We’ve been critiquing first paragraphs of my loyal blog readers for the past week. Today, it’s Cate’s turn to be critiqued. Following a suggestion today by Camille, I think I’ll give you all a shot at critiquing Cate first. We’ll get to that in just a minute. First, I’ll respond to a few comments from today:
There was a question about Dale’s paragraph, which I critiqued yesterday. Some asked whether his use of the Rule of Three was a little lopsided, since the last sentence actually had a different form. Actually, that’s typical with the Rule of Three–the third time is different. This is true in fairy tales and jokes and many other situations. (Think of any fairy tale with three sons, where the youngest one gets the princess. Or think about those three nuns that went into a bar, and consider which one gets the punch line.) As the old cliche says, the third time’s the charm.
So I think Dale’s paragraph is fine just as it stands. Dale actually asked whether he shouldn’t explain just a little bit more, as follows:
“His first thought was that nothing had changed since he ran away.”
Randy sez: I vote against this idea. Now we’ve lost that big hairy “WHY?” that hangs over the whole first paragraph and impels us to read on. Don’t tell us! Make us wait!
One thing I like about Dale’s first paragraph is that we KNOW that something is about to change, just by the fact that Dale is saying so clearly that nothing has changed in the last year. The fact that he’s choosing to focus on the sameness is a signal to any intelligent reader that the sameness is ripe for a change, pronto.
Once again, good job, Dale.
Now we’ll move to Cate’s paragraph. Her first paragraph is:
They came for me on the fifth night of the hospital stay, when my arm had started to heal and I was restless to get back to my guardian, Luc. I cursed the rock, in my sleep, that had brought me down in the fields, brought the thirty lashes on both me and Luc, left him bloody and unconscious and me just alive enough to watch. Was he alive, was he dead? They wouldn’t tell me.
Want to play? Post your critique here. I’ll post mine tomorrow and then you can see how close you came to mine.