You submit your first 250 words, and snooping agents/other submitting authors/blog followers etc. leave you a critique. An agent reads through the submissions and makes their selections. They then read the whole MS of the ones they have chosen.
So... imagine my horror when I realised that the auto correct and code on the submission form had ruined my selection!
My 250 words should have looked like this:
Yes, dear reader, I know that is not the introduction to this historical text that you were expecting. The truth is, I’m not happy about having to copy this one out at all. In fact, I fully intend to illuminate a giant penis in the margin halfway through.
Like this text’s hero Zachary and his nemesis, I am of the race of Donwights. I too am the mortal descendant of fallen angels. I have the potential for greatness, like our renowned hero, or infinite darkness and corruption, like his insane foe. Yet all I do is copy out their stories and never leave these wretched walls. After this copy is finally done with, this scribe is going to have fun.
This is the beginninnng o----______________________
Nicodemus, wake up! You are Chosen.
You passed out in the middle of the sentence you were writing, and I see you have trailed ink all over your vellum page. You also spelt 'beginning' incorrectly. I trust that since you are a scribe by occupation you will record this vision better than that.
Look down - do you see yourself? Your hand is writing of its own accord.
Yes, really. Your body is seated there recording everything you see and hear, while you - your soul, Nicodemus - is with Me, hovering above your desk and quill, your shelves of books, your gold leaf and coloured inks, the fluttering stray pages lying in the unswept corners...
However, the autocorrect thought that "beginning" should be spelt correctly, and that the underscores were a mistake. So it doesn't really make a lot of sense.
I've got some mixed reviews, from:
The unexpectedness of the beginning grabs the attention brilliantly. I love the conflict which has developed in just a few paragraphs.
Yeah, I had to read this one a couple of times, and I'm not sure if I like it or hate it. It's definitely a different approach. I'm just not sure from this first 250 what's happening, and who is narrating.
I may be a little biased, since I've journeyed with good ole Nic to far away places, and seen many incredible sights through his writings, (which I truly feel should be on the big screen, I enjoyed so much) but to try to get an idea of the tale in 2 or 3 paragraphs is like trying to become a nuclear physicist by studying Betty Crocker...Long Live Nicodemus!
The first couple of paragraphs seem like a forward or prologue and I'm not sure that moves the story forward. Otherwise, interesting premise. I'd start it with "Nicodemus".
The conclusion so far - this is a marmite story. You either love it, or you hate it. You may have to try it a few times to make sure.
Those who love it really seem to love it. Those who don't just leave it alone in confusion, but, having had a look at my comments again, I've realised that the vast majority of my beta readers' comments are in the "positive" category.
Attitudes to Story Construction
So, using my own work as a case study of story construction, it seems that what people want to read is, as ever, all about personal taste. One person (one of my more unsuccessful attempts at securing a beta reader) said they had to skip over the gory parts, and that the multiple story lines were confusing.
Another said they had no problem following it at all, and that they had no issues with the narration.
The fact is, people just have different tastes!
I once read a customer review of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl which said the plot dragged when focused on the fairies, and they would have preferred more on the title character. Beneath this was another customer review which said the fairies were the best part of the book, and the plot dragged when focused on Artemis Fowl.
The most recent customer reviews of the book - the reprint - also vary widely. The majority of the reviews are 4 and 5 stars, but the vehemence of the few that dislike it is quite stark in comparison.
The fact is, no matter what you write, someone will hate what the next person loves. Ultimately, every reader has their own decision to make. And so they should! Long live diversity of opinion!
What Happens Now?
>> But what about the ideas we have in the first place?
>> Where do they come from?
>> What do you do with them when you have them?
How do you go about getting the idea into a story, and the story into the finished product?