New opening, seeking feedback!!

Fri, Apr 20 2018 01:55pm IST 1
15 Posts

Hey!! This is my first stab at an opener for my first ever novel.

Any tips or pointers. The flow, the content, the structure, the overall feel, would you want to read more?

Any feedback would be great. Thanks.

In The Beginning...

It was like it all came at once!

The thunder, the lightening and the wind all seemed to pick up simultaneously.

The Rapid gusts of wind then began forming tornadoes, small at first, but they grew quickly, doubling in size within a matter of seconds.

The rain followed in quick succession, falling from the sky like bricks and causing just as much damage. From smashing windows to removing loose roof tiles, eventually destroying everything that it pelted down upon.

Then came one huge, almighty earthquake!

Then darkness,

Then light.

Then darkness again and with it, a state of confusion, it was hard to say how long that lasted for.

That was how the world ended.

So from here, we can begin.

Someone Disappears.

Falling from a chasm, which had formed between the 2 blackest clouds in the sky, a huge black feather trickles down upon the night air. It's heading towards the centre of the apocalypse, which is currently in full swing. Great swirls of atoms are spinning in their droves, some of them have just begun to settle and have collected together, amassing in various areas of an, as yet, unstable image.

A landscape is being presented.

Light, having just arrived from somewhere mysterious, is beginning to add shape and colour. With every complete rotation of the swirling atoms, new layers appear and the tiny particles that are clustering together are creating huge structures. The image is growing sharper and brighter and with every new shade upon shade being added, objects are becoming clearer.

As we sit here reading this, we are perched at the very edge of all worlds and all we have to do is dip imagination in and we become part of one of those worlds, and so we let ourselves in and find one world in particular, and from it’s periphery we begin to follow a pattern; a sequence of events happening simultaneously in the present moment.

And so the story unfolds.

The huge gorge in the sky, that's between the 2 blackest clouds, seals itself shut and whatever had just entered into it, has disappeared from this world.

Only the feather remains.

But no! There's something else.

Other than the feather, something else has been left behind. And while something has been left behind, something also has been taken away.

A murder has been committed. A life has been spared. Another killer is out there, sweat still dripping. A psychological wall of paranoia is manifesting into something physical and is beginning raise itself up, surrounding a city in chaos. A Television personality has been shot down on his door step and a lone gunman is on the loose.

In the unravelling moments of time this was all necessary, it was all just part of the process. Time moves on and we all move along with it until it is our time to stop.

The victim is very famous, so this will all be made a huge spectacle of. By the morning, every newspaper's front page story will have been reshuffled and whatever had been initially intended for the days news will be put to one side and a new story will run.

Welcome to London, in the year 1999.

Sat, Apr 21 2018 07:08am IST 2
2403 Posts

Hi Leon,

As this is the start of your novel, the best piece of advice I can give you is to keep going. Write the first draft without worrying about feedback, critique or how good or bad it is. Just get the story down. When you finally type that last full stop, take a deep breath and then come back to the start. You may find that your story took off in an unexpected direction and your beginning no longer fits/needs overhauled.

As ever, accept, adapt or reject the following:

Unless your weather is character or different to any other weather known to man, think twice before using it to start your novel. I'm not saying don't do it, I'm just saying it's a cliched way to begin and a lot of readers will roll their eyes, so be very sure it's the way you want to kick-off your novel.

'... the wind all seemed to pick up...' Write with conviction. Either the wind picked up or it didn't.

The rest of the first section is not convincing. Rain falling like bricks, taking down loose roof tiles and smashing windows, then an earthquake, and that's the way the world ended. I need more than that. I need to feel the fear; feel the ground trembling beneath my feet; hear structures being torn apart. I need to experience the maelstrom.

'A huge black feather trickles down upon the night air' This is where I sat up and took notice (although I don't necessarily think that feathers 'trickle'). I'd say tighten the first paragraph of your second section. Consider replacing 'are spinning' with 'spin' and whether 'just' adds anything to your opening. (Modifying words like just, only, very, really, almost etc will invariably be the ones to go when you are stripping back).

'A landscape is being presented.' I like this Smile

'Light, having just arrived..' - Light arrives? From somewhere mysterious? - do you need that?

From there you lost me. A murder was committed and a T.V personality gunned down on his doorstep, but hadn't the world just ended?

There are elements of this I like - it's easy to read and the style is good - but I'm not sure I get what's happening here. The picture is a little too fuzzy.

Move forward. Write the story then come back to this.

