Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post excerpts from your works in progress and give feedback to your fellow writers.
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khanes
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Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by khanes » June 12th, 2010, 3:32 pm

Hello! I've written two opening scenes for my women's fiction novel "The Gravity of San Miguel." It's about a Seattle news reporter who witnesses tragedy on the job, and decides to completely change her life by moving to Central Mexico. I'm just curious which scene opener grabs you more. The first one cuts to the chase, the second one has a bit more description. Thanks for your feedback! It's greatly appreciated.

EXCERPT ONE, CHAPTER ONE:

Both the water and the sky were the color of gunmetal the day a news story cracked my soul. It should have been a simple day, an easy story, yet another standoff on the outskirts of Seattle. But this time, it was different. I would be forever changed.
I guided my KRKO newscar through downtown buildings made of cold steel, out onto the I-90 Bridge where the fog hung low and thick. I concentrated on driving with all my strength, keeping the yellow dots in view as the freeway slithered away. The changing leaves of deciduous trees burned red and orange on the hilltops of Mercer Island, breaking through gray like fire.
Some crazy guy with a gun was holding his stepkids hostage in the small city of North Bend, where mist strangled the peak of Mount Si. Yellow crime scene tape shimmered in the rain, keeping reporters and pedestrians at bay. My truck’s tires crunched on gravel as I parked near a herd of newscars, their antennas probing the sky.
“What’s the latest?” I asked a brunette television reporter named Keisha Goldstein. She looked like a ghost living in the shadow of her raincoat’s hood, her face white and floating. Her lips emerged to shape words, and I noticed they were red, like blood.

EXCERPT TWO, CHAPTER ONE

It’s easy to get lost when you don’t know which way is up or down, when both the water and the sky are the color of gunmetal. I guided my KRKO Ford Escape through the thick fog of downtown Seattle on my way to breaking news, cutting corners near buildings made of cold steel. The autumn air was damp and heavy, ominous against my windshield.
The piece of paper lay crumpled on the passenger seat beside me, directions to the scene. Small children held hostage in North Bend, their stepfather the suspected captor. I felt a rush of anxiety and my heart beat a little faster in my chest, unsure of what I would find.
The fog grew into a living thing over the floating I-90 bridge; it hung low and thick. I concentrated on driving, keeping the yellow dots in view as the freeway slithered away. It was hard to shake the feeling of loss as summer melted into autumn. The changing leaves of deciduous trees burned orange and yellow on the hilltops of Mercer Island, breaking through gray like fire.
The fog scattered and turned to rain near the exit to North Bend, 45 minutes outside of Seattle. I exited I-90, the GPS unit guiding my way to an upscale neighborhood near the hulking Mount Si. Tendrils of mist strangled the mountain’s peak; the jagged tops of evergreens cut the pale sky. I drove slowly toward the address, and saw yellow crime scene tape shimmering in the rain. It was strung through trees and light posts, keeping reporters and pedestrians at bay.

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cheekychook
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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by cheekychook » June 12th, 2010, 3:48 pm

Excerpt one definitely pulled me in faster. In Excerpt two I felt like I was struggling more to figure out what was happening.
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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by daringnovelist » June 12th, 2010, 4:02 pm

I liked the first one best, except for the double shot of heavy foreshadowing in the first paragraph. "...the news story that cracked my soul" and "I would be forever changed" are each a little heavy handed in the first place. The first might be okay, especially given the dramatic style you've got going, but the second is unnecessary and I felt like I was being pushed.

Camille

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by lmitchell » June 13th, 2010, 1:15 am

I vote for the first one also. It is much easier to follow. I felt as if I had to search through the second one to try to figure out where we were headed.

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khanes
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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by khanes » June 13th, 2010, 1:24 am

Thanks for your feedback! The second ending was my older version. Looks like I should scrap that one and try to make things more streamlined anc clear.

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by ShotintheDark » June 13th, 2010, 12:33 pm

I hate to maybe confuse you, but I really like the second one! It made me feel like the character feels: tense and wary, since she's on the way to a crime scene. I liked the sensation of being with her in the car on the way, and the way you revealed where we were going with the use of the crumpled paper. It built up some nice suspense - I quickly found out where we were headed and why, and wanted to get there with her. In the first one, I actually feel like we got to the crime scene too soon, so we don't feel the character's intensity of the drive there. I also love the first line of the second one much more than the first line of the first one. It's clear and concise and less heavy.

If you do go with the second one, I might even take out the "It was hard to shake the feeling of loss as summer melted into autumn. The changing leaves of deciduous trees burned orange and yellow on the hilltops of Mercer Island, breaking through gray like fire." As I was reading, I was getting really into the feelings of the narrator and feeling her tenseness and looking forward to seeing what she found when she arrived, but then this took me out of the intense prose. Since I was so looking forward to finding out what happens when she arrives, this description of the changing of seasons kinda hit me like a speed bump and slowed me down.

