Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First Five Sentences #6

TITLE: The Sky Will Fall

The winds shifted, carrying the funk of burning corpses upwind to me. I winced from the onslaught with a cough. I’d been hopeful with this last bunch of soldiers, but they, too, failed in resisting infection. And incinerating the bodies ensured the bastards wouldn’t come back.

I sucked in a breath grabbing two more infected by their mottled ankles and chucked them onto the smoldering, ten-foot high pile with a sickening thud.


  1. I'm intrigued by this opening. It has an apocalyptic sort of feel with mention of "the infected" and the callous way the narrator views the dead. However, it does not seem YA to me. The third sentence in particular made me think the narrator might be a scientist or doctor, and thus an adult. Also, I was drawn out of the story by the last sentence. Throwing two people onto a ten-foot pile isn't an easy feat, and that seems like what happened. That said, I'm still interested to read more and find out what is going on.

  2. This is a zombie story I think.

    Upon reading this a third time I realized the person is throwing infected soldiers onto a smoldering pile. So your first sentence doesn't make sense that a wind would bring the horrible smell to the person because he's standing next to the burn pile.

    I winced at the funk of burning corpses.

    I love the last line. I visualize someone in a brown cloak pulling bodies from a cart by the ankles and throwing them on a pile of corpses.

  3. I agree that at a first glance this doesn't read like a YA narrator. But at the same time it's only 5 sentences, and in an apocalyptic setting it might be normal for teenagers to sound more mature because of what has happened.

    I also agree that throwing two people at the same time is hard, if it is indeed what is happening.

    But I like this beginning, and the tone is definitely there if this is a zombie / virus story. I would keep reading!

    Good luck!

  4. I'm intrigued by this. There were a couple of words that seemed out of place to me - "funk" and "bastards".
    "Funk" is obviously more YA, but it's not strong enough for burning corpses - more sweaty gym socks. "Stench" is obviously a cliche, but it's stronger.
    "Bastards" is obviously to show the narrator's distaste or fear, but using a curse word smacks of laziness. I'd like to see something more descriptive here. What do they look like? Wraiths? Undead horrors? What emotion do they inspire?
    The last sentence is definitely run-on. I'd break it after "ankles". Also, it seems unrealistic to me. How tall is the narrator? Surely, unless he is standing on it, the pile is 4-5 feet above his head. Any normal-sized human would have difficulty "chucking" a normal-sized dead-weight corpse onto something that tall.

  5. This feels like the beginning of a dystopian story, possibly YA, but reads more like an adult story. What is the "funk" of burning corpses? As Alice pointed out, if the narrator is throwing bodies on a burn pile, wind would not be an issue. Also, unless the two "infecteds" are infants, the thrower would have to be super-hero strong to throw them onto a ten foot pile. Perhaps you could have a burn pit instead of a pile and drag or roll the infected bodies into it. I didn't feel founded in the stated genre, but would like to read more. So with some tweaking you could have a compelling story. Best of luck.

  6. You might be better served with less exposition in your first five sentences. I need to know much of the why, what, when, and where by the end of the first five pages, but I'm only going to read that far if I have a sense that I'm going to like the "who" on whom the story centers and I have no real sense of him/her here -- except that he's either extraordinarily strong or he lives in a society which has militarized hamsters.

    You may be better served by starting with a character-specific introduction.

  7. I think a better first-sentence would be "Incinerating the bodies ensured the bastards wouldn't come back." I think that sentence is a great hook and drew me in. I think the third-sentence could go after what I suggested as the first-sentence, and the first two sentences could be cut-out. There is a serious tone that initially made me think this is adult. I'd like to see a tad more description of the corpses maybe? Awesome entry though! The dark tone makes me intrigued. I love YA sci-fi :)

  8. All good advice, but Constantine Singer hit the target. I want to know the Who first. You set the tone for an Adult Sci-fi story with a hardnosed MC. Interesting start!

  9. Well, the scene is set. Lol. Yuck. It's a stark way to begin, not that it's necessarily a bad thing. I can buy sci-fi with this—zombism can have scientific explanations. I'm still a little light on info about the MC, whether the MC is a doctor or a scientist... and whether the soldiers just happened to get it or were test subjects. Like... whether I should or shouldn't be creeped out by the MC. But because some of the narrative is making me imagine the MC in a position of authority, it makes it feel like adult rather than YA.