Writers, send your prologue/first chapter to FtQ for a “flogging” critique. Just one 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 “media thriller” titled The Anonymous Source. A poll and the opening page of the first chapter follow. Should this author have hired an editor?
World Trade Center, South Tower, 99th Floor
Macintosh Hollinger heard a faint rumble. As he set his comb on the edge of the sink, he noticed a small vase of pink carnations wobbling on the marble vanity. When had New York City last been hit by an earthquake? He tried to recall as he checked his short gray hair in the mirror and adjusted the lapel of the blue suit his wife had given him that morning for his eighty-fourth birthday. It wasn’t worth the four grand Sonia had probably spent on it, but he did look sharp. When he glanced again, the vase was still. It was probably nothing.
Winking at himself, he walked out of his executive bathroom into his sprawling office. On the east wall were photos of Hollinger with Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, and Presidents Reagan and Clinton. A large gold frame held a photo of Lou Gehrig smiling in front of the dugout at Yankee Stadium.
Hollinger, who was short, but spry for his age, walked briskly across Persian carpets toward the floor-to-ceiling windows that faced west across the Hudson. The morning was bright and clear and he squinted at the horizon, trying to glimpse the conical spire of his New Jersey estate. He hoped Sonia would get soup for the party— but of course she had, she knew how much he loved soup. Lobster bisque, or maybe crab.
A stream of black smoke drifted toward the window. Hollinger lurched back, spun (snip)
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received 4.5 stars on Amazon. I have mixed feelings about this opening. The first line, which would have been more of a heading on the page, creates instant interest because of what we know happened on 9/11. Even though this doesn’t give a date, we know that the towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed.
So there’s that tension, but what else? What would be the result if that heading wasn’t there and we had only this narrative? By eliminating the heading this line of text would be added:
around, and scanned the three flat-screen TVs on the wall. On WNYW, a wobbly shot showed (snip)
No, that doesn’t add a lot. So the main story question, without the knowledge of 9/11, has to do with black smoke and a tremor in his office, which we can assume is in a skyscraper. I guess that’s enough, but I would have liked to see less exposition and more happening. A reluctant “yes” from me.
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.