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Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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cdafrica
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Re: #16--A GREAT BEGINNING

Postby cdafrica » Thu May 03, 2012 9:36 pm

Glorybee,

Thank you so much! :D I really appreciate your help!! I need a lot more of it!

~Cara

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Re: #16--A GREAT BEGINNING

Postby Arpy » Wed May 09, 2012 1:58 pm

I have to say, this thread is :coolsign

This is a first line of one of mine, if anyone's interested.

"I don't know if you are the sort of person who likes music—I mean the kind of person who finds it as essential a part of life as food and drink."

And another of my personal favourites;

"This is a story of Men, and of Men's dreams."

That last one is ironic, because the story was inspired by a dream. :lol: :lol: :lol:
Arpy

I write adventures, historical fiction, war stories, fantasies, psychological and spy thrillers.

IN PROGRESS:
Snaga - fan fiction fantasy
Emira - action adventure
Confessions of an Evil Genius - psychological thriller
The Play-Actor - sci-fi, historical, psychological spy thriller
Dreamreader - YA psychological thriller
A fantasy without a title
RECENT DRAFTS:
Royal Opposition - action adventure

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glorybee
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Re: #16--A GREAT BEGINNING

Postby glorybee » Wed May 09, 2012 5:36 pm

Arpy, thanks for stopping by.

The strength of your first sentence is its metaphor; you immediately get the reader thinking about whether or not music is necessary for survival. And since you address the reader directly, you draw her into the story immediately.

Here's your version:

"I don't know if you are the sort of person who likes music—I mean the kind of person who finds it as essential a part of life as food and drink."

Here's how I'd edit it:

"I don't know if you are the sort of person who likes music—I mean the sort of person who finds it as essential as food and drink."

I changed kind to sort in the second clause, to give it a more perfect parallelism, and I eliminated a part of life. Those 4 words are redundant, and the sentence is punchier without them.

As for your second sentence:

"This is a story of Men, and of Men's dreams."

...I probably wouldn't change a thing. I'm not sure, because the reason for capitalizing "Men" isn't clear to me. But it's got brevity and punch, and that's great!

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Re: #16--A GREAT BEGINNING

Postby Arpy » Wed May 09, 2012 8:10 pm

Thank you, glorybee. You are so absolutely brilliant.

In the original, 'men' isn't capitalised. That is because the second line (hopefully) clarifies what kind of men. Not male men--human men. But it didn't look right on it's own, with no capitalisation. I'll change it back.
Arpy

I write adventures, historical fiction, war stories, fantasies, psychological and spy thrillers.

IN PROGRESS:
Snaga - fan fiction fantasy
Emira - action adventure
Confessions of an Evil Genius - psychological thriller
The Play-Actor - sci-fi, historical, psychological spy thriller
Dreamreader - YA psychological thriller
A fantasy without a title
RECENT DRAFTS:
Royal Opposition - action adventure

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Re: #16--A GREAT BEGINNING

Postby helen1975 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:06 pm

Hi Jan,

Not sure if this is still up and running, but I'd love your thoughts on this opener:


I hate ducks. I always have hated ducks, but after today, they're enemy number 1.

Or version 2

I hate ducks; always have. But after today's humiliation, they're Billie's "public enemy number 1."

Thanks in advance!

Blessings,

Helen

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby JudySauer » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:34 pm

Working backwards is what I do. I begin with the end in mind. I literally sketch out on paper the final words I want readers to remember. Then I work my way up to the beginning of the story. If you don't have a clue as to where you are going, it's like driving on a road trip to Maine but ending up in North Dakota. I ofen revise my beginnings after I stand back and review my stories to see if they make sense. My title is the last thing I write because I may have a topic name in mind but as the story develops, a better title surfaces. It's a process.
Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance. -Jude 2 NIV

Judy Sauer
http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=23323

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby Francie » Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:56 pm

Hi Jan,
Here is the new beginning of a challenge entry I submitted for the topic STIR.
My previous beginning rated pretty low on the Judge Report, so I revised it, but I'm not sure if I made it much better.
Here's my revision. Please let me know your opinion. Thank you for your help.

Ridley pulled the pebbles from his pocket and gently tossed them up to the window above him, and faintly heard them hit the glass. "Lilyanna" he beckoned softly. He gazed up at the full moon casting its glow on the cobblestone street, then pulled more pebbles from his pocket. "Lillyanna," he called louder, tossed again, and then waited.

Moments later the window swung open, and a huge mass of disheveled hair appeared. "Who is it that comes at night and throws rocks at my window?" Lilyanna groggily demanded.

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby glorybee » Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:58 pm

Francie, can you please provide a link to the story, so I can read the whole thing and your revisions?

