Saturday, October 16, 2010

First 250 Word Blogfest

In my aimless Saturday morning surfing, I came across Elle Strausse's First 250 Word Blogfest and foolishly decided to sign up.

I have revised my first page so many times that I don't have a clue whether it's good, bad or indifferent. I don't recognize my own story any more. It's like a child that has run off to college and become someone completely different. Most writers don't feel that way until after their book is published. Or perhaps I'm the one who has changed.

But, anyway, for what it's worth... here it is. Please let me know if it's too boring.

Moonlight cast blue shadows on the snow, turning the great drifts that stretched across the parkland into waves in a silent sea. Crikhaven Castle rose like a battered island from the whiteness. A decade of impoverished neglect had left its mark on the ancient walls. The brightly painted stucco depicting the Chalmeth family history was faded and flaking off. The carved ravens and gryphons adorning the rooftops had been worn smooth by the elements and not replaced. Now they were buried beneath a white mantle so thick that only an occasional head or wing protruded.

However, the windows were bright with candlelight and smoke billowed from the chimneys. Friendly voices called out in greeting as carriages and lone riders arrived one after another. It was Midwinter’s Eve, the one night of the year when it was not only permitted but expected to eat much, drink more, and dance with every hawin in the room: pretty or ugly, young or old. Tonight was a night for celebration. A night to prove you were alive.

Captain Faldur Relaszen observed the occasion by sitting in a fir tree overlooking Crikhaven’s courtyard. His light gray Ranger’s cloak was drawn tightly against the cold. He felt like an oversized owl, sitting perfectly still behind the sheltering boughs. From his perch he watched each guest arrive, taking careful note of their faces, families, attendants, and liveries. He wished he could be among them. Not to join the feast, but to hear the furtive conversation of the...


  1. I really like your descriptions, but theres seems an awful lot her which made my mind kindof side track from the story.

  2. Love your style of writing. I just feel someone should be affected by it. I would read more though.

    I missed this blogfest. Maybe next time.

  3. Yes there's some lovely description there, just waiting for the action to begin now.

  4. I loved the first paragraph of description-- it was beautiful. The second paragraph tempted me to skim, though. I want a person to connect with, and something to happen. I think maybe just condensing the first two paragraphs would help. Very beautiful writing, though! Nice job.

  5. I loved your opening, very lyrical and immediately drops us into setting. My favorite line "he felt like an over-sized owl". I want to know more about this character and what's going to happen at the dance. I'd definitely read on.

  6. Hi,

    Well, I love reading old books (literary masterpieces), ones that don't gallop off with streams of dialogue cascading in fountains of conversation and little sense of place as so common in present day *easy read* novels.

    For me this was perfection: beautiful description, sense of time and place, and air of foreboding . . . I'm hoping the Captain hasn't just fallen out of the tree, and that he's overhearing something of great interest: perhaps riders below! :o


  7. I LOVE that first line. I generally love your descriptions :)

  8. I disagree with some others. As writers I think we have all been fooled into thinking that we must hit everyone over the head immediately, otherwise, what we have written couldn't possibly be of any consequence. Please don't change the opening. Agents want to get zinged in paragraph one because they don't want to take the time and unfortunately, that is being reflected in some of the shlock out there being published. Your style is lovely, your pacing is great and I was totally interested. Maybe it's my age. I'm not in a hurry to get knocked over the head, as long as you're keeping me intereste with what you're saying. I woulnd't want to read you if you sounded like everyone else. Keep your style.

  9. Thank you all, for your input and kind comments.

    Summer and Shallee, I hear what you are saying and I've really struggled over it. The problem is that if I jump right into the action, my readers come back with "Well, this was really exciting but I have no idea at all what is going on or who these people are. I'm totally confused. Can you please explain?" So I tried to do a little setup first but still keep it kind of interesting.

    This is why I am eternally rewriting. If you want to see an earlier version, look here: First Scene Rewrite.The criticism of that version (from a professional editor) was that although it was exciting, it had nothing to do with the main plot. So I had to create something that introduced the central conflict (Faldur vs. Chalmeth) right away.

    Francine, I think you are my "target audience!"

  10. Thanks Wendy ~ we were posting concurrently! I really appreciate your perspective.

    Sometimes I wonder if we don't have a sort of literary ADHD as a society, that makes us too impatient for a story to begin, probably due to the popularity of movies, which have definitely shortened even my own attention span, I've noticed.

  11. I liked the way this starts with the castle, focuses in on the gayla festivities inside, and then moves outward a little with the introduction of the main character.

    Normally I'd say that bit of sideways movement too much like taking a step back, but since the prior paragraph mentioned the movement in and out of the courtyard, it worked well form me.

    I'm not a reader who needs a lot of action, or even a character, to be the focus of an initial scene. By introducing the castle and its long history, it gives me a sense of connection to the setting. I expect the castle to play an essential role in the coming story.

    Like Camelot, or Helms Deep, or even Hogwarts; the "place" is an important character for its impact on characters.

    Anyway, this worked well for me, as an epic fantasy reader. I need setting AND character connection before I get involved in too much action.

    Good job Christine.


  12. Your writing is simply beautiful. I got lost both in the cold snow and with the Captain viewing the celebration going on on the other side of the windows lit by candlelight. Completely intrigued by your setting and wondering why the Captain is sitting in a fir tree watching, I would definitely turn the page. :D

  13. Hi Christine, I really enjoyed reading this. Have to say, your opening spiel in your blog was pretty entertaining too, had me hooked even before I started reading your story ;)


  14. Oh Rachel, welcome! If you had any idea how many times I've "quit" this stupid book and started it again, you wouldn't believe it. I stop writing for months at a time and then somehow get draaaaaged back in to the story.

    I think these characters must somehow *actually* live in another dimension because they won't leave me alone.

  15. That's the best kind of writing, I think, when your characters come to life and bug you! Well done though for persevering - the finished product will be so much the better for it :)



I apologize for the word verification. I hate it, but the spammers made me do it.