Intro new characters, first-lines

Apple

From my own tree. First year of a good crop!

It appears as if we have a large group participating now, so I’m going to have to ask you all to please keep your show-and-tells to a reasonable length. I know you want to show more so you can get to the good stuff, but that is EXACTLY why I only want to see the first two paragraphs or so. If you can’t get to the part that makes you excited in a half page, you need to rewrite to get it in the first half page

Today, I’m going to showcase a character introduction. It is a first paragraph, and it’s in his POV, which can be tricky as the reader is starting cold–just like a first chapter, first paragraph. It has all the constraints and needs of the beginning of a book, but since the reader is invested (hopefully) already, the first few lines don’t need that heavy hook and can focus on setting more, or personality.

Chapter Nine
SKINS

The pencil’s eraser bounced in a repetitive rumble one Formica table. Realizing he was doing it, Mickey set the pencil down with an exaggerated slowness. “Maybe next week,” he said into his cell phone as the pencil rolled across his sketches. It was headed for the edge, but his quick reach for it failed, and it hit the floor to fall into the RV’s tiny stairwell, totally out of reach.

Frowning, Mickey scrubbed a hand over his two-day stubble and looked up, his unfocused attention going to the RV’s tiny window over the sink as Jack droned on about his financial responsibilities and the consequences of avoiding them. “Jack. Listen to me,” Mickey tried again. “Maybe next week if I can find something. It’s not that I don’t want to give the bloodsucking troll her monthly feeding, but there’s nothing left.”  Grimacing, he threw last-night’s empty cup-of-noodles across the narrow RV, an instant of satisfaction flashing through him when it made the trash.

What I’d like to point out here is that almost everything is in present tense. It is happening NOW. Before you post, take a look at what you have and see if you can move things into present if everything is being looked at in the past. A reader becomes attached far faster if they’re reading about something going on, instead of what happened yesterday and how they feel about it. Put in some movement to ground the reader, and make sure that whatever makes your eyes sparkles gets into that first half page.

Also, I’d like to plead for some pity from you. I’d like to keep this going for a few months more, aiming for two posts a week. But for that to happen, I’d ask that you only post one piece and maybe a rewrite of something previously submitted per blog post. Chit chat is great and welcomed, but only one first-paragraph per blog post please.

You guys are the best, and I hope we can keep each other motivated for a few months more before school kicks in and everyone goes back to work.

39 Comments

Filed under Drama Box

39 responses to “Intro new characters, first-lines

  1. vin

    I’m reworking my initial post after your advice. In the meantime here’s chapter 2. I’m getting involved so late lol

    The previous night had given insight into the man I was and gave the reasons for the monster I became. Dawn had finally tightened its grip on me before forcing me into a nightmare filled slumber. The years past replayed themselves over and again as my body remained motionless. I had no choice but to be subjected to the torture my mind was putting me through. Repeated visions of my son’s killer taunted me, beckoning for me to follow though I had no idea where Jaden Cross actually was. I knew he was somewhere in this State but had no clue about a physical location for him. One thing I was sure about, however, was that right now he was stuck in the same state as me. As dusk approached it seemed like things would finally start turning in my direction thanks to a simple phone call.

    thank you in advance for any feedback.

    • I like what you have here, Vin. You set the tone and mood pretty fast. My only suggestion might be to get rid of some of the telling, and show us. If you’re not sure what I mean, try rewriting just the paragraph with your character doing something, fitting in the rest of what you have around it. Action will ground your reader faster, and make a stronger connection.

  2. Hannah H.

    Whee! Thank you for doing this, by the way. It’s really awesome of you and I love seeing what advice everyone gets. I backtracked to chapter two this time since I missed out on that blog post. 😀

    Beast – Chapter Two:

    The sun took forever to set.
    /Will he really come back/, I wondered as I fiddled with the fresh gauze bandage around my hand and picked at my dinner. The grilled cheese sandwiches tasted good, but my stomach was a churning mess. I forced down another bite and stared across the roof as I fumbled for my hot chocolate.
    “Hello.”
    I yelped, leaping to my feet and sending my last sandwich flying as I spun around. “Oh, um…h-hi,” I squeaked out as Adam caught the falling plate with it’s sandwich still intact.

    • You are so welcome.
      Hannah, this is really good. I can see everything we’ve been talking about, and WOW! Set the scene with action and internal dialog, and then tension right away.

