Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 6 months ago

Books and Authors, how is the (updated) opening of my novel?

I've posted this before, and many of you gave really insightful answers, so thank you for that (for clarification, this https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20181... is the one). I went back and edited it some more, and I was wondering if this is any better. Thank you for all of your feedback!

“They’ve come back?” Dio stroked away the spillage of gruel dribbling down his already greying beard. “Who are they going to conscript now? The elderly? Or even better yet, the women!”

“The children,” his wife replied, her speech soft and discreet, peering through the louvers of their darkening window shutters.

The remark produced a great guffaw from the man, disgorging his mouthful upon the table before him and back upon his beard, and which continued despite his wife’s sharp and irate insistence for silence. “An army of lions they’ll be, no doubt about that!” he quipped thereafter, wiping away the flakes on his mouth with the back of his hand and emptying the ale within his cup in a single draft.

“I’ve heard it. They picked up new conscripts from the next village over, and now they’re here. They took Ida’s son, and he has not yet passed out of his tenth year.”

Dio paused. At length he released a heavy sigh, pushing away the bowl in front of him and falling back into his chair. “And why should we care?” he asked, his speech now soft and monotone, as if subdued by some powerful memory. “Our son is gone. They saw to that.”

Update:

“You foolish, stubborn man!” she said sharply, spinning around with clenched fists and a flushed face. “They ended the service exemption for veterans as well. Don’t you understand? Didn’t you serve under Caulidius?”

Dio frowned. “His father. Caulidius was just a boy, shy of manhood by only a few years but still under the instruction of his tutor. Anyway, it’s of no consequence. I was only in charge of a gen. Hardly at the top of the officer corps.”

Update 2:

“It doesn’t matter,” she said firmly, “you are one of the few remaining veterans in this countryside who is still living. They’ve robbed every family in our village of their progeny and now they come back to take away those who have already fulfilled their duty.”

Update 3:

Dio bolted upright from his chair, sending it to the ground with a crashing thud. “Insolent woman! Robbed? Robbed? I ought to have you beaten! Speak of my service as you wish, but do not again speak as if you know the trials our son endured! He–!” Dios’ bellowing lecture was cut short by a shrill and discordant sound calling from the front of their house.

“Its them,” she whispered, taking a last glance before fleeing the kitchen.

8 Answers

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  • 6 months ago

    Too much description. Less is more. Read some Hemingway.

  • 6 months ago

    I stopped at ... "quipped thereafter". So many otherwise promising works are ruined by the author trying to be too clever.

  • Tina
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    What is the point of this scene? At the beginning the wife is apparently concerned that children are being taken to serve in the army.

    (Why are they being taken by the way? Dio is quite right. They wouldn't be much use.

    "They took Ida’s son, and he has not yet passed out of his tenth year." - by the way, why not "And he's only ten."

    So what use are ten year olds going to be, except as hostages?)

    Only then do you come to what is presumably the main point - that Dio will also be pressed in spite of? because of? being an ex-soldier. Why wouldn't this come first?

  • David
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    I would need to see the whole thing.

    https://www.wattpad.com/708063218-catch-a-falling-...

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  • 6 months ago

    The old adage is "show, don't tell." It's clear that you're trying to create ambiance, but the result is coming across heavy handed. Too much at once. Too much -ing and -ly. See if this reads easier to you:

    “They’ve come back?” Dio wiped away the gruel dribbling down his greying beard. “Who are they going to conscript now? The elderly? Or even better yet, the women!”

    “The children,” his wife whispered as she peered through the darkening window shutters.

    Her remark prompted a guffaw from the man, disgorging a mouthful of his dinner upon the table before him. His commotion continued despite his wife’s irate insistence for silence. “An army of lions they’ll be, no doubt about that!” he quipped, before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and emptying his ale in a single draft.

    “I’ve heard it. They picked up new conscripts from the next village over, and now they’re here. They took Ida’s son, and he has not yet passed out of his tenth year.”

    Dio paused. At length he released a heavy sigh, pushing away the bowl in front of him and falling back into his chair. “And why should we care?” he asked, his speech now soft and monotone, “Our son is gone. They saw to that.”

    “You foolish, stubborn man!” she said sharply. She spun around with clenched fists, her face flushed. “They ended the service exemption for veterans as well. Don’t you understand? Didn’t you serve under Caulidius?”

    Dio frowned. “His father. Caulidius was just a boy, shy of manhood by only a few years but still under the instruction of his tutor. Anyway, it’s of no consequence. I was only in charge of a gen. Hardly at the top of the officer corps.”

    “It doesn’t matter,” she said firmly, “you are one of the few remaining veterans in this countryside who is still living. They’ve robbed every family in our village of their progeny and now they come back to take away those who have already fulfilled their duty.”

    Dio bolted upright from his chair, sending it to the ground with a crashing thud. “Insolent woman! Robbed? Robbed? I ought to have you beaten! Speak of my service as you wish, but do not again speak as if you know the trials our son endured! He–!” Dios’ bellowing lecture was cut short by a shrill and discordant sound calling from the front of their house.

    “Its them,” she whispered, taking a last glance before fleeing the kitchen.

  • Marli
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    Ms. Bittner is right. You have so many descriptors that they are like the gruel. They clog the mind and the plot. Spillage and dribbling. Soft and discreet (why discreet? It is not the same as low. Check the dictionary. A person is discreet about what she says, not how she says it.)

    IMO you shouldn't stress Dio's repulsive eating habits more than once. It made me retch. He already has gruel dribbling down his beard (and he's stroking it). He does not need to belch out another load.

    Why is Dio's wife not named? Is she supposed to be a nonperson, like Offred in The Handmaid's Tale?

    It sounds like Dio is stupid, a madman or both. His wife meant the families and villages were robbed of their children.

  • 6 months ago

    I'm about to leave the house--no time for proper critique--but I see too many adverbs tagging the dialogue, which is a weakness. (sharply, firmly) You've also got speech peering through louvres and a mistake in punctuation in the last line.

  • 6 months ago

    it sounds good to rne

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