Scrapping Ideas and Rehashing New Ones

Ok, so this is my "opening" paragraph" for another story I'm working on. Don't know if I wanna go the web serial route or not with this one. This one is more personal, I guess a fictionalized version of myself. Out of all the characters I have, she's the most developed. I scrapped the idea for the other story, mainly because I couldn't make it work. That and she had no voice of her own yet. Maybe after I finish with this one Josselyn can come to life. Anywho, please read and be honest.

I've never been one to follow the crowd. I've done things solely because I've wanted to, for my own enjoyment. My way of thinking and doing this has made me an outcast of sorts, sure I've got friends, but I've always felt like I was on the outside. Confusing isn't it? I know it it, but even though part of me is happy being the quirky, wonderfully odd person I am, the other part of me wonders what it would be like to live life on the other side. No, it's not easy being me, and I'm sure you'll hear a lot of people say that, but it's the truth. So many things have happened to me in my short time on this earth, some good though many of them are bad. I've got so many issues to sort out, that every time I wake up and see my little boy I'm surprised I haven't found some way to screw him up. I'm even equally surprised that he hasn't figured out that I'm a fraud and have no idea what I'm doing; but he hasn't yet so I'll take that as a sign that I'm doing alright. After all, God wouldn't have blessed me with a healthy, beautiful child if I wasn't capable of handling it, right? So every morning when I get Myles ready and he gives a huge smile, and if you have kids you know the smile I'm talking about, my heart melts, I take a deep breath and say, “You know what? I think we'll be alright.” Oh, and before I forget, my name is Ombri. Pleased to meet you.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Same principle problem as the other one: this doesn't interest the reader right from the get-go. I didn't find anything at all that caught my interest until we find out she has the unusual name of Ombri.

IME, that's a common problem with drafts - or perhaps it'd be better to say that's the *point* of drafts. You spew lots and lots of words on the page... and only a portion of them will make the final cut (and those need to be the hook-the-readers-and-never-let-'em-go ones).

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

I do spew a lot of words. Why do i keep writing an opening paragraph to prelude the first chapter? UGH! I'm sabotaging myself!

Cheez-It's picture

stop trying to write. you kinda suck at it. i read that other post you made. neither were worth reading. i believe someone else even asked you why they should read it. lol that made my day.

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

And rude, quite frankly.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

thanks for being a butt nameless, faceless cheez-it

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

If that's the attitude you're going to take here, I don't think I'm alone in saying you probably aren't going to be warmly received. For myself, I'm impressed that our writer is actually willing to put herself out there and ask for constructive criticism. Key word there being "constructive"...which you are not. It takes a lot of guts to write publicly. I don't see you putting YOURself out there for our critique. Hell, you can't even be bothered to give us a name to call you! So..hush you, unless you have something worthwhile to say.

(and Mei, if I stepped over lines, I'm sorry.)

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...we wouldn't have any writers. We all start out sucking. I started out sucking, I sucked so hard I stopped for 20+ years, and when I started again in 2007, I sucked differently. I still suck, but it's in another, different way now. We keep sucking, and we keep working, and eventually we have something that doesn't suck, at least enough to let someone else read it. If you think everything here, as drafty as it is, was the first bits of this I wrote, that as bad as this is, it sprang fully realized onto my laptop, you're sadly mistaken.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

Too bad we don't have a troll smiliey. I think it would be appropriate here...

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

First person. First person is a difficult perspective to write from without making it stream of consciousness and irrelevant to the plot.

Also, in both paragraph samples, you're doing a lot of info dumping. Something you want to do when you write is conjure an image. Don't tell the reader if you can show them. Don't tell me your character is a non conformist, show me her funky wardrobe, her neon pink hair or her disdain for pop culture and the sheeple who buy into it. Don't tell me that she may not be the best mother but loves her child more than anything, have him get into something because her mind is wandering but then redeem herself by helping him understand something that it's difficult for children to grasp.

