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Author Topic: Thanksgiving Forgotten- Historical Fiction  (Read 687 times)
Thanksgiving400
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« on: August 17, 2017, 11:52:02 AM »

I've pasted the updated query letter from another thread, feel free to review that or skip ahead to the first five pages below that (ch1. in bold is the beginning)
I appreciate any and all feedback!

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent,

Michael Tanner is a family man who nearly loses everything when his generation turns their backs on the ideals of their fathers.

The son of a Mayflower voyager, Michael doesn’t covet power or land like many of his peers. He seeks a quiet life, and to raise his two boys in the peace Plymouth’s founders forged with the Wampanoag tribes at a feast of thanksgiving. That peace had endured for fifty years, but tensions rise as many on both sides start to argue against the alliance. Michael fears what a war would mean for his family, and pushes for diplomacy.

While Michael clings to hopes of a resolution, Plymouth executes three Wampanoag following a controversial trial and conviction. The tribe attacks his village in retaliation, and his younger son is killed. Michael’s older son blames him for denying the conflict most thought inevitable, and volunteers for the militia to seek revenge for his brother. His wife flees to another village, but all of Plymouth is under attack, and he knows she isn’t safe anywhere.

The peace he cherished is shattered, and Michael’s wife and son are in danger. He accepts that the only way he can protect them is to fight, and help end the war he prayed he would never see.

Most people are familiar with stories of the Mayflower voyage and the first Thanksgiving. My complete, 100,000 word historical fiction novel, THANKSGIVING FORGOTTEN, tells the story of when the descendants of those settlers launched the most destructive war in American history.

As requested in your submission guidelines, I have pasted the first five pages below.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,

Chapter 1

March 1671
Plymouth Colony


Michael Tanner grunted as he stretched away the morning stiffness, then warmed his cupped hands with a long, slow breath. Crisp air energized him, and he took pride in working while most men slept.

 He prepared a log and gripped his splitting maul, but faint hoof beats interrupted his chopping ritual. After checking to make sure his wife and sons were still inside the house, he leaned forward and focused on the tree line.

His home sat at the end of a remote path. Anyone who came that far sought him, but he wasn’t expecting company.

A rider appeared, and held up his hand. “Mr. Tanner?” he asked.

“Yes,” Michael answered loud enough for the rider to hear him, but not his family.

“I’m sorry if I gave you a start.” The man dismounted and approached with arm extended. “I bring a message from Plymouth.”

Michael accepted the handshake, and feigned a polite smile. “No apologies needed. We don’t get too many visitors out here in Swansea, though.”

The messenger glanced across the river separating the Tanner’s property from Montaup, home of the Pokanoket tribe. “I can see why. You’re quite far from Plymouth way out here,” he said.

Michael recognized the anxious look on the messenger’s face, he had seen it plenty of times.  The man, like many others, questioned why Michael would choose to build his home so close to the Pokanoket.  “Wasn’t he scared? What if there was a war?” they would ask.

He took a deep breath, crossed his arms, and said, “I imagine you rode out here this early for a reason.”

“Right, sorry. I have a message from Assistant Governor Josiah Winslow. He requests an audience with you at his home in Marshfield.”

The name struck Michael like a falling tree limb. “Josiah? I haven’t spoken to him in years. Do you know what this is about?” he asked.

Josiah’s father, the late Governor Edward Winslow, helped raise Michael after his own father died in battle under Winslow’s command. Michael and Josiah were close as kids, but drifted apart over the years.

The messenger shrugged. “He mentioned Indian matters, but didn’t say much else.”

Michael’s stomached tightened as he contemplated what “Indian matters” could mean. “Please tell him I can be there tomorrow,” he said.

The rider apologized for disturbing him, and rode off.

Thoughts of the message distracted Michael as he again lifted his maul. He once considered Winslow a friend, but much had changed.  Their fathers would be disappointed they didn’t stay close. That bothered Michael, but he sought a quiet life, and Josiah was obsessed with power and politics.

