29 July 2008

Analysis of Openings

Meant to do this at the end of last week, but alas, it is week two of uni and already I have an essay due. But better late than never.

The format I'm using here is totally theived from Liana Brooks over at Write or Right? - with her permission, naturally ;)

This was my opening:

"Heather, you have something of mine."
I stared at my brother. I had no idea what he meant.
He stared back in silence. The years hadn't been kind to him, that much was certain. I pursed my lips at his dark, sunken eyes, unkempt hair, and too-skinny frame. Dirt clung to his shirt, and his shoes were scuffed and nearly worn through at the toes.
I frowned. "Really, Andrew. It's nice to see you and all, but" – I glanced up and down the perfectly manicured street – "did you have to show up like this?"
He shrugged and maintained his stare. "You have something of mine."
I suppressed a sigh. Better let him in before the neighbours see. I stepped aside and jerked my head.
His eyes widened briefly, but he stepped inside eagerly enough. I wondered how long it had been since he'd been somewhere warm – his hands were mottled with cold.
He hovered in the hallway, and I stepped past him and led the way to the kitchen. "Drink?"
He nodded. "Something warm would be great."
He slid onto one of the stools that edged the bench, and I turned away to rummage for the mugs and hot chocolate. "So," I said, trying to keep my voice casual. "What brings you here?" I hadn't seen him in what, ten? Eleven years, now? As I turned, mugs in hand, I caught his eye. I inhaled, hit by the intensity of his gaze.

"You have something of mine."

Comments: 26, if we discount my two :)

Hooked? 24 plus one maybe. Hoorah, there is hope! :)

Problems Cited By Critters:
* Brother is more interesting that Heather
* Lots of people wobbled at the 'hands mottled with cold' bit
* Lots of sentences start with 'he'
* Issues with Heather's actions - why does she invite him in instead of just asking what he thinks she has?
* Too many repetitions of "You have something of mine." - makes him sound robotic.

What I Can Fix:
* Both characters need a major overhaul. I know this.
* The cold hands can easily go, and sentences can be reworded to avoid 'he'

What Won't Change:
* I seriously doubt she'll just confront him on the doorstep. I still don't know her very well, but I know enough to know that that's a conversation she's NOT going to have in public ;) Besides, if she did, it would ruin the plot %-)

So, the biggest thing that needs working on here is the characterisation, which ought to iron out interest issues and also quirks in their mannerisms, such as Heather inviting him in, and him being so repetitious (or not, depending on how his character turns out).

For a long time I've been a character-focused writer, and have struggle a LOT with plot and structure. When I started writing this, it was an exercise in Making Things Happen - in plot. Consequently, the characterisation is very hazy - it seems that at the moment I can work on one or the other, but not both.

But that's okay. I can clear that up in revisions, and this novel is teaching me a whole new way of writing - and that I /can/ plot, and structure, and have coherency result :)

Overall, I'm pretty stoked with the high proportion of positive comments, and can't wait to finish this dang draft so I can get to revising.

Of course, the fact that I discovered some rather interesting details about Heather and Andrew's past two days ago has nothing to do with it O:)


Just_Me said...

24 yes's is a very nice percentage I thought. It's a good opening.... where are you going with it one wonders?

Inkblot said...

:D Well, I have 17 complete chapters plus a completed outline, so I'm definitely going /some/where with it! :D heh heh heh.

Am being cruel and making most people wait for the edited version %-)

Just_Me said...

Gee, that makes you just mean. I prefer to inflict people with comma splices, bad grammer, and typos because I know that makes the book seem more "real" ....

Or maybe I just hate waiting for feedback!

Inkblot said...

I can't survive without feedback. I have a beta reading queue so a couple of people can spur me on to finishing.

Mostly, though, I know my first drafts end up needing a lot of restructuring at this stage in my career, and I want to save some good critters for the restructured version, so they're seeing it fresh and are more likely to find errors I missed :)

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