Write an opening that would stop you buying a book

Astro Pen

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I had an odd idea...
I thought it might be an interesting counterpoint for us to write a couple of paragraphs to demonstrate the kind of openings where we pick up a book and think Oh gawd no, and put it back on the shelf.
I don't mean bad grammar or spelling, they will already have been weeded out. I mean full of those killer cues that make you think, Nah. Not for me, but could be fine for a different type of reader.

(I'm out for the day but will try something later (y) )
 

AnRoinnUltra

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I had an odd idea...
I thought it might be an interesting counterpoint for us to write a couple of paragraphs to demonstrate the kind of openings where we pick up a book and think Oh gawd no, and put it back on the shelf.
I don't mean bad grammar or spelling, they will already have been weeded out. I mean full of those killer cues that make you think, Nah. Not for me, but could be fine for a different type of reader.

(I'm out for the day but will try something later (y) )
I reckon that's a brilliant idea, don't have time now either but will definitely get to this -great thing to explore.
 

The Judge

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Are you intending this as a writing exercise, AP? If you are, I'll move it over to Workshop. If it's rather intended as a general discussion piece, then it's fine here, but in that case there's surely no need for anyone to go to the lengths of writing paragraphs of stuff that presumably no one will want to read -- just a note of the kind of first para content we'd each think rendered it a Put-It-Straight-Back-On-The Shelf-Book.

EDIT: now moved to Workshop
 
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Mon0Zer0

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THE HEAVY HANDED SWORDSMAN OF PORTENTOUS DOOM
It was a grey and unsettled twilight. Thick clouds rippled across a forlorn sky, threatening to unload their bladders on the unsuspecting people of Belgravionia. A mournful wind whipped through the somnolent willow trees on the banks of the great river Sorn, their leaves susurrating sleepily with its passing. There was a cloying sensation in the atmosphere. A resonance. An energy. Impending Menace. Graveyard bones jiggled in their tiny tombs in sympathy with its presence. Crows cawed strident songs of crowdom past on their perches. It was in this most portentous of mornings that HE came.

"More cock!" shouted the Traveller, tearing the last traces of flesh from a cockatrice thigh.

Bivouac Jones, lowly squire, dragged at the traveller's heels, stooping low to the ground, a grovelling man in a grovelling pose, speaking in a grovelling tone of grovel. "Yes, mighty master. I live but to serve," he said, then continued under his breath, "and to function as a self-aware meta commentary on the nature of power relationships in fantasy fiction."

"What was that, Bivouac?" interjected the Traveller of many roads, destroyer of kings, usurper of thrones, intensifier of nouns.

"Nothing, over talented one!" grovelled Bivouac, grovellingly.

"Good! Because if I catch you breaking any walls other than first and second, you'll meet my Substitute!" said Traveller holding aloft his mighty pink sword so that it glistened in the waning sun. "All who gaze upon my mighty weapon will meet an unpleasant end."

"Can't be any worse than shovelling foul meat into your mouth," whispered Bivouac. He proffered another cockatrice leg and was loud, again, "Your bird, melord."
 
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Biskit

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This is a lot harder than it sounds.

I started with something simple.

I woke up this morning when my alarm clock went off.

I thought that was good and cheesy, and on some submission guidelines is explicitly listed as an immediate rejection. Then I couldn't help myself...

That's the trouble with these new, all-biological living alarm clocks, they stink really quickly after they die in the night.

The Biskitetta informs me that she wants to read the rest of it.

My next thoughts were of a stench that could wake the dead, which turns this into a future Sci-Fi vampire story.

I shall put myself back on the shelf and think again. :censored:
 

AnRoinnUltra

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THE HEAVY HANDED SWORDSMAN OF PORTENTOUS DOOM
I knew this'd be interesting -I like that, the two protagonists are not just anti heroes but straight up repulsive. They embody a whole pile of dodgy stuff -ego/ cowardice/ cruelty/ deceit ...if you can get them to work as heroes I reckon you'd have dynamite on your hands. Finding out if ya can do it would keep me reading!
 

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Lucky apples – the true story of how Flute Egoton came to be wealthy

Foreword by Flute Egoton

When I was young we had a small corner shop. One of my earliest memories was Christmas day. I snuck down and opened the shop for two hours while the rest of the family slept, and sold every battery we had in stock.
Customers came from miles away to stock up and stem the early morning tears. For me, it was a sexual experience. I could charge them what I wanted.
Even at that early stage, and I was probably no more than four or five years old at the time, I knew I was destined for business greatness.
Fast forward eight years and I was working into the early hours of the morning. Every day and night. It was on one of those nights that Bruce Legaltenderton, CEO of Speedyjet International Aircraft Leasing Corporation's European Division was passing. He was stopped in traffic and noticed how efficiently I was selling batteries and immediately gave me a job as his personal assistant. Three years later I took his job, and the rest, as I say, is history.

