Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First Five Sentences #2

TITLE: Savior
GENRE: Science Fiction

Atop the water tower standing vigil over Cedar Valley stood Jacob Dean, a man of few words but many thoughts, staring into the darkness. Nothing caught his fancy tonight like every visit but inside he still hoped to find something; to see something.

As a child his father brought him to the tower constantly to show him the constellations and the city below. To watch the planes soar on by; to feel the powerful shake and vibrations through the structure beneath as the behemoths of the sky descended to the strip which now sits dark. The city too was dark and the stars shone bright as daylight above and for an instant, in the dark tower on the airfield, something flickered in the broken windows.


  1. I'm a fan of something happening to start stories and unfortunately, this is backstory that would not encourage me to read further and I love science fiction. The writing is done well; it's just not an intriguing opening.

  2. I also agree this is backstory. However, it is also passive. You need your character doing. As in the first line..

    Jacob Dean stood atop the water tower and gazed across the village of Cedar Valley. (this may not be to your liking but it helps us to see through the character's eyes and not the author.)

    Also, caught his fancy is cliche.

    It seems like he is a super hero, out to save people in danger. I think its intriguing and you just need to make it active instead of passive.

  3. I agree that this should be active instead of passive. The first sentence feels like the initial setup of a script - it's telling me about the character instead of showing me. Like Alice said, we should see the world from their perspective.

    I do get a slight sense that this is science fiction because of that image of the vigilante watching over the city at night. That intrigues me, but I feel like you could get more out of this beginning.

    Backstory at the beginning might be a problem, but since here it's just a sentence or two I don't think it's too problematic. Besides, with the last sentence you get a hint of action so let's hope it goes that way!

    Good luck!

  4. I like this beginning, actually. However, I would change 'Nothing caught his fancy tonight like every visit...' to ' As usual, nothing caught his fancy...' I just think it sounds better.

    I think you hook the reader when you imply that nothing ever happens on his watch...until now, when there's a flicker of something in the windows.

  5. This pulled me in instantly. I agree with most everyone on the 2nd sentence - I'd like to see that restructured. But, I think the rest of it works for the genre. That little bit of back story, I think, is necessary to set the tone and help us to understand why that little flicker of light is so significant. I love the layout of this scene. A world that was once blustering and vibrant, now gone dark. But still, this man is watching for something. Feels sort of post-apocalyptic. I want to read this NOW.

    One little glitch I did see, after my 2nd read-through: I realized that it looks like you're actually referring to 2 separate towers? Is that right? A water tower that he's standing on and then, across the way, an air traffic control tower? That's the impression I get, but it's not 100% clear. Might do something tiny to clarify that.

    1. Well, I thank you kindly. Not sure I am allowed to answer back or reply. is this against the rules? The original five sentences were 165 words so I had to cut back a bit and trim it off... and that is a lot harder than it seems! But in the original there was a clear distinction that he is standing on a water tower and the light was in a air traffic tower... good catch :)

  6. While it needs a bit of tidying up, there's some good stuff here. And I don't think this is too much backstory -- something begins to happen at the end of the second paragraph, and that's plenty soon enough. But I do agree that some things could be rearranged to make this stronger.

    For instance, while I don't think you need to take out any of the details, since they're consistent with the style, I would reorder the first sentence like this: 'Jacob Dean, a man of few words but many thoughts, stood atop the water tower standing vigil over Cedar Valley, staring into the darkness.' (And you might consider changing something so you don't have 'stood' and 'standing' so close together.)

    The second sentence is rather awkward however, as it's not grammatically correct. Perhaps you could replace it with something simpler such as 'As always, he hoped to find something, to see something.'

    In the second paragraph, I don't think 'constantly' is the right word; I think you mean 'frequently'. And at the end of the following sentence, I believe it needs to say 'which now sat dark'. (Even if it's just the way things are now, it still needs to match the tense of the narrative.) But I like the last sentence -- I think it's quite effective -- and there's no question that this opening fits the genre.

    1. Thank you for your comments! Gah, you know, several times I removed similar occurrences like that, taking into consideration that same idea that these two words are too similar and should not be too close together and I completely missed the standing and stood! Thank you for your comments :D

  7. It does set a scene and gives me a character to latch onto. I like the image of someone climbing a water tower to stargaze, and I like the mystery of the flicker in the control tower. I agree, though, that many of the sentences are passive, and I had some trouble staying focused because of some issues with the verb tenses in this one. I think if you can clean that up, the backstory won't seem some cumbersome. I can buy it as sci-fi because of the emphasis put on the stars and constellations.