Opening Paragraph 2.0

I posted this before in regard to the opening paragraph of my current Work-in-Progress (WIP), Captive Hope, and here’s what we started with:

The rhythm of her heart beat as steady as her soul. Idra’s life had changed over the course of the last year. Her innocence had been shattered by the greed of evil men, but she continued to be a quiet, steadfast force. If only she realized all of which she was capable.

Knowing this is weak/unclear, I asked for suggestions and thoughts while I also reworked the first section at the same time.

The character, Idra, is far more brave than she realizes. She doesn’t see anything she’s done in the past as courageous or even all that compassionate, but in Captive Hope she will learn all of which she is capable. Her trials will test her strength of courage and entwine with the hopeful redemption of another which is really where our title comes into play. 🙂

Here are some of the suggested changes to the above paragraph:


Tess suggested cutting the first line to start with the second. Already an improvement!


E. Rawls said to try this:

Her innocence had been shattered by the greed of evil men, but she continued to be a quiet, steadfast force. Idra’s life had changed dramatically over the course of the last year, yet the rhythm of her enduring heart beat as steady as her persevering soul. If only she could realize what all she was capable of, she might not have to suffer so.

Another improvement!


PhoenixGrey85 gave this improved rewrite:

Last year Idra’s innocence was shattered by the greed of evil men, but even so, she continued to be a quiet, steadfast force. If only she realized that she was capable of it.

Then she even offered up the compliment that while the first line didn’t fit with the rest that it was beautiful and might be worked in elsewhere? 🙂


IndianMacgyver offered up this as another great improvement as well!

Idra’s heart beat as steady as her soul. She continued to be a quiet, steadfast force. But her life had changed over the course of the last year. Her innocence had been shattered by the greed of evil men, if only she realized all of which she was capable.


Seriously, you all just make my job here that much more difficult with all your great suggestions based off the little bit of information I shared! I love having writing friends who want to help and encourage each other. SO VERY COOL.

In the meantime I’d also gone back to rewrite the entire first section of the story, hopefully cleaning it up well. This will actually be my third entirely different beginning to this book. My first wasn’t bad, but I don’t know if it honed in enough on Idra’s isolation.

I’m still not sure if it’s what I want, but the ideas you’ve all shared have been immensely helpful. 🙂

Here’s where I’m at,

She would forever feel like an outsider now. The past had changed her, its eye-opening work irrevocable. Idra had grown up accepting her idiosyncratic, shy demeanor, always with the impression she was different. She’d never before felt isolated because of it.

Now Caityn, her only true friend at High Castle, had a new life full of love, a husband, and a baby on the way. Idra couldn’t seem to relate to any of the other noble ladies, and few within the walls of the great city would ever comprehend the depth of Idra’s shattered, youthful innocence. The only one she thought could understand was too preoccupied to see it.

Idra held no resentment toward her cousin due to station or duty, but the lady-in-waiting longed for the simpler days, before the Beauty Thief had wreaked havoc upon their lives. Before she’d learned to fear the unknown darkness of the world.

But now I’ve read the suggestions, I have to rethink it all again. I should be feeling “ugh” about it, but I’m not. I’m happy to keep writing and writing. The beginning needs to fit the book, and so until it’s written right, I’ll keep writing. 🙂

So, let this be an encouragement to all you who aspire to write and write well. Don’t stop! Keep at it! Love your writing, but be willing to part with whatever can be improved upon. Listen to advice, but don’t be discouraged! Always remember, your friends want to encourage and help you. That’s what friends do!

Have a great Wednesday y’all!


27 thoughts on “Opening Paragraph 2.0

    1. Welcome. It’s kind of new to me, too. It’s similar to what writers can do on sites like Athonomy or Scribophile, but there you are not exposing your weaknesses to the entire world. Haha

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        1. I hope so. I don’t always react well to critique and by posting snippets of my WIP I hope to improve my thick skin as well as gain wonderful insight from others who have different strengths than me. 🙂 You are so kind and encouraging, Tess. I’m so thankful for you!

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      1. Firstly—and I’m still learning this— it feels like you’re telling not showing. Show us how she feels. Also, it is all in a passive voice. Make it active.
        Next, I feel like this whole thing, while solid in idea, could be condensed and intensified. Think of it like this:

        Idra felt (active verb) like an outsider now. Over the course of the past year, her innocence had been shattered by evil men’s greed. Still she continued to be a steadfast, quiet force despite her shy, idiosyncratic demeanor. She’d accepted it, but before now, never felt it isolating her.
        Now Caityn, her only true friend in High Castle, had a new life of love with a husband and a baby on the way. Idra held no resentment toward her cousin, but she longed for the simpler days before the Beauty Thief’s havoc had wrecked their lives. Now she couldn’t relate to any of the other noble ladies. Few within the walls of (INSERT CITY NAME) could understand what her shattered innocence had cost. And Caityn was too preoccupied to see it.
        Her soul beat as steady as her heart……

        Use less words to create more on an impact. Make us feel. In writing, often less is more. Have you ever seen some of those six word stories? I can think of one that is credited to Hemingway: Baby Shoes For Sale. Never Worn.
        Think of that type of impact.

