Friday, July 31, 2009

Over at the Novel Racers

As I mentioned earlier this week - life is a bit busy. One of the things on the list was my shout for coffee over at the Novel Racers's Blog. So my post is here. It's about opening paragraphs and whether they reflect or even should reflect the book that follows.

Here's the latest version of the opening A CORNISH HOUSE for your perusal.

The car coughed to a halt then lurched as the trailer pushed it further along the dark lane. The headlights' beam silhouetted the twisted trees against the moonless sky. Their tortured shapes merged with the hedges forming a tunnel which enclosed the car. Maddie’s chest tightened. She forced her breathing to slow, but it didn’t calm her rapid heart beat.

May I ask - what does it say to you? Would you want to read on? What type of book do you think it is?

Now head back down and only coming up for the odd cup of coffee and glance at Twitter now that it's working again!


Lori x said...

I would definitely want to read on, I'd want to know why Maddie is out in the middle of the night, possibly in the middle of nowhere and why is she frightened? Is it just being alone at night (is she alone?) or is there another reason for it? Plenty of questions raised with that paragraph.

I don't know what kind of book I would deduce it to be from the first para but combined with the title (and I'm assuming it falls somewhere within the romance genre) I'd say maybe one with another historical story alongside the modern one. One with parallels between this heroine and snd a historical character from the cornish house. Of course I'm probably really really wrong!!

Fia said...

That's exactly what it's like driving down the cornish lanes at night.

As Lori x says, it raises lots of questions.

Ladybird World Mother said...

MORE!!!!! Feels just like Cornwall. Without the title I would have guessed it to be there. Come on, keep writing!

HelenMHunt said...

I found it very atmospheric and evocative. Would definitely want to read on as you've set up questions that need answers.

DOT said...

Hang on to your hat, Liz, my comments are critical, so big gap and you can ignore:

Too much detail which is inaccurate and so destroys the mood.

A car coughing to a halt would slide to a halt - the trailer would only push into it following sudden braking.

Headlights on a moonless night would illuminate from the front so the trees could not be silhouetted - that implies shapes illuminated from behind.

Right choice of words and I will be with the others in terms of recognising the situation and feeling the tension.

DOT said...

Postscript: the engine could seize which would cause the car to suddenly halt and so result in the trailer bumping into it - it would also imply terminal engine trouble.

Just a thought.

liz fenwick said...

Lori - you aren't far off. Maybe tomorrow or the next I'll put up the blurb...

Thanks Fia

LWM - thanks. This book is written and currently being mostly tweeked with a few more chapters and scene developing the a ket relationship...

Helen thanks

DOT, as always I love a man's pov. It's totally brilliant as you look at things in such a different and very valid way. I will revisit it with your insight and let you know :-)

Karen said...

Sounds fab Liz, and I'd definitely want to read on, but I'd tighten it further to read :

The car coughed to a halt down the dark lane, then lurched as the trailer pushed it forward. The headlights' beam picked out the twisted trees ahead, their shapes merging with the hedges to form a tunnel which seemed to enclose the car.
Maddie’s chest tightened. She forced her breathing to slow, but her heart was still beating too fast.

Or words to that effect :o)

Susie Vereker said...

Yes, I really, really want to read on, sounds like a thriller. I agree with Karen's edit, though not sure about her last sentence. You could just end the para at 'Maddie's chest tightened.' and save the breathing for later (am sure she's going to need lots of deep breathing.)
Main thing is that we stay with Maddie and her feelings.
Everyone loves to edit, but the only person's views that matter are your eventual real editor. I should press on and not worry too much. If you agonise about every last word it may lose something.

Steve Malley said...

My own feeble two cents: I'd put Maddy's tightened chest in first-sentence place. Then give us the sense impressions and return to her rapidly beating heart.

But yes, I'd totally read on. While mentally rearranging and rephrasing sentences. It's a nasty habit, and I catch myself doing it with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Koontz and King, Kinsella and Keyes. Can't seem to help m'self...

Steve Malley said...

Oh, and yeah, I totally believe the first paragraph should reflect the overall tone of the book. As should the first page, first chapter and first 50 pages. And the cover.

Especially the cover.

Of course, the *whole* book should reflect the same tone, but we all know how flabby middles get, don't we? ;)

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Oh, I would definitely want to read on, and I would have expected it to be a Gothic sort of novel, or at least a novel with a dark element.