Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First Line Grabber #24

TITLE: Savanna Child
GENRE: Mainstream fiction

Butterflies live only a few days, and the morning I learned that I came to understand my whole life.

40 comments:

  1. No. Opening with a revelation like this turns me off. Feels like you're telling us the ending of the book, so now the whole thing will be a flashback. Start the story and let the reader see this revelation at the end of the book when you've built up to it.

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  2. No. It is confusing and needs to be read more than once to be understood. The punctuation seems off. It makes me want to edit it. The morning I learned that butterflies live only a few days, I understood my life. "I came to understand" doesn't fit with the sense of epiphany the sentence seems to want to convey. "I started/began to understand" would be OK too, but the sentence needs a click of insight that shows the change in narrator's perspective that "came to understand" just doesn't have.

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  3. No. It's confusing, and it feels like you're telling us things in the wrong order.

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  4. NO. The opening is kind of cliche. I think you could have a good opening with this but not as written. See if you can tweak it to take out the cliche.

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  5. Yes, but conditionally. This feels to me like it was meant to be two (or more) sentences that were forced together for the purposes of being one opening line. As is, it's awkward and a bit forced. However, there is something lyrical and interesting in it that caught my attention.

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  6. Yes, also conditionally. As is, it feels a little sloppy and forced. (Forgive the brutal honesty). However, I am deeply intrigued by the idea of this child's life being linked somehow to a butterfly's life. Personally - and this is subjective, of course - I would reword it to something like, "The morning I learned butterflies live only a few days, I understood my whole life."

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  7. No. This feels too airy/fairy for adult contemp. It makes the narrator sound crazy instead of insightful.

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  8. No -- the construction is awkward and overly wordy, and it feels like too many revelations I've read in books before.

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  9. No. It reads like you're trying for a literary feel, which I like, but you missed the mark with the awkward sentence.

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  10. No. I feel like the concept COULD work, but the voice throws me off. Feels a little too dramatic/unrealistic.

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  11. No. This feels forced and slightly clunky. I would save the revelation for later.

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  12. No.

    The writing needs to be tightened and also it feels a bit too self-aware and existential which just doesn't work for me

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  13. No. I like opening with the butterfly fact that they only live for a few days. But I'd rather not have the revelation spilled out. Let readers make the connection.

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  14. No. Feels like you're trying to spoil the ending. And the order of ideas should be reversed

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  15. No - I had to read this several times before it even made sense--needs a comma after "that". I don't think anyone can "understand their whole life."

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  16. No. Confusing and telling instead of showing.

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  17. No.
    The phrases feel awkwardly cobbled together. If I have to read the first line more than once, I don't want to go on.

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  18. No
    -becuase it feels like the start of a huge chunk of backstory and the wording feels clunky to me.

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  19. No. This feels like the sort of line that's hard to cut but really maybe should be. It's nifty and should be cool but ultimately does nothing to draw us in or forward the story.

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  21. No. It's confusing. Perhaps stick with the butterfly imagery and a hint at the problem at hand?

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  22. Sarah Maury SwanApril 9, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    No. The story might be compelling, but the sentence structure and voice are too passive. How about: "I learned that butterflies only live a few days one morning and my life then had meaning." Or some such thing.

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  23. No.
    It has potential but something about it doesn’t quite grab me. Maybe back the scene up a little bit and let us join Savanna in her discovery.

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  24. Yes- sounds like literary fiction with an interesting story

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  25. Yes, but...

    I really like the idea and what it hints at, but there's something in 'Butterflies live only a few days...' that puts me off.

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  26. No. I don't get the connection and it doesn't raise questions in a good way for me.

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  28. No - I do not see the connection between butterflies and this MC. Not enough info for me.

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  29. No. I had to reread the sentence a cpl times to understand what it meant.

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  30. No. There isn't a beautiful flow to the sentence. I paused in the middle of reading it to go back and read the beginning. That's not a good way for me to start. I want to be pulled forward.

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  31. No. There is promise here, but as is it reads a little forced.

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  32. No. Everything after the comma seemed a little trite. -sorry

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  33. No. It starts kind of promising, but after the comma, it loses steam and seems awkward. The two thoughts don't seem to be related in a way that is clear.

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  34. No thanks.

    The opening sounds too self-consciously 'writerly', too forced, too told.

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  35. Yes. It's borderline, since the concept is fairly abstract and probably not all that original, yet I still find something about this poignant and touching, and it makes me want to know the reason for the character's revelation.

    However, to be more grammatical, it probably should be 'Butterflies live only for a few days' or 'live for only a few days'.

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  36. No. Punctuation is off, I had to read it a few times to understand what you were saying, which is irritating in a first line.

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  37. No.

    Because I don't believe it. Someone tells her, or she reads, that butterflies live only a few days, and suddenly, she understands her whole life? For that to work, I think you need a metaphor or simile that says how the butterfly's life is like her own, and that would probably take more than one sentence.

    Also, without a comma after 'that,' this is really an incomplete sentence.

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  38. No. The rhythm of the sentence is awkward and it's promising a profundity that suspect I'd find pretentious.

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  39. Yes, but I'm afraid she's on her death bed and depending on how I feel, would I finish something sad.

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