappingthe water in his airway. With one final push he emptied his lungs and passed I wouldn't typically think of passing a bubble, like passing a hard stool. Might want to rephrase.the bubble, allowing him to throw up the remaining water. He slumped over, feeling like he’d just gotten the wind knocked out of him. Slowly he began to take in small sips of air until he could suck in a long, deep gulp of oxygen. and nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The effort caused a sharp pain in his chest. Not the heart attack kind, more like the cracked bone kind. And he knew what that felt like after breaking his right foot in a freak car incident. You should never be so angry as to kick the tire of your friends ’68 Mustang. You’ll always come out on the losing side. How is this relevant?

Jimmy grabbed his rib cage, thinking he hadbusted a few, and collapsed. His rapid breathing underscored the sharpness in his chest. He lay still for some time until he was able to relax. As the pain let up he could finally breathe normally. What just happened? Indeed. What did just happen? It's up to you show/tell the reader, or at least ground us in the moment with Jimmy, his emotions, his thoughts.

He sensed the ground moving. Bouncing. Not in any constant motion, but
 in a haphazard one. What is happening? Not much.

Then Jimmy remembered.

It needs some work in my opinion, it's very washy, and lacks anything substantive.

Cheers,

« Last Edit: November 15, 2018, 05:51:21 PM by Everyman »

Offline rewh2oman

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2018, 05:52:49 PM »
here's the updated version:

Choking to death woke up Jimmy Doyle.

After puking saltwater and gasping for air, convulsions dislodged an air bubble blocking his throat. He threw up the remaining water.

Jimmy grabbed his rib cage, thinking he busted a few, and collapsed. His rapid breathing underscored the sharpness in his chest. The pain eased as he caught his breath.

What just happened?

He could feel the ground moving.

What is happening?

Then Jimmy remembered.


Offline hillwalker3000

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 05:11:43 AM »
There's still something not quite right about this. My advice, set it aside and move on to the next scene. You seem stuck at the moment - trying to hold onto something you believe will work as an effective opening even though most of the feedback on here suggests it won't.

H3K

Offline Tak

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 10:33:11 AM »
What bothered me in both examples, is the mention of salt water, him waking up in it, vomiting it. It felt like too strange of situation, not to be focused on more, and instead you talked about his ribs, some car, and kicking a tire, in the second you removed most, but still I was thinking about that damn salt water(where it came from, was he on a boat, on the shore, or in his bedroom), I was thinking all that - you were writing about his ribs.

Now it might come in the next line. In the first example you had a lot of words that didn't yet address that question. In the second it followed the same. I wondered if you wanted that mystery to be the hook. I'm unsure if it will work as well as if you show his fear, his panic, his eyes screaming at his surroundings for familiarity.

For me the mention of the ribs didn't work. If they were attached better to his hacking up salt water, I could. But they stand on their own, as is.

Any way, just me giving a few thoughts. I think waking up drowning in salt water is a great hook. Tell the story from that moment.

Have fun too

Tak

Offline rewh2oman

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Re: How's This For A Start ....
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 02:38:20 PM »
This is the beginning of the story. It will evolve, as do all stories, so you’ll understand the “saltwater” and everything else.