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  1. #1
    Misty Mann
    Guest

    Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    if these were the first words in a book, would you continue reading?


    In a southeast neighborhood in Memphis seven-year-old Tessa was jumping on a trampoline with Brutus, a boy her age who rarely asked her to play. Brutus didn\'t play with any girl, unless she hounded him. He had a toy jeep that you could sit in and move. Tessa could see why he wouldn\'t need anyone else to play. If she had a Barbie car she\'d forsake all her friends. Brutus also had a trampoline, of course, along with many other interesting toys Tessa didn’t have.
    It was the usual sultry summer, complete with the infamous thick humidity. The hot air and little breeze combined with the jumping was taking its toll on the children. They were red-cheeked and huffing as they climbed down from the trampoline.
    “I’m thirsty. I’m going inside to get some water.”
    “Yeah, can I have some too?” she asked. Although Tessa was thirsty, she was more curious to see inside her next door neighbor’s house. They entered the kitchen where she saw an island. “Your house is different from mine,” she said in a sort of awe. Her kitchen at home was more like a small enclosing corridor with cabinets than a kitchen, at least not a kitchen as wide and inviting as in Brutus’s house.
    “I can show you around.” Brutus made good on his offer, ending the tour in his bedroom. It was a bit dusky Tessa noted. The sheer curtains could use some opening. She reached her fingers toward the break in the middle and let in the sunshine. She could see the side of her house. Her mother or father, had they been in the side yard, could have seen her pale, round face somewhat glowing in between the red curtains, curtains that matched the spider-man bedspread on which she was kneeling to peer out the window. From that window the rest of the day melted hazily into the back of Tessa’s mind and she would not remember it for fifteen years.



  2. #2
    Finnley Wren
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    I'd have trouble getting beyond the first sentence, with the missing comma between "Memphis" and "seven." I also wondered why Brutus had a trampoline "of course."

    However, if you dumped that first paragraph entirely and started in with the second, you may be on to something magical.

    Couple of nitpicks here and there. You've already established that Tessa is the viewpoint, so there are some extraneous "she saw" and "she noted," meaning we already know it's her doing the seeing and the noting.

    Couple of random suggestions:

    Her kitchen at home was more like a small enclosing corridor with cabinets than a kitchen, at least not a kitchen as wide and inviting as in Brutus’s house.

    Her kitchen at home was more like a small enclosed corridor with cabinets, not wide and inviting like here in Brutus's house.

    curtains that matched the spider-man bedspread on which she was kneeling to peer out the window.

    [i]curtains, curtains that matched the spider-man bedspread on which she was kneeling.[i]

    (We already know she is peering out the window.)

    Just my two cents! Liked it a lot beyond that first paragraph. Best of luck!

  3. #3
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    The first paragraph is all showing, my friend. I agree with Finnley, your story begins in your second paragraph.

    I spotted a couple excess descriptors (mostly in the first paragraph), but overall, it was the flow that was hard for me. Some sentenced are too short, or come in a chain of too many short sentences, or once in a while, a sentence seems to have one phrase too many. Try playing around with your rhythm, vary your sentence lengths a litte more randomly (reading out loud might help you figure out what needs to be changed), but try not avoid awkward sentence structures.

    From that window the rest of the day melted hazily into the back of Tessa’s mind and she would not remember it for fifteen years.

    Here, for example, you've started your sentence with prepositional sentence. Not necessarily a crime, but it introduces a compound sentence, giving it all an overly complicated, possibly ru-on feel. Nice punch at the end, though.

  4. #4
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    sigh.... that should be "try to avoid awkward sentence structures."

  5. #5
    Tracy Carpenter
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    I think the story would flow better if you started it out with the quote "I’m thirsty. I’m going inside to get some water” And then maybe go into the original description you started with...just a suggestion.

    I do like the ending sentence. It grabbed my attention.

  6. #6
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    Geez, I just noticed, my first line of my crit should have said, "it's all telling, my friend, all telling".

    I'm trying to quit smoking, and it's suddenly hard to express myself.

  7. #7
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    and "run on" not 'ru-on'.

    Okay. I'm gonna stop proofreeding my post now. Back to Misty.

  8. #8
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    I'd agree that the first paragraph isn't really interesting about who owns what toys. Start with the one after that.

  9. #9
    cara k
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    Misty--

    I understand why you put that first paragraph in. Brutus hardly ever played with girls. It was a big deal to Tessa that she was getting to play with him, and also getting to play with his cool toys. She was probably thrilled. Since you are in her POV, though, maybe you could work that in, instead of just telling. Give us Tessa's feelings about it. That being said, I love the part about her giving up her friends for a Barbie car. That was perfect!
    Also, I understand why you said 'of course' about the trampoline--since they were already jumping on it--but given that fact, I'd just take out the part about the trampoline in this sentence.

    "It was the usual sultry summer, complete with the infamous thick humidity. The hot air and little breeze combined with the jumping was taking its toll on the children. They were red-cheeked and huffing as they climbed down from the trampoline." This seems to pull out of Tessa's POV. I'd rephrase the whole thing from Tessa's standpoint. And the 'little breeze' made me think that there was a breeze, not that there wasn't enough of a breeze.

    I already pictured her standing in front of the window, opening the curtain. Then further down, I discovered that she was kneeling on the bed, so I had to back up my thinking, redo my visual. I'd suggest moving up the fact that she's on the bed. It won't take away from the ending, imo, because you can still mention the spiderman pattern on the curtain and bedspread at the end. But you don't want the impact of that last sentence to be reduced because your readers are backing up to a previous sentence.
    And in that last sentence, make sure to insert a comma after 'mind.'

    Now, as to your question. I would definitely continue reading. Good luck.

    --Cara K

  10. #10
    A.L. Sirois
    Guest

    Re: Thoughts on the first paragraphs

    Start with the second paragraph, as was noted above. It's a better opening. "Brutus," though? I am not buying that as a kid's name.

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