Indian matters. His mind wouldn’t stop replaying the message. Those two little spoke volumes. Josiah was up to something, and wanted him involved.
He closed his eyes, and prayed greedy men wouldn’t throw away fifty years of peace.



The house door swung open, and Michael’s two sons burst outside.

“Who was that, father?” Thomas asked.

“Never mind that. You’re late, I thought I would have to split all this wood myself,” Michael said.

“Sorry father.” Edward said as he ran by.

“Don’t be sorry, be useful.”

Michael loved working with his boys, and grinned as they rummaged through the log pile. They picked the heaviest one and argued over who would lift it, both wanting to show off for their father. Thomas, who at fourteen was two years older than Edward, relented and let his younger brother take over.

“It’s ready!” Edward announced.

“Step back then.” Michael grunted as he drove his maul through the thick oak. With broad shoulders from years of smithing, he seldom needed to swing twice. The split pieces leapt from the log, and his sons scrambled after them.

"First!" Thomas announced, as he did whenever he placed one on his stack before Edward.

“Is everything a competition between you two?" Michael asked, shaking his head as the older brother bragged.

Edward, still growing but solid for his twelve years, struggled but eventually lifted his piece. "I always get the bigger ones. No fair!"

"Careful now, don't let if fall back on you.” Michael said. He took a step towards him, then stopped himself. Let the boy figure it out, he’ll learn.

Though competitive, Thomas tried to help his brother. "Edward, when you get those thick pieces use them so start a new row. Put the small ones up there, and leave the big ones on the ground. It's much easier."

"Why should I listen to you? You're trying to slow me down and show off for dad!"

Thomas threw up his hands. "No I’m not, I'm trying to show you an easier way! You are so stubborn, I would have more luck talking to one of these logs!"

"Are you calling me stupid? I'll show you!" Edward’s face turned red as the curls on his head. His hair color and temper come from his mother’s side, Michael long ago decided, but kept to himself.

They worked until the sun neared the tree tops across the river. The boys dragged, but refused to quit first. More wood waited to be split, but Michael decided to call it a day. “What do you say we stop and declare a job well done, huh? Your mother is still fixing dinner if you want to use your seesaw-“

The boys jumped up and scrambled to it before he finished the word.

As the boys played he gathered his tools. He paused to watch them, then glanced across the river to Montaup. Indian matters. What is Winslow up to?



Assumptucket clenched his jaw as he stared across the river. He watched the white man work as his sons played, unaware three Indians watched them from a stone’s throw away.

As a sagamore on the Pokanoket council, Assumptucket was a trusted advisor to King Philip, the Pokanoket Sachem and Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag confederacy of tribes. Philip wanted an update on what was happening in Swansea and ordered him and two others to observe the coast and report back what they saw.

He leaned to Tobias, his friend and fellow sagamore, but kept his eyes ahead as they lay hidden in the marsh. "The Wautaconaug do not belong so close to Montaup,” he said, using the Algonquin word for the white men, which translated to “coat men” for the heavy garments they wore in the winter months.

“Pardon me?” John Sassamon, the Harvard educated Christian convert, asked.

“I wasn’t talking to you.” Assumptucket’s lip curled at the sound of Sassamon’s voice. Praying Indians like him lived between the tribes and the English. They adopted many white ways of life, but still claimed to be trustworthy.

To Assumptucket, Sassamon and those like him were traitors. “Why keep someone so close to the whites around?” he had asked Philip.

Philip’s father had trusted Sassamon, and that meant he did too. Assumptucket didn’t like the situation, but would tolerate the praying Indian out of respect for the sachem.

Tobias nodded his head towards Sassamon, and whispered back to Assumptucket, “Why did we have to take him?”

“Philip’s orders.” Betray my tribe, though, and I will snap your neck myself, Sassamon.