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        1. I’ve heard many times that less is more, but while I appreciate the idea, I don’t always agree with it. In fact, while I understand the depth of that example, it’s definitely not one that resonates deeply with me. Someone might believe I’m a callous individual for saying that, but I process words much differently, I suppose. It’s beautiful and simple while still conveying an idea, but that’s all it does for me. 🙂 Very nice rewrite of my bit, though! I will say I try very hard to avoid the word felt when writing. Seriously, thank you, Nick! 🙂 You’re very helpful!

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  1. You are such an encouragement! Writing is a long road, but friends can help along the way. 🙂 I know when I am ready I will need much help and advice.

    Nice opening! I would maybe use a different word for “idiosyncratic,” just because young readers may not know what it means, so they might stumble over it and miss the pretty message in this opening piece.
    This part is a bit confusing: “She’d never before felt isolated because of it.” Maybe add “until now” at the end; it needs something more.
    In the second paragraph explain that Idra misses Caityn, the only person that used to understand her. It just needs to be a little clearer, that’s all, or maybe my brain isn’t thinking right. I don’t know. X)
    Nice last paragraph! “due to station” could be reworded, but I like the rest! 🙂

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    1. Thanks E.! I can’t go wrong with friends like you. 🙂 I was thinking on that word, too, but then I also want to open up the world of new words to young people. I’m writing with early teens in mind . . . would you say it is too much? Middle ground may be necessary. 🙂

      HAHA I did go back just a little while ago and add “until now” to that line. 🙂 We’ll chalk that one up to great minds think alike. 😉 I can also see what you’re saying about the clarity in the second paragraph. I’ll think on it some more. Due to station is just coming out altogether. Between you and Andrew, I am seeing the obviousness of the statement. It’s overkill with info. Right? 😉 Thanks so much for your feedback! I really appreciate it.

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      1. Aw, thanks! ^_^
        Hmm, maybe middle ground, at least for the opening chapter. Once you have drawn people in to keep reading the story, then add all the fun vocabulary you want. 😀 Learning new words is fun. 🙂
        Haha, awesome! Two peas in a pod think alike! (love that old saying).
        Yeah, maybe it’s all the info that’s bogging that part down. Just one idea at a time. 🙂
        Glad I could help out a bit! 😀

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      2. Rex Stout (one of my favorite authors) used to intentionally insert new words and definitions of words into his novels in order to expand people’s vocabulary. So I say leave it in, but make sure it makes sense where and when you use it.

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          1. Read one of his books and you’ll see what i mean. Actually, I also had a class about writing in undergrad and the whole time the professor said that we should write for the masses and I argued that we should write to raise up and educate the masses. It provided some heated discussions.

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  2. OK, I’ll trot out some suggestions, if I may. What you’ve got is compelling, but reading it aloud (to myself, and the dogs) I was tripping over a degree of formality. The changes are simply to make it flow better (for me!) with the exception of a more basic rewording in the 3rd pp, described below.

    She would forever feel like an outsider; she now realized that the past had irrevocably changed her. Idra had grown up knowing that her idiosyncracies, and her shy demeanor made her different, but she never realized that it had isolated her.

    Now Caityn, her only true friend at High Castle, had a new life full of love, a husband, and a baby on the way. Idra couldn’t relate to the other noble ladies, and few within the walls of the great city would ever comprehend the damage to Idra’s youthful innocence. The only one she thought could understand was too busy to see it.

    Idra held no resentment toward her cousin, but she longed for simpler days, before the Beauty Thief had wreaked havoc upon their live, and opened a door to the dreaded darkness of the wider world.

    (In the original 3rd pp, the repetition of the word ‘before’ seemed a bit of an artifice. I tried to find away to get a similar ‘chanting’ effect with sequential alliteration.)

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    1. Thanks, Andrew! 🙂 In your reworking I think some of the ideas have changed, but that is also helpful because it points out the fact that it wasn’t clear to begin with. Much appreciated and very nice! 🙂

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          1. You’re very welcome! nd I am quite impressed.

            For some reason, the ambience reminds me of William Barrett’s ‘biography’ of the wife of Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha), “The Lady Of The Lotus”. There’s something very congruent in the feeling I get from the characters and the setting, just from this small taste.

            And “Lady Of The Lotus” is one of my favourite books.

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