Thursday, April 1, 2010

In the Beginning Blogfest

First, Wow! I hit 60 followers. My good friend Kristi made it over here from my food blog. ;) Nice to see you. *waves* Thanks to all of you! I'm having a great time checking out all of your blogs too. I try to comment a few times a week, but since I read on google reader sometimes I forget. :) 

And Second...
Here is my entry for the In the Beginning Blogfest hosted by Kelly Lyman over at Kelly's Compositions. Officially it should be posted tomorrow, but... So, wait until tomorrow to go to Kelly's site to use the list of other people posting the first lines of their novel. Thanks Kelly for the excuse to post the first page of my WIP.

UPDATE: I've worked through half of the entries and there are some really great first pages out there!

This is from my obsession--SENDEK. I hope you enjoy it. After you read it, please post: 
1. If you would keep reading, and how much longer you think you might give it before putting it down. Sadistic glutton for punishment? Nah, I just need to know how much work is still ahead of me.  
2. If anything really jumps out at you (good or bad), please share.  :) And, I really do welcome criticism. I'd rather hurt now before handing it over to agents.

Blinking did not make the darkness lighter. Reaching out I touched sandstone, feeling the damp roughness of it as little bits of earth flaked off. I took a step forward disturbing the freezing water around my legs. It lapped softly against the wall, the gentle sound fading into the darkness. My heart pounded uncomfortably in my chest as fear, exhaustion, and frustration settled upon me. A sob escaped my lips before I could stop it. Death lurked in the gloom and I knew it would find me.

Splashing started in the distance and a dim glow of light began to reveal the tunnel around me. I knew it was pointless, but I instinctively searched for somewhere to hide. As the water around my bare legs began to ripple, I pressed myself against the wall and hoped the shadows would be enough to save me this time.

“We’ll never make it…” Two men stumbled into view, both wearing black robes that clung to their legs as they waded through the water. The older of the two gasped for breath as he leaned his bulk against the wall. His meaty hands waved the other man away from him, and turned to stare down the tunnel in the direction they had come.

The cold seeped into my blouse, making my chest ache. Shivering I waited to be discovered. Seconds passed with only the sound of the men's ragged breathing. And then death finally made it's appearance. My heart rattled to a stop as three huge creatures walked out of the shadows. They made no sound, moving like ghosts through my nightmare. Time stopped and I saw every movement, felt every breath. They walked on two legs, but...

45 comments:

  1. I think this sounds great--I can tell you made some good revisions, and I like the intensity of this scene. You use some good visual words (meaty hands, cold seeped, ragged breathing). Nice job, I can't wait to see what other changes--this certainly draws me in--and I like how you left us hanging at the end.
    Your Hubby :)

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  2. They walked on two legs, but what?! But what?!

    Excellent piece. I espcially liked the first paragraph but it's all brilliant. I feel like I'm in the darkness straining to use my other senses with her. :~D

    I would read on a very long way, if you'd let me.

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  3. I like this a lot. Very intense and I would definitely keep reading. :)

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  4. I liked this a lot!!! I'd love to read more!

    Happy 64 followers!!

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  5. Happy day! My hubby commented on my blog. I'm glad you like the changes. See I am making progress.

    Mia, Sarahjayne and Jen, thank you!

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  6. You meanie! What a place to stop the excerpt! Waaah! :-)

    This is deliciously tense and sensory. This may sound weird, but adding smells would also up the sense of fear--the sense the protagonist is on high alert, attuned to every nuance. I also would consider adding an opening line that expresses the character voice and gives a slight hint at the cause or outcome of the predicament. I love the line "Death lurked in the gloom and I knew it would find me." It could work well as your opening hook. Just an idea.

    Nice work, Charity! I have to know more about the creatures that walked on two legs, but...!

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  7. Oh, I'd definitely keep reading after that last line! Nice description and intensity. And great twist with the things that walk on two legs *but* ... That's a big but hanging out there!

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  8. I really like this, you use description very nicely I feel her fear. It's great!

    I would keep reading :)

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  9. Woot! I have a big but, oh yeah, oh yeah!

    Lol, I do feel like an awful big tease, but I thought the rules said "first page" and that is where my page break is after formatting for submission. I'm glad everyone likes it.

    I have a friend that has agreed to draw these creatures after he finishes the dragon. It may be awhile because he has some health issues that slow him down, but I'll ask if I can post them when he is done.

    Laurel, thank you for your comments. I've been thinking about smells as well. There are places I use them. I think I was afraid it would sound like a checklist. And I like your suggestion for the opening line. I'm going to give that some thought.