“Who is this, anyway?” Tobias asked as he pointed across the river.

“He is called Michael Tanner. Philip says he is one of the Wautaconaug who can be trusted,” Assumptucket said.

"Michael Tanner. And what makes him trust you, white man?”

“His father died protecting Massasoit from the Narraganset. You know how Philip is when it comes to those his father respected,” Assumptucket.

“Unfortunately, I do,” Tobias said as he glared at Sassamon.

“We will need to keep an eye on this white man. I don’t trust any of them.” Assumptucket’s eyes narrowed as he continued watching. He found the sons interesting. One worked hard and smart while the other made mistakes and seemed clumsy, yet fierce. They reminded Assumptucket of his own son Touisem, and Niatack, who he raised as his own after his father died.

After a long silence he whispered to Tobias, “Philip should not trust a man who builds his home here. This village infuriates him."

Montaup was a peninsula, and Swansea sat where it connected to the mainland. Philip and the council realized if they lost control of this neck, Montaup would be cut off from other Wampanoag territory. The whites continued to build there despite the tribe’s protests, but Plymouth claimed it was all legal.

"They refuse to let us across to fish, but they don't do so themselves.” Tobias said.

"And more arrive all the time. With these foolish land deals, they take everything.” Assumptucket kept his voice low, but shook with anger.

The white man rested, and his boys ran to a plank of wood balanced on a log. They sat at opposite ends and rode up and down. Assumptucket rose and said, "I think we've seen enough."

They turned and walked back to Montaup as Sassamon struggled to keep up.



Michael was securing the latch on his toolshed when Edward yelled out, “Look!”

“Yes, Edward?” Michael turned to see his son pointing across the river, then come crashing down when his brother jumped off the low end of the see saw.

Thomas yelled in pain and swatted his arm. Edward hit the ground a moment later with a thud.

“Ow! Thomas, what’s wrong with you?” Edward demanded.

"It wasn't my fault! A bee stung me!”

"I don't care, you broke my elbow!”

Michael ran to them and kneeled next to Edward, who appeared to be in worse shape. "Lads settle down, accidents happen. Let me take a look at that.”

He grabbed his son’s arm and checked it out. "You'll be fine. Make room for this in your prayers tonight to thank God you weren't injured worse. And don't let your mother learn of this, it’s between us boys.” He winked and patted Edward on the head.

Thomas rubbed dirt on his sting, then brought his brother a cup of water. Edward refused and stared ahead in anger, embarrassed about crying in front of his father.

The tension in Michael’s chest released, and he took a deep, long breath when the boys weren’t looking. He wanted them to think of him as tough, but they just gave him a good scare. “We made good progress today, boys. Another day and we’ll be through the pile.”

The logs they split would be used for cooking and, after a summer of seasoning, to heat the modest stone ender house the family built along the eastern bank of the Kickemuit River.
The Tanners settled here after moving from Plymouth Village with a group of sixty who bought parts of Wannamoisett from the Wampanoag a couple of years before. The purchase did not come without controversy, however. Soon after the signing, there were disagreements on how the contract was written and its meaning.
Pokanoket men had come to Swansea the previous two summers demanding to use their fishing grounds, and were confused why the English turned them away. Michael helped diffuse the situation peacefully, but worried if it happened again some of the new villagers who did not care about the history here would not be so understanding.

"The bugs are coming out now, let's head inside and see what mother prepared for supper," Michael said. "And remember, this stays between us boys."

« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 12:49:17 PM by Thanksgiving400 » Logged
AndyJ
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 02:27:14 PM »

I may know virtually nothing about query letters, hence I'll recuse myself from tampering with that, but I do know how to write from years of practice so... again know these are just my opinions and there are few hard and fast rules but take my edits for whatever you think they're worth.

Chapter 1

March 1671
Plymouth Colony


Michael Tanner grunted as he stretched away the morning stiffness from a long night of sleep, then warmed his cupped hands with a long, slow breath. The crisp morning air energized him, and he took pride in working while most men slept.