  3. Jhen Fry

    I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read, and offer feedback. Sometimes writing can be a little too solitary, and it’s easy to lose a bit of perspective. So thank you, for the reflection, and the desire to help us tell the best stories possible.

    chapter 10

    Aiko keeps her word, but she has young Tatsu bring me what she owes me. Poor kid.
    Aiko’s gone and sucked up someone else into her web of crap.
    In Tatsu’s sword calloused hands, she carries a small, nearly indestructible Halliburton briefcase, and Yoshimaru’s sword. Wrapped in a white on white, embroidered, vintage silk bag and tied off expertly along the tsuka. She sets down the briefcase and offers up the sword with both hands, bowing her head at me.
    “Keep it.” I tell her.
    Her head comes up quickly.
    “I…it’s too valuable.” She says, small brow furrowed. “You don’t even know me.”
    “It’s valuable. True. But more than that,” I tell her. “It’s meant to be wielded by someone with magick. I felt it the moment Yoshimaru drew it, and magick isn’t what I do. I would very much like for you to have it Norinaga-san. You helped me tonight. You didn’t have to. Thank you.”
    “Tatsu.” She says softly, tucking a stray strand of her charcoal dark hair behind her ear. “You can call me Tatsu.”

    • Jhen Fry

      chapter 10

      Aiko keeps her word, but she has young Tatsu bring me what she owes me.
      Poor kid.
      Aiko’s gone and sucked up someone else into her web of crap.

    • Jhen Fry

      Forgive the length, my cut and paste seems to have had a mind of it’s own. I meant only to submit the first three lines. I’m going to go scold my laptop right now.

    • You are very welcome, Jhen.
      What you have here is really good. I’m still getting a great feel for the characters themselves, with very few words, and the action and description are on point. Nicely done!

  4. My mouth was dry. I swallowed, and hoped for the best.

    “Please,” I said. It came out like a frog’s croak. I swallowed again, licking my wind-cracked lips, and repeated, a little more evenly, “Please. One of us is badly hurt in a way we do not understand, and we seek aid and counsel of the wise.”

    The woman at the head of the stairs tilted her head a little to one side, as if she could not quite take in my words.

    My heart sank. This wasn’t going to work, and I couldn’t blame anyone but myself for a useless gamble. I might have felt the same as her, if a boatload of warriors out of Keraine had rowed up to Dyrsholt out of the blue.

    But then she surprised me.

    “I see,” she said, in careful, perfect Istraan. “Yet, it seems strange. Why should we give counsel and aid to a pack of pirates?”

    It was a good question, I thought. I had asked it of myself, a few times, in the last hours.

    “Well, as to that, Raeth doesn’t raid into Keraine.”

    “So you say. What difference is one thief or another, for the robbed?”

    – The Shades of Winter

  5. Chapter Ten

    “Are you ready?” Conley asked her.
    With a dull ache in her eyes from the sun, Ody stared down at her old tattered shoes. They felt tight and constricting, but it was important to wear them for the long walk. She preferred her feet bare and refused to cover them in the Underground. Her shoes were once white, but she wore them so often as a teenager, they were now covered in dirt and possible tiny blood stains from her early battles with Staff. The ends of the laces were reduced to strings.
    “Odelynne.” When Conley nudged her shoulder with his, she realized she hadn’t yet taken a single step.
    “Yes.” She couldn’t believe in less than a day, she would see her house again. “Thank you for making me do this.”

    • This is really well-done, Mel. You start with dialog, which I love, and then set the scene fast with present action, then give a little bit of back story with the shoes, that swings it back to the present. Good job!

    • Thank you! Everything you said about remaining in the present finally clicked. It’s going to be a lot of work going back to edit out the extra wordage from the novel, but completely worth it.
      I know you have a plethora of others to read, but I can’t say thank you enough.

    • Mel, I’m so glad to hear that. I’m seeing the result already, though!

  6. Alexis Westmore

    Hi Kim,
    This is so cool. Thanks for doing this for writers. It was like finding out a dear friend had moved back to town. Sorry I’m late getting in to the process I had set a deadline to get a project to my editor and wanted to finish that before diving in here. I’m behind so I will start with chapter one.

    “Acquisition of immortality is the death of time.” Xenoselah whispered, peering out at the darkness beyond the space tempered glass of the Orbiter.

    Rezil leaned on the table between them. “No, my friend, simultaneity is the death of time. Immortality simply forgets it exists.”

