I'm looking for feedback on the opening section of my novel. A lot of people have looked at it and I got a few sparse notes but I had one recent viewer that had an issue with almost every line. I was so thrown by the reaction that I'm now second guessing my ability to string a sentence together or construct a scene at all. Wondering if people here will have similar reactions.
Thirding that I really liked this. I didn't have much to add on top of what has already been commented inline, so I just made two notes of my reactions as a reader. If you need beta readers later, let me know, I'd be game for this.
|# ¿ Oct 1, 2020 11:25|
|# ¿ Nov 29, 2020 19:57|
I had a look when you first posted the link last week. My eyes glazed over pretty quickly and my brain went, this is way too hard to comment on. Here are some thoughts after rewatching Brandon Sanderson's 2020 lecture on plot (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrIogch5DBU) and a second pass.
The lecture I linked specifically addresses hooking readers with plot. Sanderson may not be your cup of tea, but he is very good at explaining the basics of craft: your opening makes certain promises (tone, story) to the reader and it's on you as the author to convince them to keep reading by giving them a sense of progress towards satisfying payoffs (i.e. delivering on the promises you made at the beginning).
Here are the tone and story promises I get from your opening:
I have no idea what your story is about. This "useless Prince" gave...some orders? To Guard and Help who then did stuff that pissed off the mob and the Errants and they're now on the run. The Prince seems to be a whiny delusional rich kid that Guard and Help (understandably) don't respect.
Why should I care about these characters? Why should I keep reading? My answer to both of those questions are "I don't know" and that's not a good thing for your opening.
|# ¿ Oct 17, 2020 02:58|
The narrator isn't quite omniscient and they despise the prince, in a way they are Guard's internal monologue.
Ok, this is the missing piece!
Guard is the only reasonable character but he has no morals. A pure self-interest machine.
It's more that I had NO IDEA that we're supposed to be in Guard's head. Your current opening is written in such a distant third that I mistook it for omniscient. Get closer, so that it's really clear who the POV character is. The journal entry is actually a red herring, because it made me assume that if we were in anybody's head, it was going to be the Prince. That was really off putting since he's unlikeable, incompetent and uninteresting.
I'd suggesting watching this Sanderson lecture on characters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NCiuI6F5O0 - he talks about figuring out where your characters sit on 3 different sliding scales (likeability, proactivity and competence) and how that will change over their character arc.
If Guard never develops morals over the course of the story, that decreases his likeability so you have to make up for it with his proactivity and competence - it's ok to have an unlikeable character if they are always doing badass and interesting things. If Guard does have an arc that ends with him developing some morals, then you'll need to show that he's got some hope of overcoming that flaw.
That is your hook: Guard has the world's whiniest and most incompetent boss who just destroyed the kingdom. Somehow, he's got to keep his Prince (a ridiculous idiot rich kid who is completely out of touch with reality) alive for the ??? (insert period of time) drive across a rioting country over the ??? (insert direction) border to seek refuge with the closest ally while fighting mobs and dangerous Errants.
Everybody knows somebody like the Prince - whether we've worked for them, been bullied by them, had some aspect of our life ruined by them - and we all hate them. That makes your reader immediately identify with Guard.
Having a clear goal (direction of nearest ally) - and knowing how far away it is/how hard it is get there - establishes your stakes and gives me an idea of what the progress will be.
We also then have a number of clear conflicts established:
1) conflict with the Prince - he's so incompetent that he's bound to blow their cover and Guard can't get rid of him for (insert reasons)
2) conflict with the mob
3) conflict with the Errants - they're armed and dangerous
There wasn't enough in your opening for me to understand what the specific issue with #2 is, but you get the idea. I look forward to seeing your next version.
|# ¿ Oct 17, 2020 08:09|
Works fine and I'm happy take a look over the weekend, though I might not read all 20k words. What sort of critique are you specifically looking for?
EDIT: Alright, a quicker read of your 20k words than I thought it would be! Since you haven't specifically said you wanted a line critique, I'll just give you general comments (bear in mind that I don't normally read this genre unless you count Cassandra Clare).
Hope that helps and is what you were looking for!
Leng fucked around with this message at 03:56 on Oct 24, 2020
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2020 02:49|