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Need help with intro paragraph to a novel

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Old 10-19-2013, 05:49 PM
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Default Need help with intro paragraph to a novel


I've written a novel but the first paragraph just isn't as compelling as I'd like it to be. I have tentatively decided to add a paragraph to preface the novel and hint at what's to come. I've come up with something but I feel it could still be improved.

So my main question with this post is, upon reading the following paragraph are you compelled to keep reading? Would there be something I could change/add to make it more compelling?

*I never considered myself to be anything special. I was just another starved child in a village of starving people. My clothes were just as worn and my pockets were just as empty. I had no idea there was a whole world out there, a world where I was not only valuable, but also powerful. I just never imagined it. *

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Old 10-19-2013, 06:27 PM
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I feel the passage does a good job of suggesting to the reader that the story revolves around a life changing event, whilst hinting at some sort of dark twist, which I find quite compelling.

However I feel the last sentence does something to lessen the impact of what had come before.

'I just never imagined it.'

I really don't feel its necessary, as you're only repeating what you've already said at the beginning of the previous sentence.

Also, without knowing more about the story, it's difficult to say what you can use to further dramatize the opening without giving too much away.

But these are just my thoughts.

Mike
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Old 10-19-2013, 07:23 PM
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It's difficult to really give advice about what to inclide/exclude and how to build insight into what may come as someone who has no idea what the story is about and no idea what is to come.

But that has not stopped me meddling in the past and it shalln't stop me now

I have an idea how I would craft the opening below:

Originally Posted by Kathleen Clark View Post

*I never considered myself to be anything special. I was just another starved child in a village of starving people. My clothes were just as worn and my pockets were just as empty. I had no idea there was a whole world out there, a world where I was not only valuable, but also powerful. I just never imagined it. *
I think the paragraph falls a bit flat. I would up the tempo and deliver the stakes:

I was one of a thousand of starving children in an impoverished village. Dirty rags offered no protection from the harsher weather and empty pockets did little to feed an empty stomach. The thought that there could be more out there - a world that not only would care about me, but one in which I was important and powerful - was as foreign to me as a feast.

How does that fly?
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Old 10-19-2013, 08:00 PM
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Well, Risk 10, frankly I prefer Kathleen's original.
That said, it does seem a little sparse, and I have one or two problems with the text: for example, a village containing a thousand starving children would be a pretty big village - how many schools would it have? Or maybe that's just me.
As to what you might change or add to make it more compelling Kathleen, I'm not sure that your two and a half lines are enough to permit a useful suggestion.
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Old 10-19-2013, 08:15 PM
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Always happy to take useful criticism. Thank you Spike
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Old 10-20-2013, 04:25 AM
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Hi Kathleen

Interesting concept to preface the novel like this. In my opinion the paragraph could be improved a bit though

My clothes were just as worn and my pockets were just as empty.
For some reason this line does not seem quite right. I am sort of expecting more in regards to, just as worn as what? And pockets were just as empty as what?
Maybe its just me, but this line had me a bit puzzled


If I went to a book-store, picked up a book and read this paragraph on the back or as a preface, and only could decide by this paragraph, I probably would not buy it. Simply because, as Risk hinted at, there is nothing at stake here. It does not feel very I've-got-to-buy-this-book-right-now-and-find-out-how-this-goes...ish. Having said that, I don't know the title (and/or subtitle) of the novel. If that hints at what is to come, then this paragraph might well work.

You may consider something along this line:
- I had no idea what the future held in store for me. That I would travel the world to places I never knew existed. That I would become rich, powerful and admired beyond my dreams. But also that I would be feared and hated in ways I never knew possible. It changed me forever.

Not knowing what the story is about I am just using my imagination here, but if you hint at the character being feared and hated for his/her power, that could indicate to the reader the coming of intrigue, backstabbing, perhaps even plots to kill the character. At least that is how I would think. But then again, I have a lively imagination

Perhaps not much of a suggestion, but maybe it will give you some ideas if nothing else


Garviel
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Old 10-20-2013, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Kathleen Clark View Post

*I never considered myself to be anything special. I was just another starved child in a village of starving people. My clothes were just as worn and my pockets were just as empty. I had no idea there was a whole world out there, a world where I was not only valuable, but also powerful. I just never imagined it. *
you use just four times in the one paragraph.

I think your second sentence once it is sorted is actually the better hook. My stomach was empty, my pockets bare and clothes worn, like every other child in the village.

Try to rearrange the final sentence to say I less often and then I think you'll have a tight opening paragraph.
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Old 10-20-2013, 06:53 AM
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Thank you to everyone who responded with such thorough comments. I'll try to respond to each of them.

'I just never imagined it.'

I really don't feel its necessary, as you're only repeating what you've already said at the beginning of the previous sentence.

Mike
I agree about this line, it just seems weak. Seeing as how I'm not the only one, I feel a bit better about removing it.

How does that fly?
Hmm, I don't care for this version if only because it doesn't jive with the tone/style of the rest of the novel. However, it does give me an idea of what readers would be looking for, which is invaluable.

As to what you might change or add to make it more compelling Kathleen, I'm not sure that your two and a half lines are enough to permit a useful suggestion.
The omission of information about the novel was intentional. I wanted to see what the paragraph accomplished on its own, although I do realize that leaves the suggestion end of this post a bit lacking.

For some reason this line does not seem quite right. I am sort of expecting more in regards to, just as worn as what? And pockets were just as empty as what?
I was going for 'as the rest of the village' that was mentioned in the previous sentence, but if it didn't transfer, then I will work on it. Thanks!

you use just four times in the one paragraph.

I think your second sentence once it is sorted is actually the better hook. My stomach was empty, my pockets bare and clothes worn, like every other child in the village.

Try to rearrange the final sentence to say I less often and then I think you'll have a tight opening paragraph.
As always, Anya, your comments are quite thoughtful and insightful. I hadn't noticed the repetition of 'just' or 'I', but now that it's been pointed out, it seems so obvious. Nicely done!


Taking all your comments and ideas into consideration, I have rewritten the paragraph to accommodate your concerns:

*I never considered myself to be anything special, just another starved child in a village of starving people. With my clothes worn and my pockets empty, I could never have dreamt there was a whole world where I was not only valuable, but also powerful, and even dangerous. Nothing could have prepared me. *

An improvement?

Once again, thank you all for your ideas and suggestions!
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Old 10-20-2013, 07:10 AM
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I don't think you need the Nothing could have prepared me. It weakens the other two sentences because it is such an obvious statement.

The rest is much improved and more hooky. I still think you don't need the first sentence either but that is personal taste.

I really like the middle sentence.
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