Author Topic: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good  (Read 1792 times)

Offline Abigail Lawrence

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Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« on: April 19, 2007, 07:44:02 AM »
   Everyone has a story to tell. In this, I am no different. Mine is a tale of love, of loss, of the demise of a world. A city shattered in seconds amidst the torment of the Great War.  Halifax was an ordinary city, with ordinary people but it was one, not so ordinary day, which defined these people from others in a way they could never have imagined. 
My story begins on the evening of October 1st 1914, in the dining room of the Carson family.
From the outside of the house, one could tell that Mr Carson was a man of extensive means. The wrought iron gates gave way to a large driveway which framed a fountain just in font of the house. Trees were symmetrically distributed around the drive. The house itself was four floors high and was built with the deep red brick that was fashionable for the time. Great marble pillars encircled a porch which stretched around the entire house. The double front door was a sparkling white and the grand brass knockers were luminous in the moonlight.
From behind the gates, the warm glow of firelight could be made out in the dining room of the house. Elaborate hairstyles and glamorous clothes worn by those in possession of smiles and light hearted banter were just visible in the dark of the night.
“Well, we sure will miss the lot of you!”
“We’ll be back. And with the Kaiser’s head!” At the head of the table, Victor Carson gave way to raucous laughter at this last claim.
The atmosphere was merry, all present bore smiles on their faces and joined in complacent laugher.
The room was dimly lit by candles; two on the table and others scattered around behind the party. Blackouts had recently become a common occurrence and rather than prove an annoyance, they seemed to add to the spirit of the evening. 
   Ethne Carson was the eldest daughter, seated on the right side to her father at the head of the table. At the age of 19, she was taller than most of her peers and with her unruly auburn hair and slanted russet eyes, she did not have the characteristics that beauty required but, she had a ‘gentle disposition’ and a twinkle in her eye that had captivated the eyes and hearts of many of the brave men who were leaving to fight the Germans. One brave man in particular had caught her eye.

Offline Mayday

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2007, 07:56:49 AM »
Hi Abigail,

I felt that it was very well written with very nice descriptive can picture the scene very well. However, I didn't feel like it grabbed my attention as quickly as it should. It was only when the dialogue came in with the mention of the Kaiser's head that I actually sat up and said to myself "oh, whats this all about".

But, it did make me wonder where the story was going and what was going to happen to these people...would like to read more when you have it done.


Offline jagsaw

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2007, 12:39:12 PM »
I agree Mayday, I didn't really enjoy the beginning bit where you told the readers about your story in the world war, but two paragraphs in and WHAM! it was really much better. Not that I should be commenting really, the tripe I come out with (but remember some people like tripe!)  ;D  .
but yeah, it's promising, and although I'm not into war novels (if it is indeed a war novel, and not a novel set in a war) this looks interesting.

I like your writing style though, it was concise.  and good use of certian words... 'raucious' is one of my favourites.  Its like, it's jam-packed with description and atomosphere, but you manage to achieve that with a relatively small amount of words. Nice!
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Offline Titania

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2007, 04:54:04 PM »
It's very well written but I feel the style is rather like that of a 19th century novel with lots of description right at the beginning of the book.  The first two paragraphs sound almost like the opening of a novel by Dickens.  The description of Ethne Carson too is very detailed and 19th century.  It's not necessary these days to give so much description of a character right at the beginning of a novel;  you can just drop clues now and again as to what she is like - for example, from how other people see her.  But, of course, perhaps you want to write a pastiche in the style of the late 19th or early 20th centuries?  A.N. Wilson did just that in his novel "Gentlemen in England".  If this is the case, then I think you've done it very well and it does make me want to read on.
Less is more

Offline Writers Block

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2007, 06:21:16 PM »
Pride and Prejudice doesnt start like you describe, within the genre it is aimed at, it has a recognisable hook.

"IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

So I accept that some books of that time do offer lots of description to start, however some offer you a hook. I first read Pride and Prejudice at 15.  As a male I got lots of grief, but I didnt care, I enjoyed the book, and it is still in my top ten. But that is another story. ;)

As others have said.  The description lost my attention, I would have placed it back on the shelf.

“We’ll be back. And with the Kaiser’s head!”

That is your hook, don't hide it away, you want readers to want to carry on, to buy whatever medium it is presented in. At the very least, to read it to the end.

Whilst many of us write because we enjoy it, we also want others to read what we write, AND enjoy it.

Read many books, of many different genres, study them, and keep writing.  Practice will never make perfect, but we can all keep trying.

I tend to critique in a harsh manner. Please remember it is not personal, but how I prefer anyone critiqueing me to be. It is far more useful IMO.


Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Offline gooby46

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2007, 10:42:35 PM »
Your description is really good. 

I've read somewhere that, once you've written short story/novel/whatever, so back and see how it reads without the first two or three paragraphs.  The thinking behind this is that you're maybe only 'warming up' with the first couple of paras and you may get a stronger start if they're deleted. 

Here, perhaps a re-arrangement of the paras would give a stronger start. 

Offline Allie

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2007, 03:17:35 AM »
No matter how good the description, it's unfortunately old-fashioned. Just because the story is set in 1914 doesn't mean you should write as if you or your readers lived then. The agent or publisher whose eye you have to catch will be looking for a modern story, no matter when it's set.

But at least you have a setting. Now you just have to work it into the story in a way that modern readers will enjoy. :)

Offline Aurora Collins

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2007, 06:10:48 AM »
I really liked this beginning, however, you begin in first person, and then end it in third person.
That was the only thing that I got kind of confused about.

I would love to see where you take this.

Aurora Collins
Here I stand on a precipice, looking into the vast chasm of uncertainty,
Seeing the other side, ripe with success, wondering if someday that be me.
Then deciding I'll take nothing less.
Aurora Collins © 2005

Offline Ken100

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2007, 03:22:22 PM »
Hi Abigail,

It looks like you're writing an adventure story here. Why not start in the middle of the book at a moment of suspense or danger? Draw the reader in and then fill in the backstory before continuing the narrative.
Lawrence Block talks about this in 'Writing the novel: From plot to print' as well as a lot more sound advice.
My other piece of advice would be, if it is a work in progress, just keep writing! Once you've got the story down on paper you can go back and edit, chop it up, reshape it, rewrite it, do whatever you want with it to make it better. But for now, I would just write, write, write!

Hope that helps,

best wishes
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Offline Writer Boy

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2007, 03:25:52 PM »
Great story, I live in Halifax!
Writing is important to me, It's something I most certainly NEED to do.

Offline funink

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Re: Beginning of a novel please read and say if it's good
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2007, 11:11:10 PM »
I love the description of the house. For me the story begins with “The wrought iron gates….” If “Mr Carson was a man of extensive means” show us don’t tell us. This is the wide shot opening the story. How can you make it move the story forward?
It looks like you’re trying to use language from the period, “by those in possession of smiles and light hearted banter…” ,“gave way to raucous laughter…”, “captivated the eyes and hearts…”. Is there a  way to say these things with solid action words? Keep writing…….