How many fiction writers do we have here?

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Jaysen
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:00 am Post

nom wrote:
vic-k wrote:My first line:
Her heightened state of arousal, was attributable to nothing more than his sadistic juxtaposing of certainty and uncertainty.

vic


Vic: Again, I'm going to be a voice of dissent. I think the qualifiers are essential. Remove "heightened" and "of arousal" and the sentence loses it's meaning and intensity. Was she sexually aroused? Emotionally aroused? Was it fear? Anger?

I think 'dee's statement was about the spurious comma, not a comment about the actual need to remove the qualifiers.

Vic-k, what follows? I guess that means you got my attention.
Jaysen

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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vic-k
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:20 am Post

Nom,Jaysen,
Just noticed posts. 2am here. Brain gone walkabout. Will respond ??pm
Good night
Vic
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Carradee
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:31 am Post

Um, sorry. Lemme clarify: I removed the modifiers merely to demonstrate why the comma should be removed. I didn't mean to say that you should remove them altogether.

EDIT: So Jaysen read my words as I'd intended them. It makes me feel a bit relieved that somebody did. :)

vic-k wrote:It was simply his sadistic juxtaposing of certainty and uncertainty, that held her at the peak of heightened sexual arousal.


*shrugs* Still no comma. The clause is necessary to the sentence, so the comma actually interferes with the meaning.

And thanks for that feedback, nom.
Last edited by Carradee on Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Jaysen
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:53 am Post

vic-k wrote:. Brain gone walkabout.

And this is different from the norm how?

:P
Jaysen

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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ma
mary
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:22 am Post

You're right, Caradee, I did ask for it! All I can say is that we have very different styles. I do not think of style as something to be worked on separate from content, and I never have. I'm a minimalist by inclination, and have never attempted anything as long as a novel before. But I have been writing, on and off, for close to thirty years - and I've got to say, you're the first reader I've had (that I know about) who didn't want to keep reading my novel-in-progress after the first paragraph.

As to your first paragraph, do you mean to say (or imply) that the wine spilled? That the girl was trying to avoid puddles of wine? If so, "overflowed" isn't a bad way to put it. If not, it's confusing. But that's just the way I see it, and it's clear we have very different styles. Yours seems ornate to me; perhaps overly so. I find it a bit off-putting for that reason.

But I have a rule for the kids in book club that I try to follow myself. You must always read at least the first chapter before expressing an opinion. One or two sentences isn't really enough to go on.

BTW, perhaps the best opening I ever read was from a good, solid kid's book (Torn Away by Henaghan. ) As I said, the book is good, indeed, very good of its kind. I'm not sure it's a classic. And that goes to show you that a really exceptional opening, by itself, doesn't always indicate an exceptional book. It does give you a fair indication of the tone, setting and type of book you're in for. Heneghan does all that, and quite well.

And - this is reminding me of a fun exercise on another board. People quoted first lines from various books and then tried to guess authors and titles. Here's one for you:
"It was six o:clock on a very warm evening in the Seeonee Hills."

Not a lot one can tell from that one, is there?!

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nom
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 4:09 am Post

mary wrote:"It was six o:clock on a very warm evening in the Seeonee Hills."


In my copy it was seven o'clock, and the sentence continues for a couple of lines before ending with, "...sleepy feeling in their tips." Unless another book has an exceptionally similar opening, I think I recognise it. :)
Good incentive to reread it too. Thanks. :D

I like your Children's Book Club rule: 1 chapter before judgement. Nice.
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nom
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 4:17 am Post

Carradee wrote:Um, sorry. Lemme clarify: I removed the modifiers merely to demonstrate why the comma should be removed. I didn't mean to say that you should remove them altogether.


Oh. :oops:
Agreed. No comma needed.

Carradee wrote:
vic-k wrote:It was simply his sadistic juxtaposing of certainty and uncertainty, that held her at the peak of heightened sexual arousal.


*shrugs* Still no comma. The clause is necessary to the sentence, so the comma actually interferes with the meaning.

