Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Your Thoughts On My Opening

Hi everyone! ^_^

I first want to say thank you for the comments and kind words. I knew the response was going to be good, but I never imagined it would be so phenomenal. Because of this, I would like to share the (first draft) opening I am currently using for my novel.

Before I comment on the things I'm uncomfortable with, I want to clarify that my novel is an Upper Middle Grade designated for boys 10 and up (or equal to the age range of Percy Jackson). I would like for you to pay close attention to the diction in the piece and determine if it's suitable for such a demographic, or "over their heads" as some say.

I would also like for you to ascertain if my opening sentence makes sense or is "good" in any way. I am not pleased with it at all and I really need a second opinion. The sentences I hate are bold.

All righty then, let's get started.

Bane Hollow and the Apocalypse of Judgment

Upper Middle Grade Fantasy/Mystery/Adventure


Valeous Rex knew it had to be done, yet no matter how hard he tried to remain focused, he couldn't help but admire the earth. 

Its people were weak but full of hope...

Its lands were rich and fertile...

Everything lived with vim and vigor--every life was filled with silver dreams...

It was such a pity--oh, what an aweful shame--that all of this was about to end.

Valeous looked at the man on his right. He was as bright as the sun, had two short spiraled horns and robed in sheer white with yellow, feathered wings spread wide. He, in turn, glanced at the Arseraph on his right, who did the same to his neighbor, and so it continued like dominos around the globe, until the Arseraph on Valeous's left looked at him at last.

"It is nearly time."

Valeous inclined his head and folded his arms. Anticipation surged through every juvenile bone in his body. Soon he would be unleashed and this precious planet would cease. But he had to wait in this suffocating blackness of eternal silence. 



Yearning...for the sign.

And then it came: earth's rainbow of blues, greens and whites turned from pink to orange, like metal over a flame.

Valeous fixed his white tie, loosened the last button on his black tuxedo and smiled. As quick as a comet, he dashed into earth's atmosphere with a thundering boom. He slit through the stratosphere and dove toward a roaring sea of fire. The Arseraphs at his sides pointed their fingers at the inferno and it parted to create a deep hole. He flew into its fiery depths, heat licking his skin, until patches of land came into view.

After a second or two, tiny bumps expanded into buildings, and Valeous came to a halt near a green statue of a woman holding a torch. He surveyed the helicopters that whizzed nearby -- at the people gaping at the fiery heavens with fingers held high. Funnels of flames were twisting down all over the sky, and he knew, right then and there, it had to end.

Valeous held out his hand, palm up, and said, "Atomos Fissum!"

A blinding silver flash swallowed everything in its light. When it faded alltogether, every life and object was as stiff as board: moving cars were stationary, the helicopters were pinned in mid air and folks were frozen with an expression of awe.

Valeous turned up his nose, absorbing his work with the deepest satisfaction.

All at once, the tornadoes dug their tails into the ground and sucked doors, cars and people into its rabid heat. The Arseraphs sped across the city, scooped the rigid bodies into their arms and flew them to safety. Then, as impressive as the twisters, the sea changed from a shade of light orange to deep red, and rose some fifty stories high, as if hoisted by an unseen hand.

BOOM! A sewer lid shot off, followed by another...and another, sending thick, ruby red water gushing into the air. Chaos boiled all around him, but Valeous simply hovered beside the Statue of Liberty, arms folded.

"Amazing, isn't it?" an Arseraph said, floating beside him. "He can't so much as utter a word, yet look at what he can do."


I actually like this one. Do you? Of all my openings this is the most imminent and mysterious--it makes me want to learn more no matter how many times I re-read it. I admit, it can be polished a lot more (like a WHOLE LOT), but at its very core, it is indeed a hook-y piece. 

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to help me. And I can't wait to read the comments.


DRC said...

As first draft first chapters go, it's pretty good. You deffinitely have the action and the cliff hanger at the end to make readers want to read more.

I see what you mean about the opening sentence though. For me, the part I didn't like was when he was 'admiring the earth'. It didn't paint a picture. Could he be standing, holding some soil in his hand? or is he admiring the planet from afar. I know all this is revealed as you read on, but for a first sentence it didn't clairfy. maybe you could say he was admiring Planet Earth (or even just capitalise Earth to make it clearer.

Also, I got the picture of everyone looking to their neighbour until it come full circle, but didn't quite get a time scale. I take it they're waiting around the planet, but how long does it take for the looks to come back round? Are these beings huge in comparison? Therefore it wouldn't take that long, or have they been waiting for a long time?

These are only a few points in my eyes, do with them as you will. Overall though, I'm intrigued. It was a good first chapter.

Barbara Kloss said...

Thanks for sharing!

And your first chapter definitely had action and left me wanting to read more - Who is Valeous? What is he doing and why? and...what the heck did he just do?

You've got a lot going on and some really nice descriptions (ie "sea changed from a shade of light orange to deep red, and rose some fifty stories high, as if hoisted by an unseen hand")

My only concern - as it seems you already anticipated - would be the tone. If you're targeting your Percy Jackson audience, the writing in those novels was much simpler (almost embarrassingly so!). Your writing is excellent! - but may be a little "over their heads" :D At least for your target. This is my opinion, though, so take it or leave it.

Other than that, awesome work on a first chapter...makes me excited to read the rest!

Michael Offutt said...

I honestly love your writing. But I'm not your age group so nothing I say matters. However I look forward to the day when I can purchase the manuscript. Keep writing :)

Paul Joseph said...

Hey pal!

I think you are off to a great start. From my experience, openings are the hardest part to write, and I find it easier to perfect them last. It's important to get the thoughts down, which you have done, but I wouldn't dwell over your wording just yet. Once you've finished the manuscript and taken a break from the story, things will jump out at you that you can't see just yet. I promise. And, once the entire story has been revised, you will have a clear direction of how to nail your opening. You might be surprised how much you decide to change later. I've written four very different first scenes and have yet to get one that makes me pumped. I keep moving forward, and each time I return, I get a little further with it.

But, this is just my advice from what I've learned. We are each our own person, so do what works for you. Based on what you've shared, I would keep reading!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your excerpts and you're a great writer. This is a hooky piece.

I do agree with Paul. I've changed beginning pages after a manuscript is done. After writing the end, I have the big picture of the wip, and the revising and editing process many times lead to tweaked openers.

Julie said...

Good stuff! I was very engaged, you have some fabulous descriptions and the piece definitely left me wanting to read more.

I will agree with Barb, though. To me, this felt more YA than mid grade. Granted, I've only read the first 2 or 3 Percy books, so maybe they channel an older audience as they progress. But, that was just my impression while reading.

Good luck! Beginnings are SO hard!

Julie said...

P.s. I blog-awarded you! Check it out!

Anonymous said...

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

Lola X said...

Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

Lola x

S. L. Hennessy said...

Hey, I stumbled across your blog today (via my pal Julie's blog). I LOVE your name (I too am a superhero super fan)! And I enjoyed this first draft...really really fun. I'm of a similar genre, so it's fun to read stuff like this to get my creative juices going (mine's called The Evil Overlord Society and it's all about heroes and villains). Can't wait to hear more!!

Lola X said...

Such a great post! Love visiting your blog!

Lola x

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