Thursday, June 27, 2013

First Sentence #31

TITLE: Patterns of Perception
GENRE: Thriller

Amelia’s fingers froze on the keys of her FBI computer before her heartbeat escalated—anxiety propelled by the sudden appearance of an unauthorized file from her deceased husband.

42 comments:

  1. No

    There was too much going on for me. I had to read it twice to fully understand it, and the second bit felt unfinished to me, almost like a fragment

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  2. No, too much for me as well.

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  3. No. Reason: too much backstory/description for a first sentence and some awkward phrasings.

    To be more specific: (1) "fingers froze...before her heartbeat escalated." Is that the correct order? I would think these actions would be simultaneous at the very least.

    (2) With fingers freezing and heartbeat spiking, I'm expecting there to be a distinct reason for it - i.e., a person coming up behind her, a sharp sound, etc. Instead, it's a vague "anxiety."

    (3) The word "from" makes it sound like her deceased husband is literally sending her files from beyond the grave. Perhaps the file is "about" her deceased husband. Or perhaps it's "the sudden appearance of one of her deceased husband's files."

    Of course, this is all just MHO, so please use or disregard as you see fit.

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  4. Yes. The set up for a thriller is clearly evident.

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  5. Yes. I'd read on because I'm intrigued about the files, but I think this would work better as separate sentences.

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  6. No. While it's a very tense situation we're in, I feel like you set it up TOO well in the first sentence. I feel like I can see exactly where it's going, and I'm not sure I trust that the rest of the book will be interesting.

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  7. Yes because I already love where it's going, but it's wordy and would probably need to be broken up into two sentences. If you have a snappy first line, it can lead the reader to the second line.

    Also, I feel like there's a little alliteration, which I like. It bounces as I read it.

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  8. No - I concur with other posters who mentioned too much going on. Also, imho, the rhythm is slightly off - I'm mainly referring to the phrase after the hyphen where each noun has exactly one adjective. I'd vary it more. (really, just a different writer's take, only worth my 2 cents!)

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  9. No. I think there's too much explaining and detail. You don't need to tell us her anxiety is "propelled by the sudden appearance..." I think you could simplify this (and even chop it into two) "Amelia's fingers froze on the keyboard as she stared at the unauthorized file that had just appeared on the screen." Then tell us it's from her dead husband. Or, better yet, tell us it's an FBI computer. Then tell us it's from her dead husband. With a bit of work I think you'd have a great first sentence/paragraph.

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  10. No. The sentence is way too busy. There far are too many adjectives and they distract from the information you are trying to get across.

    I would also suggest cutting it up into smaller sentences to relay the tension in the scene. A suggested edit:

    "An unauthorized file appeared on Amelia's screen. Her fingers froze on the keyboard. Her heartbeat escalated. The file was from her deceased husband."

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  11. No, though I'm definitely curious. It feels like it needs to be more than one sentence.

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  12. No. Good overall concept for an opening paragraph, but the sentence itself feels like it's trying to fit everything in. Too much all at once.

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  13. No. Only because it was way too much. Maybe just "the appearance of a file from her deceased husband caused Amilia's anxiety to ....."

    It is very gripping but I had to read it multiple times to get it.

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  14. No. This sentence is WAY too heavy; get to the important thing -- freezing, dead husband -- focus less on everything else. Too much info and emotions all at once.

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  15. Yes, I'd go a little further, but the sentence needs work. You could tighten it as such: Amelia's fingers froze on the keyboard of her FBI computer at the sudden appearance of an unauthorized file from her deceased husband. (You could probably even eliminate "of her FBI computer" if it's mentioned in the scene.)

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  16. I wanted to say yes, but it just finishes a tad too wordy for my taste. I feel like if you trim down a bit, it could work. (even as Stacy said above)

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  17. No, it's really telling backstory and not showing what's going on, but keep trying because your first line may be already written or it may come to you when you revise.

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  18. No... it reads a little "clunky" for me and would probably work better as several shorter sentences.

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  19. No, reluctantly. I like the premise, but too wordy. The word 'from' stands out, but I'm sure the author thought it through and it suggests exactly what the author wants.

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  20. Yes. But only if we separated this into some smaller sentences.

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  21. No.

    A lot of this feels like telling. You pack that she works for the FBI and that her husband is dead both into a single sentence. These seem like big things that I'd rather learn more gradually.

