You’re listening to Ink and Sage, a tiny podcast for writers. Reading and reacting to first lines and paragraphs sent in by lovely writing folk – just like you. My name is Sage, let’s get into the Ink.
Hi folks, before we start the episode, I just have a little bit of housekeeping to take care of.
First, I’m sorry that this episode is a couple of days late. I had a book launch, and then I was dealing with bureaucratic nonsense, and there have been a lot of changes for everyone because of what’s going on in the world at the moment. I think I have a handle on things now. I want to thank you for your patience, and although I can’t promise that it’ll never happen again, I will do my best to stay on schedule in future. If anything happens and I can’t make an announcement on the show, there’ll definitely be one on Twitter so please follow @inkandsagepod there so you don’t miss anything!
Second, transcripts and show notes, such as they are, are now available on my website www.sgdwrites.com under the podcast tab. You can also find information about the podcast, submission guidelines, and FAQs there.
On with the show. As ever, I’m not an expert, my intention is to be positive and helpful, and my opinions do not reflect the author’s worth as people or as writers. Please ensure adequate sodium intake with this podcast.
by Alinda Blank
This is a bad idea, a very bad idea. Steve should have just stayed at his dad’s place. What if he never left this town again in his life? That wouldn’t be so bad. He had lived most of his twenty-one years in this town. Growing up here had been fun. Losing his mom had been hard. Falling in love had been easy. Getting out of bed again after had been hard. It is still hard. Every morning is a struggle. His dad is supportive. He knows how Steve is feeling. So Steve had listened to him when he had said it might be a good idea to go back to the place where it all happened. That it would help him move on. And that is how Steve ends up on the side of the road, only meters from the bridge. He feels heavy and tightness controls his chest. His hands rub over his steering wheel. Maybe he should just turn around. He blows his cheeks, pushes the air back out, over and over again. He shouldn’t be here. This is not going to help. He should just go back.
I like the idea of this but I’m sorry to say that I’m having trouble with the execution. There’s a lot of emotion behind it and it starts off well, but I feel like there’s a lot that’s holding this opening back. I think it’s getting lost in overwriting – something that I’m extremely guilty of, myself. If we were to pare it down, make it a little leaner, the emotion would really shine.
There’s a LOT of thinking happening here. In fact, it takes seventeen sentences before we get to the first real bit of action. But we only get one sentence of action that’s immediately followed by another bit of thinking. All of that thinking slows the story down. And there’s some exposition in the middle that I’m really not sure we need this early. In fact, this paragraph is twenty-two sentences long and at the end of it nothing has really happened.
Now, I am being a little bit unfair here because Alinda actually only submitted the first three sentences. I went to read the rest of the story on her blog (link in the show notes) and saw that the first paragraph went on past what she had submitted so I pulled that in here.
The first three sentences by themselves are good, so what I would do is keep them and then go straight from “What if he never left this town in his life?” into “His hands rub over the steering wheel.” keeping the backstory to be drip fed later.
There is so much potential in this, Alinda, and I’m so grateful to you for sending it in.
THE QUANTUM CURATORS AND THE FABERGE EGG
by Eva St. John
‘Has she chucked the bloody thing in the lake yet?’
My earpiece hissed, ‘No, hang on. Oh, you are not going to like this.’ Clio started sniggering, ‘Some of our intel may be wrong.’
I didn’t need to be able to see Clio to know that her eyes were rolling. ‘Patchy intel’ was our stock in trade. Especially the further back in time we had to go. Seventh century Britain was about as patchy as it got. It was a wonder sometimes that a culture could collapse in on itself. One minute, Roman rules, the next, hello dark ages. And not so much dark as, you used to have underfloor heating, how the hell could you let that go?
This feels like a bit of an Indiana Jones action-adventure thing. There’s a good amount of info, the earpiece, intel, etc. to clue us in to this being some sort of operation. The mention of seventh century Britain makes me think they’re time agents or something similar, which is intriguing. There’s some wit, or at least a sense of comic phrasing, as well.
What’s making this difficult for me is the dialogue. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong in opening with dialogue – it can be a great way to drop the reader into the story without a lot of preamble. But something about the way this dialogue is broken up makes it difficult to parse. I had to read it a couple of times to understand who was talking when.
There also isn’t much of a sense of our nameless protagonist. Clio sniggers and, even if only in our protagonist’s imagination, also rolls her eyes which makes her seem either snarky or melodramatic.
Overall, I like this but I do wonder if it could be written in such a way that the dialogue and the personalities of the speakers were clearer.
Thanks for sending that in, Eva, and I hope to hear more about this project soon!
I’m running very low on submissions now, so if you like this podcast and want it to continue please send in your opening paragraphs and encourage your writing friends to do the same. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and remember to include the title and your name or pen name – or let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.
That’s all for today. Thanks for listening and until the next episode, happy writing!