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Author Topic: Historical Fiction- Opening  (Read 1928 times)
Thanksgiving400
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« on: August 22, 2017, 08:18:40 AM »

NEW OPENING BELOW
Chapter 1
[/b]

March 1671 Plymouth Colony
[/b]

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 sound.

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.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 01:50:17 PM by Thanksgiving400 » Logged
Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2017, 02:35:58 PM »

Eh, it's not overly dynamic.

Is there a way you could add more tension? (Is it supposed to be tense? It kind of seems like it is but I'm not sure.)

Even something more along the lines of:

Hoof beats broke the morning air.
Michael Tanner paused, maul in the air, log before him forgotten as he squinted down the road.

Obviously this is just a rough example.
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Thanksgiving400
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2017, 01:49:43 PM »

I'm thinking of eliminating the first three chapters and starting with one of the major setbacks that builds to the MC's overall conflict.

A little longer than opening sentence/ paragraph, but much less than Chapter 1 or first five pages, so posting here for your much appreciated feedback:


March 1671

Flames lit the morning sky, and Michael Tanner knew Plymouth Colony would never be the same. He wanted to believe it might have been an accident, but he knew better. Indians did this.

“Go back inside the house!” he said. His sons stared at their neighbor’s barn a moment, then obeyed their father.

Samuel Townsend plunged a bucket into the river, and dragged it towards his barn. “Why aren’t any of you helping?” he yelled to the crowd.

Michael tackled him and held him on the ground.

“Get off me!”

“It could collapse anytime, be smart.” They covered their eyes as the walls crumbled and showered them with sparks.

Townsend jumped up and pointed across the river. “They did this! Do you still want to lecture us about peace now, Michael?”

Before he could respond, James Browne stood between them. “I’ll call a town meeting, and we will alert the General Court before the day is out."

Michael wiped the soot from his face, and sighed at the thought of Assistant Governor Winslow's reaction. Why? He thought. Why did the Pokanoket give us a reason?
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 02:32:40 PM by Thanksgiving400 » Logged
Thanksgiving400
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 12:07:33 PM »

Ive rethought, and adding to the thread vs. editing.

CHAPTER 1
[/b]

Flames lit the morning sky, changing Plymouth Colony forever. Michael Tanner wanted to believe the fire was an accident, but knew better. The Pokanoket did this.

Many in Plymouth would be angry, but they didn’t concern him as much those who were sure to celebrate the attack. After years of antagonizing the tribe they now had justification for the war they craved.

“Get back in the house!” he said. His sons scrambled inside and slammed the door. Village men charged down the path, but he halted them.

Samuel Townsend dragged a water bucket towards his barn. “Why aren’t any of you helping?”

Michael grabbed his neighbor’s arm.  “It's too late."

“I need to save my cows!”

“Forget them Samuel, they’re gone.”

Townsend threw down his bucket and pointed across the river. “They did this! Do you still want to lecture us about peace now, Michael?”

Before he could respond, James Browne stood between them and held out his hands. “I’ll call a town meeting, and we will alert the General Court immediately. This will be handled properly.”

Michael wiped soot from his face and sighed. Why? He thought. Why did they give us a reason?
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Farfadet
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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2017, 12:25:05 PM »

Ive rethought, and adding to the thread vs. editing.

CHAPTER 1
[/b]

Flames lit the morning sky, changing Plymouth Colony forever.I think this slows the opening line for no reason. Flames lit the morning sky. sounds better and reads faster. Michael Tanner wanted to believe the fire was an accident, but knew better. The Pokanoket did this. I would add it here if its important : Now, plymouth colony was changed forever. or something

Many in Plymouth would be angry, but they didn’t concern him as much as those who were sure to celebrate the attack. After years of antagonizing the tribe they now had justification for the war they craved.It's hard to explain without rewriting it. But i think here less words would help with creating more tension. smaller sentences.

“Get back in the house!” he said. His sons scrambled inside and slammed the door. Village men charged down the path, but he halted them.

Samuel Townsend dragged a water bucket towards his barn. “Why aren’t any of you helping?”

Michael grabbed his neighbor’s arm.  “It's too late."

“I need to save my cows!”

“Forget them Samuel, they’re gone.”

Townsend threw down his bucket and pointed across the river. “They did this! Do you still want to lecture us about peace now, Michael?”

