Friday, April 2, 2010

First Page Blogfest

I am getting addicted to blogfests.  These are just so much fun! I love participating myself, and reading what everyone else has done.  Thanks to Kelly Lyman for hosting this one.

Since I have already posted my first page several times, I am going to try something different.  I am going to post my old first page  This was the opening of book until about a year ago when I came up with the whole nightstalker-in-the-snow thing.  I'm thinking of cutting out the new chapters I've added at the beginning of the story, and going back (or rather, forward) to this one.

So, tell me what you think, please.  Especially if you are familiar with the newer version.  Thank you!

Long ago, when the mountains were taller and the seas younger, there lived a race of people who were smaller than humans, less magical than elves, and not at all like dwarves. For one thing, their menfolk (called hamen) had no beards, and for another, they loathed being underground. All they knew for sure about themselves was that they were Hanorja, and that their ancestors had come over the mountains in ages past. 

Chapter 1

A new moon hung low over the shoulders of the mountains as two hamen sat huddled at the base of a rocky slop.  They had drawn themselves up to a dark fire, which gave off heat but no smoke and only a little, purplish light.  One was taller and broader of shoulder; he stared into the fire with his head bowed, as if a great weight were upon him. The other was shorter, leaner and had propped his back against a rock with a quiet watchfulness, mouthing an unlit pipe.  He was Faldur, a captain of the King’s Rangers that patrolled the mountain border.  His tall companion was Melbrinor, eldest son of King Elmoran and the captain’s closest friend. 

They had been following a regional protector called Chalmeth, whom they suspected of plotting against the King.  His trail led them to Blackpool, an opening in the rocks into which a waterfall poured with thundering force, then disappeared into the earth.  Chalmeth’s trail stopped at the edge of the pool; it was as if he had vanished along with the water.  There was a cave behind the falls, but there was no way to reach it and no other entrance anywhere among the rocks. They had assured themselves of this after a long, discouraging day combing the mountainside.  At nightfall they made their camp a short distance away, sheltered by a stand of aspens that sighed and rattled their branches in the chill wind.  The sound of the water was not so deafening here, though it still mocked them.

“He can’t have possibly entered that cave, so where is he?” asked Mel in a low voice.  

Faldur stretched his well-worn boots to the fire.  The soles needed mending; he could feel hot spots on the bottom of his feet. “Perhaps he sprouted wings and flew away.”

"Perhaps he fell in."

Faldur chuckled grimly.  "We wouldn't be that lucky."


  1. I know that the scene opens in omniscient point of view, then narrows to just Faldur's pov. I did that deliberately after much consideration of how to introduce these characters, and comparison with similar published books.

    I think it will be invisible to most readers, and that it's effective, although it will probably annoy the heck out of other writers, who are ultra-sensitive to pov shifts.

  2. This is a very vivid world you've created here. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done!

  3. I liked the starting large, then narrowing the focus. Effective way of giving a bit of setting, weaving in relevant back story, and then introducing the MC.

    The middle of chapter one's first paragraph reads a bit choppy. The passive description, then naming them and the rank, didn't flow well. I'd like to see it start with Faldur, and his full description, and then to Melbinor.

    The other place the mood is broken is with: They had been following a regional protector called Chalmeth, whom they suspected of plotting against the King. Maybe just say: They had been following regional protector Chalmeth; whom . .

    Your dialogue here is excellent. Very strong; really sets the characters up as soldiers.

    This is much more descriptive than the one that starts out with the hunt. Or was that one a chapter beginning?

    I really enjoyed this beginning. Its active, even with them resting by the fire; sets up the plot, MC's and the antagonist; and reveals setting. Well done.


  4. I really enjoyed this, Christine. I'm intrigued with the fantasy world you created. Great job!

  5. Your first page has a mystical feel that swept the still-living child in me enthralled. I like the humor to the dialogue as well. It is obvious you have continued to hone your craft.

    I fear that I have come in too late to join the fun. But I tried anyway. Perhaps I squeaked in. Good luck with being published, Roland

  6. Love the descriptions- very vivid. I also like the humor throughout the dialogue. Great job. Thanks for participating!

  7. Really good job of creating the tone and mood of the piece. Very descriptive and evocative.

  8. Hi Christine
    How nice of you to invite us all over :)
    This speedy re-edit is one stage from truly dire and I offer the same advice that was given to me - always try to say everything you need in the fewest number of words (punctuation optional ;) )

    A new moon hung on the shoulder of the mountains as flickering firelight cast a purple stain across the frown of Faldur, captain of the King’s Rangers, who huddled to its meagre heat.