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby Francie » Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:53 pm

Hi Jan,
Here's the link to my article. After attempting to revise the beginning and ending, I still sense a fizzle at both ends. I didn't change the beginning much, but hoped I improved it at least a little.
I appreciate any and all comments and suggestions you have.

http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level3-previous.php?id=52102

New version for beginning.

Standing on the cobblestone street under the full moon, Ridley pulled the pebbles from his pocket. Gently, he tossed them up to the window above him, and faintly heard them hit the glass. "Lilyanna" he beckoned softly. He pulled more pebbles from his pocket, and gave another toss. "Lillyanna," he called louder, and then waited.

New version for end.

From a dark window across the street, the meek voice of an elderly woman politely suggested, "You could try writing a letter. You know…a love letter. That would be romantic I think. At least it would be quieter."

"Yes, quieter," Lilyanna shouted. "Listen to the wise woman and stop this." She observed a look of sadness appearing on Ridley's face. "Well, I mean only, stop this for now. But tomorrow, most gladly I will meet with you in the square. You can sing to me then! That is, if you are still willing.

Throwing his arms in the air, Ridley cried, "Oh Lilyanna, I look to tomorrow with a soaring heart and a song on my lips for you my love...my dear Lilyanna.

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby glorybee » Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:47 pm

Francie, thanks for the link. It helped me to read the whole story.

I think your original was better than your second version, for both the beginning and the conclusion.

I can't speak to the reasons that you got marked down on beginnings or conclusions, but I can offer some thoughts of my own:

1. The situation of trying to summon one's love in the night by tossing pebbles at her window is a bit of a situational cliche, and would have to contain something very special to make it an effective hook. A twist, perhaps, where Ridley hits the wrong house or a passing dog. Or perhaps when he reaches for the pebbles he sticks his hand in something left on the street by a passing horse. Just something that the reader has never seen before.
2. The use of the phrase "beckoned softly" is a bit clunky, as beckoning is a gesture, and wouldn't generally make a sound.

As far as the ending, a few thoughts from me:

1. Your last sentence doesn't really add anything to the story (And in that moment of the night...), but when it's set off as its own paragraph, it makes the reader feel as if it's quite significant. So it's a bit of a thud, because its importance isn't obvious. Yes, Ridley had caused a disturbance in the lane, and now it's quiet. But that's not really very meaningful.

2. Again, since the story is rather light-hearted, it might be fun for the reader to have a misfortune befall poor Ridley, to punctuate his unluckiness in love. Or have the old lady come to her door and say "You could sing for me..." The idea is to leave your readers with a bit of imagery, or a surprise, or something else to take away that they've never read before.

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby Francie » Mon Nov 30, 2015 11:28 pm

Thanks Jan,
I appreciate your input. All your ideas have me thinking. This is such great exercise. I'd like to work on this one some more until I can improve it, and send it back by you? if you don't mind.
God Bless
Francie

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby kafrak » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:27 am

Once upon a time, before we understood time, when the world had first been created; God created a small serpentine creature.

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby glorybee » Thu Feb 18, 2016 11:27 am

kafrak wrote:Once upon a time, before we understood time, when the world had first been created; God created a small serpentine creature.


Thanks for this sentence! It's got some nice imagery, and the phrases build well on each other.

Two things for you to consider:

1. It begins with a cliche--'Once upon a time..' has been used so much that it has almost lost it's meaning. Could you think of a totally fresh way of setting your sentence in the past?

2. You used a semicolon before the last clause (God created a small serpentine creature), but a comma (or perhaps an em dash) would have been better. A semicolon should be used to separate two independent clauses--that is, the bits on each side of the semicolon should be able to stand alone as complete sentences. In this case, 'God created a small serpentine creature' is fine, but the first part of the sentence (from 'Once...' to 'created') cannot stand alone.

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby Caleb Cheong » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:01 am

Hi Jan!


What do you think about this as a beginning?


"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop," advised the King of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland."Good advice, but more easily said than done," you might be tempted to respond. Surely, no part of writing can be more daunting than coming up with an effective beginning.




Thank you

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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby glorybee » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:10 am

Caleb Cheong wrote:Hi Jan!


What do you think about this as a beginning?


"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop," advised the King of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland."Good advice, but more easily said than done," you might be tempted to respond. Surely, no part of writing can be more daunting than coming up with an effective beginning.


Caleb, I like it. The only thing I'd change is the middle sentence; I'd simply switch the order of the two clauses so that it doesn't begin with a quote, lest the reader think that's still the King of Hearts speaking. Thus:

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop," advised the King of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. You might be tempted to respond, "Good advice, but more easily said than done." Surely, no part of writing can be more daunting than coming up with an effective beginning.

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