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Roger, Cincinnati. Transmission received.

To keep the eyes unbiased, no cover art will be shown and the title can only be found at the end of this post. Below we have the first paragraph of a Fantasy novel. My comments on the flip side:

“Good Morning!” Cassandra said as she tossed the blanket onto Balak. “Time to get up!” She teased. She walked over to a window, opening it. Outside, the remote fort was already busy. Dust hung in the air as it was stirred up by the busy bodies outside. It reminded Cassandra of home. Soldiers were readying horses for patrols. Servants were cleaning up meals. Dogs were running around looking for scraps. Several soldiers stopped to stare at the gorgeous blonde, standing naked in the window.

Definitely something interesting going on in this scene. Cassandra is in a place that isn’t her home and it involves military of some kind. There’s also a hint at her personality type. While there’s debate about starting a book with dialogue, personally, I like dialogue as a hook. All good things, though some craft and grammar issues are gumming up the works.

Let’s break it down one section at a time.

“Good Morning!” Cassandra said as she tossed the blanket onto Balak. “Time to get up!” She teased.

Double dialogue tags should be avoided at all costs. They clutter up character speech. Stick with one (or none) and keep going. Also, while this is only the first paragraph, some reference to who or what Balak is should still be included. Is he her husband? Lover? Miniature Schnauzer?

She walked over to a window, opening it. Outside, the remote fort was already busy. Dust hung in the air as it was stirred up by the busy bodies outside. It reminded Cassandra of home.

A few technical issues happening here. The first sentence is worded in a way that it seems she is opening the window while walking to it, which is impossible. The rest of the paragraph implies this is a medieval-like time period (at least to me), so it should really be “shutters” that she opens. I’d also leave out the word “remote” from fort as it’s a bit vague in this context. Is she looking at a fort in the distance or is the fort she resides in remote? Maybe reserve that word for later when it can be better integrated into description.

Also, “busy bodies” is a known colloquialism, so unless there are some old bitties stirring up dust with their gossip, I’d alter the verbiage here. The word “busy” was used twice within two sentences. The light reference to Cassandra’s backstory was well done.

Soldiers were readying horses for patrols. Servants were cleaning up meals. Dogs were running around looking for scraps. Several soldiers stopped to stare at the gorgeous blonde, standing naked in the window.

The three initial sentences here are all passive voice. Passive voice isn’t always wrong but in this case the active voice would’ve kept the actions lively and succinct, which I think was the intention. Another word, “soldiers”, was used twice within two sentences.

The paragraph began with Cassandra’s perspective, but the last sentence head hops from her to the soldiers outside in order to get a physical description into the text. Don’t disorient the reader. Stay with one point of view and find another way to convey what Cassandra looks like. Also, she’s bare-assed at the window? I’ll admit that this surprised me, which is good. Hopefully there’s an explanation other than voyeurism in the paragraph that follows.

Flight Director’s proposed adjustment to the flight path

Cassandra pulled the blankets off of Balak. “Good Morning, time to get up!” she teased.

Her (husband) made a closed eyed scowl and rolled the other way. With a shrug she went to the shutters and opened them. Already buzzing with activity, the dust laden fort reminded Cassandra of home. Soldiers readied horses for patrols and servants cleaned plates emptied from breakfast while dogs hunted for scraps. Several of the men noticed her there and stared. That too was familiar.

A Tale of Mist and Shadow by M R Laver

What do you think of this first paragraph? Would you keep reading? Other suggestions or tips?

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