Submissions wanted. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.
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 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below.
A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.
Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.
Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.
- Story questions
- Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
A question for you before we get started. I asked this once before but didn't get a good sense of how readers felt. The question is whether or not you would like for me to include a link to the rest of the chapter that comes with the opening page. Please give a quick answer, and then move on to Jenny's work. Thanks.
Jenny sends the first chapter of Velvet Skye, a YA romance.
I dared her to kiss me, and she did. She dared me to stop, but I couldn’t, and I haven’t since. Ask me how I want this game to end and I’ll tell you with Skye. So if we get caught, and everything crazy-beautiful about our secrets falls apart, I’ll look at her then the same way I’m looking at her right now—like I don’t regret anything.
Skye’s supposed to be at home, studying like a straightedge, and pushing herself to stay perfect instead of pushing herself against me in the back of my beat up Civic. She’s still in her track clothes. She wears them well enough to make Westlake High’s jerseys look sexy and I hate sports.
“This doesn’t mean I like you, Ty,” she says.
She’s a better kisser than liar, but two and a half beers ago she truth or dared herself into trouble. She lets her hair down, and it’s so dirty blonde beautiful that I stare at her like I’m seeing her for the first time. Really seeing her. But I’ve been watching Skye for longer than she knows, just waiting for a reason to talk to her, waiting to find out if she’s worth losing everything over. So far, so good.
“This doesn’t have to mean anything,” I say.
“Do you want it to?” She asks.
What better way to start a teen romance than, well, with teen romance? This is a lively scene and, for me, raised good story questions about interesting characters. The writing is clean and the voice clear and strong. A yes from me, and no line editing—there’s little to pick at here. Nice work.
For what it’s worth.
Writers talk about the editing I do:
"When I finished writing my novel, I knew there were problems, but I couldn't pin them down. Like most writers, I had become too close to my writing to see objectively. My friends were more concerned about my feelings than being helpful. Realizing I needed a pair of experienced eyes, I sent my manuscript to Ray Rhamey. When I received it back, I was simply amazed.
Apart from his fantastic editing work, Ray gave me an intensive and comprehensive lesson on writing. He improved the pace of my story, pointed out errors in grammar, plot, and point of view. His critique was honest, encouraging, and straightforward. Ray does not hold back.
I recommend Ray to all serious writers in search of keen eyes to dissect their manuscripts and make them the best they can be." David Junior
Visit my website for more info on services and fees.
Submitting to the Flogometer:
Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):
- your title
- your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
- Please format with double spacing, 12-point font Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins.
- 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 for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.
© 2014 Ray Rhamey