Submissions needed—only a couple left in the queue after this week.
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--new: I've added a request to post the rest of the chapter.
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)
Stephanie sends the first chapter of The End. The rest of the chapter continues below the fold.
As I walk down the beach on the last day of the Columbus Day weekend, I wonder if am the only one who feels it. Maybe I’m just crazy, but then I see the fear in the eyes of those I pass. Even if they are smiling, it is there, the fear. We all feel it, every person on this planet, but if we don’t talk about it maybe it will just go away. Who would want to be the first to mention it? People would call you crazy, even if in their hearts they know you are right. So we all just keep working and going on as if nothing is wrong, but waiting for it to begin and wondering what will happen when it does.
We are all preparing in our own ways. Some have built bunkers and gathered supplies, some have a contingency plan on paper or maybe just in their head but nothing concrete. Then there are those of us who are in the middle, we don’t have a well supplied bunker but we have a…..stash of things we might need when that day comes and a sort of plan to go with it. We think about how much we will miss things like chocolate bars, wine and coffee and brainstorm about ways to preserve the things we will miss the most. We decide where to go, if leaving is possible and consider the pros and cons of each possible location and what to take with us and what to leave behind. The more pessimistic at heart are checking things off their bucket lists before it’s too late and maybe even devising an exit strategy.
It’s sad really, this thing that should be uniting us is not. It is driving us more and more (snip)
I do like the voice and the writing in this narrative, but I didn’t respond to simply a character musing about two “it”s, the second of which is only implied. The first “it” is the fear that the character says she sees in everyone’s eyes. The second “it” is what they fear—only it is never really defined other than a range of possibilities. This narrative seems more like a prologue to me, and I would like to see, instead, the actual story, the part where something happens to this character that makes her struggle and deal with things. See what you think if you read the rest after the fold.
For what it’s worth.
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 include in your email permission to post it on FtQ. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
- Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
- And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft 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.
Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 Stephanie
(continued) inward, making us keep secrets even from those we have rarely kept them before. We tell ourselves that our fear is irrational, but we know it is not. When the lights blink, we wonder has it begun. Every storm, or drought or sinkhole or earthquake could be the tipping point, so we silently go over our plans and gather those we love around us under the guise of movie night or dinner or painting the den. Whatever it takes to have those we want with us near, just in case.
Some days, I am so tired of my job and my life that I wish for it to begin, most Mondays as a matter of fact. Maybe it will be a good thing, a time to hit reset. A chance to make things better. Sometimes out of the rubble something beautiful emerges, something wonderful. But, then again, it could just be a slow painful death.
We can’t stop it. The signs are there to see if we only look, but we don’t like to look. There are too many of us living too well for the Earth to sustain and the Earth seeks balance. It will come one way or another, the Earth will get her way and we are powerless to stop her. She’s done it before and she will do it again, the black plague, the ice age, tsunamis, floods and droughts. Which tool will she choose this time?
Everyone scoffed about the ending of the Mayan calendar and made fun of those who were ready for the end that day, but we were secretly relieved when that day came and went without incident. We patted ourselves on the back for not holing up in a shelter, or stockpiling food, water and ammo while at the same time, we knew we had dodged a bullet.
There will likely be no warning. It will probably begin innocently enough. Some people will get sick and we will think that the epidemic is contained but it won’t be, or a drought will make our already overtaxed water supply insufficient. We will be encouraged to conserve and told it will be okay, but it won’t. Things that we thought we had conquered will return to exact revenge, things like cholera, dysentery, smallpox and the plague. Or maybe it will be a large catastrophic event that will change everything in a moment.
I didn’t realize how long I had been walking, as I turned to head back I saw the sun was just about to set. I stood still and watched until that magical moment when dusk began, then I hurried back up the beach before it got dark. Tomorrow I was going back and it made me sad because I felt more at peace somehow at the beach, more alive.
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