Just my advice...but both are definitely really strongly-written. Keep it up!

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by ddelano » June 14th, 2010, 12:04 am

I liked the second one also. I think your prose is lovely - it has a literary feel to it, even though I get the sense that it is not intended to be a literary novel. The second excerpt set the scene nicely for me, and I wanted to read more. But to me the first excerpt felt like you had taken your lovely prose and forced it to try to be "action." That is just my gut reaction - and also, let me qualify my reaction by saying that I read and write literary fiction, so I have a general bias there. -Good Luck!

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by Wheelsgr » June 14th, 2010, 2:12 am

Yes, I feel bad giving you this mixed message but I quite like excerpt two - it matches the feeling of intensity and confusion much better and starts off at an exciting pace - as opposed to the first one where the exposition takes away from the immediacy of the situation. I'd like to see what's happening now and then find out what it resulted in later. One thing at a time for me.
Hope you can make a decision when you've got people voting for both! :)

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by JayceeEA » June 14th, 2010, 10:48 am

The second one grabbed me more, but I made my judgment mostly based on the first sentences. One thing I noted though was that the "breaking news" did not quite fit into both openers. The breaking news should have nothing to do with the description of the sky. Maybe it's just me...

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by emburke207 » June 14th, 2010, 1:52 pm

Hi, I liked the second one better. Quicker to the problem. Less odd metaphors, such as driving strongly, or as hard as I could. I'm not sure how one can drive "hard" or "strongly"... excuse me if I forgot the exact phrase (I couldn't scroll up to reread it before responding). In fact, I might have started with the problem and then brought in the weather. And of course I'm not sure why a stepfather holding as hostage his 2 stepchildren is all of a sudden the worse reporting nightmare for someone who must have reported on murders, the like, and why a geographical cure would change things. Somehow I feel the reporter has to reveal something about him/herself right away to make this story feel immediately more plausible--otherwise, I'm already lost, perhaps. Otherwise, I love the use of objects to describe colors--gunmetal gray. Reminds me of Robert Penn Warren's "jonquil yellow." Best, Elizabeth

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by Ermo » June 14th, 2010, 2:01 pm

I like opening #1 but rewrite the first sentence. I thought it was a bit awkward. I do think that maybe this scene isn't the best way to open. Why not get right to the action? Something clearly happens, why not start with the stepdad holding the kids or something like that?

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by ShotintheDark » June 14th, 2010, 7:35 pm

I think ddelano had a great point: number 1 felt and read like you took what you really wanted to write and edited it into something else because you thought it was what you SHOULD do. (I might be wrong on that, of course.) Either way, I think one is good and two is really good, so maybe the best is somewhere in between the two? I definitely like getting to know the character a little bit and feeling what mood she's in on the way before we arrive at the crime scene.

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khanes
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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by khanes » June 15th, 2010, 12:34 pm

Thanks so much for the wonderful feedback everyone! It's so great to be part of a group that offers positive, constructive critique. I got quite a few mixed opinions here, so maybe I'll tweak the second one a bit and keep it. That was my favorite, original opening, but I was afraid people would feel too bogged down by my descriptions. One poster is completely right that I wrote the opening #1 because thats what I THOUGHT I should write to keep people intrigued. Thanks again! I'll take all your advice and move forwaard :)

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by February » June 16th, 2010, 12:00 pm

Oh man, I hate to further muddy the waters but WOW.

Intro Two grabbed hold of me and didn't let go.

The first one, I felt there was so much description that the intensity was lost- the second one got my heart pounding.

A couple tiny nitpicky things (cause this is so good they're the only constructive thing I can offer LOL) I found the 'steel buildings' came a bit soon after 'gunmetal gray' i really liked the water and sky description so think that only a tiniest tweak of the latter would make this flawless.

two tiny other things- she didn't know what she'd find when she got there? If she's an experienced reporter she would more likely fear what she'd find there, not wonder what it would be. Hostage standoffs like this happen way too often and sadly often end in the kind of tragedy you're preparing us for.

Last thing so small it's barely worth mentioning but I did think of it so I will- the exit to the town and then 'exiting' came one right after another. Maybe omit the word the first time?

Aside from that, nothing but praise here. Loved, loved, loved it.

respectfully
bru

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Re: Which opener grabs you the most? Women's fiction.

Post by Aimée » June 17th, 2010, 1:06 pm

I liked the first one better, too. The first little paragraph grabbed my attention better, but the phrase "some crazy guy with a gun" could be a little more descriptive.

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