And thanks for that feedback, nom.


'welcome. Since other's have put up a few lines, I might post the next few sentences of mine (although I'm still not convinced I should start with them). Not this week though. Deadlines looming on research and marking, so recreational writing is at a standstill for a while.

Hmm, shouldn't be here. Should be offline making phone calls. :cry:
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vic-k
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:45 pm Post

Carradee wrote:. (And yes, I only dish out what I can accept in return.)-'Dee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYfdLbn7 ... re=related :wink:
Fluff
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mary
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Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:58 pm Post

Nom, thanks for the correction! That's what you get for not looking at the book. Here is the first sentence from Heneghan's Torn Away (looking at the book this time):

1.
They handcuffed him to the seat so he could cause no trouble on the airplane.


That is my idea of a dynamite opening line! And here are a couple more.

2.
Lok ran as fast as he could.
*

And (quoted on the Sounis board on livejournal)

3.
There was a wall. It did not look important.


Finally (the last two are from adult classics of speculative fiction), an opening line from a classic children's book:

4.
It was a dark and stormy night.


The point? I admire all of these writers - and I admire the last three very greatly. Golding(2) and Le Guin(3) are, IMHO, among the finest writers, and finest stylists, of the twentieth century. But, beyond saying that they don't waste words, I'm not sure you could fairly critique their works from the first lines. You might even think Torn Away (which is certainly good, but not quite that good) the best book of the four.

The question, I guess, is: What can you actually judge from the first sentence of someone's work? You can, perhaps, tell that you are intrigued or turned off. But why?

I do think it's a good practice to at least read the first chapter before giving up on a book, but I said that before. :)

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Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:37 am Post

4.
It was a dark and stormy night.


Ahem, er . . . that may be a line from a classic children's book but it is also, harrumph, the opening line of a "classic," Paul Clifford, from one Edward Bulwer-Lytton:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.


:)

Dave

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mary
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Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:24 pm Post

Well, of course I know that, and so did Madeleine L'Engle, who used it as the first sentence of A Wrinkle in Time. It's very much tongue in cheek, but also, in the story itself, a bald statement of fact. And it sets up the story very well, IMHO - not least by letting alert older readers know that they will need to read on at least two levels.

BTW,with all this talk about first lines, should we all start crafting entries for the Bulwer-Lytton contest, or has that already been done on this board?

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Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:32 pm Post

Um - just for the heck of it, here's a possibility:

Frieda, the scrawny, downtrodden serving wench, wiped her nose with the back of her hand and gaped at the vision of beauty that had stopped in the doorway: a knight, his eyes flashing like coals, his hair the gold of new-drawn ale, and his armor shining like the sun upon rising.

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vic-k
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Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:53 pm Post

mary wrote:Frieda, the scrawny, downtrodden serving wench, wiped her nose with the back of her hand and gaped at the vision of beauty that had stopped in the doorway: a knight, his eyes flashing like coals, his hair the gold of new-drawn ale, and his armor shining like the sun upon rising.

Her: Scrawny!.. Downtrodden!..low born!..snot all over her face; Him: handsome!..eyes flashing like coals!..hair the gold of new-drawn ale!..armor shining like the sun!
Well, there`s no point `angin` around waiting for the ensuing gymnasticated fornication...is th`, cos there aint gonna be none between these two, obviously.tch!tch!
Nobody writes good honky-tonkin`anymore :(
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Jaysen
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Thu Oct 15, 2009 7:16 pm Post

vic-k wrote:Nobody writes good honky-tonkin`anymore :(

I thought that was why we kept you around?
Jaysen

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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Juddbert
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Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:40 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:
vic-k wrote:Nobody writes good honky-tonkin`anymore :(

I thought that was why we kept you around?


Heck no. He's on the judging panel, not one of the contestants. THe only time you'll find Vic waving the wiggly is when Pink has him pinned in the corner and he's playing the Get Out Of Jail Free card.
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