He was prepareding to split a log and grippedwith his splitting maul, but when he heard faint hoof beats interrupted his chopping ritual. After checking to make sure his wife and sons were still inside the house, he leaned forward and focused on the tree line.

His home sat at the end of a remote path. Michael knew aAnyone who came that far soughtwas seeking him,. Still, but he wasn’t expecting company today.

A rider appeared, and held up his hand. “Mr. Tanner?” he asked.

“Yes,” Michael answered loud enough for the rider to hear him, but not, taking care not to wake his family.

“I’m sorry if I gave you a start.” The man dismounted and approached with an extended arm extended. “I bring a message from Plymouth.”

Michael accepted the handshake, and feigned a polite smile. “No apologies needed. We don’t get too many visitors out here in Swansea, though.”

The messenger glanced across the river separating the Tanner’s property from Montaup, home of the Pokanoket tribe. “I can see why. You’re quite far from Plymouth way out here,” he said.

Michael recognized the anxious look on the messenger’s face,; he had seen it plenty of times.  The man, like many others, questioned why Michael would choose to build his home so close to the Pokanoket.  'Wasn’t he scared? What if there was a war?'a simple italicization and/or just using single quotes as I have done would be better here to avoid confusing this mental monologue with spoken dialogue they would ask.

He took a deep breath and, crossed his arms, and said, “I imagine you rode out here this early for a reason.”

“Right, sorry. I have a message from Assistant Governor Josiah Winslow. He requests an audience with you at his home in Marshfield.”

The name struck Michael like a falling tree limb. “Josiah? I haven’t spoken to him in years. Do you know what this is about?” he asked.

Josiah’s father, the late Governor Edward Winslow, helped raise Michael after his own father died in battle under Winslow’s commandI'll leave this to your judgment but you could probably clip this down to simply 'his own father died' or at most 'his own father died in battle' . Michael and Josiah were close as kids, but drifted apart over the years.

The messenger shrugged. “He mentioned Indian matters, but didn’t say much else.”

Michael’s stomached tightened as he contemplated what Indian matters could mean. “Please tell him I can be there tomorrow,” he said.

The rider apologized for disturbing him, and rode off.

Thoughts of the message distracted Michael as he again lifted his maul. He once considered Winslow a friend, but much had changed. Their fathers would behave been disappointed they didn’t stay close. That bothered Michael, but he sought a quiet life, and while Josiah was had grown obsessed with power and politics.

Indian matters. His mind wouldn’t stop replaying the message. Those two wordslittle spoke volumes. Josiah was up to something, and wanted him involved.
He closed his eyes, and prayed greedy men wouldn’t throw away fifty years of peace.

The house door swung open, and Michael’s two sons burst outside.I'm assuming some time has passed? No need to add a space to the new paragraph if so, just specify how long it is. If it is in fact right after, more reason not to space

“Who was that, father?” Thomas asked.

“Never mind that. You’re late, I thought I would have to split all this wood myself,” Michael said.

“Sorry father.” Edward said as he ran by.

“Don’t be sorry, be useful.”

Michael loved working with his boys, and grinned as they rummaged through the log pile. They picked the heaviest one and argued over who would lift it, both wanting to show off for their father. Thomas, who at fourteen was two years older than EdwardThis is, admittedly, very subjective but consider revising to something like 'Thomas, who was two years older than his twelve year old brother Edward' for better flow. It feels a bit blocky to me but I recognize that's partially my own bias., relented and let his younger brother take over.

“It’s ready!” Edward announced.

“Step back then.” Michael grunted as he drove his maul through the thick oak. With broad shoulders from years of smithing, he seldom needed to swing twice. The split pieces leapt from the log, and his sons scrambled after them.

"First!" Thomas announced, as he did whenever he placed one on his stack before Edward.