    “I may forget time exists…” Xenoselah turned from the window, taking in the features of his old friend. “…but not those I’ve lost to it.”

    Rezil’s next words caught as he tried to speak. Xenos spoke not only of the past, but the future. His future. Instead he asked, “Why do you do it? Why do the Tokole regenerate?” The question still carried his selfish hope that there was another way.

    • You are so welcome, Alexis! Thanks for letting me know this is a first chapter. They have special needs. 😉
      This is a wonderful first few paragraphs. Starting with dialog hooks the reader right from the first sentence, and for me, the dialog is intriguing and pulls me to want to know more. You have just enough scene setting so I don’t feel lost, and no so much I feel “tired.” Well done!

  7. Ch.4 Blood Ties WIP

    Crossing my arms over my chest, I blew my bangs out of my eyes and leaned against the side wall next to the control panel. A quick glance at my watch said it was already past two-thirty. My stomach growled, reminding me I’d need to fuel up soon. “Why are we taking the elevator? It’d be faster to run upstairs.”

    Ryk pulled out his set of house keys. “Because this is the fastest way down.”

    “Down? You mean…there’s a basement?” I’d lived in this house for months now and never knew it had a basement. How did I not know that?

    He inserted the garage key into a lock, twisted, and flipped a panel up to reveal a keypad. “You’ll see.”

    My jaw dropped. “There’s a secret keypad? What else does this house have that I don’t know about?”

    • I just realized I should’ve put the “Why are we taking the elevator” sentence first. Uh, my brain is foggy. This is what happens when I write late at night.

    • (grin) Yep, it might be a bit stronger with the dialog first, but because the action is in present and not past, you have some leeway, and quite honestly, you might want to leave it as it is so when you do get to the dialog, it goes fast instead of slowing it down for the scene setting. Or you could move “Why are we taking the elevator?” first, and leave “It’d be faster to run upstairs,” where it is to get the dialog moving again. But regardless, it reads really well. Good job!

  8. Thank you, Kim, for this opportunity to share our work and your very helpful comments on them!

    Chp 8 Under A Celtic Moon

    Ahnya typed into the search bar on her computer. <> She tapped her fingers on the desk as the search engine brought up the results.

    “Twenty thousand results??? Oh for the love of the Goddess,” she said with a sigh. Rubbing her eyes, she started thinking of ways to narrow down the results. “There can’t possibly be that many spells to make someone immortal. Why the fuck do wanna be witches think they can pull this kind of shite on unknowing new witches?”

  9. Nicole Dark

    I posted a submission, but am not seeing it. Do I need to re post it?

    Thanks,
    Nicole Dark

  10. CH 9 (might not make much sense without reading CH8)
    Tori’s so tired but between still having to pee and his voice repeating her name, sleep ain’t happening. Unable to resist, a whiney ‘what?’ was her response.

    “What kind of soda do you want?” Jimmy asked. “You need something until we get something to eat.”

    “Nononono…” was also whiney but just a little bit panicked, too.

    “Talk to me, Tori. What do you want?”

    “Oh, I’m working on a list…” realizing she said it aloud when she heard his chuckle. “Sorry, didn’t mean to say that. I want to sleep but I really need a bathroom.”

    “We can go back in the police station.”

    “No!”

  11. Cale H

    I went back and re wrote the submission from last time and Was able to eliminate a lot of say the word “soul”, but to save space I won’t post that here.

    This next part is immediately following that, I have always struggled with describing characters but I had a good idea what I wanted to do in my head:

    The doors to my Mistress’s chambers opened as I approached, my presence was expected as she was the one that had summoned me. I cautiously scanned the chambers as I entered, pausing just a moment, then continuing to the throne situated in the center of the chamber whereupon I kneeled, my head bowed. Lifting my gaze a fraction I gaze upon her discreetly. She is a creature of boundless beauty, radiant with a presence that filled the chamber and yet there was a darkness about her. It was her eyes, dark pools that could swallow a soul, and hair that cascaded in waves down her shoulders. Wearing robes of dark red and black, she sat serenely upon her throne. The throne was carved from a dark ebony wood, intricate knotwork chiseled throughout among runes, runes of power.
    “I have need of you my Reaper of Souls,” She says as she lays a hand on my bowed head.
    “What does my Mistress require of her servant?” I say in inquiry, my voice hushed.

    • So, this isn’t the first part of a chapter, Cole?
      The descriptions are very evocative, and I like that the action is all present, and none of it past. Nice!

