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.
In the dark gloom of the early hours, with lights extinguished, the estate car reversed slowly off the main road into a narrow side-street and then continued to creep on down to the riverside, where it finally stopped at the top of an old, disused, slipway.
A man, dressed from head to toe in black, emerged from the car and made his way stealthily to the back. There was a loud, metallic, pop as the hatch opened, followed by a hiss as it glided upwards. Shocked by the apparent loudness of the noise, he froze and held his breath.
After what seemed an eternity, he began to relax. It seemed no one had heard the noise, so he began the business of removing what appeared to be a roll of carpet from the back of the car. It was roughly six feet long and was bound with string around the middle and over each end.
Somehow it seemed to have grown heavier on the journey and it was much harder to get it out of the car than it had been to put it in. In no time, he was sweating profusely from his efforts.
He eventually gave up trying to carry the carpet and settled for dragging it from the car and down the slipway. In the darkness, he didn’t notice the string was being loosened as it caught and snagged on the rough concrete.
Finally, he reached the river’s edge and there was a faint splash as he dropped the end he was holding into the water. Then he stepped back to the other end, dropped to his knees, and (snip)
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received a good average of 4.4 stars on Amazon. While this opening scene does raise story questions, the writing drags the story down and, for me, there was no page turn. Here are a few of the things that bothered both the reader and the editor sides of me:
- An anonymous, no-name character.
- Things are not as they actually are, they are just “apparent” or “seem” (seemed an eternity, seemed no one heard, seemed to have grown), or “appear” to be; it’s either a roll of carpet or not.
- He doesn’t notice the string, yet the unraveling is in the narrative, a slip in point of view—if the character doesn’t know something, it shouldn’t be in the story.
- Adverb description: stealthily, finally, profusely, eventually, finally . . .
There are more things, overwriting among them, that a good editor could have helped this writer with. 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.