The Flogometer returns with its challenge: a first page that compels me to turn to the next page. Caveat: please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective. Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.
This one's for Steve. Here are the first 16 lines of number his novel (it's a prologue):
Lucas Colby was born in upstate New York in December of 1912 to Matthew and Martha Colby. As a young man he considered himself a normal person. Others considered him somewhat reckless and misguided with a few unusual quirks. He was taller than most men. He was not considered overly handsome, but possessed a masculine face with solid and distinct features. It seemed that many women were easily attracted to him. He carried himself with broad shoulders and determination, confident to the point of arrogance at times. He possessed a good physique; perhaps too thin. He displayed a full head of dark brown hair, full eyebrows and deep green eyes.
I wish that I could say that I knew this man from the start however I met him late in life. As a young man his own opinion was that he did not have anything substantial to offer. With that, he did what was needed to do in order to survive. The knowledge and wisdom that remains through his words, tell us a different story.
This reader was not inclined to turn the page. That's the curse of the info-dump kind of prologue. If you just have to have a prologue, then make it a riveting scene. If, that is, you want to hook your reader.
I don't see how a mere description of a man who is, according to this prologue, a person of not much accomplishment, will snare a reader. If the writer had included the "few unusual quirks," especially if he showed them in a lively scene, then maybe. That would be a character, someone I could be interested in.
I looked at the next page, naturally, and found another first-person narrative. Which made me realize that I had no idea of who the prologue narrator was and what he had to do with this story.
The new narrator, Lucas Colby, the focus of the story, told me about
the death of his father when he was a child and then about his mother
dying. Let me stress the word "told." The author was delivering more
information that he felt I needed to know. In terms of a scene
All of this "throat-clearing" added up to a no sale for me. Clearly the author can write
Sorry, Steve. I suggest you browse through the FtQ archives for posts on storytelling. In particular, my story as river essay illustrates an approach to capturing a reader.
Another half-dozen writers have sent material to the Flogometer, so I'll be doing those over the next few weeks, along with anything else that seems worth writing about.
Which reminds me
For what it's worth,
Public floggings available. If I can post it here, send 1st chapter or prologue as an attachment and I'll critique the first couple of pages.
© 2007 Ray Rhamey