Sat, Apr 21 2018 02:04pm IST 3
15 Posts

Amazing feedback! Thank you (again)

I'm trying to go for something that baffles the reader, but in a way that makes it interesting not in a way that goes completely over your head, so i've failed there.

Over the entire piece, what i'm trying to do is describe the transitioning process from one world to another, hence, as the world 'ends' in the first section, in the 2nd section - the swirling atoms collecting together creating structures the light coming in and adding colour etc is a new/other world coming into focus. The whole A world ending, a new world beginning theme, doesn't make that clear, so no wonder you were confused. I need to work on that. In fact as i'm typing this, i'm asking myself questions that i've not asked myself before, and even i'm finding it all a bit confusing, so that's good, at least i know now and i can adjust it and work on it. But like you say, move on and come back to it. Great advice.

Thank you for such a detailed reply, it means a lot to someone who is right at the beginning of their writing adventure.

There may be hope for me yet!!

Sat, Apr 21 2018 08:38pm IST 4
240 Posts
Hi Leon,
I pretty much agree with everything Seagreen has said. I have to admit that you lost me too when we went from biblical apocalypse, end of the world to London, 1999. Personally, unless your story has a strong biblical connection or is an allegory on Creation, I would steer clear of "In the beginning..." as a first line. I believe most people will associate that with the opening of Genesis.

But as Seagreen mentioned if you're at the start of your novel best to keep writing forward until you have a first draft completed and then you can go back and start the editing process. Furthermore, a lot of time it is once you've finished writing your story that you realise where you should start from.

I hope this helps and as usual feel free to use or ignore as you see fit.
Good luck with your story.
Sun, Apr 22 2018 03:33pm IST 5
73 Posts

I agree with the above. I'm intrigued. I do want to know what's going on... so that's a good start.

The main thing that came across to me is that the description felt just like description, not as if it were happening now. I felt like I was being told something, not that I was reading the experiences of your narrator.

The huge gorge in the sky, that's between the 2 blackest clouds, seals itself shut and whatever had just entered into it, has disappeared from this world.

I think the pacing is the issue. If this read more like - A huge gorge splits the darkest of the clouds, drawing the atmosphere in towards it. As (whatever had just entered it - here I need some sort of description I think) is sucked inside, it seals itself shut and vanishes. Gone. Nothing remains.

I can see how you've tried to make the first section short and snappy but I think it could do with more. I want more from my apocalypse than a few broken windows.

It definitely shows promise, an interesting idea. A bit of tidying up and I hope it will grow into the story you want it to be!

I'm by no means an expert, so take everything I say with at least three pinches of salt.

Good luck! :D

Sun, Apr 22 2018 04:20pm IST 6
15 Posts

Thank you L and WeyMan, some great feedback. You've both made such great points.

L - The biblical reference was meant to be kind of tongue in cheek. It doesn't come across that way. I'm wondering if i should pursue it, crank up the irony or get rid once and for all. Going back to what you and Seagreen both said, i'll sack it off until i've finished the story, or got close enough to finessing it.

WeyMan - I see what you mean about it sounding too much like a description and totally agree that it needs more detail regarding the destruction and chaos, you and Seagreen both raised that issue. I'll work on that.

Glad you found it intriguing, i may just be on the right path after all.

Thank you people!

Wed, Jun 13 2018 06:03pm IST 7
4 Posts
Hi Leon,

As others have said, this flows well and that means you have ability. The opening could be powerful, as long as it is relevant to what the story is about. Keep in mind that a novel is concerned with people. Any apocalyptic scenario will only be interesting if there are characters involved, having a bad time with the weather…..or whatever. At the moment this is just happening for the sake of it. You need to give the reader somebody to invest in - otherwise it will just be a fancy bit of writing with no emotional resonance.

Watch out for generalised statements too, such as A landscape is being presented.That doesn’t have any force to it. If anything, it ruins the effect you are after. Imagine watching a war film and a voiceover said: ‘a war is being fought’. You’d feel patronised because you can see that anyway. All that stuff about a murder being committed could be dramatic. At the moment though the reader won’t feel involved because it is too distant – you need to bring moments to life by using relevant description (including action) and dialogue. The opening shows you have ability, but at the moment your ‘camera’ is too far away for anyone to care. I’m guessing you are writing a thriller. If so, then it will be worth your while researching the genre and reading/studying a few good examples. Keep at it though. You have something here. You need to learn about narrative method though. You wouldn’t expect to be able to make a decent break at snooker if you didn’t know how to actually play, and it’s the same with fiction. Don’t take that too hard. I can’t see any point in feeding back BS.

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