Writers, send your prologue/first chapter to FtQ for a “flogging” critique. 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.
Detective Sergeant Charlie Cooper threw his keys into the wooden bowl he kept on his desk for just that purpose. Their clink signalled the beginning of his work day, which he hoped was going to be a light one — he still wasn’t fully recovered from the fortieth birthday party Liz had thrown him on the weekend. No such luck, though, Senior Sergeant Frank Munro was already heading his way.
“Coop. Got a call from Leichhardt Local Area Command. They had an aggravated assault on a fifty-year-old male yesterday. Today it’s your new murder case.” Munro had never been one for morning pleasantries.
The guy didn’t make it, huh?”
His father agreed to switch off life support last night, so it’s officially a homicide. SOCOs are at the crime scene now.” Munro handed Cooper the file. “Take Quinn,” he added with a grin, before returning to his office.
Cooper pushed the hangover to the back of his mind and glanced over the file. The victim’s name was Fraser Grant, a real estate agent. He was found in his Glebe apartment the day before by his elderly father, shortly after one pm. Blunt force trauma to the head; no sign of a weapon. Taken by ambulance to RPA Hospital, where they pronounced him brain dead. Detectives from the local area command, along with the scene-of-crime officers Munro had (snip)
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received a good average of 4.5 stars on Amazon. Why do good writers—this one’s writing craft is just fine—start out with non-crucial setup? It doesn’t matter to the story that the detective is forty. Or that he has a hangover. Or that he keeps his keys in a bowl. Is there a story question on the page? Well, yes, there is the whodunit aspect of the murdered man, but that doesn’t do much since we know next to nothing about him.
What’s key is discovered at the end of this fairly leisurely chapter—the murdered man is a serial killer, and the evidence is clear. Now, a murdered man who is a serial killer is a much more compelling topic than a murdered real estate agent. For me, the setup material was a drag and a definite barrier to turning the page. I think some of my kind of editing would have been in order. Poll below.
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.