Writers, send your prologue/first chapter to FtQ for a “flogging” critique. None in the queue. Email as an attachment.
Many of the folks who utilize BookBub are self-published, and because we hear over and over the need for self-published authors to have their work edited, It seemed to me that it could be educational to take a hard look at their first pages. If you don’t know about BookBub, it’s a pretty nifty way to try to build interest in your work. The website is here.
I’m mostly sampling books that are offered for free—BookBub says that readers are 10x more likely to click on a book that’s offered for free than a discounted book. Following is the first page and a poll. Then my comments follow, along with the book cover, the author’s name, and a link so you can take a look for yourself if you wish. At Amazon you can click on the Read More feature to get more of the chapter if you’re interested. There’s a second poll concerning the need for an editor.
Next are the first 17 manuscript lines of chapter one in a mystery novel titled Written in Blood. A poll and the opening page of the first chapter follow. Should these authors have hired an editor?
Now, there’s a heart attack waiting to happen.
The man who heaved himself out of the Mercedes 500SL kept a meaty hand on the doorframe, rocking a little until his feet settled on the asphalt. The shoulders of his suit coat strained, the belt disappearing under his belly as he buttoned it closed. He was about six foot and just shy of obese. A shock of thick, wiry hair cut short had started to grey on the sides. A salt-and-pepper beard hid his jaw.
Despite the coolness of the fall afternoon, the man plucked a handkerchief from his breast pocket and mopped his forehead, as if the mere act of exiting the vehicle had zapped his energy. From her office window, Claudia Rose watched him pop the trunk and haul out a briefcase, every step labored.
The passenger door opened before the man could get there. A stunning blonde stepped out of the car with a wriggling Bichon Frisé clamped under her arm and a phone to her ear. In response to the man’s apparent offer of help, she shook her head and bumped the door shut with a curvy hip and preceded him up the path. Women would kill to have that shape. Men would describe her as “smoking hot.”
Paige Sorensen. The new client.
By the time the man had climbed the wooden staircase, Claudia was at the door, ready to (snip)
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received 4.3 stars on Amazon. To start with, how many of you knew what a “Bichon Frisé” was? I sure didn’t, and I’m pretty sure the author could have guessed that most readers wouldn’t, either. It’s a toy dog, and it could have been defined in context or, better, replaced with a relatively known breed. In context, this would have worked:
A stunning blonde stepped out of the car with a Bichon Frisé clamped under her arm, the tiny white toy dog wriggling and squirming, and a phone to her ear.
Other than that, the writing is strong and clean, the voice professional. But, with all this detailed description of two people getting out of a car, where’s a story question? There really isn’t one, nor is there a hint of what the story is about. Oh, a new client is coming, but we don’t know (unless we have a cover blurb to tell us) that Claudia is a forensic handwriting expert or what she might have to do with these people. For this reader, the carelessness with the dog breed, the lengthy description that leaned toward overwriting, and the lack of story were unable to overcome the strong writing. No turn of the page here. What do you think?
Poll: what are your thoughts about this author needing an editor?
My books. You can read sample chapters and learn more about the books here.
Writing Craft Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling
Fantasy (satire) The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles
Mystery (coming of age) The Summer Boy
Science Fiction Hiding Magic
Science Fiction Gundown Free ebooks.