Tuesday, April 15, 2014

First Line Grabber Round 2 #9

TITLE: The Duel
GENRE: Historical Suspense with Romantic Elements

What did a man wear when he might die before sunrise? Thomas Calderwood, Baron of Montwine, stomped into his boots and thrust his head into a crisp linen shirt. It smelled of bran starch and the hedgerow bushes where it had dried, sun-bleached after laundering.


  1. Yes. Great first line, and I like how the next two introduce us to a character. The verbs in that second sentence might be a little over the top (does he really thrust his head into his linen shirt, or does he just stick it in?), but other than that, I really like this. You've included some wonderful details that really help us feel grounded in the world right away.

  2. I like the sensory details you've included although I wonder if a man in this situation would be focused on how his shirt smells. I guess it could make sense if I felt like he was lingering over a series of potentially "last moments," thinking he might die soon.

    There seems to be a shift in tone between the sentences. The first feels melancholy, but in the second, the stomping and thrusting tell me he's angry. Then in the third, we're back to quiet contemplation, which matches the first sentence but not the second. You could smooth all that out with a couple of less agressive verbs in the second sentence.

    Except for that little bit of tweaking, it's really strong and well-written.

  3. Unlike Abbe, I can understand how someone would notice every detail of everything if they thought it was the last time they'd every experience it.

    Since a duel is coming. I expect him to be methodical about everything as well.

    The only thing that bothered me was the shift from the first line to the next. First I think we are in the man's POV then I think we are outside, probably because of the use of the full name.

  4. I like the images you've got going in these next two sentences. They feel a lot more grounded than the first sentence.

    My main nitpick is "hedgerow bushes". Since a hedgerow is made out of bushes, this seems redundant.

  5. Great first line! If he is contemplating everything as if it were the last time, "stomping" and "thrusting" do seem the wrong verbs. I do like how you work in details of the time period.