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 !st Three Paragraphs

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Brenda Hill, Admin
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PostSubject: !st Three Paragraphs   Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:32 am

One exercise that's good for writers is to post the opening three paragraphs of their wip - work in progress. It can be a fun and entertaining exercise as well as a learning experience. After all, the opening paragraphs determine if a reader will want to read more.

But be aware: some will love what you post and heap praises at your feet while others will criticize. But isn't that that point? If your opening is dull and draggy to others, don't you want to know? And if you can improve, all the better.

So who's brave enough to start?

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PostSubject: Three Paragraphs   Sun Jan 04, 2015 1:58 pm

Okay, Brenda. I'm taking a break watching football this morning, so I'll bite. Here are my preliminary first three paragraphs of "Skeletons of Weavers Needle."

Shaffer watched his new cargo being loaded. While he didn't believe in God, he actually thanked him that his old orders had been revoked and replaced with these more curious ones. That first set would have taken him into the British port of Southampton to sink any shipping he could find. He had been running submerged westward from Kristiansand, Norway on May 2, 1945 and was just north of Scotland on May 5 when he received instructions to reverse course and return immediately to Kristiansand for new orders.
As the new cargo was going aboard, he looked proudly up to the conning tower of his ship, to the large white lettering with black borders that stood out against the gun-metal gray of U-Boat 977. He was a German naval training officer and this was his training vessel, a Type VIIC U-Boat launched on March 31, 1943. For two years she, and he, had been instructing Germany's best young men for U-Boat commands. On the U-977's first actual war patrol, the date of May 5, 1945 was the worst day of Oberleutnant Heinz Shaffer's life and, while he and his crew would have met a certain and brutal death had they entered the harbor at Southampton under his initial orders, this was worse. All U-Boats had been ordered to stand down. Hitler was dead. The war was over. The Third Reich was gone forever. Heinz Shaffer's future was very much in doubt. The war officially ended on May 8, 1945, just as the dejected and demoralized commander arrived back in Kristiansand.
Now he held strange new orders in his hand and, though he didn't fully understand them initially, his pride swelled anew that he had been chosen for this mission. He had been told there would be six passengers, persons that needed to avoid Allied capture at all costs. That was all well and good, but children? He had not anticipated that they would be children. Who they were and what they carried in the multiple crates that were being loaded he wouldn't discover until they were days at sea in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. But these were his orders and he would carry them out to the letter. He was totally devoted to the Reichstag, would raise no questions, expect no answers, and simply perform his duty as instructed. Those still in power in Berlin knew that of Shaffer, as well. It was why he had been chosen for this last act of the Third Reich.
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:19 pm

krbarnett wrote:


  Shaffer watched his new cargo being loaded. While he didn't believe in God, he actually thanked him that his old orders had been revoked and replaced with these more curious ones. That first set would have taken him into the British port of Southampton to sink any shipping he could find. He had been running submerged westward from Kristiansand, Norway on May 2, 1945 and was just north of Scotland on May 5 when he received instructions to reverse course and return immediately to Kristiansand for new orders.

As always, Ken, I like your stories, but I'm having trouble with this opening. I didn't feel 'engaged' until the third paragraph, and that's not good.

First paragraph:

cargo - what cargo? loaded into what? I can't get a mental picture from that, so it's simply reading words with no meaning.
2nd sentence - him should be capitalized. And again, I'm lost in the second sentence as well. Old orders for what? And curious ones? If you don't want to say what the new order are, that's fine, but we need a better sentence to evoke curiosity.
3rd sentence we're getting a sense of place. That's good.
Next sentence: He had been running submerged... bet he ran out of breath pretty quickly.
New cargo? Give us a hint, let us 'see' something. and going aboard... going aboard what? Again, we need to 'see' something. The last part of that paragraph is good, so this is not ALL bad.

Have to leave. Sure you want to hear the rest when I return?

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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:29 pm

Absolutely I want to hear the rest. You stand over my literary head like a well-seasoned lion tamer. Just, please... don't use the whip. Thanks for the input.
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:43 pm

I'll try to restrain myself - wouldn't want to completely terrify you. What a spoilsport.

I've just had a large project come in, so you'll have to continue without me. Just work on the opening, take some of the advice I've already given and use it for the rest.

And maybe someone else will pitch in with his/her opinion too. That would be great.

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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:34 pm

To keep this thread going, which I think is interesting, I'm going to change the trend from editing the paragraphs to a simple, "Would the posted three paragraphs entice me to read more?"

After all, that's what we all want - for the reader to be so fascinated with our story that they cannot put it town.

So yes, Ken, although your first couple of paragraphs weren't the greatest - in my opinion, I might keep reading. The third paragraph made me curious.

