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.
Next are the first 17 manuscript lines of the first chapter in a book as a “page-turning work of suspense,” The Diary: The Complete Story. A poll and the opening page of the first chapter follow. Should this author have hired an editor?
I knew Jason would be the love of my life the first time I met him. What I didn't know was that he would turn out to be a monster.
We were in college back then and ended up in the same drama class our senior year. Okay, so I had seen this gorgeous boy a few times around campus before, but we had never interacted. Doing so made all the difference. We were asked to do a scene together in class, playing a couple fighting about money and then making up afterward. He took me by surprise by actually French-kissing me at the end, even though our acting teacher had shown us how to properly fake such a kiss. The second I felt his hot tongue swirl around mine, I was lost. Well, to be honest, maybe that happened the moment I looked into his beautiful blue eyes. I had never before looked into eyes containing that much depth, that much sincerity and benevolence. This boy was one of a kind. And he would be mine.
I have been lost to this man for the last nine years and we’ve been so happy together all of that time, oh so happy. That blissful happiness ended today, about thirty minutes ago. That was when I found out that I had been wrong about the state of our relationship. I now know that Jason has been unfaithful to me for the last few months.
If only that had been it. See, I might have been able to handle him straying. No, scratch that; I would have handled it. I’m not a quitter and our marriage, our love for each other, is worth (snip)
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received an average of 4.1 stars on Amazon, a plurality being 5 stars. This opening is an example of how a strong first-person narration can pull in a reader even if there’s no immediate scene, nothing really “happening.” This writer uses foreshadowing in the opening paragraph to bait the hook, and then builds upon that.
The brief backstory about how they met serves a purpose, too, to characterize both of the people in the story. So far, so good. And then more story questions pile up (following “why is he a monster” from the first paragraph)—what is she going to do about the affair she has discovered? Will it break up her marriage? These questions, plus clean writing and a strong voice, were enough to get me to turn the page.
But there was one thing on a following page that, had it been on the first page, would have been riveting. She has discovered his diary in which she learns about his unfaithfulness. And it includes this about his lover: “I killed her.” I’d have worked to get a reference to that on the first page. Otherwise, a good opening. 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.