“Is everything a competition between you two?" Michael asked, shaking his head as the older brother bragged.

Edward, still growing but solid for his twelve yearsage, struggled but eventually lifted his piece. "I always get the bigger ones. No fair!"

"Careful now, don't let if fall back on you.” Michael said. He took a step towards him, thenbut stopped himself. Let the boy figure it out, he’ll learn.

Though competitive, Thomasnonetheless tried to help his brother. "Edward, when you get those thick pieces use them so start a new row. Put the small ones up there, and leave the big ones on the ground. It's much easier."

"Why should I listen to you? You're trying to slow me down and show off for dad!"

Thomas threw up his hands. "No I’m not, I'm trying to show you an easier way! You are so stubborn, I would have more luck talking to one of these logs!"

"Are you calling me stupid? I'll show you!" Edward’s face turnedas red as the curls on his head. His hair color and temper come from his mother’s side, Michael had said to himself long ago decided, but kept to himself.

They worked until the sun neared the tree tops across the river. The boys draggedI'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say the boys are doing here..., but refused to quit first. More wood waited to be split, but Michael decided to call it a day. “What do you say we stop and declare a job well done, huh? Your mother is still fixing dinner if you want to use your seesaw-“

The boys jumped up and scrambled to it before he finished the word.

As the boys played, heMichael gathered his tools. He paused to watch them, then glanced across the river to Montaup. Indian matters. What iswas Winslow up to?

Consider adding asterisks or a line or something to delineate a shift in POV

Assumptucket clenched his jaw as he stared across the river. He watched the white man work as his sons played, unaware that three Indians watched them from a stone’s throw away.

As a sagamore on the Pokanoket council, Assumptucket was a trusted advisor to King Philip, the Pokanoket Sachem and Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag confederacy of tribes. Philip wanted an update on what was happening in Swansea and ordered him and two others to observe the coast and report back what they saw.

He leaned toward Tobias, his friend and fellow sagamore, but kept his eyes ahead as they lay hidden in the marsh. "The Wautaconaug do not belong so close to Montaup,” he said, using the Algonquin word for the white men, which translated to “coat men” for the heavy garments they wore in the winter months.I can't tell how important that aside about the literal translation is but consider omitting it and explaining it later on in the story if it's significant. The sentence feels a bit long winded and awkward as is

“Pardon me?”asked John Sassamon, the Harvard educated Christian convert, asked.

“I wasn’t talking to you.” Assumptucket’s lip curled at the sound of Sassamon’s voice. Praying Indians like him lived between the tribes and the English. They adopted many white ways of life, butwhile they still claimed to be trustworthy.

To Assumptucket, Sassamon and those like him were traitors. Why keep someone so close to the whites around? he had asked Philip.

Philip’s father had trusted Sassamon, and that meant he did too. Assumptucket didn’t like the situation, but wouldhe made himself tolerate the praying Indian out of respect for the sachem.

Tobias nodded his head towards Sassamon, and whispered back to Assumptucket, “Why did we have to take him?”

“Philip’s orders.” Betray my tribe, though, and I will snap your neck myself, Sassamonthought.

“Who is this, anyway?” Tobias asked as he pointed across the river.

“He is called Michael Tanner. Philip says he is one of the Wautaconaug who can be trusted,” Assumptucket said.

"Michael Tanner. And what makes him trust you, white man?”I'm not quite sure what this dialogue line is saying...

“His father died protecting Massasoit from the Narraganset. You know how Philip is when it comes to those his father respected,” Assumptucket.

“Unfortunately, I do,” Tobias said as he glared at Sassamon.

“We will need to keep an eye on this white man. I don’t trust any of them.” Assumptucket’s eyes narrowed as he continued watching. He found the sons interesting. One worked hard and smart while the other made mistakes and redundantseemed clumsy, yet fierce. They reminded Assumptucket of his own son Touisem, and Niatack, who he raised as his own after his father died.