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  22. No. And, sadly, I can't offer a lot of feedback on fixing it. Would it be better to show the emotion first and skip all the backstory? (Just for the first sentence) e.g., "Amelia's fingers froze on the keys of her FBI computer and her heartbeat escalated." Or, even tighter, "Amelia's fingers froze on the computer keys and her heartbeat escalated."

    Hmmmm . . .

    "When the forbidden icon appeared, it'd only taken a second's debate before Amelia clicked it."

    I'm sorry I can't offer you something concrete. I'm lured into the story by 'unauthorized', 'deceased husband' and, of course, 'FBI' but the sentence doesn't work. I'm going to assume that I'll know this is a thriller by the book jacket so you don't have to throw all of that information into the first sentence.

    And now I'm rambling. Good luck with this!



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  23. No. There's no reason the character would think of her computer as an 'FBI computer', any more than I am typing this on my 'sitting on my desk' keyboard. Stop trying to shove information in there that the main character wouldn't reflect on herself.

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  24. No. Sounds like an interesting story, but there is SO much going on in this sentence! There are lots of details, some of them unnecessary (escalating heartbeat/anxiety propelled = feels like you're not trusting the reader to perceive how she's feeling).

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  25. No.

    This is a very difficult sentence to read. It's overwritten with too many big fancy words. It feels like you are trying to be too hard. Simplify.

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  26. No
    Way too complicated and too much information. Sentence feels like it should be broken up.

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  27. Yes. The last bit intrigued me. However, I think the sentence is too wordy as written and could be much more punchy.

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  28. No. Starts too far into the action and has it in the wrong order. I get the sense you're trying to open this with powerful showing, but showing commonplace distress in someone we don't know or care about doesn't accomplish much more than telling.

    Also, "FBI computer" struck me as infodumpy. No one would call their computer an "FBI computer."

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  29. No--I commend the effort of packing in so much information! Often it seems like the feedback is asking for more detail and context, which in this case makes the line lose all flavor. The "FBI computer" seems overly telling to let the reader know this is an FBI agent. You can show this detail in the sentences that follow. I would watch for physical reactions that pre-empt others, "her fingers froze" "before her heartbeat escalated" gets into murky POV issues, which really can be cleared up by simplifying what's happening here. Maybe one clear thought or action for this first line, and chunk the rest up in lines that follow. Having said all that, I would focus on this mysterious file. The file appears on her screen, the file she thought didn't exist, and her fingers froze. Show us what is causing her reaction and then have her react, which reads stronger.

    Good luck!

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  30. No.
    Too much information. I was turned off at FBI. It immediately felt contrived. But I did pick up interest in the deceased husband.

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  31. No. The idea is interesting, but there's enough info here for at least the first paragraph, maybe even two. There's also a problem that you've got cause and effect reversed. You tell us how she feels before we learn what she saw that caused the feeling. I even wonder if this is precisely the right starting place for the story. (Oh, how I hate hearing that from other people, especially ones who have only read one sentence!) But if we had just a little information about the MC, her job, her dead husband, etc., then this revelation could come at the end of the first scene or even the first chapter and we'd feel her shock and fear along with her.

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  32. No, but slice it down and I'd switch to yes.

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  33. No. Too wordy. The deceased husband doesn't even register after all that. And this is the second entry I've read here with an appearance by the dead in the first sentence.

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  34. No. This feels like a cheat of two sentences. Mashed together as one, it's too wordy. That said, these two sentences can be pared down to make a compelling single sentence, if the extraneous words are pulled.

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  35. No. Trying to sum up the whole story in one sentence. I'd cut the fingers on the keyboard and concentrate on the file from her dead husband.

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  36. No: feels like two sentences squeezed into one.

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  37. No. I like the idea, but the rhythm seems off.

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  38. No--There's potential here but, as is, it's too much. The important info is the unauthorized file and her dead husband. Use that and forget the rest.

    Perhaps - Amelia's fingers froze on the keyboard as the unauthorized file popped up - from her dead husband.

    Now you can go into her fear and the fact that's it's an FBI file.

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  39. No, but it's almost a yes. It's a nice set up but the wordy-ness detracts from the punch at the end. A little streamlining and some strong editing and I'd read on.

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  40. Nope. Just didn't draw me in. Right from the start I got the feeling that you were trying to pack too much information into the opener to make it more interesting.
    Remember sometimes, less really is more.

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