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 Three Seconds to Rush. A poll and the opening page of the first chapter follow. Should these authors have hired an editor?
Tara’s nose filled with pungent fumes reminiscent of her short lived job as a housekeeper in a run-down motel. The place had always been so dingy regardless of how much bleach she used on the rings in the tub or the amount of muscle she put into ridding the grubby walls of marks. Nothing ever really came clean. But the clientele who frequented the facility didn’t notice. They weren’t on vacation. They were all there to escape, to hide. At the end of every shift Tara would smell like the cleaning aisle of the supermarket and feel like she hardly accomplished anything.
But Tara wasn’t at the motel. She hadn’t worked that job in over two years. So where was the smell coming from? If her eyes could open she’d be able to figure it out. No matter how she ordered her lids to rise, they would not comply. Other senses began to return, however. Incessant beeping and the hum of people clamoring around her suddenly flooded in. Then hands on her body were the next sensation, followed immediately by stinging. Immense pain tugged and shredded her skin, as though she was being yanked in every direction, about to burst apart.
Tara heard a far-off cry, a shriek that petrified her as never before. It wasn’t until she felt her vocal chords strain that she realized the scream was her own.
“Calm down,” she heard a woman order as her shoulders were pressed back violently and pinned. “We can’t help you if you fight.”
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received 4.7 stars on Amazon, 90% of them 5 stars. This first page has good things going for it—it’s an immediate scene, we’re close in a character’s point of view, and there’s enough information for us to deduce that she is probably in a hospital. Good story questions are raised: What are they trying to help her with? Why is she in pain? Will they be able to help her? A character fighting against pain also sympathetic.
On the strength of the story questions, I would turn the page. However, I would also suggest that Danielle utilize an editor. The narrative could be crisper—it’s an action sequence and could move more quickly. There are authorly words that felt out of place to me, especially in an action scene: reminiscent, frequented, comply. While the first paragraph does some nice work on creating character, I think it could do that with fewer words so that we can get on with what’s happening. And I would try to include this later bit of narrative on the first page to increase the tension.
“Wylie,” she bellowed as she began flailing her arms and legs again. “My son. Where is my son?”
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.