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PostSubject: Three Paragraphs   Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:19 pm

Guess there's just you and me on this one. First yours, then mine.
I loved the first paragraph. A small terrified boy- great wording. But after that, it seemed to get a little "smutty" for me. I'm not a big proponent of the f-word, especially early on. I always feel like the author is trying to shock me into reading more. And after that, the sexual vision didn't entice me to go on. I would put the dialogue paragraphs a little further down the line. I may also replace the f-word with "whiner" or 'snot-licker," something like that. And, does the little boy have a new mommy or does mommy have a new boyfriend? Seems
like the words got transposed. That's just me, though, and, again, I really loved the opening.
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PostSubject: Three paragraphs   Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:32 pm

I was looking back on the topics we discussed at our workshops and, just like my first novel, I found myself starting out in the past again.
I am making that "backstory" for use later in this work, and now have a new opening, in current times. Here goes-

Alon Klein watched the two small dark figures as they left the sloping dirt, mud, and scree guarding the base of the monolith and started their climb up the south face of what used to be called "The Finger of God." Trailing this prey had so far produced nothing and he was sure the mountain, in its own way, was just flipping him off. His father must surely be wrong this time.

Then, just as fast as they began their ascent, the climbers came back down. The two of them eagerly began pushing dirt and rock aside. What had they seen from higher up? Alon could tell that the park ranger walking up on the two from behind was not welcome. After a brief conversation, while the one called Victor distracted the young ranger, Carl pulled his climbing hammer from his belt and struck the man heavily on the right side of his head. He crumpled to the ground without a sound.

Alon could do nothing but take it all in. He was sixty years old, out here on the hiking trails in street shoes, and had no weapons. But now he guessed that his father might be right after all. Maybe the Carl Miller and Victor Myers that he was watching now were really Karl Mueller and Viktor Maier, just as his father had said. It seemed that even men with bad intentions had hobbies. Alon couldn't have known that, before the next day was over, he would be joining the ranger.
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:41 pm

krbarnett wrote:
Guess there's just you and me on this one. First yours, then mine.
I loved the first paragraph. A small terrified boy- great wording. But after that, it seemed to get a little "smutty" for me. I'm not a big proponent of the f-word, especially early on. I always feel like the author is trying to shock me into reading more. And after that, the sexual vision didn't entice me to go on. I would put the dialogue paragraphs a little further down the line. I may also replace the f-word with "whiner" or 'snot-licker," something like that. And, does the little boy have a new mommy or does mommy have a new boyfriend? Seems
like the words got transposed. That's just me, though, and, again, I really loved the opening.

Thanks for the feedback, Ken. Another pair of eyes is always helpful, and I'll give some thought to the 'smuttiness' issues. But I'll probably keep the words as readers should have an idea of the content from the genre and the blurbs, altho I do like 'snot-licker.' That's a good one. I'll also go back over the new boyfriend/new mommy problem too. Thanks!

And give this thread some time. We've had new members, but so far, they haven't posted. But there's always tomorrow.

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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:48 pm

THERE IS ONLY TODAY

1

Bonn, Germany

Today was all about waiting.  Some things could not be rushed.  Patience and preparation were necessary for the successful completion of even the most routine professional killings.  Such jobs could be considered routine only because of the preparation that went into them and the patience displayed in their execution.  If corners were cut in the lead-up to the job…should any contingency not be considered and planned for…mistakes would surely follow.  Mistakes would also occur if the job was undertaken with anything less than the requisite calm and diligence.  In this instance, considering the target, adherence to these two protocols was not only necessary but imperative.  
He was a man somewhere in his mid-thirties, but maybe older, maybe younger.  It was hard to be sure because almost all of the intel on him was unverified.  It was either speculation or hearsay, rumor or guesswork.  He had no name.  He had no residence.  No friends or family.  His background was nonexistent.   He was not a politician or drug baron or war criminal.  He was not military or intelligence…at least actively serving…but he could not be called a civilian either.
The only thing that was known with any certainty was his profession.  He was a killer.  The client had referred to him as the killer, warning that he had recently terminated another team sent after him.

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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Thu Jan 08, 2015 2:08 pm

Another one, Don? Amazing. Is this the first draft of a new novel?

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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:40 pm

I'm putting the final touches on it. It's the fourth in my Devlin (Hitman) series.
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:30 pm

Anyone else want to post their opening paragraphs?

Someone who hasn't joined yet said they would like to post but do NOT want a critique. As a newbie writer, the idea of critiques is too difficult. They haven't grown that thick skin needed--yet.

So what if we post with just the one question in mind: would we want to read more?

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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:51 pm

PROLOGUE

Being beaten by three men while handcuffed to a chair in a disgusting interrogation room would make anyone angry, but Alroy Hunter seethed with rage for a different reason.

At thirty-seven, Hunter possessed more operational experience than men twenty years his senior, and had it been up to him, this wouldn’t have happened.

He had never been captured before and this time it was only because someone tipped off the targets about his team’s arrival.


First three paragraphs of HUNTER:  
COMING SOON!

