The Flogometer challenge: can you craft 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.
What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page).
Some homework. Before sending your novel's opening, you might want to read these two FtQ posts: Story as River and Kitty-cats in Action. That'll tell you where I'm coming from, and might prompt a little rethinking of your narrative.
Jon's first 16 lines:
"Maybe someone," Caden Shaw called as gunfire chattered Athasian marble from the bank's sheltering corner, "should have broken out a robot or two this time around. Just a couple. You think? Sir?"
Across the narrow cobblestone street, Frank Courbet was pinned behind a vacant dry-goods store, all gaping windows and looted shelves. Courbet peeked around the corner to snap off a shot from his holdout gun. Glass shattered. Someone cursed. Better than he'd expected. With this popgun he had as much chance of hitting one of the militants as he had of hitting the moon. Courbet grinned at his XO anyway. "You do go on about those robots, don't you? You sweet on one of 'em, Cady?"
"Staying put ain't much of a long-term solution, sir." Cady hadn't been thrilled to come to the parley unarmed, and now that they were pinned down and taking fire she was a good deal less happy. Courbet couldn't find it in himself to blame her.
"Did I say it was?" Courbet tapped his throat to activate his speaker implant. "Brayley, Elle, where on the little blue planet have you gotten yourselves to? We could use a little cover fire down here. Maybe teach these folks some manners."
Static hissed, and a low, rumbling voice filled Courbet's head. "In position." Despite his size, Brayley Strong could climb like a damn monkey. Yet another of his many charms.
A rifle cracked from the roof of the vacant apartment building abutting the general store. (snip)
Give me more
Nicely done. Clear, interesting voice, we're in the midst of an action scene in an interesting world, good writing. Not a lot more to ask for.
Not a lot to nitpick, either. This is good writing doing good
storytelling. I might suggest trimming the last sentence a little, i.e.
A rifle cracked from the roof of a vacant apartment building.
. . .but that's all. I would have included a caution on having two names that were too similar
Interesting "pet peeves" article
Since I can't offer a lot of editing on Jon's work, I came across an article that gives pet peeves from agents and one editor on what they see in first chapters that they don't like. Go here.
For what it's worth,
Thank you, Bill, for your donation. Donations go to the cost of hosting FtQ.
Public floggings available. If I can post it here,
- send 1st chapter or prologue as an attachment (cutting and pasting and reformatting from an email is a time-consuming pain) and I'll critique the first couple of pages.
- Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
- And, optionally, permission to use it as an example in a book if that's okay.
- If you're in a hurry, I've done "private floggings," $50 for a first chapter.
- If you rewrite while you wait you turn, it's okay with me to update the submission.
© 2008 Ray Rhamey