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.
Bill's first 16 lines:
No go for me
The airplane's drone increased to a roar. Flying without lights, it blasted out of the darkness and swooped over the shrimp boat so low all four men flattened on the deck in panic.
"Jesus Christ." Harpoon Conroy leaped up shouting at his two passengers. Harpoon knew the two guys still lying on the deck were Mexican nationals by their accents. The two got up shouting in Spanish and brushing themselves off.
Harpoon couldn't remember their names (Tito and Pedro) so he called the chubby one "Gordo" and his idiot sidekick "Bozo." They wore Bermuda shorts and luminous Hawaiian shirts and could not be more conspicuous in the deck floodlights if they wore Howdy Doody propeller beanies. The plane's single engine faded into the distance for a few seconds, then gained volume as it again plunged over them in a thunderous boom; the prop wash rocking the shrimp boat.
They only hunkered at the waist on this pass. The plane waggled its wings as it faded into the night. Gordo stood, flapping his arms, and shouted, "They recognize us."
Harpoon took off his ball cap, pointing it at the two passengers. "No way anybody could miss those shirts you're wearing." The plane faded away, and the engine labored as if gaining altitude. Again the sound increased but was less intense as it passed overhead much higher. The moon shining through a hole in the clouds illuminated three parachutes drifting toward them with (snip)
Primarily, it was a lack of tension that blocked a turn of the page. The dropping of three parachutes at the end of the page was a little bit tempting, but the run up didn't suggest much in the way of conflict, jeopardy, or other tension-producing events in the story's future. The narrative dawdled a bit, too
For what it's worth,
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© 2008 Ray Rhamey