Saturday, 9 August 2014

Shadows of Death by Jeanne M. Dams

"How much do you know about archaeology?"

Beginning with dialogue comes with its risks. It had better be about something interesting or weird that will pull readers in without them needing to know who is talking to whom and why and under what circumstances. It is possible to do to great effect, but most dialogue openings I read fail to hook. This one is a fifty/fifty. As I'm mildly interested in archaeology (I like those Agatha Christie novels set in a desert with people digging up ancient garbage until someone's bumped off), but not everyone will be and so will be turned off by such an opening.

The next paragraph:

I looked up, startled.

I'm not sure why this question would startle the narrator, but if I imagine the character as being a dingbat, it starts to make sense.

I was deep in a new Alexander McGill Smith book, miles away in Edinburgh. Alan's question had come out of nowhere. "Um...archaeology?" I said brilliantly.

How does one say, "Um..." brilliantly? I assume this speaking brilliantly means speaking excellently as per dictionary definitions? Is there a non brilliantly way to say, "Um...archaeology?"

This question is asked to suggest that the characters go to a place called Orkney which apparently is an archaeologist's dream. They decide to go and as stated near the end of the first page, this is what sets the whole book in motion, which I could have guessed without being told. Here is the redundant line:

Thus began our part in events that were to change many lives.

Verdict: Fail

Despite my interest in archaeology there is no way there is a hook on the first page.

Theodore Moracht

No comments:

Post a Comment