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  10. Ooooh, interesting. I like the two legs thing--maybe she's a mermaid or not a human? Maybe the creatures are not human, but have two legs?

    I love your poetic use of words. I would definitely keep reading! Thanks for stopping by my blog! :D

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  11. I think it's quite effective, good lady. Nice that the page ends right when you start to get interested. I'd read on.

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  12. But...what?!?!? Yes, I'd keep reading!

    Love the sentence: "Death lurked in the gloom and I knew it would find me." I would remove the passive voice here and throughout, though. (I knew, began, etc.) Using stronger verbs (i.e., revealed) ups tension.

    I really liked this!

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  13. Goal accomplished...I would definitely turn the page for more. Great use of atmosphere to set the feeling of dread. Excellent work!!

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  14. But...aighhh! That's just mean. :)

    I'd definitely keep reading. I agree with Laurel--good use of senses, shows her on edge. It was little hard to "place" myself in the scene since it has such a darkness/confusion to it, but as that's what the MC's feeling, I think that's a good thing.

    Good job.

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  15. I would keep reading. You've set a good pace, and I like the great images here with the cold and the lapping water. I really liked your page. I would not use the word upon, however. It sounds too formal. I'd also check for repetition: my legs and me, for example. Excellent writing, Charity.

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  16. I love the tension. I was a tiny bit confused as to whether the men in robes was Death and where the 3 creatures came from.

    I loved the action and immediate danger. I wonder if you shorten the sentences in your first paragraph if that would better match the tension you are trying to evoke? I would definitely keep reading.

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  17. I'm liking it - all the details and the intensity - if it turns out to be a dream though I'll be really disappointed.

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  18. I think you've started very well and I would definitely keep reading. I like the underground details -- it felt like I was really there.

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  19. but...
    But what? I would keep reading for sure. I like the pace and your descriptions are great. I could really feel her fear.
    Nice job and thanks for participating!

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  20. Hi Charity - you did say you hoped for input (I turned my 130,000 wip into 72,000 through hard editing.) Please don't think I didn't love your work - it was so good I had to play along. This is beyond rough but tighter - it might be of some use.

    Blinking did not make the darkness lighter. I touched rough flaking sandstone. Another step disturbed the freezing water, it lapped against the wall then faded into the darkness. My heart pounded out my fear, exhaustion and frustration welled. A sob I'd want to strangle escaped my lips. Death lurked and I knew it would find me.

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  21. Nice cliffhanger! I enjoyed it. I would definitely keep reading.

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  22. I really liked the tension you're building with this opening.

    One thing I would suggest for improvment is replacing "as fear, exhaustion, and frustration settled upon me" with something that shows instead of tells.

    I really love your voice and the way the writing flows. You write beautifully, and I am hooked.

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  23. I love it! I would absolutely keep reading. Great sensory details.

    Thanks for visiting Book Dreaming! :-)

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  24. Congratulations on 75 followers, Charity! This an outstanding piece, full of tension and great description, but what a place to stop! Who knew you had such a cruel streak. But ... what?

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  25. So, you ARE evil. I've always suspected as much. More, please.

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  26. This is why I love blogfests--there are great ideas for how I can tighten and improve this. Plus a heavy dose of ego boost that we all need every so often. Thank you everyone!.

    Tara, I struggle with the passive voice and have the goal of cutting more with each revision. Why is that so hard for me?

    Roxy, thanks for the reminder about repetition. I noticed it after your comment.

    Laura P, I'll play around with that paragraph some more and see how it works.

    Mary, now I'm sad because I'm going to disappoint you! Does it make it better knowing it is a prophetic dream foreshadowing the death of several characters? Also, she knows it is a dream but it still terrifies her in spite of trying to be logical about it.

    Kelly, thanks for hosting! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries.

    Elaine, thanks for the advice. I'm not too worried about the word count yet. I cut almost 3000 words last week. I like using my shorter sentences for impact.

    Amber, thanks! and I will work on finding a way to show that.

    VR and Christi, :) I didn't know I could be so evil either. I kind of like it. ;)

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  27. I liked this and would surely turn the page and read on.

    the only thing that jumped out at me was that from the first paragraph I thought the character was in a very dark place but in the third paragraph she's able to see men pretty clearly and even can see their robes clinging to their legs. were they holding lanterns or is it not as dark as I thought.

    But you definitely have a scary start.

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  28. Nice cliffhanger! I agree with Laurel about adding smell...the details are quite interesting, too. I think I'd have to keep reading--I'd want to know what the mc is doing in that water...

