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First 250 Words of Chapter Two (Alternative History)


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#1 BadgerFox

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 04:31 AM

Shiny new version in #6 !

 

 

It's 1888, Britain, with changed gender roles.  I have two viewpoint characters (Otto and Una) and chapters alternate between their viewpoints. Ch1 introduces Otto. Ch2 (here) introduces Una. Is it clear what's happening?

 

 

 

 

-

Una nudged the man who wasn’t supposed to be there.

 

“Right. Listen. Here’s what I suspect happened…” she held an index finger aloft, conspiratorial, and with her other hand pulled him closer, where she wanted him. She paused. Noticing the gooseflesh on his bare chest, Una yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast under the coverlet on her old iron bedstead. The rest of the bedchamber, of course, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight merely soaking through the curtains like tepid soup. The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May.

 

“I think they only fired me on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. I have suspicions. The firm was in debt, I’ll wager, and could not afford everyone’s salary. So they dismissed me, since I was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her theory, “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.”

 

Nodding, the lad tucked a dark rat-tail of hair behind his ear. His tresses had looked more agreeable at Drummond’s gin-palace last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery ornaments. This morning, he didn’t look old or anything nasty like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above certainly still made males that were better by candlelight. I daresay I shall recall his name in a minute…

-

 

(Thanks to all who comment, these forums have been a super-helpful place for crit in the past!)


Spare a little feedback, if you have a moment? :)

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!


#2 missbee

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 06:40 PM

Una nudged the man who wasn’t supposed to be there. With what? How? After finishing the whole thing, this is neither interesting as a first line nor important imo; see whole reply for my suggested start.

 

“Right. Listen. Here’s what I suspect happened…” ​not a big fan of the ellipses to end dialogue] she held an index finger aloft, conspiratorial,  [she held up a conspiratorial index finger? hard for me to imagine a finger as conspiratorial. I imagine you mean her tone was such. and with her other hand pulled him closer, where she wanted him. I'm assuming it's where she wanted him, since she's moving him.] She paused. She paused [to notice the gooseflesh...]

Noticing the gooseflesh on his bare chest, Una yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast under the coverlet on her old iron bedstead.  The rest of the bedchamber, of course, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight merely soaking through the curtains like tepid soup. over-written, possibly just the phrasing of it] The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May. oh I love this! really establishing a voice I can appreciate]

 

“I think they only fired me ​ on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. I have suspicions. The firm was in debt, I’ll wager, and could not afford everyone’s salary. So they dismissed me, since was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her theory. “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.” [ 'fired me' ' the firm' 'salary' seems phrased in such a modern way compared to the rest of the language and setting]

 

Nodding everyone is nodding then], the lad tucked a dark rat-tail of hair behind his ear. His tresses had looked more agreeable at Drummond’s gin-palace last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery ornaments. great image of this chump; I really like this as a reader] This morning, he didn’t look old or anything nasty like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above certainly still made males that were better by candlelight. I daresay I shall recall his name in a minute… This whole last part could be more clearly phrased imo. It's jarring to read.]

 

To make a suggestion, I have recently been focusing on the weaving of character, setting, etc. I feel as though if this is the first 250 words, you might explore these suggestions based on some templates I've made from reading Sanderson, Rowling, and Patterson. Helpful or not, for the first 250, I feel like I wish I knew a bit more already.

 

Character doing something to start scene; typically a change in position. This would help you reveal earlier that they are in a bed. I was imagining them standing until a few sentences in. I didn't like having to re-imagine the whole scene up to that point. One rule I tell my students is I should know how they are moving (not moving) before I have to watch them talking.

 

Dialogue that shows personality

I loved your 'pleased with herself' but I didn't feel any personality came through besides that. When she said 'what I suspect happened, I really was imagining something modern and possibly more serious than getting fired.

 

Character jokes or acts in cute (whatever their emotion or personality dictates, but it should make the reader want to like them)(or not like them if that is how I'm supposed to feel about her) way

Besides noticing the goose bumps, she doesn't DO much besides nod. Is this a one night stand? Is she attract to this dude? Does she think he's stupid and is just using him as a sounding board? I don't understand how she feels about this dude, but with some action I'd be sold. 

Use her perspective to describe 2nd character’s looks and have them watch the other.

You do this in yours with his hair, but you could throw in some eyes? I wanna know how she sees him, since you go on to say the 'better by candlelight' part (which I love)

They start to move around the space

 

Hope this is helpful at least for a second go at it. In all, there are some nuggets of gold, but much to explore about this important moment.



#3 cookingdan

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 08:57 PM

Thank you for your feedback on my query, thought I'd return the favour :-)

It's 1888, Britain, with changed gender roles.

 

I have two viewpoint characters (Otto and Una) and chapters alternate between their viewpoints. Ch1 introduces Otto. Ch2 (here) introduces Una. Is it clear what's happening?