Chapter 1

I met with Flute Egoton several times before I agreed to write his definitive history. One anecdote in particular from those conversations stuck in my mind. He told me it seventeen times -it involved buying printer ink:
Flute was two weeks into his job as PA to Mr. Legaltenderton and was already attending board meetings. On one of those occasions the weekly performance printouts were missing. Flute stood up and announced to everyone that he had tried to order new Ink but had been stymied by Ron Gullabon, he then turned to Ron and told everyone present what he thought of Rons tardy Ink purchasing. It was clearly an important moment in Flute's life, and also Rons, who was then sacked.

I spent a week shadowing Flute to research this book, and it turns out he has three hundred and seventy four similar anecdotes -I will now retell them in chronological order.
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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BLOODSQUALOR: Book One of THE DISEMBOWLLED GODS

Henry Protagonist was special. But nobody in his life knew that. Not until the day he recieved the invitation to the Blood-Eagle School of Blood Magic, which is like Hogwarts only darker and edgier, like. It would be a long journey, with many daring acts of blood magic, false friends, true enemies and contrived scenarios of moral ambiguity along the way. This is Henry's story.

It all began one sweaty morning in the pungent alleys of Sewertown. Henry was the last boy standing out of the Dead Cat Gang, who had been ambushed and slaughtered by the Rancid Socks. Khaziface, the Sock's one-eyed leader (who was an old man of nearly 14) towered over the helpless youth and raised his pig-sticker - then got the shock of (the end of) his life when the plucky boy sprang to his feet and punched him (Khaziface) so hard in the nose that his brain flew out of the back of his head, which is totally a thing that happens in fights. The Rancid Socks gawped in horrified amazement, then fled. A Mysterious Robed Figure stepped out of the shadows, clapping his hands softly.
 
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Rufus Coppertop

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It was the moderately adequate of times and it was the somewhat less than stunningly fabulous of times, it was the age of people being sort of clued in a bit and the age of people being just a bit thick, it was an epoch of entertaining notions occasionally and the epoch of rejecting them at times, it was the season of dim light and flaccid darkness, an autumn of hope and a shining summer of bleak misery with a butterfly or two.
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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CAKE TROUBLE IN UPPER RAMSBOTHAM
Dawn swept softly over Upper Ramsbotham, as it had so many times before. Larks were singing, cows were lowing in the north field [note to editor: insert description from p. 12 of "The Vicar of Upper Ramsbotham," 1987. I'm sure they won't notice.] Morris had left her warm bed hours ago, off folding the lambs [ed: check if this is a thing?] by the time Edith Peabody rose. Dressed in her sensible housecoat over her sensible nightgown, she gazed though the net curtains across the idyllic, gold-touched Vale of Rams with a hint of disquiet in her heart that had not been there before. For last afternoon, in a moment of madness, she had agreed to work with Mrs. Gwen Jones on the "Guess the Weight of the Cake" stall at the Upper Ramsbotham Village Fair. And Mrs. Jones, sad to say, was a Welsh.

(In their days of hot-headed youth, some of my faithful readers may have dabbled in such lurid tales as the works of Agatha Christie. I must reassure them: this is not the set-up for a mystery. Upper Ramsbotham is not, and never will be, the kind of village where people are so crass as to be murdered. This story really does revolve around the trials and tribulations of the cake stall, and the plot will present no disturbing surprises if you are familiar with "Pie Trouble in Upper Ramsbotham.")
 

sule

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It all began with my birth.

Actually, it began when my parents met: she a Hollywood starlet with a slight heroin dependence, he a multi-billionaire playboy who'd made his money speculating on celery futures. They met at an all-night party held in a mansion designed in the seventeenth century by an architect who was slowly going blind and would soon go mad from the massive amounts of mercury that he bathed in daily. My father noticed my mother across the room, dangling from the chandelier as she tried to escape the private detectives that had been sent by her parents to retrieve her.

My mother's parents had met in similar circumstances, except that instead of an all-night party in Hollywood it was the steerage section of a trans-oceanic liner which would make its last crossing the following May, and instead of dangling from a chandelier my grandmother was painting a still-life. Elizabeth Dexteridge was a beauty, but her poor social contacts meant she was being sent by her well-meaning parents (who were an arranged marriage) to serve as a maid for her eccentric aunt who lived in San Francisco.

San Francisco was founded...
 

