Submissions sought. There’s naught in the queue. Get fresh eyes on your opening page. Submission directions below.
The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.
Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.
What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.
A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.
Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.
Download a free PDF copy here.
A First-page Checklist
- It begins to engage the reader with the character
- Something is wrong/goes wrong or challenges the character
- The character desires something.
- The character takes action. Can be internal or external action: thoughts, deeds, emotions. This does NOT include musing about whatever.
- There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
- It happens in the NOW of the story.
- Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
- Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
- The one thing it must do: raise a story question.
Caveat: a first page can succeed without including all of these possibilities. They are simply tools you can use. In particular, a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and a create page turn without doing all of the above. On the other hand, testing pages with the checklist no matter where they are in a story can help identify where a narrative lags and why it does.
Deborah sends the first chapter of creative nonfiction (autobiographical) with a working title of Insanity! The rest of the submission follows the break.
Death is regarded as “the way of nature,” not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the “natural” law of life. This is taken as the Will of God and no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.
Her name was Rita Moon but her nick name was ‘Re’. She was lost, but she never expected to find herself amidst the trials of her physical and emotional pain. It was a shock to discover an aspect of her identity that been hidden for so long. What am I? Where am I? What am I doing?
The invisible life-force hovered close to the ceiling. It looked down at the naked body lying on the satin sheets of an ornate queen size bed. One hand clutched an empty Dom Perignon Champagne bottle, and the other a telephone receiver. The moon cast its light over the vacant pill containers on the bedside cabinet. A sparkly Jean Louis gown, draped over the back of a chair, emitted the scent of a rose and geranium perfume. The atmosphere was still, but there was a presence of “mindful” awareness that struck a chord of familiarity.
A form of communication ensued like a stream of thought that existed without the body. Re was disorientated when she said, This is my bedroom in LA. That’s my stuff. And… that motionless woman in bed is me!
What on earth is happening here? What have I done?
The figure of a male manifested and appeared to be sitting in a black leather seat suspended (snip)
The writing is pretty sound, though there are places it could use a little attention. But it’s good enough to set an interesting scene with provocative things happening. Story questions rise—what did happen, what will happen to Re? Who is the mysterious male figure? Is this an after death experience? What’s going on? If this is indeed the story of the writer’s life, it has a fascinating beginning. I turned the page. Writing can be worked on and tightened, and this writer’s storytelling instincts seem strong.
For what it’s worth.
Submitting to the Flogometer:
Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):
- your title
- your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
- Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
- Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
- And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
- If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
- If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.
Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.
Flogging the Quill © 2017 Ray Rhamey, chapter © 2017 by Angel
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.
. . . high above the ground. The hood of his white robes covered two thirds of his face obscuring his identity.
Who are you?
I’m an ascended master, a guide, if you like. I heard your call. You want to know what is happening and what you have done.
He stared at the lifeless corpse and said, “You chose the illusion of death.”
Do you know how many times you have found yourself in this position?
I have no recollection.
Far too many to mention. The ancient enmity that came to kill has struck again.
There's but one life. The only question is… how are you going to experience the eternal nature of God's gift to you?
Life, my life, it’s been awful. I had success in the worlds terms, but I was miserable inside. I sought for some kind of comfort and pinned all my hopes on a romantic relationship. I was so determined to find love, but my marriage failed. I became obsessed with babies. A baby was going to be the glue that held my next relationship together and heal all my pain. I found it difficult to conceive and miscarried twice and thus waved goodbye to my third husband. Oh the pain of it all. I just wanted to escape from this world of heartache.
This world cannot be escaped by death, but by truth alone. Your current situation shows you that my words are true.
Yes! I am still in the world. It’s all the same. Nothing has changed, and I can sense the heaviness of my problems which are still present.
You have a sick mind, but your journey has not been for nothing.
Tell me about it.
You are on the verge of readiness.
Readiness for what?
It cannot be taught only experienced.
Are you ready to have your mind healed?
What do I have to do?
But how do I reach that goal?
You must desire it with all your heart, but you will also have to face the enemy without shrinking back.
Sounds like a thrilling mission.
It's the call to Life —and you haven't been too thrilled with your version of life so far.
Are you saying that I am finally ready to answer that call?
Yes, I do believe I am, and I have great faith in you.
Tell me more about the unseen enemy.
Never underestimate the power afforded to the enemy, nor its cunning skills of deception and manipulation. Be aware of the extent of its insanity and its intense drive for vengeance. The villain's logic is as impeccable as that of the Holy Spirit.
That’s not a thrilling thought. I don’t like the idea one iota.
The authentic journey into awakening entails a trip through the darkness in order to reach the light. Once the mask drops and the false self begins to fall away it reveals the repressed darkness underneath that it may be released. It can be a frightening and disorientating experience as the attacker and the attacked are brought together to be exposed.
The more I hear, the less I feel inclined.
You are going to have to experience the world in form again.
I cannot do it. I will not do it.
You must do it because the world is waiting.
It will be waiting a long time. I’m free of the body and glad it is so. I don’t want a new body. I don’t want to start all over again. I dread the thought.
You have work to do to play your part. The ending must remain obscure to you until your bit is done. The role you play is your own escape, and what all the rest depends on. If you refuse this call then all your brothers will stay in hell. If they stay in hell, then you will stay there with them.
You’re a master. Can't you just do it for me?
I cannot tamper with the basic law of cause and effect and diminish the power of your mind. But I can go there with you to light the way. I can offer you my strength, wisdom, protection and guidance.
What choice do I have?
You can stay in a state of inertia that is hell or you can move forward through the dark terrain and make progress in the right direction.
So I can go to hell or stay in hell.
What have you got to lose?
Nothing but pain I suppose.
If your true call of the heart is peace then you must let the mind be healed.
I do want a life free from all pain forever.
I have the perfect portal of entry waiting for you. A baby is about to be born, and she will be your vehicle into a brand new chapter of experience. You're going to improve your record. You will not lose yourself in the shadows this time. You will come to know thyself. I do not make promises lightly. Fear not my love.
Then she realized that she was one with the master and identified with him. They witnessed the corpse being wheeled out of the house in Los Angeles on the 5th of August 1962. All Rae’s attention was on the old wooden sign hanging above the door. The Latin inscription contained a message:
I will complete the course, but for now, I am just beginning.
Next they ascended the vertical scale of time and the earths entire history until they stopped at a point of observation which was February the 23rd 1969. Re had accepted another identity and a new name when she agreed to answer the call, and this would be her birthday. Her 'yes' to life coincided with the first contraction of labour that would bring birth to this author’s body.