    • Cale H

      I didn’t have any first paragraph of a chapter that introduced a new character, so I knew where I was going with the story and knew I wanted to introduce the Mistress of Souls character. Sorry if it fell outside the exercise, I thought the exercise was about introducing new characters

  12. Jennifer Vanderkamp

    Ch9 Alastor
    “Ahh, Adara, I’ve been awaiting your arrival,” Lucifer says fondly, shifting his aggravated attention from scolding me to the interruption at the door.

    Stones pile into my stomach. Adara? No! I pivot around, desperate for it to not be her. But it is. Her hazel eyes meet mine, piercing and searching. Face blank and head held high, she faces Lucifer. Her determination to appear strong is admirable. Her clenched trembling hand tells me the truth though, she’s terrified.

  13. Nicole Dark

    IN THE BLOOD
    CHAPTER 1

    Terri, my adopted mother, spoke for the first time since awakening from her side of our shared bedroom, “Aren’t you finished dressing yet, Rem?” She asked, even as she was not yet presentable herself. “Flatten your head cloth again, I can see those furry monstrosities you call ears. Sun Almighty, girl, you would think after fifteen years of this you’d learn to hide them correctly.” She snapped.
    A cloud passed in front of the sun, dousing the little light I had had to work with in the first place. I could no longer see the majority of my reflection, so I squinted harder to make out the two black WolfShifter markings above my brows, Dipping my fingers in the paint again, I scrubbed at the general area, hoping I got them covered.
    “You always say that,” I replied. “Now I know you are making it up. It is so dark in here…any one of the Plains people could walk in and they would not be able to tell I was a Shifter, even if I could Shift.”
    “Oh, hush you,” Terri said sternly. “That is nothing to joke about.”

    Author Note: This is a snippet from the novel (first draft) I just finished. My very first, I am pleased to say. I am in the self-editing/rewriting stages now and am still deciding if I would like to send it in for traditional publishing or try my hand at self- publishing. Either way, it was an amazing experience and a life goal I have been dreaming of since I was young. Feedback/ comments are always welcome.

    All my best,

    Nicole Dark

    • Thank you for sharing your first chapter, Nicole. This is a great first chapter. You’ve seemed to sidestep most of the pitfalls, and gotten right to the action, using it to set the scene and time of day. You have some tension, and I get a good idea of who these people are. Great start!

  14. Amber

    In the last blog post, we got to see the Beast talking with Jess. This is the start of Chapter 5 (a rewrite and reorg of a few paragraphs), and Jess’s first encounter with the Beast. Instead of starting with her entering the castle, I reorganized it so that this action is the first part of a new chapter.

    Ignoring the terror that raced through her, Jess tried to focus on why she was here. The curse. She was here to break the curse. From the shadows, Jess saw movement. Something large and hulking. That was all it took for her thin rope of self-control to break. She ran in a blind panic, her only thought to get away. Claws scrabbled on the stone floors, chasing her. Gaining on her. The intense fear of not know what was chasing her kept her running, not caring where she was going, just away.

    Thank you for keeping this up! I love it!

    • Amber

      I edited a bit, so here’s the right one.

      Ignoring the terror that raced through her, Jess tried to focus on why she was here. The curse. She was here to break the curse. Something large and hulking moved in the shadows. That was all it took for her thin rope of self-control to break. She ran in a blind panic, her only thought to get away. Claws scrabbled on the stone floors, chasing her. Gaining on her. The intense fear of not knowing what was chasing her kept her running. Not caring where she was going, just away.

    • It’s my pleasure, Amber.
      Looking at the second version . . . 🙂 I really like the changes you made! Well done! Keep it up!

  15. Charles Miller

    Chapter Ten Terror in the Night
    “Imagination fuels the world of dreams”
    Nine is stuck in my head so here is ten.

    Kaleb exhausted stumbles to his cabin and not even bothering to undress crawls into bed. Belatedly he remembers to remove from his belt the knife Karrin has gifted him and then tucks’ it carefully under his bed.
    Smiling softly he touches his lips as he fondly reminisces about the soft touch of her lips and the whispery promises behind her softly spoken, “Goodnight”

  16. Vampyre

    What kind of tomato is that? (Just Kidding)

    While I’m no writer, I love how you’re helping those that want to be. The world can always use more writers and more books. It’s win win for everyone involved. Thank you for doing this.

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