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Saki's Sixth Finger

Saki gripped her extra finger as she peered down at the beach. The plane was reaching Phuket, finally. Watching the crystalline turquoise water and shiny white sand had somehow calmed her down. Coming here had been a good decision after all. Who could possibly feel tense in such a paradise like this? But still, rivers of sweat traveled down her neck, and her black dress had glued itself to her back. Maybe something had happened to the air conditioning. Saki glanced around trying to locate a stewardess, but spotted none. They were probably taking a break. Giving up, she sank back on the her seat, and let out a sigh. No, it's just me, she thought to herself. Calm down. You just have to calm down. none. They were probably taking a break. Giving up, she sank back on the her seat, and let out a sigh. No, it's just me, she thought to herself. Calm down. You just have to calm down.

Would you feel like reading the story purely based on the title? How about after reading the fist sentence?

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Aaah, NO! Sixth finger??? I don't want to read further! –  Kashif Jul 10 '13 at 15:10
    
Damn, I think I picked the wrong metaphor, ha. –  Alexandro Chen Jul 10 '13 at 16:15
    
In my humble opinion, I would lean toward a title like..."The Sixth Digit" –  user5522 Jul 10 '13 at 20:59

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm intrigued by the title but not by the intro.

The key to an effective opening paragraph, and story as a whole, is you don't want your readers to think about sentence structure and other technicalities. You want them riding the roller coaster of your characters' experiences and emotions. This intro doesn't do that for me. One, I'm not sure where I am. At first I think I'm on a beach and then I find myself on an airplane. Then there is the use of it and and.

It had been a good decision after all

Could be written as:

Coming here had been a good decision after all.

And

But still, rivers of sweat traveled down her neck, and her black dress had glued itself to her back.

Could be written as:

Rivers of sweat traveled down her neck gluing her black dress to her back.

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Thanks for the feedback. My idea was to make the reader wonder: "What's possible relation could be between Saki having a sixth finger and her coming to a paradise island?" I guess I have to rethink the opening sentence. –  Alexandro Chen Jul 11 '13 at 2:43
    
Is starting sentences with "it" and "and" and "but" considered a bad writing practice? –  Alexandro Chen Jul 11 '13 at 14:27
    
No, not in novel writing. Like anything else, you don't want to overuse it though. The eye is used to picking up patterns and part of keeping a reader guessing is varying the patterns, or cadence, of your sentences. –  lonehorseend Jul 11 '13 at 22:21

No, sorry. I stopped reading at, "crystalline turquoise water and shiny white sand". Two adjectives per noun makes for ponderous reading. Plus, the use of "gripped" and "finally" implied tension to me, which was then contradicted by the sand and water sentence. Is she tense or is she calm?

I don't mind the idea of an extra finger, but would this character really think about it as "extra"? If I had been born with six fingers, I wouldn't think of one in particular being the extra one. I might think of being cursed, or defective, crippled, weird, freakish, or, on the other hand, blessed, special, lucky, unique. The words you choose to describe the extra finger will say volumes about Saki as a person and her attitude towards the anomalous finger. Compare this opening sentence:

"Saki peered down and saw beach at last, relaxing her grip on Double Digit."

versus

"Sake peered down and saw beach at last, tightening her grip on the devil finger."

In the first case, she (or someone) has given the extra finger a pet name that's a pun. She sees humor in it.

The second case implies a more negative attitude towards the extra finger. She reviles it.

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thanks a lot, your examples gave me an idea on how to improve the sentence. Though I'm not sure what other adjective to use other than "extra" since (spoiler) Saki came to the island with the intention of having her sixth finger surgically removed. –  Alexandro Chen Jul 12 '13 at 0:30

I like your opening paragraph as a whole (i.e. not the first sentence). It does grab my attention. It takes me into the moment. You create suspense and I would love to find out what it is.

However, I agree with others about "sixth finger". I am unsure what it means. More importantly, it has negative connotations. Ask yourself: why sixth finger? Or seventh finger? What difference does it make? People generally don't count their fingers in the way you describe it.

Perhaps it is a cultural 'thing' (i.e. there may be cultural significance to using the sixth finger). Based on my (limited) experience, the more universal your story is, the better you can target your readers.

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Saki has one extra finger more than the average person (eleven if you count both hands). Would it be clearer if I changed the title to Saki's Eleventh Finger? I think it doesn't sound as good as Sixth though (I think you were thinking of the sixth finger of a normal hand?) –  Alexandro Chen Jul 11 '13 at 2:46

The title does grab my attention. But I'm not intrigued. My reaction was a bit more like whaaat?? Is the whole novel about her sixth finger?

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Could you say a little more about what in the passage gives you that impression? –  Monica Cellio Jul 11 '13 at 2:17
    
I was talking about the title. The paragraph, however, I find was well written. I'm being introduced to the main character's present setting. But I wouldn't use that title AND then mention her sixth finger in the opening sentence. It gives me the impression that the entire novel is going to be about her sixth finger. By using it as a title and subject in the opening sentence, the writer is giving it a lot of weight. –  Isha Jul 11 '13 at 14:03

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