Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Beginning Game!

I would like to play a little game that really only benefits me :), but I could use some help and opinions and honestly feel free to say what you think. As you know I have done 2 workshops on my beginnings (2 different beginnings) and did not receive great reviews. So I'm brainstorming and doing some messing around and would love to hear what you think!

I'm going to post 3 different beginnings, just a few paragraphs each. You comment and tell me which you like best or none at all if that's how you feel. Do you connect with Sophie? Do you feel anything? Would you keep reading?

Ok here goes:

#1-This is my original starter-Preface critiqued by Mary Kole with some tweaks

I shouldn't have followed him, but I couldn't let him go without me.

I didn't like the look in Jaxen's eyes when he came to tell me goodbye, though I didn't know that's what he was doing. I struggled not to run into his open arms, the fear on his face held me back.

"I love you, Sophie," he said for the first time. "I have to go now. I'm so sorry."

Without a word I let him walk away. I watched until his tall form became nothing but heat waves on the horizon. My heart shattered with each parting step. I wanted to scream and beg him to come back to me...but I didn't.

And now I lay with blood pooling in a sickening puddle beneath me. I wasn't ready to die. I wasn't ready to leave him.

#2-The original chapter 1 start-not good feedback from Miss Snark's first 25

Wind carelessly messed his blond hair as he swooped in behind a herd of cattle. Sunlight sparkled all around him and I found myself frozen, staring in wide-eyed fascination. Like a movie scene playing in slow motion, he leaned low over his white steed, moving as one with the impressive creature. Chiseled muscles strained against a t-shirt stretched too tight across his chest.

A gust of wind from the running cows whipped my hair from beneath my cowboy hat, assaulting me with the stench of dirt and manure. He pulled hard the reins, the horse skidded to a stop mere inches from me. Dust swirled around me. I couldn’t blink, afraid he would disappear before I could memorize every feature.

Dangerous black eyes stared down, sending shivers of awareness through me. I lifted a hand to my forehead to block the bright light. That hauntingly familiar gaze traveled from the tip of my worn cowboy boots coming to rest on my too-full lips. I couldn’t read his expression. It was hard and soft all at the same time.

His mouth quirked up at the corner, but his eyes remained piercing, “Watch yourself,” he said, his voice tight and controlled.

My knees went weak and my mind exited the real world. Strange tingling sensations rippled through my stomach and I stumbled backward just out of the way of a stray cow.

And #3-Brand spankin' new-never been critiqued

I wished I could go back to the time before the accident when I was happy and carefree. Before my brother’s death devastated the whole town. Before my parents curled up into a little ball and let the world pass them by.

But I couldn’t find that girl anymore. I wasn’t her. She wasn’t me. And try as I might, I could not move on. His memory hung in every corner of every place and I could not escape it.

I had become that person, the girl that every one coddles with the sympathetic smiles and the “How ya doin’, hon” pats on the back.

I didn’t want to be her. I wanted to flourish, to grow wings and fly far away. Away from the never-ending rain and my parents who had forgotten they had a second child, a less popular and outgoing child, but she still needed their love.


  1. I like number one the best, but I think that since the last paragraph starts out in present tense, it should be "I am not" instead of "I wasn't."

    Great job with the rewrites!

  2. Um... They are all good I think. I liked the first 2 best. Maybe the second one was my favorite. I totally had the sceen painted in my mind. I even smelled the manure. Ewww!. Ha ha. The 3rd one didn't grab me as much as the first ones did. Yes I want to read more!!!!

  3. I think I like the 1st one best. But it's a close call with the 3rd. I know I'm not tons of help but both are critical points in the plot, I think and I do like both. But I'll go with #1 as my fav. Thanks!

  4. Me too. #1 was my favorite but #3 came in close. #2 was too wordsy for me, it made me want to skip the words and move forward to figure out what was going on. 1 & 3 i would def want to read more of.

  5. Thanks gals! So HELPFUL!!! I'm thinking I may start out with #1 as a preface still and then start Chapter 1 with #3 and work bits of #2 in, less wordy though.

    Thanks Layinda for pointing that out. I will fix it! And thanks Michelle that was exactly what I wanted to hear, what it was that you didn't love about something. And now that you say that, that is exactlyhow I read it now too!

    Thanks again!

  6. You do emotions well, Shawna - I can feel the characters.

    I'd suggest cutting back on some descriptors. It may be just me, but I prefer to only have small hints of description - I like to make up my own pictures in my head.

    I think #3 has the best emotion. I like the story line of #1, but it seemed a bit jumpy. Maybe cut back a bit and see?? Not sure. :)

    Hope that helps you out a bit - it's so hard - and it's just personal preference. I like your style :)

  7. Shawna,

    Way to go with the rewrites. It takes guts to take critique and work through it.

    I loved number 3. It was the only time I connected with your MC. While you have a nice writing style for all of them, I felt the most attracted to the story on your rewrite.

    There you give us insight into your MC's emotional state, while providing the intrigue with her brother's death. You also set up the novel for a whole lot of change to come.

    Your MC hates who she is and wants to return to something vastly different. Give me a teen that doesn't feel that way.

    I read the first few paragraphs of 3 in real time. As if your MC was feeling these things. However, the last paragraph felt like your MC was preaching, and since most of that info could be inferred by her previous thoughts, I think it becomes redundant and might feel off to a YA reader.

    Love it. Keep at it.

  8. Thanks Jemi (I was secretly hoping you'd come comment cuz you always leave such great feedback on my posts) I went back over #1 with your comments and see exactly what you mean, choppy! I'll see what I can do about that!

    Cat, WONDERFUL Comments! Thank you! Thank you! It is really insightful to hear you say exactly what you felt adn what wasn't so great! Just what I needed!

    Seriously, I may only 18 followers but you guys ROCK!!!! I feel great about this and feel like I have a starting point now! YAY! Thank you again everyone, even my Facebook buddies who left their comments there!