Thursday, April 10, 2008

Are You Hooked? First Page #3

Genre: Middle Grade


A small and unremarkable boy stood atop a snowy, rock strewn precipice of a rugged mountain. Tears streamed down his semi-frozen cheeks, and his head hung low. Only ten years had passed since he first came here as an infant with his father who had taken in his arms, and held him to the heavens.

The small boy now stood on the same spot, wearing buckskin leggings and moccasins. In his hand he held a well worn doll-a gift from his father that day so many years before-the day his entire family died.

The boy raised his face to the sky and shouted, his heart about to burst. The tiny doll crushed in his hand, he held it to the heavens, and shouted once more.

He dropped to his knees, and the tears flowed. He loosened his grip on the doll, and let it drop. It landed and slid, then plummeted over the edge into the great chasm beneath. He threw himself forward, but could only watch in horror as his most prize possession dropped toward the violent water of the river below.

"Atsah!", he cried. At this he heard a loud shriek behind him and a huge rush of wings and air as something swooped over his shoulder and dove over the cliff. What appeared to be a giant eagle propelled itself downward faster and faster, and snatched the little doll from the air just as it was about to be swallowed by the raging torrent.

The massive bird twisted gracefully, and shot into the air with such power and strength that it reached and passed the awestruck boy in a matter of seconds. It rose higher until with its beak pointed skyward, it ceased flapping its wings, let out an ear-splitting shriek, and with a swift twist, dematerialized into a wisp of smoke.

Astonished, the boy stared to the sky and the spot where the giant eagle vanished. A small thump at his feet drew his gaze. There, as though he had never let it out of his sight, lay his precious doll.


  1. I'm sorry, NO.

    This is mostly a personal preference on my part, but I cannot stand unnamed POV characters in the third person.

    Since this is a prologue, perhaps the boy gets a name later, but even so, I'm irked by the fact he's just "the boy". I tend not to care about pronouns and titles.

    I want a character with a NAME whom I can invest in. By now, if I pick up a book that starts with an unnamed, POV character (in third person) and continues for more than a paragraph in that style, I'm more likely to put the book down and find someone with a name.

    The conflict here did intrigue me--I'm curious why he has to sacrifice his doll and why the eagle brought it back to him.

    This event is probably paramount to the plot in some way, and I think if "the boy" had a name and we had just a touch more information about what he's doing, I would like this and want to continue.

    Good luck. :)


  2. I'm leaning toward YES, I am curious to find out more about the doll and the eagle, but I agree with Merc's comments about the name. The main character seems distant.

  3. No, I'm not hooked. Omniscient viewpoint really puts me off. I'm a character reader and don't see much of that here, and that's possibly due to the distancing of the omni viewpoint. I am curious about the bird, though. So it's not content so much as presentation that disinterests me in reading more.

  4. The whole opening seems a bit Lion Kingish and a touch melodramatic (sorry), but that said, the whole doll-eagle thing hooked me completely! Lose the melodrama of the opening, show us something else, like the boy's own memory of how his family died (provided he was there, if not, the aftermath--something strong, gut-hittingly terrible but not info-dumpy or cliche) and you'll have a great first page. Great ending image.

  5. Can I say maybe? I like the whole doll/eagle mystery bit, and I'm curious to learn exactly what happened to the boy, but there's a little too much purple prose in the writing. Too many descriptors; as someone mentioned, they give the tone a melodramatic feel. Particularly the first para, which most likely would have made me stop reading had I picked this up in a bookstore.

    Also, not trying to critique, but since the boy 'let the doll drop', I thought he'd dropped it on purpose. It jarred a bit when I discovered he hadn't meant to let it go. My two cents :).

  6. You know, I'm totally hooked with the eagle and the doll thing, too. That's some cool, mythological something going on there and I'm all over it. :)

    I confess, though, that I'm not a big fan of prologues, as I find it hard to engage the characters. It does feel a bit "distant" in its telling.

    I read what some of the others said about giving the "boy" a name. I think I might like to read it again with a name thrown in there, to see if it makes a difference.

  7. I wasn't hooked by the first paragraph, but I was by the rest. I was a bit teary as I imagined him on the mountain, alone, in dispair. And had a big 'cool' thought bubble above my head with the eagle and the doll scene :)


  8. I'm not sure. The story and the imagery are really good. But, prologues are tough. I often find myself skimming them. I'd really have to know how Chapter 1 starts. It is much later in the same boy's life? Does it start with a completely different character (and then what does this boy have to do with it)? I don't know what an agent or publisher would say, but it may be a personal choice whether this is an effective beginning or not. Still, the story is quite intriguing.