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A tale with two openings

I’d like your opinion. Which of the following two opening sentences (for a somewhat steampunkish YA science fiction novel) intrigues you more, and why?

Just after the the Amazing Belgrani made himself disappear in a puff of purple smoke, and while the stage was being set for the supposedly spectacular high-wire fire-eating act of the Seventh Tier Acrobats’ Association, Alania Beruthi polished off the last bite of honeyberry sorbet, signalled to the red-liveried servants to bring the main course, looked up at the holographic stars, and wished she were somewhere else–anywhere else, anywhere except sitting at a glowing crystal table in the Great Hall of Quarters Beruthi, celebrating her fifteenth birthday.


On her fifteenth birthday, Alania Beruthi sat alone in the cavernous main dining room of Quarters Beruthi and awaited the arrival of her Guardian.

The long table of black ironwood stretched away into the gloom like a road leading to some dark lord’s fortress. Alania did not sit at its head: that place was reserved for the room’s owner, Ipsil Beruthi, a Second Lieutenant of the City and thus entitled to this grand dwelling-place on the Twelfth Tier, just two below the Captain’s Quarters on the Fourteenth. Instead, Alania sat on one side, hands folded in her lap as she had been instructed, staring at the white china with the crest of the City in its center and the Beruthi rank stripes circling its edge, noting how the silver forks, knives and spoons gleamed in the light of the hanging glowtubes above (tuned to candlelight frequency for tonight’s dinner), wondering which of the contents of Beruthi’s wine cabinet would be poured into the multifacted crystal glass that glinted like diamond in that same yellow light.


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    • Auntie Sharon on February 2, 2009 at 9:24 pm
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    I like the first one – more going on and makes me wonder WHY, in the midst of all the frenzy and fancy food, she wishes she were elsewhere. The second one says tredpidation. tredpidation. trepidition. I get-it-already-ation. But it depends where you are going with the story.

    • Linda Aksomitis on February 2, 2009 at 9:13 pm
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    I prefer the first – because … I feel I’m at a closer psychic distance, more connected to the main character, even though they’re both 3rd person. The single sentence tells me that this has been a very long, and despite the presumably exciting events, quite boring day for Alania — a day that went on and on and on, just like the sentence.

    • Janet on February 2, 2009 at 8:03 pm
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    That first passage was one single sentence. That alone disqualifies it. Oy!

    • Ian H. on February 2, 2009 at 5:08 pm
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    I also prefer the second passage. The first seems like a lot to take in all at once, and the second is much more focused…

    • Ruth on February 2, 2009 at 4:53 pm
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    I prefer the 2nd escriptive it is calmer more inviting the first is very ummm busy/hyped ?? but I am way past the target reading age!

    • Anonymous on February 2, 2009 at 4:32 pm
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    I like the latter better. It immediately caught my attention because it was so descriptive.


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