Astro Pen

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The Mage paced angrily around his room. The Skrull were raiding villages in the north again. They had been considered defeated at the battle of Ravensbrook by the army of Threng, whose archers were said to be able to shoot the wings off a fly. But their leader, King Rilkplag, had died of old age and the young Sangorr Blarn had taken command. He had married Rilkplag's eldest daughter, Princess Olyana, who was very beautiful and a dragon charmer.
The Mage did not like Blarn and thought him a weasel. When Blarn had asked for a special elixir to lace the princesses wine to make her fall in love with him the Mage had sent him away with scorched ears. However other wizards, were more easily bought and Blarn got his marriage, and ultimately the kingdom.
As a result of his lax ways, philandering and love of Ebbleberry wine the Threng army had become weak and degenerate. The Skrull, sensing weakness, had been emboldened, under their leader, Rnnk Tharl, again pillaging and moving toward the walled city at the heart of the Threng kingdom.

Young Allik was on an errand for his mother to fetch potatoes and lamp oil but in his heart he knew he was meant for greater things. He was swift on his feet and sharp witted too, he had beaten older men at games of Tressil in the ale houses. His quickness at moving the coloured beads around the board had been noticed by the Mage, who had been watching the boy growing for two years now. The Mage knew that he would soon talk to Allik's mother and take the boy under his wing. He would be apprenticed and eventually presented with a task of great importance, one he would be specially trained for, one that would involve stealth moving across the land and facing many dangers. The fate of the Threng people would depend on him...
 

sule

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John Caliber--six-foot-two, shaved head, bristly brown mustache, tan skin, thick corded muscles, 3.62 GPA during his only two years of college at Southern Colorado Technical University--walked slowly towards the sky blue 2012 Toyota Corolla idling in the parking lot of the only Walmart in Chevrettell, Colorado (population: 1567, part of Wayneside County, high school mascot: the Eagles), his thick, buckskin boots squelching in the scattered rain puddles that dotted the cracked asphalt. It was just as the anonymous voice--husky, mysterious, threatening--had promised when they'd called him on his Samsung Galaxy 4 at 3:07 that afternoon (Mountain Daylight Time) and told him that Elijah Buckington, the irresponsible 27 year-old heir to Buckington Sports Suppliers (Wayneside County's main wholesale store for hunting, fishing, and other various sports equipment), had been abducted by aliens from the planet Forsicca Prime.
 

AnRoinnUltra

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John Caliber--six-foot-two, shaved head, bristly brown mustache, tan skin, thick corded muscles, 3.62 GPA during his only two years of college at Southern Colorado Technical University--walked slowly towards the sky blue 2012 Toyota Corolla idling in the parking lot of the only Walmart in Chevrettell, Colorado (population: 1567, part of Wayneside County, high school mascot: the Eagles), his thick, buckskin boots squelching in the scattered rain puddles that dotted the cracked asphalt. It was just as the anonymous voice--husky, mysterious, threatening--had promised when they'd called him on his Samsung Galaxy 4 at 3:07 that afternoon (Mountain Daylight Time) and told him that Elijah Buckington, the irresponsible 27 year-old heir to Buckington Sports Suppliers (Wayneside County's main wholesale store for hunting, fishing, and other various sports equipment), had been abducted by aliens from the planet Forsicca Prime.
Brilliant, the story get up close and personal with the inane but jumps past the remarkable interesting bit in nine words -still counts as a hook;)
 

msstice

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THE HEAVY HANDED SWORDSMAN OF PORTENTOUS DOOM
It was a grey and unsettled twilight. Thick clouds rippled across a forlorn sky, threatening to unload their bladders on the unsuspecting people of Belgravionia. A mournful wind whipped through the somnolent willow trees on the banks of the great river Sorn, their leaves susurrating sleepily with its passing. There was a cloying sensation in the atmosphere. A resonance. An energy. Impending Menace. Graveyard bones jiggled in their tiny tombs in sympathy with its presence. Crows cawed strident songs of crowdom past on their perches. It was in this most portentous of mornings that HE came.

"More cock!" shouted the Traveller, tearing the last traces of flesh from a cockatrice thigh.

Bivouac Jones, lowly squire, dragged at the traveller's heels, stooping low to the ground, a grovelling man in a grovelling pose, speaking in a grovelling tone of grovel. "Yes, mighty master. I live but to serve," he said, then continued under his breath, "and to function as a self-aware meta commentary on the nature of power relationships in fantasy fiction."

"What was that, Bivouac?" interjected the Traveller of many roads, destroyer of kings, usurper of thrones, intensifier of nouns.

"Nothing, over talented one!" grovelled Bivouac, grovellingly.

"Good! Because if I catch you breaking any walls other than first and second, you'll meet my Substitute!" said Traveller holding aloft his mighty pink sword so that it glistened in the waning sun. "All who gaze upon my mighty weapon will meet an unpleasant end."

"Can't be any worse than shovelling foul meat into your mouth," whispered Bivouac. He proffered another cockatrice leg and was loud, again, "Your bird, melord."
Oddly, I haven't enjoyed an opening quite so much for a while. If you can keep it up, I would read this.
 

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