Feedback on opening paragraph please

al
albatrossblue
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Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:43 am Post

Hi all,

I can't quite seem to get the opening paragraph of my fantasy novel right. Could you give me some feedback please? Many thanks in advance. :D



On the morning of Ascension Day, the Fool was worried. When one of the palace lions threw up half a deer carcass on the Darnish carpet, he strongly suspected that something was amiss. When Lady Elspeth’s charm lantern exploded in her face, temporarily covering her in iridescent scales, he started to fret. And when the Queen’s stallion, Aristarchus, kicked one of the stable hands in a private place, he was almost sure that trouble was on its way.

If the Fool had known what really lay ahead, he would been stunned.

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gr
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Mon Feb 24, 2020 1:26 pm Post

You don’t tell us why you feel unsatisfied. It certainly tells us a good deal about the sort of story we are about to hear, both in terms of fantasy conceit and setting, as well as the narrative manner.

A) Remove ‘that’ from the last sentence of the first paragraph. It is unnecessary there — a merely academic usage.

B) Since we have nothing to go on, I can only suppose that your first paragraph is striking the tone you are going for! So, my only substantive suggestion is based on an assessment by contrast: I think you should rework the final sentence. It is wordy for what it says and it pales in character compared to what came before. Since this sentence just deploys a familiar device, you need to deliver it with greater efficiency. Then just maybe it will deliver the punch note you are looking for?

gr

p.s. If, by any chance, you are just starting your project, then you shouldn’t be fretting about your opening paragraph at all, of course.
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auxbuss
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Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:59 pm Post

We're all silent critics… but since you asked.

You first tell us about the Fool being worried, and the you show us why he or she is worried. I'd focus on the showing.

I'm not one to get hung up on passive vs active – passive is fine – but a bit of active during kick-off is often a good thing. Things are clearly active here, so I'd be thinking about ditching the passive.

The final line you quote could be improved. Stories aren't told in the pluperfect, and the added qualifier weaken the sentence. That usage of stunned could also be refined. I'm not sure why you need the line at all, to be honest. It's more tell, even if Trickster rules.

Just for fun:

On the morning of Ascension Day, a palace lion threw up half a deer carcass on the Darnish carpet. Not long after, Lady Elspeth’s charm lantern exploded, covering her face with iridescent scales. When Aristarchus, the Queen’s stallion, kicked Donald Trump, one of the stable hands, in the balls and whinnied deliriously, long and loud and somewhat triumphantly, the Fool knew, without recourse to the runes, that further trouble was just biding its time; although reading the runes might have forewarned him/her of what lay ahead.

p.s. If, by any chance, you are just starting your project, then you shouldn’t be fretting about your opening paragraph at all, of course.
100% agree with this from gr
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al
albatrossblue
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Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:16 pm Post

Thank you both, that's really very helpful. Just aiming for a punchy catchy opening, and no, there is loads of this story. I'm just redrafting.

I liked what you said about the active / passive thing. Have reworked:

On the morning of Ascension Day, the Fool worried. When one of the palace lions threw up half a deer carcass on the Darnish carpet, he suspected something was amiss. When Lady Elspeth’s charm lantern exploded in her face, temporarily covering her in iridescent scales, he started to fret. And when the Queen’s stallion, Aristarchus, kicked one of the stable hands in the crotch, he knew trouble was on its way.

He was quite wrong. The trouble had arrived.


Thank you again :D

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auxbuss
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Thu Feb 27, 2020 3:01 pm Post

Just a thought: "crown jewels" might be a useful euphemism for male genitalia here.
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al
albatrossblue
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Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:24 pm Post

auxbuss wrote:Just a thought: "crown jewels" might be a useful euphemism for male genitalia here.


perfect thank you! :D

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gr
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Sat Feb 29, 2020 2:47 pm Post

Small point, I guess I would drop the paragraph break, since your following line adverts to a particular phrase used at the tail of the paragraph,* rather to the intuitive or salient “upshot” of that paragraph. So, you would have something like this:

On the morning of Ascension Day, the Fool worried. When one of the palace lions threw up half a deer carcass on the Darnish carpet, he suspected something was amiss. When Lady Elspeth’s charm lantern exploded in her face, temporarily covering her in iridescent scales, he started to fret. And when the Queen’s stallion, Aristarchus, kicked one of the stable hands in the crotch, the Fool just knew trouble was on its way. But in this he was quite wrong. Trouble had already arrived.

gr

* Which turn of a phrase will have been horse-kicked right out of the reader’s mind once you hit that carriage return.**

** Though, if it be a carriage horse, then a horse-kick is itself a kind of “carriage return”. Haha. C’mon, Dickens would have gone there if he’d thought of it first.
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Floss
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:20 pm Post

oh my.

[crouches in preparation]
[pupils dilate]
i am happy to give feedback on short passages.

be warned, though. my feedback can be blunt... always well intentioned and aimed at helping you improve, but possibly more honest than you are used to.

as such, i will only chip in if directly invited.