First Chapter Feedback, Please

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Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:26 pm Post

Jack, where's Jill? wrote:
Jaysen wrote:Someone shoot me now.

Always glad to bring peace wherever I go. :lol:

I think I'm starting to like you...

Have you met vic-k yet? He could use a little peace too.

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09


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Jack Foreigner
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Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:32 pm Post

Hi, Briar,

Thanks for taking the time...always interesting gauging responses. Or lack thereof, as the case may be. :wink:

You're right about the "direct style of storytelling," for lack of a better term at the moment. I used to hate that stuff myself, and still look at it askance oftentimes, but genre fiction does seem to revel in such practices. Sure makes writing easier! :mrgreen:

Seriously, I'm of two minds on this...after all, there is what we writers like -- and then there is what non-writing readers seem to put up with and even enjoy. For example, while I would agree that Le Carré's breezy language beautifully scales the lyrical heights, as a reader I'm often left impatiently shaking a knee by its meandering run-on career! Now he's not exactly "genre" in the trade paperback sense of the word (à la James Rollins, Jack Higgins, or, God help me, Clive Cussler), but I figured that I'd err on the side of literary populism than elitism, so to speak! :)

Anyway, if you don't mind (that is, I hope I'm not already coming across as being defensive), I'd like to follow up on some technical points you raised:

Briar Kit wrote:In the second sentence, the text has "he'd been told", "he'd been advised", and "it was warned". IMO, it isn't necessary to have three descriptors, and the mix of "he" and "it" (and the tense change) breaks the flow of the text.


The third paragraph mixes tenses:
"he’d [he had] no idea"
"he’d [he had] been traveling"
"has got to be"

IMO, for consistency, "had got to be" — though writers don't have to be consistent if they don't want to be.

Yes, I was afraid of this. My thinking had been that the "three descriptors," as you've described them, would have a kind of ditty-like repetitiveness to them that would "unconsciously suggest" to the reader (that is, almost imbue the reader with) an ill humor that reflects the character's own growing impatience and his efforts to keep it under control. Is that a bad idea in itself, or is it just that I've not implemented the idea properly?

As for the tense change, I had thought to suggest a progression of time there...the two hads suggest a point further back in time than the sole was, which continues into the present, bringing the narrative back into the situation at hand...again, bad idea, or just badly implemented??

Briar Kit wrote:As you said in your original post, you may not take specific advice. Completely understand. Just offering a few thoughts, in the hope that they might be of some help—even if they serve to reaffirm your own ideas.

Thanks very much again for taking the time to help me think about it. Always good knowing what others feel and how come!

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Jack Foreigner
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Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:46 pm Post

Hugh wrote:...but the reader will have read the blurb, or whatever promotional material you've provided, and so will know something about time, place and plot - in broad generality. In any case, if the reader has chosen to begin reading, he or she won't necessarily need the Nazi stimulus to keep going. At least for a few pages.

Well, I simply haven't considered that at all, the effect of cover copy on reader interest where the opening lines are concerned! That's blowing my mind, even though it would seem quite obvious....

Hugh wrote:But as BK says - just an opinion.

Yes, much obliged! 8)

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Jack Foreigner
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Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:53 pm Post

PJS wrote:
Hugh wrote:I'm with Briar Kit on this.

Me too.

Other possibilities:
    Shorten sentences — they average 30 words, a lot to grasp.
    Cut down on adverbs and passive voice.
    Set dialogue in separate paragraphs instead of mixing it with narrative.
    Use more dialogue: it creates character and opens the page visually.


Thanks, PJS...all advice worth bearing in mind as I try to create and fill a niche (which I imagine must exist) that is somehow balanced over the lyrical whimsy of a John Le Carré, the mad plots of a Clive Cussler, and the spartan narrative of a Jack Higgins! :mrgreen:

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Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:33 am Post

It started slow. Ponderous even. Many sentences were wordy. The battle scene moved reasonably well.
Not even remotely interested in reading anything or even contemplating a book, chapter, or sentence about Adolf Hitler. I wish you all the best.