The type of writing you've been doing isn't worthless, it's a good exercise for getting into your character's head and finding out what makes them tick. It just doesn't make a good story. There's nothing there beyond background information, and a story needs direction. It needs purpose and conflict.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

the opening paragraph to try and give that background information. I'm not sure when I started doing it though. What I'm thinking of doing, since I've got a lot of this story written, it just remove that paragraph. I really don't need it. I *hope* that what I have so far is good, but again this is just a very rough draft.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

One way to think of it: dropping us directly onto the roller coaster ride is generally preferred over waiting in line for an hour before we reach the ride's gates.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

and yet, most people prefer the female orgasm...

though that's a far more pleasant line to wait in. Wink

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

I think that may be the first time a perverted joke went over my head since I hit puberty...

I must be tired.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

woman's orgasm typically has a longer warmup time required, but is more fun than man's, or so the conventional wisdom goes. By analogy, most people think that it's worth the "waiting in line" of foreplay.

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

to get you warmed up, keep using it. Just realize that once you've gotten your start you probably don't need to leave it in anymore. Just make sure all that background comes through somewhere else if you think it helps the reader understand the character. Work it in elsewhere in the first chapter.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Pikachu42 wrote:
the opening paragraph to try and give that background information.

Nope. That's not what an opening paragraph is for. It's tempting to do an infodump, but that's not going to engage a reader, and that's what an opening paragraph is for.

Exercise: Pick out five of your favorite books, I mean the ones you are crazy for. Read their opening paragraphs. Read them again. Type them out, graph the sentences, fool around with the language--play with them. Try to understand why you're so crazy about these books--what about those opening paragraphs (or pages--you can go with that) sucked you in so hard, and sucks you in over and over?

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

Look at ones that didn't grab you right away and do the same thing.

Even if all that info doesn't come in the first paragraph, but is still in an info dumpy style, it still sticks out like a sore thumb to me. Jim Butcher does this in the Dresden Files books, with the main character's appearance all the time, and it gets on my nerves.

ETA: I have committed some serious atrocities with the commas in this post. I apologize. I am also too tired to fix it...

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

I'll go dig in my book box (yes, my books are in a box. why? because i'm moving soon) and find my 5 favorites. I wanna say one of my favorite books (the fountainhead) doesn't start of in any exciting manner. hmmm

MeiLin's picture

Most High

It just has to draw you in, somehow. Something about the opening makes you want to read on. Sometimes the opening is quietly compelling, sometimes it's lyrically written--sometimes there are car chases and explosions--but it always makes you want to keep going.

In my email to you, I referenced "Moby Dick"--"Call me Ishmael." I went into Gutenberg and re-read the opening of the book for the first time in 30 years, to make sure I had my impression right; Ishmael tells us nothing directly of himself but his name in the opening. And I very nearly ended up sitting down and reading the book. Its opening is a beautifully written exploration of the wharves of Manhattan, man's relationship to water in general and the sea in particular, and Ishmael's own discomfort on land and among people.

When I read it in high school, I had a huge argument with my honors English teacher (an idiot, and not just because we fought) because I didn't agree with his interpretation of the book. He gave me a D on my paper. (We argued a LOT, and he ended up blackballing me from senior year English. Whatever.) Consequently, I haven't re-read Melville since. I'm going to have to re-read him now, because the opening got to me.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

what you mean. The opening to the fountainhead wasn't anything special. but i just HAD to read it.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

Quote:
The opening to the fountainhead wasn't anything special. but i just HAD to read it.

either you didn't really HAVE to read it
(unless it was assigned for class...;))
OR
It was something really special, but not in a way you recognized at the time. Anything compelling enough that compels a reader further...must be something special.

Enid's picture

Devotee

nudity, a cliff, and a lake make for a pretty special opening. and it gave you...pretty much everything you needed to know about roark in the simplest manner possible.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

i never really thought about it that way. I just no i started to read it and couldn't put it down...until the guy who was actually reading the book pried it from my hands. Smile

Enid's picture

Devotee

maybe 6 times now. originally, i really hated it. atlas shrugged i adored, i read it twice in a row(kinda had to, that giant effing john galt speech is killer.) but the fountainhead bugged me at first, maybe just an inborn prejudice from seeing robby-the-creep hand it to baby in dirty dancing all those years ago. even with that, the opening bit was a lovely thing in my eyes.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

with everyone on this, but the point I want to make is that, if this is the character you want to write (and even if she's super interesting) this isn't a good way to introduce her on a note that makes me want to know more about her. I agree with Raigne...first person perspective is a little rough around the edges, especially when your main character sounds slightly uneducated and rambles in run on sentences. It's fine if she is uneducated, but that screws up the first person style of writing (but then again, I hated the Catcher in the Rye, so maybe my opinion on this is contrary to the typical reader's).