Before he could respond, James Browne stood between them and held out his hands. “I’ll call a town meeting, and we will alert the General Court immediately. This will be handled properly.”

Michael wiped soot from his face and sighed. Why? He thought. Why did they give us a reason?


The dialogue here is good! shows us whats happening and gives us a good idea of what is going on.
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samcantcook
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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2017, 12:34:54 PM »

I think trimming away the chapters preceding this was a tough decision--but it was the right decision. Here, you show us immediate conflict, good dialogue, the setting is apparent, conflict, and did I mention good conflict?? Readers will be more willing to invest in this immediately because you've given them something to be invested in. Great improvement!!
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Thanksgiving400
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2017, 01:22:56 PM »

I cut three chapters, though some content will be worked into upcoming scenes for crucial backstory, but only when needed as opposed to delivered up front.

It wasn't at all easy, but it will open, and continue, much better now I think.
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DamsonGreengage
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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2017, 07:45:29 PM »

Ive rethought, and adding to the thread vs. editing.

CHAPTER 1
[/b]

Flames lit the morning sky, changing Plymouth Colony forever. Michael Tanner wanted to believe the fire was an accident, but knew better. The Pokanoket did this.

(1) Many in Plymouth would be angry, but they didn’t concern him as much those who were sure to celebrate the attack. After years of antagonizing the tribe they now had justification for the war they craved.

(2) “Get back in the house!” he said. (3) His sons scrambled inside and slammed the door. (4) Village men charged down the path, but he halted them.

(5) Samuel Townsend dragged a water bucket towards his barn. “Why aren’t any of you helping?”

(6) Michael grabbed his neighbor’s arm.  “It's too late."

“I need to save my cows!” (7)

“Forget them Samuel, they’re gone.”

Townsend threw down his bucket and pointed across the river. “They did this! Do you still want to lecture us about peace now, Michael?”

Before he could respond, (8) James Browne stood between them and held out his hands. “I’ll call a town meeting, and we will alert the General Court immediately. This will be handled properly.”

Michael wiped (9) soot from his face and sighed. Why? He thought. (10) Why did they give us a reason?


It's a lot better, I think, but still needs a few tweaks. At (1), above, you've started an action scene, but go off on a tangent to explain the local politics. Once you've started an action scene, you should minimize interruptions.

At (2) Tanner addresses his sons, but we haven't seen them yet. I think a transition would smooth the prose out: Tanner turned to his sons, Ichabod and Crane. "Indians! Get back in the house."

(3) This is okay, if your POV is omniscient. If not, say only what Tanner can see: The boys ran towards the house, dust flying from their boots.

(4) Village men appear, the first we've seen them. I suggest something like, Tanner looked towards the village and saw Jake Abedabite, Joseph Farthingale and several others running towards him. But they wouldn't be running towards Tanner, they'd be running to Townsend's barn.

(5) Where did Townsend come from? It's just now dawned on me that Townsend's barn is on fire. That info should be in the first sentence, not here. You're skipping from site to site, without transitions.

(6) Michael, lacking any information otherwise, is still on his land. To grab Townsend, Michael must have an incredibly long arm.

(7) We and Tanner should have already heard the cows, or have heard their bellows cease long before this point.

(8) Browne appears as if by Transporter, suddenly among the other two.

(9) Tanner has soot on his face. Where did it come from? He never approached the barn.

(10) This isn't clear. Easily fixed though.

There doesn't seem to be any sense of time or geography. Every place is contiguous to every other place. Tanner and the barn and the soot and Browne are all together, juxtaposed. Tanner can be at his place and getting sooty at Townsend's BBQ/barn without any lapse of time.

My suggestion. Write as if your POV character has a camera in his hand. We can only see what he sees. Whatever happens must happen at the pace and order of actual events. Men can't come from the village and be seen in Tanner's camera until they have time to see the fire, leave their homes, and run to Townsend's. They would not run to Tanner's, anyway; they head for the fire. You need to construct a scaled map of all locations and a logical timeline. Write down the events and how long they take. Write down what Tanner sees in his camera. Let him react in a logical way. You know what you want to happen, and it seems like a good story with sound dialogue. But you haven't made it real to a reader. Every location and every event requires a transition to get there, time to make it happen. I hope this helps.
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