Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Words Workshop

To see how the workshop began, read THIS post: An Analysis of First Pages.

Here is this week's 50-100 word (anonymous) entry:

Adam glanced around the stark room and spotted the newest victim: younger than most but dressed in white, like everyone else. Adam studied the boy then sighed inwardly. He wasn’t the one.

Adam closed his eyes. He didn’t know how long he’d been here, frozen asleep, ageless. His sentence felt like years. Everyday he worked on his escape and each time he was caught and made to sleep again. Nothing mattered as long as he kept trying.

**********

My thoughts are in red:

Adam glanced around the stark room and spotted the (who's victim? his?) newest victim: younger than most but dressed in white, like everyone else. Nice first line! I might change like everyone else to just like the rest, but that's personal preference. Adam studied the boy then sighed inwardly. Tell me something about the boy. He wasn’t the one. Makes me want to know more!

Adam closed his eyes. He didn’t know how long he’d been here, frozen asleep, ageless. I want more of the setting here so I'm grounded in the scene. His sentence felt like years. Everyday he worked on his escape and each time he was caught and made to sleep again. Nothing mattered as long as he kept trying. Again a little clue-who caught him? Just a little descriptor would help.


My Rewrite (since I'm not familiar with rest of the story, I made stuff up for effect):

Adam glanced around the stark room and spotted The Council's newest victim: younger than most but dressed in white, just like the rest. Studying the boy's mouth, drawn into a tight red line, Adam sighed.

He wasn’t the one.

Adam closed his eyes to block out the white tiles and metal trays. He didn’t know how long he’d been here, frozen asleep, but his sentence felt like years. Everyday he worked on his escape and each time The Guard caught him and made him sleep again.

But nothing mattered--not even the tube they stuck up his nose- as long as he kept trying.

**********
Stina's thoughts are in blue:

I like the first sentence. It’s intriguing. I’m hoping for more description of the room at some point, especially sensory description. A stark room says a lot, but not enough. Also, try to avoid words that distance the reader from the POV character (e.g. know, saw, felt, remembered, decided, thought, noticed).

The second paragraph is interesting, but it’s also confusing. Make sure you don’t leave the readers frustrated. You want them in suspense, not scratching their heads. But then again, maybe it was just me who was confused. Also, watch out for your passive verbs. Make them active.

Stina's Rewrite:

Adam glanced around the stark room and spotted the newest victim: younger than most but dressed in white, like everyone else. Under the brilliant light, pouring off the single bulb from the ceiling, he studied the boy then sighed inwardly.


He wasn’t the one.

Adam closed his eyes. How long he’d been here, frozen asleep, ageless? His sentence felt like it had dragged on for years. Every day he worked on his escape and each time they caught him, they drugged him, forcing to him sleep, again. But nothing else mattered, as long as he kept trying.

***********

Two different options to take or leave. Thank you for the great entry!

Readers, fell free to give your two cents, if you want!

7 comments:

Sarah said...

I like the suggested changes and I think the first paragraph is pretty effective (though I also wanted to change "like everyone else" to something like "just like the others").

My number one suggestion would be for the writer to have patience. I got the feeling too much was being said right up front, and I think it might be more effective if you took the time to set the scene, paint the picture--both multisensory and emotional. I'm not suggesting paragraphs of description, but in general, letting things unfold at a natural pace (like--give us some physical sensations that tell us something about Adam, whether he's human, whether he's incapacitated somehow). It's very intriguing--good luck with it!

blueviolet said...

This is always so fascinating. It's interesting to see two different perspectives on the rewrite.

Christine Danek said...

I really like the suggestions. Great job to the writer, Christina and Stina. It's interesting to see different opinions.
THanks.

Jen Daiker said...

I loved the suggestions. I prefer Stina's rewrite purely because the name Adam isn't used as frequently. I felt like I heard his name far too often and their was no distinct description to let me know who he was.

Regardless I think it's headed places!

mshatch said...

Great suggestions. I can't decide which re-write I like better; they're both good, but I did like the addition of the light. Like Sarah said it gave a bit of description so that we (the reader) could begin to get a picture of the place Adam is in.

Matthew MacNish said...

It's tough to judge this piece, because it's really missing a lot that normal openings use to connect a reader to the story and character, to ground them in the scene, but, depending on what happens in the next few pages, it could work fine.

As it is it's very vague (this could be any kind of room, and almost any kind of situation), but I get the feeling that's done on purpose, and that there might be something broader going on here than what one might initially think.

I will say that certain clues, like FROZEN asleep, sentence, and escape make me, personally, picture some kind of mental hospital or low security prison, and if that's true I think you're missing out on a great opportunity to set the scene here.

Even though this is told from a third person's perspective, it would help to draw me in if I knew what Adam's senses were experiencing. Is the room warm? Cold? Do sounds echo, or are they dampened by padded walls?

You don't need tons of detailed description, but even a little word here or there can pull the reader into the scene.

Oh and I don't mind the repeated Adam. Yes the second instance could be a pronoun, but I get the feeling the name is being repeated on purpose, for subtle, subliminal, thematic reasons.

ali said...

What a neat segment for you to do. Loved seeing the different perspectives!