After a long silence he whispered to Tobias, “Philip should not trust a man who builds his home here. This village infuriates him." Infuriates Phillip? When why does he trust him? I'm a little perplexed here but it's not a huge deal

Montaup was a peninsula, and Swansea sat where it connected to the mainland. Philip and the council realized if they lost control of this neck, Montaup would be cut off from other Wampanoag territory. The whites continued to build there despite the tribe’s protests, but Plymouth claimed it was all legal.

"They refuse to let us across to fish, but they don't do so themselves.” Tobias said.

"And more arrive all the time. With these foolish land deals, they take everything.” Assumptucket kept his voice low, butwhile he shook with anger.

The white man rested, and his boys ran to a plank of wood balanced on a log. They sat at opposite ends and rode up and down. Assumptucket rose and said, "I think we've seen enough."

They turned and walked back to Montaup as Sassamon struggled to keep up.

***

Michael was securing the latch on his toolshed when Edward yelled out, “Look!”

“Yes, Edward?” Michael turned to see his son pointing across the river, then come crashing down when his brother jumped off the low end of the see saw.

Thomas yelled in pain and swatted his arm. Edward hit the ground a moment later with a thud.

“Ow! Thomas, what’s wrong with you?” Edward demanded.

"It wasn't my fault! A bee stung me!”

"I don't care, you broke my elbow!”

Michael ran to them and kneeled next to Edward, who appeared to be in worse shape. "Lads settle down, accidents happen. Let me take a look at that.”

He grabbed his son’s arm and checked it out. "You'll be fine. Make room for this in your prayers tonight to thank God you weren't injured worse. And don't let your mother learn of this, it’s between us boys.” He winked and patted Edward on the head.

Thomas rubbed dirt on his sting, then brought his brother a cup of water. Edward refused and stared ahead in anger, embarrassed about crying in front of his father.

The tension in Michael’s chest released, and he took a deep, long breath when the boys weren’t looking. He wanted them to think of him as tough, but they just gave him a good scare. “We made good progress today, boys. Another day and we’ll be through the pile.”

The logs they split would be used for cooking and, after a summer of seasoning, to heat the modest stone ender house the family built along the eastern bank of the Kickemuit River.

The Tanners settled here after moving from Plymouth Village with a group of sixty who bought parts of Wannamoisett from the Wampanoag a couple of years before. The purchase did not come without controversy, however. Soon after the signing, there were disagreements on how the contract was written and its meaning.

Pokanoket men had come to Swansea the previous two summers demanding to use their fishing grounds, and were confused why the English turned them away. Michael helped diffuse the situation peacefully, but worried if it happened again some of the new villagers who did not care about the history here would not be so understanding.

"The bugs are coming out now, let's head inside and see what mother prepared for supper," Michael said. "And remember, this stays between us boys."



Final commentary: I like this idea, and I'm already engrossed in the impending conflict between the White men and Wampanoag while worried for Michael's hopes for peace and diplomacy. The most frequent thing I came across that I corrected was use of commas. A conjunction doesn't automatically mean you have to put a comma before it. Granted, depending on the school where you learned grammar I can't fault you for that but it's something I've noticed detracts from the rhythm of things I read or write. Other then that... not bad. My own draft is much much messier I'm sure so if every you feel like checking it out, feel free to brutalize it just as much as I've done here. Good luck to you in your writing and hope this helped!
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samcantcook
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 03:01:27 PM »

I have a rule that I won't read past the opening line of a novel if it features a character waking up. I'm sorry. I just don't. And neither do most agents.

Waking up is a natural place to start a story because it's the natural beginning of our day. We wake up. That's how the day starts. So, by that logic, our story should start with the character waking up. Unfortunately many hopefuls have the same train of thought, and it has become a cliched opening that agents have seen time and time again. You can subvert the waking up cliche and that would be fresh. For example, THE ROOK, in which the main character wakes up without her memories in a park surrounded by a field of bodies is a new take on that cliche. Otherwise, if the cliche is left as such, it's something we've all seen and read a hundred times before--hence a cliche--and will be an immediate turn off to nearly all agents and most readers.

