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Poll
Question: Which opening works (better) for you?
(1) - 4 (80%)
(2) - 1 (20%)
Total Voters: 5

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Author Topic: Fantasy - Heist  (Read 439 times)
samcantcook
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« on: January 30, 2018, 11:50:35 AM »

I'm trying to decide between these two openings. I know they're not alike; one's more abstract, the other concrete. If you want to give specific feedback that's welcome, but mostly I want to know which paragraph works better as an opening for a fantasy novel, in your opinion. Does either one do a better job of grounding you in the setting? Or hooking your attention?

(1) ________________________________________________________________________________

Blood poured from the sky.

Marius ignored it. The bloodrain would soak through his travel cloak, but like most travelers, he wore crimson for whenever the sky decided to bleed.

(2) ________________________________________________________________________________

In the hand of a criminal, a dagger could be used to maim, injure, even kill. Marius’ smile was more lethal than any sharpened steel. Like a thief in the night, Marius knew how to use his smile to twist and pry the locks that were people’s minds, uncover secrets with his charm and his wit. No one was safe so long as Marius could look at them directly in the eye.
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gayowyn
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2018, 02:43:48 PM »

Hi there!

It's funny -- I voted for the second one, then I reread and reread again, and I'm actually thinking the first is more effective, but I'd make a change. I think the blood rain is very effective as an opening, but then it's explained too quickly. I'd let it have a little more mystery to it.
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alislove
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2018, 03:10:10 PM »

Hi samcantcook,

I am going to assault this the same way I did Marius' smile! I hope that is okay.  It is just a reaction that I have to repetitive language.  That said I understand you may be choosing repetition for dramatic impact. And that can be a valid style choice. However my ear just perceives repetition (as I use the word repetition a hundred times myself  zip it ).  Let me know if I'm being annoying or if you like my version. It's not my place to modify your voice but I think readers may respond more favorably to variety.

I choose number one but would cut the repetitive wording:

Quote
Blood poured from the sky. Marius ignored it. The bloodrain would soak through his travel cloak, but like most travelers, he wore crimson to indulge the heavens.

I know "indulge the heavens" isn't quite right but I just wanted to see if you found it more powerful with less repetition. I kept blood and bloodrain because they do create a positive echo and seem the essence of what you are saying. And for some reason I like it all as one line. What do you think? Huh?

« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 03:15:03 PM by alislove » Logged
samcantcook
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2018, 04:36:23 PM »

Many thanks, friends! Grin You both make useful points. Alislove, I'm definitely going to watch out for repetition as I work on this and revise the sentence per your reccomendation. And Gayowyn, I will hold back on revealing the blood rain so quickly!
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Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 11:46:58 PM »

Hi,

While both #1 and #2 openings had positive points, I didn't vote for either because, as you probably know from my many other posts, I'm not a fan of openings with a shocking detail with no context, which is what Number 1 is. It could possibly work if the opening built up to there being bloodrain.

Number 2, as you say, is more abstract. Abstractness in fiction isn't always bad in itself. But as an opening it misses an opportunity to engage us with what a flesh-and-blood character is actually doing. Instead, it invites us to ponder the general idea of criminals using daggers to maim or even kill, and is presented as a fact that is news to us, when it isn't.

But I do find #2 becoming engaging if you drop that first sentence as well as the "like a thief in the night" phrase that opens the second sentence.

Perhaps it would be more engaging/intriguing to open with some ominous sign that the bloodrain is about to begin.
When we lived in Iowa for a few years, I came to recognize the ironically sweet, almost deceptively lovely, peachy color outside signalling that a tornado was approaching. This happened before vicious straight winds, too. Having  been in a farmhouse that got buried in trees and experienced a flashflood in the basement and first floor, I never ceased to be creeped out by the way the outdoors looked just before the winds came. It wasn't just the sky. A person standing in the yard would be wrapped in that calm, peach-colored air. Ugh.

Maybe try some combination of 1 & 2.
What I wrote below isn't so much a suggestion of what words to use -- that's up to you -- but a way to re-structure the information to avoid the stand-alone shocker sentence as an opener, while being less abstract in the interesting story detail in #2:

Marius was about to step outside when [some telltale feature of the sky] told him to swap his gray travel cloak for the burgundy one. The downpour of blood would be hardly noticeable. He’d blend in with everyone else taking the same precaution, and then disarm them with his lethal smile.

After he changes cloaks, maybe let him have a verbal exchange with some passer-by in a way that lets us conclude for ourselves that he's skilled at uncovering their secrets with his charm and wit, instead of informing us of that as a matter of fact. The encounter could be just a small, passing sample of what dark manipulation Marius is capable of. This could build suspense by laying the groundwork for whatever target person Marius has in mind for later. (. . . if he does have a bigger target in mind. Or is he on the hunt for a possible victim?)



« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 12:02:25 AM by Munley » Logged
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