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 later poll concerning the need for an editor.
Shane McMillan goes missing on the sweetest day of the year— the third Saturday in May, the day dedicated to celebrating the year’s honey harvest at the annual Tupelo Festival in Wewahitchka— the tiny town that is the tupelo capital of the world.
The morning is bright, cool, and clear.
A beautiful day. The kind when nothing bad should be able to happen.
Beneath the enormous canopy of ancient live oak trees, the breeze blowing off Lake Alice waves the Spanish moss about and wafts around the savory smells of stir fry, barbecue, chargrilled chicken, sausage, burgers, and hotdogs, fresh fried catfish and grouper, and funnel cake.
Thousands of people fill the little lakeside park. Some winding their way around the cement walking track, slowly moving from vendor to vendor, lifting and examining and talking about the bottles of honey, homemade candles, kids clothes, wooden toys, wind chimes, hand-painted signs, scarves, and glass jars of special spices and sauces. Others sitting beneath the green tin roof of the pavilion listening to live music. Still others standing in line for food or sitting beneath the shade of a pole barn at picnic tables eating it. Some parents watch their kids play games, ride ponies, and jump in the bouncy castle in the middle of it all, while others look on as their kids swing and slide and climb on the permanent playground equipment at the far end.
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received a strong 4.6 stars on Amazon. The writing is just fine, the voice likable as well. There is a teaser opening . . . but then the chapter devolves into backstory. It ends with a little more teasing . . . but the next two chapters are pretty much all backstory. For this reader, the story sagged from the beginning. The author has a successful series going, and I suspect the high ratings are from people who know his writing and don’t need to be pulled into the story right away. But I’m not one of them. With no real story questions—and the only one there is about a character I know nothing about nor care for—there’s no turn of the page for me. Poll on need for editor 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.