Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First Five Sentences #18

TITLE: Savages
GENRE: Historical

No, I am not the same Adrienne du Mont, come to the Court of Louis XIV wide-eyed and ambitious. I am now the boy Petit Jean in a country far from my own. Now I hunt a man I’ve loved the whole of my life who has betrayed me.

The night breeze tossed the ship as ‘Petit Jean’ adjusted her breast bindings, which were hot, but necessary. In her tiny corner of Sieur Robert’s cabin, she pondered her situation.


  1. I'm wondering if the italicized lines are really necessary. Your last two lines I love--they give a good sense of voice, time, and place. It'd be better to just start there. You don't need the italics to tell us she's a girl disguised as a boy. Show us that later in the scene. And even though she's disguised as Petit Jean, I doubt she would think of herself that way. She'd still think of herself as Adrienne.

  2. I agree. I don't think the italic words need to be there, they were confusing to me. It would leave words you could have her let us know what she was pondering over, the fact she was going to kill her father. Instead of pondering a vague situation.

  3. Definitely historical fiction! I think both of these paragraphs are fine on their own, but separately, they don't flow together. It's almost like they are from different chapters. Maybe it was the italics that threw me. I agree that she would probably refer to herself in her mind as Adrienne rather than Petit Jean, but if, in the rest of the book, she thinks of herself as Petit Jean, then no quotation marks there are needed. It's the new name, period.

  4. I like the second paragraph. Just the two sentences set the scene for me and give me some insight into the character. It feels historical, though it could also pass as fantasy.

    I don't like the first paragraph. The italicized thoughts come out of nowhere and don't mean a lot to me without having met the character.

  5. I'd like to see you opening with what is currently your second paragraph, and revealing the italicized information from your first paragraph after that. Here's a version to show you what I mean (with some edits):

    The night breeze tossed the ship as the girl known as Petit Jean adjusted her breast bindings. They were constricting, but necessary. In her tiny corner of Sieur Robert’s cabin, she pondered her situation.

    She was no longer Adrienne du Mont, the wide-eyed, ambitious girl who had arrived at the Court of Louis XIV. Now, in a country far from her own, Petit Jean hunted the man who had loved and betrayed her.

  6. I agree with what has been said regarding the two paragraphs. The first one feels like backstory, an easy way of telling what the character is up to, and too much backstory right at the beginning should be avoided. You can weave that information in later. For now show us more about what's happening, like the 2nd paragraph, which I think works well.

    Good luck!

  7. I congratulate you for keeping the prologue to just three sentences, but even they are not necessary. The other two sentences set up the story in a more interesting way.
    A breeze would not toss a ship. Either the breeze caresses the sails, or a storm wind tosses the ship.

  8. Great feedback, everyone! Thanks for the suggestions. Making the changes now.
    Mark: good catch.