Monday, November 29, 2010

Mondays Theme: Vote For Your Favorite First Paragraph.

As many of you know, I have been editing my ms like a crazy person. I think the first chapter has improved. I’ve rewritten it well over thirty times. Initially I changed the focus, then to my critique group in put, and so on. Now I have the final version thanks to my editor and critique group friends. While I worked on this last week, I thought it might be fun to share it. The first paragraph is vital to any story. Does it capture the imagination and make the reader want to continue? I know I sweat over this and I think most of my writing friends do as well. So here are two choices for the first paragraph.

1. Missie’s song swept high. She adjusted the beat into staccato notes that oscillated in her ear as a summer breeze through aspen leaves. The tone of her flute mimicked the meadow lark in clarity of pitch. In her mind she heard a wind chime and the flute tinkled the notes in response. Now she dropped the rhythm, and counted, one, two, and three…hold.

2. Missie’s song swept high, the staccato notes like a summer breeze through aspen leaves, the flute’s clarity as clear as a meadow lark. In her mind she heard a wind chime and the flute tinkled the notes in response. Now she dropped the rhythm, and counted, one, two, and three…hold.

Which is your favorite? Why? Is this enough to make you want to read more?

Thanks, NR


Dominic de Mattos said...

Hi! Happy Monday to you!

For me the second paragraph wins hands down. It is clearer and somehow the tempo seems to flow more like the song Missie is playing. For me, the first paragraph lacks the same pace. Yes, I want to read on - I want to know who Missie is playing for and why!

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Dominic. You answered all my questions. I may follow this with more of the same chapter.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I like the second choice, too...I felt like it was more succinct.

Have a good Monday, Nancy!

Vicki Rocho said...

I like #2. The first one is pretty writing, but I'm a musical ignoramus, so it kinda went over my head. #2 seems tighter, I'm hoping the second paragraph will establish she's on stage or at a lesson or will have her interrupted with some sort of crisis.

Joanne said...

I vote for #2 as well. It's less wordy, and somehow paints a clearer picture than the first. Yes, I'd want to read more. For me, some sort of suspense hinges on the final word ... Hold.

N. R. Williams said...

Number two does seem to be the favorite. Thank you Elizabeth for your comment.

Vicki, it's all about a crisis in our novels. I am glad you mentioned that no. 2 is tighter.

Joanne, suspense on the word hold. That is powerful and I hadn't even thought of it. That's probably because I've reworked it so much.

Greet comments all.

Colene Murphy said...

I like the first with it's more info. But the second one definitely flows better and I think that's what you need for describing a musical scene.

notesfromnadir said...

I think #2 is a bit briefer & is well paced. The word staccato is so descriptive. I also like how it ends w/ her counting & the hold.

You're off to a good, dramatic start!

N. R. Williams said...

Interesting Colene.

I do love the word staccato, Notes. How funny is that when combined with your name.

Thank you both for leaving a comment.

Holly Ruggiero said...

Two here too, it has a better rhythm.

Kay Theodoratus said...

I liked the second version best too. At the end, my mind added: "And?" Hope the next sentence's a real block buster.

Anonymous said...

I like the second paragraph better than the first. The first is cluttered by comparison. But even the second could use some more editing. You need to grab the reader with the first sentence. Who is Missie and why do we care about her music? I'd drop the windchimes. Focus on the flute. And the overall metaphor seems a bit off. I like the similes, but are meadowlarks found in aspen groves?

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Holly and Kay. I think I will continue to post chapter one a little at a time. Well, maybe more than a little.

Good point MTLogan. Meadow Larks are common in Colorado. There are many aspen trees as well. Though I hadn't thought about a grove of aspens.

Thanks everyone for dropping by and leaving a comment.

The Golden Eagle said...

I like the second paragraph the best. I love the description in it. Beautiful writing, Nancy!

Joanna St. James said...

er i think I liked #1 hands down, I agree #2 is musical and flows but I prefer #1's construction better

I had a problem with "clarity as clear" and "the staccato's notes like a summer breeze" because the sentence feels incomplete in #1 u actually tell us its oscillating in her ear.

either ways they are both pretty good.

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Golden.

Joanna, I didn't think about the word "oscillating," I'm glad you pointed that out.

Thank you both for leaving a comment.

L'Aussie said...

Hi Nancy. I could wallow in #1 as it's what I like to read, but I think I'd go with #2 as it is more succinct yet still carries emotion. I would want to read on because of the timing in @2 I feel I'm holding my breath, waiting for something to happen. Great opening para, both!

Thank you for your comment on my MD site (finally getting around now NaNo's finished.) I left a reply to you that you might like to see.:)

Anonymous said...

Number two for me. I like the short but succinct, especially when something is about to happen. Writers can slow down when they are doing character development.

Helen Ginger said...

Number 2 was tighter, but I was lost even in that. I'm not sure what's going on, who or where she is. On the other hand, this opening is very unusual and would catch my eye. I'd probably read a bit more to find out.

N. R. Williams said...

Interesting that both spoke to you L'Aussie.

That is so true Stephen. Speed bumps are not good in story format.

Lost. I'm not sure you would feel that way if you had more to read Helen. That first paragraph is so hard. In fantasy you are required to open with what is normal for your protagonist.

Thank you all for dropping by and leaving a comment.

Clarissa Draper said...

I like the second one better because it's clearer and so attracted me better.


N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Clarissa. I choose the second one, but I will rethink some of it because of Joanna's observation about "oscillating in her ear."

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

my choice is the second one... I read both twice, and #2 captured my attention since the first read - it had less words yet the message was delivered... what is she waiting for? good start!!

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you OJ, I appreciate your insight.

Nate Wilson said...

I'm a little late chiming in, but I'll also put in my vote for #2 as the clear winner. As others have said, it has a better rhythm to it, in my opinion because -- unlike in #1 -- you vary the structure and don't start three sentences in a row with the subject.

But what really pulled me out of the story in #1 was the "staccato notes that oscillated in her ear." Since staccato is abrupt and disconnected, I'd think the notes would be too short to really oscillate. Perhaps you mean the melody (made up of staccato notes) oscillated, but just the juxtaposition of those two words would be enough to make me pause... and you don't want me to pause in your first paragraph.

I hope this helps. Take #2 and roll with it. And good luck with the editing!

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Nate, I was really considering adding oscillated since another person had commented the opposite. It pays to ask a musician.