Thursday, June 27, 2013

First Sentence #37

TITLE: The Calling
GENRE: YA Epic Fantasy

Tabitha walked sullenly through the overgrown garden of her castle, which had also been her prison for the past eighty years.

43 comments:

  1. Yes. This is YA, so I'm intrigued that Tabitha has been imprisoned for eighty years. She must not be human. Or maybe she has a special ability. See there? I'm curious! You've done your job.

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  2. No but not because it isn't interesting. You're almost there but I think there's a bit too much telling. Instead of walked sullenly maybe try skulked or some other stronger verb that shows she's sullen rather than telling the reader. I like the fact that the garden/castle is her prison.

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  3. Yes, but barely. I'm curious as to why someone who's been imprisoned for 80 years can be the subject of a YA.

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  4. No, I have a need to edit the sentence, to intertwine the too parts better and tell less?

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  5. Yes. Castles, gardens and sullen girls/old women: sounds like a great setting for an epic fantasy I'd want to read.

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  6. Yes, but just barely. I want to know about the 80 year imprisonment, but it reads more telling than showing.

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  7. While I'm intrigued by the 80 years, this one is probably a no. "Sullenly" turned me off the character. Perhaps a more active verb would improve it.

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  8. Maybe: too passive a sentence and protagonist, though I'm intrigued by the 80 years.

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  9. Yes - 80 years is interesting, but is this a book about an 80-year-old person? That can be hard to read for YA. I do want to know why it's her prison, and I love the idea of the garden and castle.

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  10. No. A bit too melodramatic for me. I think it would work better if it were two sentences. For example:

    "Tabitha walked sullenly through the overgrown garden of her castle. It had been her home and her prison for the past eighty years."

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  11. No, not quite. I think I'd probably love the story, but the first line didn't work for me. Not entirely sure why, too long maybe.

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  12. No. It's YA and you're starting with a woman who is at least 80 years old.

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  13. Yes but I don't like 'walked sullenly" that almost made it a no.

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  14. No to the actual wording of the sentence (which felt unnecessarily long), but Yes to the concept expressed which is a great hook. I think cropping it to something like "Tabitha walked sullenly through the garden which had been her prison for the past eighty years." packs more punch.

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  15. Yes... but barely. I feel like this could have been said much more succinctly. That said, the concept behind it is very strong.

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  16. Yes, but barely. I like the imagery, but I think the sentence could be tightened for better effect.

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  17. Yes

    But i'm on the fence. The mystery of it is enough to keep me reading, but the sentence itself doesn't do much fore me. It's also a little long and clunky

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  18. No (sorry).

    A princess held in her castle as a prisoner is something we've seen many times before. I think it may be better suited if you build up the scenario a bit more, and then flip the switch that this isn't any ordinary princess.

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  19. Yes- Curious about the castle being her prisoner.

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  20. No. How does someone walk sullenly? You could describe the movement of her body to convey this more persuasively.

    On the "yes" side of things, I *was* curious about why she's a prisoner in her own castle. Is this a fairytale retelling? Beauty & the Beast? Also, 80 years was interesting, as I'm assuming this is not a story about an old woman. ("Sullen" suggests a teen.)

    Snip suggestion: You can lose "the past" and still get the vital info across.

    FWIW, even as an avid kidlit fantasy reader, I balked a bit at the castle. Just my taste, but castles are... well, sort of predictable. Sorry.

    Hope this helps.

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  21. Yes, but you almost lost me at "walked sullenly". Put a stronger verb in there to show us what Tabitha's up to. Also agree with Brigid G on losing "the past".

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  22. No. The 80 years is intriguing. But I'm just not compelled enough to find out more. It might be the her sullen demeanor. I'm not inclined to hang out with a protagonist who's been sullen for 80 years.

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  23. No.

    I'm intrigued by the 80 years thing, but the "walked sullenly" stopped me up - just come up with a more descriptive word for walked, and then the rest of it is too much telling. I think there's a way to incorporate the 80 years thing without coming right out and telling us it's her prison. Show us through details instead.

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  24. Super-interesting idea, but based on the first sentence alone, I'd say no. I agree with the others' feelings about the word "sullenly," and "for the past eighty years" just doesn't feel right in the first line of a YA. I'm sure you have some way of reconciling 80 years of imprisonment with a teen narrator—perhaps she hasn't aged at all, somehow—but even *seeing* "eighty years" makes me think elderly. Also, I'm thinking you could probably push yourself to express these ideas in an even more creative way. :)

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  25. No. I read this and thought, so? You need to hint at something not quite right. There should be something a little off to interest the reader.

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  26. No. Mostly because of the 'which had been'. It was too similar to saying, "Which, just so you know, reader, had been".

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  27. No. It's too "telling" for me. Also the combo of YA, "sullenly" and eighty years sets up a weird dissonance for me, and not in an intriguing way.

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  28. Yes but it needs tightening. The words 'castle','prison' and 'eighty' catch my attention.

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  29. No
    Because I would think her mood would be different if she'd been held prisoner for 80 years, I wouldn't think it would be 'sullen'.

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  30. No--I think this puts forth a lot of good information, but with fantasy and this idea of a prison, I think this can be pushed much farther toward something really engaging. Something more whimsical or mysterious, or whatever vibe you are going for. I would make every word count here. Some of this detail can come later. Even a line as simple as "The garden was Tabitha's prison, going on eighty years now." Something that captures the drama without being weighed down by explanation. Good luck, keep tinkering with this!

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  31. Drop the "ly" words in your manuscript. Those are telling words. You need to show us. The first sentence isn't bad except for "sullenly". If I was into YA, I'd read on.

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  32. No. I'm intrigued by the setting and promise of story, but would like to see the two parts of the sentence interlace more and tell less.

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  33. Yes, but I think it needs to be reworked.

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  34. No. There's an adverb and an adjective in the first 6 words of the sentence. The castle/prison has potential, but not as worded here.

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  35. No. It would read better as two sentences, and with some of the tweaks that others have mentioned.

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  36. No. Clunky wording for me and overgrown garden of her castle sound like some kind of bad sexual pun (sorry).

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  37. No. I read an article somewhere about how epic fantasies all start with the same thing--castles, light streaming though windows, trees. So whenever I see it all I can think about is that article

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  38. No. The wording is too plain.

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  39. No. Overwritten and you've tried to include too much. I would definitely NOT include a word like sullenly in my first sentence. Show, don't tell.

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  40. No--she's 80 years old and she's not doing anything. And I can't imagine an 80 year old woman escaping from this prison. The sentence structure also makes me leery of reading on.

    Perhaps - Tabitha shuffled through the overgrown castle garden, her prison these past eighty years.

    It's cleaner, but it's still not hooky. What is going to happen to change her situation? Perhaps that's the place to start.

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  41. No. It feels like a lot of explaining for the first sentence, but I think you could easily tighten it up to get the same information across, without it feeling so long.

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  42. Yes -- but think about losing "sullenly." The "eighty years" creates intrigue, but "sullenly" muddies the sentence with too much information. Show us she's sullen soon, but it doesn't have to be in the very first sentence. You have enough good stuff going on to launch the story without bogging it down.

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  43. Meh. Yes, essentially. But I am SO turned off by the name, Tabitha.
    As for the sentence as a whole, I really like the "prison for 80 years" 'thing' going on there. Why? Will she die if she leaves the castle? What is holding her there? And how does an 80 year old fit into the MC role of a YA novel? It immediately spawns tons of questions, making the reader want to know more about her.
    And I think the name Tabitha might not fit into the age/time appropriate question. I'd seriously consider changing that.

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