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 mystery titled Talking to the Dead. A poll and the opening page of the first chapter follow. Should this author have hired an editor?
Beyond the window, I can see three kites hanging in the air over Bute Park. One blue, one yellow, one pink. Their shapes are precise, as though stencilled. From this distance, I can’t see the lines that tether them, so when the kites move, it’s as though they’re doing so of their own accord. An all-encompassing sunlight has swallowed depth and shadow.
I observe all this as I wait for DCI Matthews to finish rearranging the documents on his desk. He shuffles the last file from the stack before him to a chair in front of the window. The office is still messy, but at least we can see each other now.
‘There,’ he says.
He holds up a sheet of paper. The printed side is facing him, but against the light from the window I see the shape of my name at the top. I smile again, not because I feel like smiling but because I can’t think of anything sensible to say. This is an interview. My interviewer has my CV. What does he want me to do? Applaud?
He puts the CV down on the desk in the only empty patch available. He starts to read it through line by line, marking off each section with his forefinger as he does so. Education. A levels. University. Interests. Referees.
His finger moves back to the centre of the page. University.
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
Note: I’m currently reading this one. This book received an average of 4.2 stars on Amazon. I immediately liked the writing, the voice, the imagery. This opening page focuses entirely on creating a character, and it succeeds. It’s clear that she’s tense in the interview and at a loss. A sympathetic character, for sure, and I’ve been in interview situations and nervous about it. But there’s not a whole lot happening, is there? No particular consequences if she doesn’t get the job. In ordinary circumstances, I would not have turned this first page, and I’ll vote no on it here because of the lack of a story question. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on this one.
But in reality I did turn the page, and it was primarily because one part of the blurb on the Amazon page, connected with the strong voice and sense of character, said this: “A detective you’ll never forget.” For me, perhaps because of my continuing interest in learning more about good writing and characterization, this was enough to get the page turned. And, I must say, I’m very much enjoying the book.
Poll: what are your thoughts about this author needing an editor? Remember that the goal of the first page is to get you to turn it. If the narrative didn’t do that, then it didn’t work the way it needed to.
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 GundownFree ebooks.