  9. As a whole I enjoyed this. You're very descriptive and you've done a great job creating their world. I'm not sure I'd be hooked as the first page. But, that is largely due to this being a genre I don't read either ;) I love your writing.

  10. I really liked this line: "and not at all like dwarves." That got me. It told me that all the usual genre stuff may not apply.

    I liked the description and I liked the image of these two sitting and talking. My only critique is that because hamen is a new word to us mortal readers, starting off with character names might be easier to bring us into the world. Does that make sense? I can relate to Mel and Faldur, but hamen catches me up.

  11. Thanks you for the comments, everyone.

    Sierra, you have no idea how many times the word "men" is used in a story until you aren't allowed to use it! It catches me up, too. I truly feel for Tolkein now with his "gentlehobbits," "hobbit lads" and "hobbit lasses."

    Roland, you're not too late at all! Thank you for coming over.

  12. "Thanks you." Sheesh. Yes, the dogs woke me at 6:30 and I haven't had my coffee yet.

  13. Thanks for you perceptive comments, Christine. You're spot on for the mood for which I was aiming, for I call my genre "Noir Fantasy" as in the movie, DARK CITY.

    I found myself adrift on the streets of New Orleans for a time after Katrina, experiencing the horrors firsthand. Sadly, the drama I described in my first page was all too real.

    Have a healing weekend, Roland

  14. Great descriptions! Interesting world you created.

  15. Love the descriptions! Can't wait to read more. :)

  16. Hehe. I like these two characters. I was left wanting more, great job!

    Don't forget to sign up for Last Line Blogfest! (details on my site.)

  17. Thanks, Lilah! I can't resist another blogfest. I'll have to check yours out.

  18. How much more of your novel do you think you have left? And remember the last line doesn't have to be the very last line of a novel. It can be the last line of a chapter or scene, too. I have yet to finish my novel so my own entry will just be a scene. :) You'll do great and thanks for the participation!

  19. Hi Lilah! Technically, if you look at my revision meter over there on the left side of the page, I have about 55,000 words still to revise. So, um, yeah. I might not get that much done in three weeks. LOL!

    At least not unless I stop blogging, and quit my day job.

  20. The hunt version started with more action, but left me wondering who these characters were. This version, while slower does give a hint that these are not humans. I like the contrast to dwarfs.

    Two points. You introduced "dark fire" and described it, but you didn't explain any of the how or why. Is it magical, some special kind of wood, or just one of the kinds of fire in your world? As for why, I figured out later it was so that they would not be seen, but it might be worth adding a couple words to foreshadow that not only are they hunting, they don't want to be found.

    The part with the cave seems off. Now maybe I'm wrong but of corse he found a way to get to the cave. The question is, how do people know there is a cave if no one can get to it? Can they see it through the waterfall in the darkness? If there a path that ends? If so, the question isn't if he went that way but how. Since you've already introduced magic, it that is the assumption behind dark fire, and it seems to be common, since they could just as easily get in their sleeping bags (or blankets) and have not fire, so would it be unreasonable for them to wonder if the protector had obtained some sort of magic that would allow him to pass through the falls. And might that wondering at the use of powerful magic concern them?

    Of the two, I think I like this one better.

  21. Hey, Doug. Once again, a good catch. Originally I had said "They could see a cave behind the falls..."

    In the next couple of paragraphs, you learn more about the magic and how it works in this setting.

  22. This is different than the one I read previously, and, if memory serves, more evocative, IMO. I get a sense of the voice pretty quickly -- more old school storytellerish. It might be a bit slower paced, but I doubt you want readers who are gonna jump ship after a first sentence/paragraph anyway.

  23. Yes, Bane, it is different. It's funny, because I wrote the other one to put more action into it, because that's what I thought readers wanted. But this one seems to be getting better responses.

    So I basically wasted most of the past year writing and re-writing the first three chapters. 'Cuz if I make this the beginning, those get cut. Currently, this scene (edited a little differently) is the beginning of Chapter 4.

    Pass the whiskey. I need a drink.

  24. P.S. I was under the impression that the "old school storytellerish" was out of vogue and no one would like this. So now I'm just really confused!


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