Writers/Readers: Would you read the rest based on this opening?

The half-empty house was called Elm Cottage. There was not an Elm tree in sight. Two old, gnarled and twisted oak trees stood on either side of the flag stone path leading from the sea green kissing gate towards the duck egg blue front door. Frost formed spiky patterns on the cobwebs hanging from the window panes and a fresh layer of thin snow coated the grass and dusted the tops of trees; it looked as though aHuge invisible hand had sprinkled the earth with icing sugar. Glittering menacingly, in the early morning light, ice covered the road in front of the house as well as the flagstone path and the step by the front door.
Everything about the cottage screamed feminine and dull to Matthew James.
It was just under 3 weeks until Christmas. Matt had to remind himself that it was the same date in Afghanistan, despite the heat, blood and bullets. He wondered how many of his old friends, still fighting whilst he was stuck by the seaside feeling useless, would be blown to pieces on the Lord’s birthday. The thought didn’t do much to persuade his atheist nature. He wondered how many more had already been killed or injured. At least Matt still had a dim awareness of what they were fighting for; at least Matt still vaguely had knowledge what freedom was. The rest of them wanted only to escape as he had done, but Matt didn’t see it as an escape – he saw it as an exile. Whilst his friends had dreamt of home, of their families, friends, wives, husbands, children, boyfriends and girlfriends, Matt dreamt of the war. Not of an end to it, but the war itself – the fighting, the strategies. It was not that he liked any of it; on the contrary, he hated the fact that he was a killer, but he understood too well that it was his only way out.

6 Comments on “Writers/Readers: Would you read the rest based on this opening?

  1. Yes I would. U have quite the talent for the narrative. Sounds like you have an interesting story line there. Keep up the good work. Good luck with it

  2. I’m afraid not. The paragraphs are too large, too intimidating.

  3. Elm Cottage was half empty.

    This way around is better, because my first thought was, What? Why do I care about the name of the cottage? Because you were telling me it was called this instead of mentioning the name without it being in your face, as such.

    But no it does not hook me. You’re just describing things that bore me. Twisted oak trees, sea-green kissing gate (whatever that means), snow-coated grass, cobwebs, glittering stuff…

    It’s all too much. It’s like reading a list by someone who is trying to be poetic in the way they portray it.

    The first half is_all_showing, which is good in that sense, but then the second half is_all_ telling. Mix and match. Vary it. Drip-feed us information.

    Do not give up, though. Keep writing!

  4. It does not catch my interest. The description of the cottage does not interest the reader (and it does not exactly scream feminine to me), and 2 paragraphs later the story goes into something completely unrelated to the description of the cottage. It does not hook.

  5. No, too much superfluous description (kudos for trying though, the last thing I read had almost no description at all) and well the subject matter does not interest me, but that is just me. Also, I find it difficult to connect with the main character right off the bat, as he seems to contradict himself in his very own intro… to the point that I do not even want to stick around to puzzle it out. The whole thing does not read very naturally, does not flow, and gets bogged down in jarring word combinations.

    I hope you know I mean well by saying it that way. ^^;; When I ask for criticism I want it straight up, not sugar-coated. Hope any or all of that is useful and that you can find your true voice for writing. It’s in there somewhere… buried. ^^;;

  6. Honestly, no I would not read the rest. The opening didn’t catch my attention and some of the sentences are too long and confusing to comprehend easily. I do have some suggestions:

    * If the house is half-empty (talking about the inside of the cottage) why do you go on to describe the outside of the cottage? Does not quite fit.

    * When describing a place, I think it’s more important to convey the feelings/emotions related to the place than to get the exact color scheme right. To me that’s part of what showing not telling mean. So that when you describe something pick words to convey a feeling which allows the reader to draw their own conclusions.

    And while your descriptions should be drawing a picture for the reader, it should be the picture through the eyes of the character, not through the eyes of you as the author (or me as the reader). Because then as a reader I can draw some conclusions about who this character is and what personality they’ve based on what he notices and how he sees things. So then the description becomes SHOWING NOT TELLING.

    So really – is a soldier on leave going to think of a sea green kissing gate and notice that the door was duck egg blue? Is he going to think that it :looked as though aHuge invisible hand had sprinkled the earth with icing sugar? That might be how you as the author see it – but your job is to describe it as the character would see it. And a soldier who does not want to be there would have a much more derogatory description of the place.

    And do not tell us what Matt thought or felt – show us. He wondered this…he wondered that… not interesting and does not give me an emotional connection to this man. Could you describe the house and the area through Matt’s eyes in such a way that the reader can conclude for themselves that Matt does not want to be there and would rather be with his buddies fighting?

    And again – watch your sentence structure and do not try to put too many thoughts in once sentence.

    Good luck.