I assume you have some action planned for your main character (something that develops her character or helps her grow as a person, perhaps), so maybe if you can drop us into the middle of that action or show us how she's currently dealing with some difficult situation, we'll be more compelled to continue reading.

In general, though, I'm interested to see what happens to Ombri and Miles, but I may feel like they don't really have a handle on their own destiny, and that life is just passing them by.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

and this is probably because I'm the author, but life isn't passing them by. it get a lot more interesting later on i promise, but it would be hard to turn this into a web serial as it's an everyday story. no super powers, no steampunk time period, no traveling through time. it's just the here and now. one day when i don't suck so much, i'll share with you.

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

Is that no evidence of that assertion is present in the paragraph you gave us. It sounds like a person's observations about their day, as they're writing them in a diary. I don't know what you people write about in your diaries, but my entries tend to be pretty boring, and I suspect the same is true of most people (no matter what TB may try and tell you about his...), and that really isn't the kind of opening you want for a story you're expecting people to read.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

actually it was gonna be written like a blog. like she was just writing about her life, thank the gods i scrapped that idea. i'd hate to have to redo 6 chapters.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

*wipes eyes*

*gets back to rewriting 43 chapters*

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

Keep an eye on her people. Wouldn't want the cheese to slip off the cracker before the whole story's told.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

"AHhahahaha" is a good, hearty belly laugh, as if someone's heard a good joke.

"Vwehehehehe" is a sinister cackle, like Kefka. THAT'S when you should watch her. She's gonna move the statues, man!

V's picture

Embodiment

And not good ones, I'm afraid--they're the same ones you've been hearing.
1) The opening paragraph is too wordy to draw me from one sentence to the next
2) The premise doesn't seem like it would interest me very much

If it gets better later, work on making it get better sooner. Like: the first sentence. I'm not picky or anything Wink It does have potential--don't lose hope--this is just trying to point you in a productive direction.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

"I've never been one to follow the crowd. I've done things solely because I've wanted to, for my own enjoyment. My way of thinking and doing this has made me an outcast of sorts, sure I've got friends, but I've always felt like I was on the outside."

I kind of feel like there are about 20% of high school students who feel this way. At least. I feel like it (alongside the other criticisms) tells you incredibly little about the character, other than that she feels like many other people do.

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

You non-conformists are all alike!

Pedes's picture

Postulant

:cuss:

Pedes's picture

Postulant

First thing:
http://community.livejournal.com/subtextacy if you're not there yet - join.

Second: apart from repeating a lot of things I'It seems to me like you're rushing into it too much; both content- and posting- wise. If you need to put things on metaphorical, or real, paper first to get going then do this, but be ready to rewrite A LOT. If you're ordering things in your head and then writing then... be ready to rewrite too.
I'm one of those people that have to get the flow when they write, so I plan a lot ahead of time and then write. Also I use (or used, I'm not really back to writing yet) silly, irrelevant pieces of writing as a warm-up to get into the flow. But even though I'm one of those people that get the flow and everything seems to fall into place there is always a lot of editing after.
If you have idea and just try to force them out it never ends well; I've tried it for a story I feel I need to write and I pretty much had to start from the beginning. Remember, writing is not just taking the ideas out of your head, it's the language you're using; you have to love it, play with it. Imagine you're not writing, but sculpting something with words, or painting; it's not enough to put the general shape, you have to pay attention to the details.
Also, tease the reader a bit, don't give him everything right away. Play with them, give them some leads that might be interpreted wrongly so they will be surprised.
Oh, since we're here I think making love comparison would be good: if you just jump and do someone instantly it will rarely work. Start with a flirt, some teasing, little kiss and then though the foreplay get to the main thing... And if you play it right the person will want to have you again Wink

God, all this talk is making want to write, but I have to finish my present job first >.

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