Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I decided to post the comments on my opening here, both for posterity and so I could write down my thoughts/responses to each one. Here goes...

Anonymous said...
The continuation makes a good point about the need for some action to hurry up and occur, but I do like the original beginning. The writer started at the moment of transition, the point at which the protagonist's life changes course, and I think s/he did a good job of capturing the ringing disbelief Elspeth would have to feel at that moment. I agree that something should happen now, but I do feel pretty engaged with the character already, and would keep reading.
8:05 PM

[ME] To be the first thing I read, this was nice. I'm not sure how much action I could have had in 150 words (see previous post) but I promise stuff will happen in short order.

-c- said...
I don't see the benefit of starting after the crucial scene, and then having to backtrack and tell what just happened. Why would you open with the actual phone call? That's where the action is. That seems to be where the story starts.
9:18 PM

[ME] The first of many comments to this effect. I did end up rewriting the opening to begin with the actual phone call. I'm pretty happy with it, I got some more detail in, and it tripled the scene length (221 to 681 words). I'm keeping the original, though, just in case.

Macuquinas d' Oro said...
So far so good. Yes, we need Elspeth to DO something at this point, and something we don't expect,but the story is well launched.I'm turning the page to see what Elspeth does.
9:22 PM

[ME] Hmmm...something unexpected. Well, she's about to sit for her oral exam for her Master's degree, so she can't do anything really stupid just yet. And she is going to Scotland for the summer, where something unexpected will happen. Does that work? It's a positive comment, tho, and I was glad to hear it.

Anonymous said...
This opening is all tell and no show. And I agree with -c- that the author is avoiding the real conflict by not slapping that ugly phone call on the page. The author might try it just for fun and see how he/she feels about it. PicAxe
1:44 AM

[ME] See above. I tried it out and it actually worked pretty well.

HawkOwl said...
I wouldn't keep reading, but that's just me - I have no use for a love story. If you're into them, this is one of the most competent openings we've seen so far. If you'd throw in some fuck-me shoes to make it less "poor pitiful me," I might even read the second page.
2:02 AM

[ME] For someone who doesn't like love stories to say it's a good opening is a very good sign. Now, I've rewritten it, but hopefully the expanded-with-more-action scene will still live up to their expectations. And even though it was billed as Romance, strictly speaking that's not what I'm going for. "Romantic historical fiction" is the best I can come up with at the moment. I'll see what I can do about "fuck-me shoes" (a joke from one of the other openings).

Anonymous said...
Elspeth, yuch! Please change that name. Also, did he really show some sympathy for her feelings by telling her by phone he was having an affair with her best friend? Pleeeeaaaaaase. -JTC
9:02 AM

[ME] This one I've already responded to in previous posts. The name is important, and the situation is real - it happened to me.

Beth said...
First sentence is out of POV. She can't see her own face. Whoever suggested that the opening should show the actual phone call was right. It's usually best to start at a moment of action, not reaction. The conversation, written in real time, without backstory explanations, could make riveting reading; by relegating it to paragraphs of backstory, it's deadly dull.Doug is a jerk and she's better off without him. I hope she realizes that quickly.
11:47 AM

[ME] One of my friends (well, at least acquaintances) from the Writer's Forum! The POV comment was helpful - I'm gonna have to watch out for that. And I did rewrite the opening. As for the boyfriend, well...she takes a bit but eventually figures out that she's better off without him. And finds someone much better. Still writing what I know...

Anonymous said...
I agree that opening with the phone call would make for a stronger beginning. If you're really intent on opening with the aftermath of the phone call, then I suggest ditching most of the exposition, since the wordiness of it doesn't suggest the mindset of a woman in shock. As soon as you use the sentence, "Her fiance and her best friend," the reader is going to know *exactly* what the situation is, which means you can skim over the rest and jump right into the meat of the story. For something like this, less setup works better.
12:38 PM

[ME] Another rewrite suggestion, which I followed.

Anonymous said...
Elspeth? Elspeth and Doug? Elspeth's best friend Jennifer? Elspeth had to know what was coming, what with being the only Elspeth in Indiana. She's too good for the rust belt, dammit! Go, Elspeth, go out into the world and make a name for yourself (maybe something other than Elspeth?), perhaps a queen needs a lady in waiting!
3:08 PM

[ME] Weird. Does this person know me? Maybe one of the original players? Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it seems like they have an awful strong reaction to the setup, the names, and the "lady in waiting" comment jives with a "joke" (not really, but I'm not sure how to describe it) that I and the other original players had with each other at the time of the...occurence. If so, I would direct them to my Characters Post. As I said there, yes, I borrowed the basic framework of the situation from real life, and I kept the names because...they worked with the story. The characters are not intended to be the real people. Actually, in the new scene, it's more apparent that the characters are not the real people, because you hear the conversation and see some of the guy's personality come through. But regardless of whether or not the characters are intended to be the real people, it just goes to show you - screw someone over and you may be immortalized in their novel. Of course, this person could just be reacting to the juxtaposition of the odd/archaic name "Elspeth" with more common ones. I guess we'll never know...

Anonymous said...
I loved the addition. You can feel the blackness of the comedy as it creeps towards your feet leaving you dreaming of film noir; or at least moving from Harlequin Romance to Leonard Elmore.Go Leonard
5:22 PM

[ME] I have nothing against people that write Harlequin Romances, but I am not one of them. I'm not even a big fan of the (sub)-genre. 'Course, this person has no way to know that, with EE labeling it "romance" and only about 200 words to go by.

McKoala said...
The continuation says it all.

[ME] If they mean that it says there's no action, I've dealt with it. If the situation is too contrived and/or cliche, I've lived it. And if the name is too odd/archaic, see previous posts.

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