Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Looking at my poll.

Last week I did a poll to see which of my opening paragraphs people thought were the strongest. With 3 votes it was far from the most scientific poll on a completely subjective matter but I was still a little surprised by the results.

The most popular opening paragraph was for EARTH STRIKE with 2 votes. With that one I haven't done any rewriting yet, so that was the first thing I jotted down.

The second most popular was for PROJECT: SPARE RIB with 1 vote. I wrote that 2 years ago and although I spent more time revising the book than I did writing it, I didn't concentrate on the first paragraph like I have with my latter books.

Another interesting thing about the poll is that those two books featured a main character that has mental problems that I exposed right at the beginning.

In EARTH STRIKE, Sam is being told by everyone around him that he is a writer in 2011 which is why the flashes of the mid 22nd century are so vivid, but his invisible friend is telling him they are lying.

In PROJECT: SPARE RIB, Tom suffers from synesthetes and Asperger's syndrome and he stumbles on a conspiracy that covers over a hundred years and three major wars. Synesthetes is a strange disorder where a stimuli that triggers one sense will trigger other senses. So Tom sees colors when he smells things, tastes peoples voices and hears pain. He was a wild character to write and one of my favorites, however between having to write in Synesthetes terms and making someone with Asperger's (A syndrome that is characterized by lacking any social skills) likable while weaving in a hundred years of history the book turned into a mess beyond my skills to repair at this time.

Although I'm trying not to read to much into this poll, it did give me an idea of where to start when I rewrite MIND THIEF. The main character Howie is having a truly evil bastard deposit his memories into Howie's brain so he can take over Howie's body later. The beginning might be better if I show how that is messing with his head right at the beginning.

The paragraph I submitted to the contest wasn't one that anyone picked. I submitted the first paragraph for THE SETTING EARTH, that was the book that I wrote the quickest, 6 weeks from start to finish. It was totally a selfish book, I just wanted to write some great space imagery of Ceres the dwarf planet in the asteroid belt and put a interplanetary cold war around it as the setting. It was totally “the book I want to read” as opposed to anything else. I liked it so much that I want other people to read it so I spent as much time rewriting the very slow first chapter, I had 5 major characters to introduce, as I did writing the book. So I found it interesting that people picked the paragraphs I spent the least time on.

I want to thank everyone that voted. I really appreciate the feedback.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts


Stephanie Barr said...

You know, I know the agent/publishing world is all hot for first paragraphs, but I just don't get it.

I can't think of a single favorite book with a memorable first paragraph. I'm thinking it used to be a good book was more than a catchy beginning, that you could build your story at a good pace instead of trying to fling the reader headlong into excitement.

Hell, Hawaii's a favorite and I usually just skip the first eighty pages or so when I reread it.

Maybe that's why there are so few books I've liked in the past ten years.

Project Savior said...

I've just got to write a book that can go with this first paragraph:

'Twas the night before the best of times 'Twas the night before the worst of times, to just call me Ishmal in the fair city of Verona.

If I could do that I could have a paragraph that would catch attention.