Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Opening Paragraphs

Credit for Picture

I need a little help with your opinions on my opening paragraphs for my short story, Malicifer. As you know if you're a follower, I'm writing this for the Sword and Sorceress Anthology. I'm looking for an ominous tone with a definite Sword and Sorcery fantasy feel to it.

This sword is cursed by bloodlust and will possess it's bearer until their death, bequeathing him or her with an unsatiable bloodthirst. A milk maid decides to wield the sword in order to save her town from the wizard army and gain the attentions of a newly appointed knight.

Here it is:


In a moss crusted tomb nestled deep within the Temple of Ancestors, Malicifer began to hum, frightening the monks that held vigil by its side. The vibration of sound shattered the skeletal hands grasping the olivine hilt, freeing the sword to claim a new champion.

As the guardians cowered and fled, the drone gained force, low and dissonant like a mournful moan. The malachite stones on the pummel pulsed indigo light as the blade stirred and became aware, searching out its future bearer. As predicted in eons past, the curse would come full circle in this wielder’s hands, threatening the very boundaries that encompassed its effects. As the reckoning grew near, the blade’s song unfurled in a most disturbing melody.

It's not quite what I want. The opening needs to be more original and grab the readers attention. Any suggestions?


Theresa Milstein said...

Maybe focus on one person's coming upon the sword from long before your protagonist. Give it a more concrete feel.

The description is good but right now it feels too abstract to be as creepy as it could be.

Hope this helps.

Valerie Geary said...

Thoughts: The words "nestled" and "hum" do not give off a very ominous tone.

And to piggy back on Theresa's comment... perhaps someone comes and tries to take the sword, but it is not the right someone. The sword awakes and that wrong someone dies in the tomb because of the bloodlust curse.... (I'm just brainstorming here... obviously you would end up with something much more eloquent :D)... and then the scene fades out with the sword calling to its true master...... something like that perhaps??? Good luck!!!

Mary Gray said...

I agree with both comments. I want something more concrete. I like the mood you're setting but even with the art of showing we still need some tell. Give us a name or an exact place or something we can relate to right from the beginning...or not. That's just what I like to do.

Aubrie said...

These are very good comments *rushes back to rewrite*

Lindsey Duncan said...

I'm a little late, I know, but I concur. You might even consider not starting with the foreshadowing - but rather start with your protagonist and then cut in to the sword. But it depends on what works best for the story.

Btw, Aubrie - I'm going to start working on a possible entry soon. Let me know if you want to swap stories to read.

(Still not seeing good names from the word verifications, btw. This one? "balsoodi.")

Lisa Rusczyk said...

I like it. The others' suggestions sound good too.

sarahjayne smythe said...

I'm not sure about the phrase the blade’s song unfurled. Unfurled to me seems like something a scroll would do, not a song. Maybe the song crests to a crescendo or some other more musical term?

Angie said...

Everyone has had such good suggestions. The second paragraph seemed a little "telly" to me. It would be good to have some action right up front. I'm sure it'll turn out great!

Jackee said...

It has great tone for sure. Try cutting out all the adjectives and then see how it stands. This will show you the skeleton of the paragraphs. If it still doesn't carry the setting and tone you want, then rewrite with external focus on one object, either the bad guy or the sword, I would suggest.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm excited to get to know you!

Carol Kilgore said...

Aubrie, I've never read this genre, but I read the comments here. This is in omniscient point of view, but I don't know if that's what you're aiming for. I'd open with this very old monk over in a corner watching this happen. What he thinks, how it affects him. Has he heard the legend of the sword and thought that's all it was? Or has he been waiting for this all his life? That kind of thing. But since I've never read this genre, I might be all wrong. Good luck with whatever you choose.

Aubrie said...

These comments are amazing and I'm rewriting the whole thing with these in mind. Thank you, all!

Julie Dao said...

I was going to say the same thing as Theresa... I think if you were to write from the perspective of one of the guard monks, it would grab the reader more. How does the guard feel about the sudden vibration of sound? The unclasping of the hands holding the sword? It felt more like a really excellent synopsis to me but once you get into a character's head, I think you'll really have it. Your writing is lovely!

bettielee said...

everybody allready said what I wanted ta say.... :)