Ways to avoid starting a novel, because, let's face it, we've all done this at least once in our lives:
(1) A character waking up.
(2) A dream.

Your first sentence should ideally be the strongest piece of writing in your novel. If showing a character wake up and stretch is the pace you want to set for your novel then so be it. But it's not a pace many readers will be eager to read.

Many professional writers have a trick that I often have to use myself. Write your story, then cut out the first chapter. Obviously this will take some revisions, but, generally speaking, unpublished writers start the story in the wrong place. I'm not criticizing your work. I've made the same mistakes. Try skimming the opening lines of books in your genre at your local bookstore. It's amazingly helpful. If only we could all write openings like Charles Dickens.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
A Tale of Two Cities
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Thanksgiving400
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2017, 03:41:51 PM »

I see your point. He's actually not waking up,he's outside getting ready to work when a rider arrives and with some simple words messes up the ideal life he has going.  Either way, the getting ready to work isn't the hook as you point out.

So, if go right to where his head is at the end of the scene after he realizes everything he cherishes is about to change, I could start with  something liked:

Michael couldn't understand what was so wrong with wanting peace.

and then go into the paradise he has, and his fear that the messenger just brought news that will collapse it.
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samcantcook
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2017, 04:24:58 PM »

I like that idea better. It definitely sets the pace of the story better and more succinctly.
Quote
Michael [protagonist] couldn't understand what was so wrong with wanting peace [conflict].
The big thing is just having a willingness to revise, revise, revise that first chapter so it's attractive to agents. I'm in the same boat as you, my friend. It easy to be critic of other's people work, hard to spot the flaws in our own. I continued reading and I like the premise. Usually it's just a matter of getting the first chapter to be so enticing that agents can't help but ask for pages.

I'm just extremely critical of openings because I know agents will be. Stephen King has a great model first like for the Dark Tower. "The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed."

I envy people that can write like this. In a single sentence we have conflict [one man chasing down another], the protagonist [the gunslinger], the antagonist [the man in black] and the setting [the desert].

Just make sure you're starting the story in the right place. Many an author, published and unpublished (and yes, I am very much guilty of this as well) have all started stories too early. Now I should get out my own red pen and slash through the superfluous things I've written for my current WIP so I can taste my own medicine.
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2017, 05:03:33 PM »

Very helpful from both of you, thanks.

I think I have an idea of how I want to open now, off to redo.

Interestingly I just looked through my 5 most recent books on my kindle, 3 open with some impactful line. The other two, both by Leon Uris, open with a paragraph of descriptive rambling before really introducing the protagonist, never mind his conflict.  But when your worst book sells over a million, I guess you don't have to worry about hooking the agent as much as we do.
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Thanksgiving400
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2017, 08:16:41 AM »

I'll put this here, and also in the first sentence/ opening section....

Michael Tanner lifted his maul and prepared to split the first log of the morning, but was interrupted by faint hoof beats. He checked to make sure his wife and sons were still inside the house, then squinted towards the tree line. His home sat at the end of a remote path so he knew anyone who came that far sought him, but he wasn’t expecting company.

******
I thought more about the "what is wrong with peace" opening, and worry it might be too cliche (give peace a chance, etc.), and also seemed too much of a hook which would require some backtracking to explain what made him think that- (I've received feedback previously from an agent about avoiding that.)

But I do want to create more intrigue than the previous weather/ scene setting opening. Given the story line of the MC wanting to be left alone to raise his boys in peace but then having the drama come to him and turn his world upside down, I hope the description of him going about a regular task but being interrupted by a messenger whose words kick off the conflict helps capture that.


Thanks
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