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That’s a 10-4, Annandale. I’ve got you on my view screen.

Below we have the first paragraph of a Fantasy novel. As always, to remain unbiased no cover will be shown and the title is found at the end of this post. My comments on the other side:

Sophia and Gina stood beside a clear pond in which was cupped a perfect reflection of the moon’s full orb.  The breeze billowed their gossamer veils and fluttered them about like enormous fairy wings.  The two women faced each other an arm’s length apart, mirroring each other’s grace as two versions of the same individual.  Sophia was a seasoned Crone, Gina a mature Matron.  There was no innocent Maiden here, but two well-ripened women, wise in the ways of this world and of the Otherworld.

Some intriguing imagery to feast upon in this paragraph. It feels like something is about to happen and the writing hints at magic. Great sense of place and of the characters involved. There are a few things that would make this introduction stronger.

Let’s examine this section by section

Sophia and Gina Stood beside a clear pond in which was cupped a perfect reflection of the moon’s full orb.  The breeze billowed their gossamer veils and fluttered them about like enormous fairy wings. 

This first sentence definitely establishes place clearly, but the imagery is a bit clunky. In general ponds are flat. The word “cupped” implies a bowl-like rim, which is contrary to the usual image of a pond. Also “the moon’s full orb” implies a three dimensional perspective of the moon which, if this is an Earth-like world, isn’t possible. I’d recommend a different word choice to avoid confusion.

There is a lot of action going on with those veils! I’d cut one of the verbs to make the sentence read cleaner. It’s the law of 1 + 1 = 1/2. By using both words to describe essentially the same thing, it diminishes the effect. I’m also not sure about “fairy wings” as those protrude from the back and veils hang from the head.

One technical bit: If it’s super windy, the pond’s surface would be full of ripples and unable to give a perfect reflection of the moon.

The two women faced each other an arm’s length apart, mirroring each other’s grace as two versions of the same individual. Sophia was a seasoned Crone, Gina a mature Matron. 

This threw me a bit because the description of “two versions of the same individual” made me think they were twins, but the second line describes them as completely different. And how does one mirror someone else’s grace? Are they synchronized, like those swimmers in the summer Olympics? The word choice is lush and thought provoking, but be careful to ensure it doesn’t confuse or contradict itself.

There was no innocent Maiden here, but two well-ripened women, wise in the ways of this world and of the Otherworld.

In these last two sections, three key words are capitalized: Crone, Matron, Maiden. This leads me to believe they operate in some type of hierarchy, with talents/powers and authority applied to each level. I don’t know what follows this paragraph, but if this is not the case I’d recommend keeping those words in lower case. That will move them from “title” to “description” and keep confusion at bay.

I can’t say I love the word “well-ripened” to describe the women. It makes me think of a banana going brown. Not exactly complimentary…or maybe that’s what the author was going for?

 

This first paragraph consists of scene description only. That format isn’t usually a great hook unless carefully executed to convey a sense of dread or tension to propel the reader forward. The above could still work but I think it needs to give a firm sense of whose perspective we’re in and cut a bit of description in favor of a promise of action to come.

Flight Director’s proposed adjustment to the flight path

In the deep hours of the night, they made their way to the waters. Darkness clung to the forest, a canopy of ancient trees that blocked the light of the stars, but Sophia’s steps remained sure. This was not her first attempt, though it may prove to be her last. As they reached the sunken edge surrounding the pond, the Matron that accompanied her offered a hand. She gave a faint shake of her head, transfixed by the waters. The moon stared, a lidless eye gazing unto itself on the glassy surface. Not a ripple shivered across the expanse. Not a breath of air stirred the veil that trailed down her back.

The Raven Watched by Karin Weiss

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

Want to test out your hook? Email your first paragraph to me at FineFablesPress@gmail.com

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