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  1. #1
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    Dec 2010
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    7

    opening paragraph

    Chapter 1
    Azrael levitated above the shrivelled ninety year old body of Mrs Wakelin and watched her exhale her final breath. He waited patiently for her soul to separate itself from its redundant shell, so he could do his duty and transport her remaining spirit to the other side. He despised the responsibility that God had bestowed upon him and the thought of another three thousand years of observing death was a frustrating and deflating one. Mrs Wakelin’s eyes suddenly snapped open. Azrael felt himself jolt back towards the ceiling, stunned by the sudden sign of life, and in turn disturbed by what he saw below. Mrs Wakelin’s eyes were wide and looked like orbs of molten lava. Her dry lips wriggled and her toothless mouth opened into a vile grin. “If you wish to be relieved of your duty to God, you must go to the old Saxon Chapel in the village of Claberton.” She informed in a venomous, but strained voice.Azrael felt unhinged, frozen to the spot where he hung in the air as Mrs Wakelin’s eyelids rolled back over the fiery marbles, and once again she lay lifeless and at peace. Azrael was completely aware that bizarre things could occur at the time of death, but he had never seen anything of this nature before. The sight of Mrs Wakelin’s soul departing from its prune-like casing reminded Azrael what he was doing in the room of the retirement home. He observed her soul as it raised itself from its well-used, wrinkled body. Her face looked confused, Azrael understood why, he had been doing this job long enough to see until a moment ago, every possible reaction. The reason Mrs Wakelin face seemed so bewildered was because she had been bed ridden for months, and now she could somehow stand up with ease. Inevitably she took a look at what she was leaving behind. Not much in Mrs Wakelin’s case, a withered, silver haired, shrunken body, and a brain ravaged by dementia, Azrael suspected, all encased in skin that hung loosely over her bones. The image of Mrs Wakelin trying to pull herself back into her corpse was one that Azrael had seen a million times, and he found it impossible to show any pity. Initially he found it heart-breaking, but now after three millennium of doing the same emotionally exhausting job, it just angered him, he was tired of the charade, a charade that only ever had one outcome. While Azrael opened his expansive black wings, the words that had spouted from Mrs Wakelin’s supposedly dead mouth replayed in his head. His desire to be rid of his responsibility made him hope it was a message, a message from someone or something that heard his inner pleas for help. Azrael didn’t spend another second mulling over her words, without hesitation he decided that he would do as the old woman had instructed. If there was even the slightest chance he could exist in a different way, and maybe be blessed with the life he longed for, he was going to explore it. Azrael monitored Mrs Wakelin as she finally realised that she was no longer a part of the world she had become accustomed to. Her hairy chin rested on her chest and her puny shoulders hung in defeat as she sat despondently beside herself on the edge of the bed. Just a few seconds past and Mrs Wakelin’s chin slowly lifted, she looked to her right then her left, as if she detected something in the room. Azrael surveyed her movements, then tentatively her neck arched back and she looked up towards the ceiling. Her mouth gaped open and her eyes were no longer glowing embers but pale blue and bloodshot, they were so wide in terror that Azrael imagined, if she were still inside her body they might actually pop out, and fall to the wooden floor. Azrael could see his own reflection in her enlarged pupils and he returned her look, not with one of empathy or reassurance but one of emptiness, he no longer felt any sympathy for the souls he was helping, he was only there because he had no choice. Mrs Wakelin’s translucent body tried to fight Azrael away, again a reaction that was all so familiar to him. As Azrael lowered himself towards her, a shriek erupted from her decayed mouth, but Azrael knew that her cries for help would go unnoticed, nobody could hear her; she was dead to the world as she knew it. Mrs Wakelin wrapped her head in her arms in a futile attempt to protect herself. Azrael enveloped her soul in his thick black plumage and dissipated into the atmosphere, taking Mrs Wakelin with him, delivering her to a plane where her life could continue.



  2. #2
    Junior Member
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    7

    Re: opening paragraph

    Any thoughts are welcome.
    Thanks
    Jay

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    584

    Re: opening paragraph

    Intensely over-written, verbose and dense. Or, to be more accurate, the first three or four sentences were, which was all I managed to read.

  4. #4
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    Re: opening paragraph

    You spend so much time describing the condition of the woman's body it's like saying to the reader, "You're too dense to get it, so I must hit you over the head with it." Take a hatchet to this thing.

  5. #5
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    Jan 2011
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    32

    Re: opening paragraph

    I like the general thesis of this story. It sounds interesting, but it could use quite a bit of work.

    For an opening paragraph, this seems to lose the reader within the first few lines. I suggest you cut a lot of the exposion and info. It feels overwritten to the extent that it is difficult to read. The length of the paragraph is extremely long. You could do a lot more by breaking it into several different paragraphs with only one of them dedicated to Azreal's thoughs. Long opening paragraphs tend to express too much information and may overwhelm the average reader. The moments of activity you describe are good and believable. Try to bring them to the forefront of the reader's attention so he/she does not spend so much valuable time thinking about the character's personality and what the character should mean to them.

    Just a few suggestions. Polish this thing up a bit and you've got something that commands attention.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Southern Georgia
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    Re: opening paragraph

    Jay, here's a few comments:

    Azrael levitated ("hovered" or "floated" would work better) above the shrivelled ninety year old body of Mrs Wakelin

    Azrael [s]felt himself[/s] (he didn't feel himself do this, he actually did it) jolt (just a suggested word change - flew) [s]back towards[/s] (up against) the ceiling, stunned.(end the sentence here) [s]by the sudden sign of life, and in turn disturbed by what he saw below[/s].

    Mrs Wakelin’s eyes were [s]wide and looked like[/s] orbs of molten lava.

    [s]Azrael felt unhinged, frozen to the spot where he hung in the air as[/s] Mrs Wakelin’s eyelids rolled back over the fiery marbles, and once again she lay lifeless and at peace.

    The rest is just too wordy and angst-y. Some people like that, but it turns me off when I read it. I usually start perusing through the book until I get to some more action. Good luck.

    Lea

  7. #7
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    Australia - for now ;)
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    Re: opening paragraph

    I agree with Brad, I actually like it.

    I would have read more but I do think you need to 'break it down' a bit. Give the reader (me) a break every so often with less wordy sentences and more actual breaks.

    With a bit of re-working I would read this to the end. I didn't in this case as it was one big 'block' of writing.

    Add pauses, paragraph breaks and clean up the uneccessary and I think you have something here.
    if the wine is sour – throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    688

    Re: opening paragraph

    For the love of writers... paragraph breaks

  9. #9
    Cat
    Guest

    Re: opening paragraph

    There is an interesting kernel of an idea there, but the passage is very much overwritten with tons of repetition.

    And yes, it simply must be broken into paragraphs.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Nov 2005
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    Rhinebeck, NY
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    Re: opening paragraph

    *shudder* I sure don't want to live to be 90. Not if I end up like this:

    hairy chin;
    puny shoulders;
    prune-like casing;
    toothless mouth;
    vile grin;
    withered, silver haired, shrunken body, and a brain ravaged by dementia;
    skin that hung loosely over her bones;
    decayed mouth....

    *_*

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