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

Postby AnnaBanana » Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:47 pm

Hi Jan,
Here's a little homework...

2. I think a great beginning has to have a sense of wonder about it, especially for the challenges. It needs to make me speculate about the rest of the story.

3. One of my own favorite titles is one I wrote years ago, a story called Space Invaders. It is a humorous piece on young children, but it's one that was a bit misleading and memorable to my husband and I (we still refer to our little space invaders).

4. Here's my attempt at a first sentence. I'm not sure if it's "beginning-ish" enough, but to me it's thought provoking.
Shame seeped into every special memory she considered.

What do you think?
Thanks!
Rachel
Blessings,
Rachel

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

Postby glorybee » Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:17 pm

AnnaBanana wrote:4. Here's my attempt at a first sentence. I'm not sure if it's "beginning-ish" enough, but to me it's thought provoking.

Shame seeped into every special memory she considered.



I like it--it definitely would make me want to read on. I do think that it might have too many 's' sounds--you don't usually see that kind of alliteration in prose. Maybe a synonym for 'seeped' or 'special' would take care of that.
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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby AnnaBanana » Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:06 pm

glorybee wrote:
I like it--it definitely would make me want to read on. I do think that it might have too many 's' sounds--you don't usually see that kind of alliteration in prose. Maybe a synonym for 'seeped' or 'special' would take care of that.



So maybe this?
Shame permeated every tender memory she considered.

And what kind of alliteration do you think is most common/appropriate in prose?
Blessings,
Rachel

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

Postby glorybee » Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:36 pm

AnnaBanana wrote:So maybe this?
Shame permeated every tender memory she considered.

And what kind of alliteration do you think is most common/appropriate in prose?


I like that a lot.

Alliteration is far more common in poetry than prose (there's a lesson on alliteration here on the forums, if you're interested). Offhand, I can think of a few reasons to use it in prose:

1. In books for very young children in which rhyme and alliteration and other kinds of word play are often seen.
2. When the alliterative words are chosen specifically to set a mood, as they do in poetry. For example, in a very descriptive piece about the ocean, I might choose to use a lot of 's' sounds to remind the reader of the sounds of waves.
3. For humorous effect: a character might be nicknamed Crazy Carol or Messy Mike, for example, or a store might be Betty's Bloomer Boutique.
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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby AnnaBanana » Fri Feb 26, 2016 6:26 pm

Aww..... Thanks. I am considering that line for a story, but it's still in the "waiting on God to show me what He wants to do with it phase."

I'm going to have see if I can find alliteration in some of the prose I study with my students....just to see if it's been done. :D
Blessings,
Rachel

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

Postby kafrak » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:56 am

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



It was a time before we understood time; the time of the creation. Jehovah said; "Let the land produce creatures of its kind..." and in response colors swirled, the wind moaned, leaves trembled as a wee, small serpentine creature appeared under the leaf of an elephant ear plant.

Is this a better start? :thumbs

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

Postby glorybee » Fri Mar 11, 2016 7:47 am

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



It was a time before we understood time; the time of the creation. Jehovah said; "Let the land produce creatures of its kind..." and in response colors swirled, the wind moaned, leaves trembled as a wee, small serpentine creature appeared under the leaf of an elephant ear plant.

Is this a better start? :thumbs


Yes, for the excellent imagery. A few tiny corrections: The semicolon in the first sentence should be an em dash, and you don't need both 'wee' and 'small.' In my opinion, 'wee' doesn't fit the mood of these sentences, and 'small' would be fine, but you could keep either one (or use one of several synonyms for 'small').

You also want to be careful not to carry on too long in this vein. It's just on the edge of being 'purple prose.' It's fine for an opening sentence or two, but you don't want to give the reader too much of this.

I do like the repetition of 'time' in the first sentence.
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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby kafrak » Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:24 am

I will make the changes you suggest. This is what follows:
. It was not a snake, it was not a lizard. Its skin sparkled like the most perfect diamonds and its eyes were such a deep cerulean blue you could get lost gazing into them. This little creature had both, wings and fins, almost like a fish but not, almost like a bird, but not. There was none other like her in the whole world.

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

Postby glorybee » Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:28 am

kafrak wrote:I will make the changes you suggest. This is what follows:
. It was not a snake, it was not a lizard. Its skin sparkled like the most perfect diamonds and its eyes were such a deep cerulean blue you could get lost gazing into them. This little creature had both, wings and fins, almost like a fish but not, almost like a bird, but not. There was none other like her in the whole world.


Be careful of cliches (...you could get lost gazing into them). And you can lose the comma after 'both.'

I like this!
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Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby lookinup » Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:35 pm

Does this work for attention grabbing? If it does, I'll jump to the next lesson.

I held up my hand dripping with blood and froze.
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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby glorybee » Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:54 pm

lookinup wrote:Does this work for attention grabbing? If it does, I'll jump to the next lesson.

I held up my hand dripping with blood and froze.


Yes, with the addition of a comma after 'hand' and one after 'blood.' Otherwise, the reader reads '...dripping with blood and...' and expects something else to be dripping from the hand. Then 'froze' comes, and the reader has to do a bit of a backtrack. But with the comma there, the 'and froze' bit becomes the second action of the sentence.

But for attention-grabbing purposes? Absolutely.
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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby cgpeoples » Fri May 27, 2016 1:10 pm

[i]Homework #4: one sentence to hook the reader

Destiny's bloodcurdling scream stopped Jarod from taking one step further.

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

Postby glorybee » Fri May 27, 2016 1:35 pm

cgpeoples wrote:[i]Homework #4: one sentence to hook the reader

Destiny's bloodcurdling scream stopped Jarod from taking one step further.


On one level, this is very successful--I'd definitely want to keep reading to see what's up with Destiny and Jarod.

On the level of craftsmanship, though--'bloodcurdling scream' is a bit of a cliche, and so is 'one step further.' Could you re-write the sentence with similarly powerful words, but in a fresh way? How else could you describe the scream's intensity, and how else could you describe Jarod's inaction?

Just something to think about...
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Re: Beginnings (#1)--the 4th judging criterion

Postby cgpeoples » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:30 am

This is definitely better Jan! LOL

Destiny's spine-chilling scream sent convulsive shivers throughout Jarod's slender body.

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

Postby glorybee » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:38 pm

Yes, definitely better.

Apply this to your current writing now--once you've written a thing, re-read it once for the sole purpose of examining it for cliches. Ask yourself: have I ever seen or heard this phrase before? If the answer is yes, ask yourself if there's a new and fresh way that you could express that concept, using words that you have put together for the first time.
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