I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the Top Ten Movie Quotes Blogfest, my 200th Followers Q and A Competition, and those who gave me much needed feedback on the first line of my horror novel, The Devil’s Song. On Friday I will post the answers to half the questions you posed for the competition and announce two of the winners, and then repeat the process for the remaining questions and winners on Sunday.
Now back to the It Was A Dark and Stormy Blogfest. Whenever a writer asks for feedback they are laying themselves open to both positive and critical comments. You will note I did not say positive and negative comments. Why? I do not see criticism as a negative thing.
To have something you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in criticised is painful; you cannot get away from that fact. But it does not have to be a negative experience. Writers are a selfless group of individuals who will always give advice along with the criticism, and you should listen. These writers who you seek an opinion from may one day be your readers and, right now, many of them will have considerably more experience than you. They know what works and what doesn’t. They know what they want to read.
From the comments I received during the last two days, I was able to list the reasons why the reviewers felt the opening line did not work and also what about it was worth saving. The reasons were varied and included:
Too many adjectives and adverbs.
Clunky and purple prose.
Not enough of a hook.
Needing more tension and malevolence.
Overuse of ‘that’.
Good character name and imagery.
Use of crows a good foreshadowing device.
So, after careful consideration, I rewrote the opening line:
Morwenna was not sure which had awoken her, the noise of her notebook dropping to the floor or the incessant cacophony of the crows surrounding the cottage.
But I was still unhappy with it. I wanted an opening line with more of a hook. So, I decided to cut the second and third paragraphs from the prologue and go straight to the point where the reader learns what evil force the crows are foreshadowing:
Morwenna covered her ears in a futile attempt to block out the noise of the murderous chorus of crows surrounding the cottage. She knew their incessant cries were a warning – Lucian King was back.
Okay. Neither of these lines (two in the second re-write) have yet convinced me they are worthy openers but I hope I am on the right path. I would be very grateful to learn whether you think either of these is an improvement on the first.