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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Would You Read More?

When an author ambushes you in a dark alley and beats you with their manuscript what they are really trying to say is, "Would you read this?"

That's all an author wants to know. At the end of the day, will you turn this page? Please? With cherries and zombies on top?

Lost in the mires of rewrites and editing the promise that a reader will turn the page is the only guiding light. Help me out here.

Rip, shred, critique, comment. This is my opening 250, will you read the next page?

Sunlight glinted off the United North American Territories Bureau of Investigation badge on Sam's dresser. She buttoned her white blouse, missing a button as she listened to the news. A triple homicide on the good end of town. Police were baffled. The bureau was taking control of the investigation.

The smile she saw in the mirror would probably make the newscaster in her bright red jacket faint with terror. Teeth flashed at her as she pulled wavy black hair into a tight chignon. Murder was a bad, bad thing, Sam reminded herself. Even if it meant getting her promotion.

A chime sounded as the flat screen flashed the name - Joseph Emmanuel Ramirez.


"Rosie?" She could hear the smile in her fiancées voice.

Every time she saw him she fell in love again. So solar hot he could melt her with a smile. Sam opened her eyes and turned to the screen. "Good morning."

Joseph was perfect. Already dressed for work at the DC bureau office in a dark navy suit with a silver gray shirt and white tie he was everything she wanted. His eyes took in her whole body, devouring her with a sweeping glance. "Good morning to you, Agent Rose. What are you wearing under there?"

She obediently unbuttoned the blouse to let him peek at her black lace bra.

He frowned. "Black? I hate black on you. It makes your skin to dark."

"You aren't here."


  1. I come away with the feeling that this might be interesting but I'm not hooked. I think you could pump up the first paragraph especially. Perhaps start with the news of the homicide. A good opening line is often a question or some action.

  2. Agreed. The opening line doesn't work. In the original draft she heard the news on the radio. That didn't work for me either.

    I'm going to lose what little sanity I have left trying to get this right.

  3. I really like this. It's got conflict right from the start. The only thing that stood out to me was the old "looking in the mirror" trick. It only bothers me because I've had so many people tell me it's cliche.

    You can try to find alternate ways to describe her appearance. Maybe she picks one of her long black hairs off her white blouse or something, lamenting at how badly her shedding tresses contrast on the white fabric.

    I also like the sexiness. :) But that's just me. Nice opener!

  4. Mysti - I don't like the mirror trick either, but another POV doesn't come in until chapter 3 and I don't know if I can go that long without describing her to the readers.

  5. Maybe they show a picture of the victims, and she cringes at the blood in the opening sentence. Which would be slightly surprising with her profession. Like: "Ten (or however long) years working in homicide still didn't prepare Sam for seeing bloodied corpses on the 6 am news."

  6. I like everything but the first paragraph. To me, it comes off too expository. If she's an agent, why does she have to hear of it off the radio or the news? Can't they just call/comm/message her or whatever with the news? Like, she's getting ready already, and then gets the 'report to office ASAP because of triple homicide code' or whatever? That might be a way to make it a bit more directly engaging.

    I would read the next page, though, and like the character development you've succinctly added into this 250 words.

    Personally, I could care less about the mirror thing.

  7. Something about the tone put me off a little. She's very casual and carefree, making the murder seem not that big a deal. Makes her seem a bit unprofessional and flighty. Not that she can't be pleased to be promoted, it's just unclear if she's going to be solving a murder or daydreaming about her hot boyfriend.

    The writing and characterisation feels strong, but the tone felt muddled.

    hope that helps,
    I just realsied this thread was about me. Thanks Frankie.
    Moody Writing

  8. The first two paragraphs could be reworked a little. The agency name is a mouthful. I would give an acronym and put the whole title in later. I think I would have her hearing the news in the unemotional announers voice. She would turn and catch her reflection on the TV screen because of the sunlight or whatever that causes her to reflect on the screen. Her smile masked her true emotions to the murders. Finding a button missing she changed her shirt/blouse for the second time. She made a mental note to get some new ones and replace the button as she threw the stained one into the trash.
    As for reading on I get the idea it might be chick lit/mystery and it will have to get real good to keep me. Nothing personal but almost all the books in my bookcases are non fiction, so it is just not my area of interest. Like a good mystery though. Hope it helps....

  9. Mysti - I'm playing with the idea of opening with the corpse she does handle.

    J.A. Beard - Com would make so much more sense. >.< I'll work that in.

    Mooderino - She starts the book kind of flighty. She feels this district is a dead end, her career isn't moving, and she's still very young and self-centered as the book opens. That's part of her emotional arc, but I don't want it to be off-putting. I'll work on making her more professional.

    Ric - No offense taken. The book is sci-fi/SFR and probably isn't technical enough for someone who collects non-fic. Thank you for the input!

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