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Author Topic: Feedback on story intro?  (Read 1578 times)

Orkboy

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Feedback on story intro?
« on: 29 Jan 2015, 14:21 »

So, I'm getting back into writing, and I need feedback on a story introduction.  We all know that most good stories manage to grab you by the end of the first paragraph (or the first sentence, such as the Dark Tower series), and I thought I'd post the introduction here to see if it's enough to make people interested in reading more.  It's going to be low-to-mid fantasy.  More magic and monsters than Game of Thrones, but less than Lord of the Rings. 

Quote
Since the passing of Revaak Snowcrown, the task of chronicling his life falls to me, for I am the last man to know my lord’s tale from the beginning.  I am Rarrys Bryne Goodblood, called the Undying, though I fear the day approaches when I must finally prove the name false.  As I commit the story of Revaak Snowcrown to paper, I will see my hundredth year come to an end, and for the sake of men yet to be born, the tale of my lord’s life must be recorded.  May the gods permit me to live long enough to complete my task before I follow my lord into the grave and whatever grand adventure waits beyond this mortal realm.  I have no doubt that, whatever the next world holds, my lord has met it with a song in his heart and a blade in his hand.

ReindeerFlotilla

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Re: Feedback on story intro?
« Reply #1 on: 29 Jan 2015, 23:06 »

I hate to sound harsh, but I'm not feeling it. Where's the hook? An opening needs to grab reader interest.

Since I struggle with this myself, i give the greatest hook ever written:
Quote from: John Scalzi
I did two things on my 75th birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the Army.

See how these raise questions? I'd have to double check, but I think it's several pages before we get a name for septuagenarian recruit. Rather than raise questions, your first lines answer them. You could probably unpack the first two sentences alone into four paragraphs. Normally, I'm not a fan of that sort of thing. Big name authors do it to pad word count and make you feel like that overstuffed tenth book in the trilogy is worth 30 bucks. But the opening of the story is foreplay: best drawn out.

On the subject of names, you have three proper names in as many sentences. One used twice. That's way too many for the first three sentences. Is this Snowcrown's story? Then don't name him until the second paragraph at least. Is it Goodblood's? Same applies. If this really is Snowcrown's tale, too much information about the narrator given too soon is just a distraction. It's confusing. It does feel like it's something you'd expect to hear or read in a period piece, but that actually has the effect of making it seem unoriginal. Here's a different take on your opening line:
Quote from: ReindeerFlotilla
I came here to praise the Lord of IceKeep, but it seems I must bury him.

Notice that I've framed the death as a question. The narrator wasn't expecting it. Why not? Why was he coming to praise this Lord of IceKeep person? I'm no Scalzi. Notice that I did not hint at an answer to the question posed by every opening: "Why should I care?" Of course, you don't have to be Scalzi. You can get your hook set in the first two paragraph, rather than the first two lines.

Lastly, you have got to lose the last line. It doesn't belong in this paragraph. That's a closing line if I ever saw one. It's an ender. It says, this subject is done, insert fork. It can live in the opening but you have to set the hook before the read hits it.

Akima

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Re: Feedback on story intro?
« Reply #2 on: 30 Jan 2015, 14:47 »

Given your obvious basic story structure, an old man writing a memoir, I don't think that is bad, though I agree with ReindeerFlotilla that the last sentence belongs in your last paragraph rather than your first. There is a certain amount of repetition, however, and I think the writing could be tauter. Perhaps:

"Since the passing of Revaak Snowcrown, the task of chronicling his life falls to me, for I am the last man to know my lord’s tale from the beginning.  As I write this, I will see my hundredth year come to an end, and for the sake of men yet to be born, the tale of my lord’s life must be recorded. I am Rarrys Bryne Goodblood, called the Undying, though I fear the day approaches when I must finally prove the name false. May the gods permit me to live long enough to complete my task before I follow my lord into the grave and whatever grand adventure waits beyond this mortal realm."

Random thoughts:

1) As a general rule, short character names are better than long ones; Is there a good in-story reason for your narrator to have a name that sounds more like a law-firm than a person, or did it just sound cool?

2) What does this mean?: "As I write this, I will see my hundredth year come to an end" Does it mean your character is writing at 23:59 on the day before his birthday? It's vague and specific at the same time, and I found it distracting.
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Orkboy

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Re: Feedback on story intro?
« Reply #3 on: 30 Jan 2015, 16:34 »

Fair enough.  Thanks.

explicit

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Re: Feedback on story intro?
« Reply #4 on: 31 Jan 2015, 04:06 »

Fantasy, sci-fi and war tropes are kind of hard to get going. Maybe try writing the part past the intro and see where that gets you?

I like the name drop for the Dark Tower series, but if you're trying that style it's not quite right. If there's any author I know it's Stephen King.
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Orkboy

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Re: Feedback on story intro?
« Reply #5 on: 31 Jan 2015, 15:05 »

I was aiming at more of an "Akiro voices the introduction of the original Conan movies," but I don't think it quite worked. 

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Re: Feedback on story intro?
« Reply #6 on: 31 Jan 2015, 22:34 »

I'm going to say this with no intention of snark, so apologies if it comes off that way:

If you're going to introduce a written story, a movie might not be your best starting point. The thing is, that voice narration can be gripping, meh, or downright clumsy; as long as you've got a good DP and cinematographer, you have a visual hook in case the words fail (I didn't remember much about the crawl text at the beginning of Star Wars past "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" once that huge-ass Star Destroyer came on screen). You don't have the luxury of visuals (unless this is the intro to a comic or a graphic novel), so in this case, ambiguity is your friend. I'm with RF on this one; raise questions. Don't answer them 'til later (if then). So, if you want to take that literally:

"The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything occurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum! What does this mad myth signify?" (Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being )

Or,

"It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love." (Garcia-Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera )
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