Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First Five Sentences #14

TITLE: Project S. E. E.
GENRE: Young Adult SciFi Thriller

I’d just turned 17 the first time I died. It was another beautiful day in the Florida Keys, and I was surf fishing thigh-deep in gently rolling water. Just as I hooked a big one, I heard distant thunder and saw lightning flicker in darkening clouds on the horizon, but the fish had my attention. I pulled back hard on my granddad’s steel rod to set the hook.

“Hey you, s***-for-brains, get your dumb a** outta the water!” screamed the lifeguard trotting along the shore.


  1. The first line makes me think you are telling us what happened in the past and not what is going on right now. Is this person older and telling a story from his past? If he is then its not YA.

    Sorry, I'm just not sure what to say here. And then I wonder if his grandad is with him or he is using his grandfather's pole.

    If it is him telling how he died the first time, then it is backstory. If not you need to ditch the first sentence.

    1. Alice, Thanks for your comments. They will help me clarify and tighten.

  2. I really like the opening sentence, but I agree that if the rest is backstory this might not be the best place to start. You can tell us about the first time your character died later on, but you should start a book in the present, with what's happening right now. Too much backstory might feel like you're dragging on and delaying what really matters.

    That first sentence intrigued me, but perhaps it might be better to change the rest of it and start telling the story right away. Good luck!

  3. There's some interesting things going on in here, but I'm pulled on whether they are good or not. That first line almost tries too hard to be a great first line - like the seams are still showing a bit. And, like Alice said, it feels like it throws us into a flashback. I think it's the past perfect tense (I'd) that does that.

    I'm wondering if you could combine a bit. Something like: It was another beautiful day in the Florida Keys the day I died.

    I think by simplifying the tenses and bringing this into what feels more like the main story rather than backstory, you'll "hook" the reader better. ;)

  4. The first line does present a really interesting concept I want to know more about... however, I agree with the others that it keeps me from being very grounded in the scene because I don't know if this is a flashback or the current action. And it feels like someone relating a story, rather than an experience I'm having through the character because of the filter words—"I heard... and saw...."

    I can't tell from the first five whether this is coming off as sci-fi. Coming back to life could indicate that... but that could also work for paranormal or even for contemporary.

    Taking it as it is, I can see the scene pretty well, but I sort of feel like the description is a tad flat. I can't pinpoint exactly why... maybe it's the filtering, maybe it's that not enough senses are being used.

    It's not bad, though, and I'd probably read more to see if he gets struck by lightning.

  5. I agree with the others here. There's so much to love about the first line, but it makes me think that what I'm reading is a flashback, and if it's not a flashback, then the first line has to go. GREAT line to put in a query/blurb though!!

    This opening doesn't scream "sci-fi" to me. Recurring death is more paranormal ... Can we get more of a hint of the SF flavor right off the bat?

    One other thought ... I'm wondering why the lifeguard is so over-the-top rude ... it struck me as odd, and pulled me out of the story a bit.

  6. No, it did not read Sci-fi at all, but I liked the voice. Like the others said, the first sentence could be reworked in later. Jeremiah29 had some great advice on changes. The grandad part took me out of the story. It wouldn't hurt the story if you deleted the 'but the fish had my attention'. I liked the cursing for some reason.
    Good luck with this–it's interesting.

    1. For what it's worth, the thing I don't like about "the fish had my attention," is that the previous narrative is pretty specific about the weather, so it seems like a contradiction. Obviously, the weather has some attention.

  7. Can't thank everyone enough for all the great comments. I hate to give up my first line, but can see how it puts the reader into backstory instead of compelling them to go on to the story. I also see now how it is not immediately recognized as Sci-fi. Thanks again!