 

-

Una nudged the man who wasn’t supposed to be there  in her bed. (now we know where 'there' is)

 

“Right. Listen. Here’s what I suspect happened…” I find the first line of dialogue somewhat lacking in oomph, and you don't seem to talk about what happened again, unless her being fired is what 'she thinks happened' in which case doesn't she know what happened? How about you start with, "Here's why I think they fired me..." she held an index finger aloft, conspiratorial, and with her other hand pulled him closer, where she wanted him. She paused. Noticing the gooseflesh on his bare chest, Una yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast under the coverlet on her old iron bedstead. The rest of the bedchamber, of course, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight merely soaking through the curtains like tepid soup (sunlight like soup? I dunno ...). The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May. nice one

 

“I think they only fired me on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. I have suspicions. The firm was in debt, I’ll wager, and could not afford everyone’s salary. So they dismissed me, since I was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her theory, “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.”  

 

Nodding, the lad tucked a dark rat-tail of hair behind his ear. His tresses had looked more agreeable at Drummond’s gin-palace (Capitalize gin palace. It's part of the name) last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery ornaments. This morning, he didn’t look old or anything nasty like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above certainly still made males that were better by candlelight. I daresay I shall recall his name in a minute…

 

All-in-all it's a good start. Beginnings are hard! I often find it helps to finish the book and then go back and rewrite the beginning with the omniscience of one who knows all that will later transpire

-

 

(Thanks to all who comment, these forums have been a super-helpful place for crit in the past!)



#4 Artsnerd

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 10:07 AM

Paying back the favor for your critique of my query! :) Thanks so much! I saw that you already had a query critique in which you got some requests (congrats!), so thought I'd just find a more recent topic.

 

Una nudged the man who wasn’t supposed to be there. Maybe a little more setup with this sentence would help ground the scene some more.

 

“Right. Listen. Here’s what I suspect happened…” she held an index finger aloft, conspiratorial, and with her other hand pulled him closer, where she wanted him. She paused. Noticing the gooseflesh on his bare chest, Una yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast under the coverlet on her old iron bedstead. The rest of the bedchamber, of course, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight merely soaking through the curtains like tepid soup. "Soaking through the curtains like tepid soup" is a great comparison--really vivid! The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May. I really like this part! Very characterizing.

 

“I think they only fired me on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. I have suspicions. The firm was in debt, I’ll wager, and could not afford everyone’s salary. So they dismissed me, since was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her theory, “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.”

 

Nodding, the lad tucked a dark rat-tail of hair behind his ear. His tresses had looked more agreeable at Drummond’s gin-palace last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery ornaments. This morning, he didn’t look old or anything nasty like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above certainly still made males that were better by candlelight. I daresay I shall recall his name in a minute…  I really quite enjoyed this paragraph!

 

You've got yourself a really solid piece of writing here. It's really gotten me wanting to read more!


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

The query for my current WIP can be found here.

 

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#5 TheBest

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 12:04 PM

Returning the favor on my first 250!

 

Una nudged the man who wasn’t supposed to be there. (This is a great opener, but it would be even better if you made it a little more intense. Tighten the language.)

 

“Right. Listen. Here’s what I suspect happened…” she held an index finger aloft (I don't know if I like aloft. Seems a little flowery for so early), conspiratorial, and with her other hand pulled him closer, where she wanted him. She paused. Noticing the gooseflesh on his bare chest, Una yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast under the coverlet on her old iron bedstead. The rest of the bedchamber, of course, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight merely soaking through the curtains like tepid soup. The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May. (This is great! You established the setting, the sense of space, and got me hooked all in one quick paragraph. Nice!!)

 

“I think they only fired me on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. I have suspicions. The firm was in debt, I’ll wager, and could not afford everyone’s salary. So they dismissed me, since was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her theory, “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.”(Despite the older language, nothing feels awkward. The opening lines of the paragraph are a little omg, so you could consider cutting those down, but the humbug line is golden.)

 

Nodding, the lad tucked a dark rat-tail of hair behind his ear. His tresses had looked more agreeable at Drummond’s gin-palace last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery ornaments. This morning, he didn’t look old or anything nasty like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above certainly still made males that were better by candlelight. I daresay I shall recall his name in a minute…

 

Very good voice! I'm already hooked. My only advice is to cut down a few of the longer sentences, and make sure the reader is never overwhelmed.



#6 BadgerFox

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 03:04 AM

Redraft #2 (with thanks!)

[Note: I check modern-sounding vocabulary using a historical dictionary – promise! ‘Firm’ dates from 1585ish, ‘to be fired’ is used from 1885 onwards, and ‘salary’ dates from c.1400 and is used frequently by Charles Dickens. However, I do see what’s being said here, and understand that an 1888 historical novel opening needs to give immediate Victorian flavour, even IF some modern-sounding words are technically dated as accurate.]

 

 

Una rolled over beside the man who wasn’t supposed to be there.

 

“Right. Listen! Here’s what I suspect happened at work.” She wagged a zealous index finger at him, poised to elaborate. But she paused, noticing gooseflesh on his bare chest, and yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast under the coverlet on her old iron bedstead. The rest of the bedchamber, naturally, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight only soaking through the curtains like tepid soup. The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May.

