I’m back with my thoughts on the page posted earlier in the day.
One of the most important skills every writer must master is also one of the most elusive: trusting their own talent.
It sounds so easy! But lo, there are many threats to the ego lurking throughout the writing process, and it is easy to start doubting oneself, not to mention when one hears repeatedly about the necessity of grabbing the attention of a possibly distracted reader/agent. And perhaps the biggest symptom of writerly self-mistrust is trying just a bit too hard.
I think there’s a whole lot to like about this page – there’s good description and the beginnings of a good flow, but there are parts that just feel like they’re just a tad over the top and seem a like an attempt to leap out and shake the reader by the shoulders. To me, the opening tries to cram the plot into a pithy two-liner, and there are touches that feel writerly and sound okay on the surface, but don’t quite bear scrutiny.
So, for instance, it sounds okay to say that someone stood for what could have been five minutes or five hours. But does that really make sense? Would someone really not know whether it was five minutes or five hours barring some sort of unconsciousness situation?
And it sounds okay for someone that someone “barely notices” some very specific detail and it carries a feeling of a certain aloofness. But can really you “barely” notice something very specific? Aren’t you, well, just plain noticing?
This author can definitely write! All that’s needed is stripping away the accoutrement, and this page really sings.
Author’s page (with my subtractions/comments highlighted in red):
Being murdered once was bad enough. Three times in a row was pushing on the ridiculous. While I know some like this type of opening, it didn’t quite work for me. The “annoyed at getting murdered yet again” sentiment feels forced.
Standing at the end of a long corridor, Nafrini just stood and stared at the massive wooden double doors, nearly ten feet in height and inscribed with glyphs. The path, or rather river, Is it a path or is it a river? to the “afterlife” why is this in quotes? lay on the other side. She just stood there and glared at the doors already said she’s staring at the doors, listening to nothing but the drip… drip… drip… of water leaking from the fabric of her clothes and the strands of her hair. She might have been there for what could have been five minutes or five hours she really can’t tell if it was five minutes or five hours? before reaching out to the gold inlaid handle and jerked the wide, massive door aside.
That’s it! I havehad it! The sound of her stomps across the warm colored polished stone floor might have had a sense of purpose to it, had it not been for the apparent not sure “apparent” is needed squish that came with each step. She passed through was she had termed “the waiting room”, barely noticing how does one barely notice? that the men and women lounging in comfort seemed to have halted their conversations at her arrival. As her anger peaked, whether at their reluctance to greet her or by the situation in general this explanation feels awkward to me and non-specific. What exactly is the “situation in general?, she pulled her heavy over-shirt over repetition of “over” a tad awkward her head and threw it to the ground, which landed with a satisfying SPLAT! not sure the capitalization/italicization is necessary Without a backwards glance in the others’ direction, she passed through to the entrance to the river of the dead. It would take her to those think “the ones” would read better who would choose her fate.
My suggested result:
Standing at the end of a long corridor, Nafrini stood and stared at the massive wooden double doors, nearly ten feet in height and inscribed with glyphs. The river to the afterlife lay on the other side. She listened to nothing but the drip… drip… drip… of water leaking from the fabric of her clothes and the strands of her hair. She reached out to the gold inlaid handle and jerked the wide, massive door aside.
The sound of her stomps across the warm colored polished stone floor might have had a sense of purpose had it not been for the wet squish that came with each step. She passed through the waiting room, noting that the men and women lounging in comfort had halted their conversations at her arrival. As her anger peaked, she pulled off her heavy over-shirt and threw it to the ground, which landed with a satisfying splat. Without a backwards glance she passed through to the entrance to the river of the dead. It would take her to the ones who would choose her fate.
My end result still feels a little distant from this characters’ perspective, some more flavor probably needs to be woven back in, and I think we can have more natural insight into what she’s feeling. But without the extra touches, the focus is much more on the scene itself, which has a sense of mystery and purpose.
This author can definitely write! The scene is interesting of its own accord without the extra touches. Sometimes it’s best to place your trust in yourself and your reader and just let the scene unfold.