Description: Since he turned eighteen, Alroy Hunter has given his blood in defense of the country he loves. Now, he must do something he never thought possible, he must wage war on his own country, because this time it is not the security of the United States that hangs in the balance, but the life of the woman he loves.
After a shocking betrayal at the highest levels of government his fiancée is imprisoned for a crime that will expose the White House, covert ops agent Alroy Hunter must use all his skills to free her, and keep their dream of being together alive.
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:40 pm

Sounds exciting! btw, I love your new avatar. You look serious, thoughtful.

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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:25 pm

Thanks Brenda...I think I just look OLD!
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:31 am

Don, having viewed your old Avitar for so long, you look like another person.
I prefer seeing an up-to-date picture. We happen to be the same age. The color of the hair, the mustache and beard are similar. The difference is under the outer cover and that is the mystery. Having read your books, I know that there is much genius contained within. What is yet to come out of that shroud is the mystery.
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:52 pm

Thanks Abe, Life is still a mystery to me too!!!!
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:05 am

krbarnett wrote:
Okay, Brenda. I'm taking a break watching football this morning, so I'll bite. Here are my preliminary first three paragraphs of "Skeletons of Weavers Needle."

  Shaffer watched his new cargo being loaded. While he didn't believe in God, he actually thanked him that his old orders had been revoked and replaced with these more curious ones. That first set would have taken him into the British port of Southampton to sink any shipping he could find. He had been running submerged westward from Kristiansand, Norway on May 2, 1945 and was just north of Scotland on May 5 when he received instructions to reverse course and return immediately to Kristiansand for new orders.
  As the new cargo was going aboard, he looked proudly up to the conning tower of his ship, to the large white lettering with black borders that stood out against the gun-metal gray of U-Boat 977. He was a German naval training officer and this was his training vessel, a Type VIIC U-Boat launched on March 31, 1943. For two years she, and he, had been instructing Germany's best young men for U-Boat commands. On the U-977's first actual war patrol, the date of May 5, 1945 was the worst day of Oberleutnant Heinz Shaffer's life and, while he and his crew would have met a certain and brutal death had they entered the harbor at Southampton under his initial orders, this was worse. All U-Boats had been ordered to stand down. Hitler was dead. The war was over. The Third Reich was gone forever. Heinz Shaffer's future was very much in doubt. The war officially ended on May 8, 1945, just as the dejected and demoralized commander arrived back in Kristiansand.
  Now he held strange new orders in his hand and, though he didn't fully understand them initially, his pride swelled anew that he had been chosen for this mission. He had been told there would be six passengers, persons that needed to avoid Allied capture at all costs. That was all well and good, but children? He had not anticipated that they would be children. Who they were and what they carried in the multiple crates that were being loaded he wouldn't discover until they were days at sea in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. But these were his orders and he would carry them out to the letter. He was totally devoted to the Reichstag, would raise no questions, expect no answers, and simply perform his duty as instructed. Those still in power in Berlin knew that of Shaffer, as well. It was why he had been chosen for this last act of the Third Reich.

You have the type story I like. You seem to have all the facts needed. Now to the readers view: Rather than tell the story, make the reader feel how the characters feel. The reader must feel like they are right there in the story...they are living the story. The reader must be taken out of their real life, and allowed to live in the story they are reading, and feel what the characters feel. Don't tell anything...show it. Below is not apoor example,  but it may help you get the idea.

Telling: The food Joe was eating was hot.
Showing: "It's to damn hot," screamed the big dark skinned man. "How's a man suppose to eat this? Jimmy watch as the plate of hot food sailed across the room, and became a part of the wallpaper design.

I hope this helps.


Last edited by Domenic Pappalardo on Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:06 pm

I love your 'Show, don't Tell' advice. Domenic. We need more writing advice on the forum.

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PostSubject: Re: !st Three Paragraphs   Sat Jan 23, 2016 1:07 pm

Thank you, Brenda. Show don't tell is a basic rule. I think where most new writer trip up, is they start a story not knowing where it's going? I have had some new writers defend their way of building a book with: "I let my characters make up the story as they go along." When I write I put on my, "Movie director hat." I tell my characters what to do, and what to say. Imagine if a movie director just allowed the actors to make up a story, and their lines as they went along...what kind of movie would that be? Other new writers have good ideas for a story, and start with the first word, and write too the last word. This is called, making it up as you go along. I lay out my chapters first. I put a note at the heading of each which tells me what must be in that chapter, and which characters. Sections of a chapter, or even whole pages can be moved to other chapters if I feel they work better in the new spot.
When I was doing my ten millionth rewrite on, "Naked in West Upton," I felt I still had a problem with the first three pages. I loved all three pages...which is a danger for a writer...Shelagh over in published authors took those three pages, and made page three, page one...it cleared up the whole mess. I am a believer, It takes many eyes to write a good story.

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