 

“I think they only dismissed me on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. I have suspicions. The business was in debt, I’ll wager. They could not afford everyone’s salary. So they rid themselves of me, since I was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her hypothesis, “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.”

 

Yawning, the lad merely tucked a rat-tail of hair behind his sizeable ear. His dark tresses had looked more agreeable at Drummond’s Gin-Palace last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery ornaments. This morning, he didn’t look old or anything horrid like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above clearly still made males that were better by candlelight. Hm. Perhaps I shall recall his name in a minute?


Spare a little feedback, if you have a moment? :)

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!


#7 Timejockey

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 08:25 PM

 

Una rolled over beside the man who wasn’t supposed to be there. (That's an excellent start to the chapter)

 

“Right. Listen! Here’s what I suspect happened at work.” She wagged a zealous index finger at him, poised to elaborate. But she paused, noticing gooseflesh on his bare chest, and yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast under the coverlet on her old iron bedstead. The rest of the bedchamber, naturally, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight only soaking through the curtains like tepid soup. The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May. (Also no complaints here. I like the imagery you present here and the way it evokes the setting as a character all its own)

 

“I think they only dismissed me on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. (Don't go by my on this because I am trying to reconnect with the part of my brain that remembers my English classes, but the comma before yesterday seems unnecessary) I have suspicions. The business was in debt, I’ll wager. They could not afford everyone’s salary. So they rid themselves of me, since I was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her hypothesis, “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.”

 

Yawning, the lad merely tucked a rat-tail of hair behind his sizeable (sizable?) ear. His dark tresses had looked more agreeable at Drummond’s Gin-Palace last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery (jewelry?) ornaments. This morning, he didn’t look old or anything horrid like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above clearly still made males that were better by candlelight. Hm. Perhaps I shall recall his name in a minute?

All in all I have no complaints aside from the few notes I have on here. It has a lot of great energy and just this small section makes Una seem a very fun and interesting character. Good job!



#8 fatalkiss19

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 04:02 AM

Una rolled over beside the man who wasn’t supposed to be there.

 

“Right. Listen! Here’s what I suspect happened at work.” She wagged a zealous index finger at him, poised to elaborate. But she After noticing gooseflesh on his bare chest, she paused and  paused, noticing gooseflesh on his bare chest, and yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast under the coverlet on her old iron bedstead. The rest of the bedchamber, naturally, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight only soaking through the curtains like tepid soup. The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May.

 

“I think they only dismissed me on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. I have suspicions. The business was in debt, I’ll wager. They could not afford everyone’s salary. So they rid themselves of me, since I was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her bare chest naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her hypothesis, “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.”

 

Yawning, the lad merely tucked a rat-tail of hair behind his sizeable ear. His dark tresses had looked more agreeable at Drummond’s Gin-Palace last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery ornaments. This morning, he didn’t look old or anything horrid like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above clearly still made males that were better by candlelight. Hmm. Perhaps I shall recall his name in a minute?

A lot of great detail in so few words. I can picture it clearly. Nice job!



#9 LEEALLAN

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 02:04 PM

Thanks, Badgerfox, for critiquing my work. I apologize for not answering sooner, I had a recent back injury. I do agree with most of the suggestions from the other two authors. LEEALLAN

 

 

Una rolled over beside the man who wasn’t supposed to be there. (fantastic first sentence!)

 

“Right. Listen! (No exclamation mark needed.) Here’s what I suspect happened at work.” She wagged a zealous index finger at him, poised to elaborate. But she paused, noticing gooseflesh on his bare chest, and yanked the blankets tighter about them both. It was warm as toast (the reference to "toast" seems a bit cliched.) under the coverlet on her old (What about giving the year or decade to describe the bedstead? This would easily establish the era.) iron bedstead. The rest of the bedchamber, naturally, would be arctic by now; the water in the wash-stand jug frozen solid and the morning sunlight only soaking through the curtains like tepid soup. (great description and simile!)The Scottish weather seemingly had not troubled itself to notice it was supposed to be May.

 

“I think they only dismissed me on a flimsy pretext, yesterday. I have suspicions. The business was in debt, I’ll wager. They could not afford everyone’s salary. So they rid themselves of me, since I was the most junior clerk,” Una folded her arms across her naked front with an emphatic nod, pleased at her hypothesis, “Yes, it was plainly all a humbug.”

 

Yawning, the lad (How about, "The lad nodded and nonchalantly") merely tucked a rat-tail of hair behind his sizeable ear. His dark tresses had looked more agreeable to her at Drummond’s Gin-Palace last night, pinned up in a knot with sprigs of cheap herbs and paste-jewellery ornaments. This morning, he didn’t look old or anything horrid like that - Una judged him twenty-something-or-other, same as herself - but the great Lady above clearly still made males that were better by candlelight. Hm. Perhaps I shall recall his name in a minute?

 

This is a great beginning. It pulls the reader in.






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