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  29. They walked on two legs, but...

    ...I glimpsed scales flickering in torchlight... or ...their feet hovered as they exited the water...

    =) I'm compelled to fill in the blanks and I would certainly be turning the page to find out what's attached to those two legs.

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  30. I'd definitely read more. You have vivid descriptions. Great job!

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  31. Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner! Kelly Morgan is right on. Scales, 6 1/2 feet tall, half dragon, half human, yellowish eyes and technological weapons to incinerate their prey in seconds, but they enjoy using their talons more.

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  32. Whoa..scary. I like this and am so worried for the main character!
    One tiny little thing I wanted to point out: "My heart pounded uncomfortably in my chest..."
    An editor once said to me when I wrote about a small smile on my character's face, "Where else would the smile be?"

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  33. It is hard to make darkness real to a reader. You do an excellent job of it. You draw a reader into the nightmare world of your protagonist. An agent I believe would want to read page two. I know I do.

    Come check out my first page and see if I come close to drawing you in. Have a healing weekend, Roland

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  34. Thank you for the feedback you gave me on my own first page. I will go back over my manuscript and try to tone down the Noir-purple of my prose. I lived on those wet, despair-drenched streets of New Orleans for the weeks following Katrina. I guess my experiences tinges my writing with purple -- and with a little black and blue, too.

    Have a healing weekend, Roland

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  35. I have no idea where I pulled that out from, Charity. The first thought that popped into my head was scales. Lizard maybe.

    Now that I've freaked myself out...There's got to be somewhere I can take my creepy intuition! =)

    With that said - Now I want to read on even more!

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  36. Thanks for caring enough for coming back. Your comments were appreciated, truly. And I never stress -- well, almost never -- oh, all right, you caught me. Have plenty of laughter this weekend, Roland

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  37. Congrats on the 60 followers - that's great!

    I would certainly keep reading - I agree with all the other comments re: the intensity of the scene. It's very vivid.

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  38. I like the start of this, and the end. I got a little bogged down in the middle. I'm thinking maybe if you fixed the passive voice, it would truly be wonderful.

    I hate to barge on to your blog for the first time and throw that out there, but you did ask. And it's certainly only my opinion!

    I'd keep reading to learn more about the splashes, which you've so nicely set up with tension. good job.

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  39. Good for you for inviting feedback. Very brave :-) I'd keep reading, with that hook at the end. You have a very intriguing premise. I want to know what's coming.
    I did have a bit of trouble orienting myself in the beginning. I think it may be paritally because of the sentence structure. "Blinking did not make the darkness lighter." is a bit awkward. And "I took a step forward disturbing the freezing water around my legs. " needs a comma, I think.

    "His meaty hands waved the other man away from him, and turned to stare down the tunnel in the direction they had come." makes it sounds like his hands are staring.

    You've got nice details and images here. I'd just go through and make sure the sentences flow well. That's exactly what I'm trying to work on in my first page right now, so I've been thinking about it alot. Good job!

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  40. First off, I'd definitely read further so you're already successful in my view.

    My only hopefully constructive criticism is to carefully review your sentence structures -- there are a few times I was thrown off by your cadence. Others have suggested making the narration more active. To be specific, the bee in my bonnet is use of gerunds, especially when they start sentences and paragraphs.

    Your second sentence needs a comma to separate the gerund from the main action: "Reading out, I touched sandstone...", but then the latter part of the sentence gets too fragmented. What about "Reaching out, I felt the damp roughness of sandstone as little bits of earth flaked off."

    I'd be careful about starting too many sentences with gerunds (and I speak from the experience of doing this myself). In this page you've got several of them, and most without their requisite comma. (See "Shivering I waited..." as another example.) Maybe look at restructuring these sentences to remove the dependent clause entirely (like "I shivered as I waited to be discovered.")?

    Aside from this pet peeve, your intro paints a murky, damp, nightmarish picture.

    Good job!

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  41. Thanks for the feedback and pointing out that typo!

    I think you have a great start and I would definitely keep reading! Great job!

    Hosting Last Line Blogfest, details on my site :)

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  42. Good tension, and a sense of urgency and fear. I'd keep going :)

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  43. Ooh, I love this! Good tension. Great job!! :)

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  44. This is awesome. I have so many questions I want answered and the only way they could be is if I keep reading. Perfect hook.

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  45. You can't end it like that!
    I want to know!

    Nice job!
    Hope to see you over at the Bad Girl Blogfest!
    http://bit.ly/BadGirlBlogfest

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