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’s educational to take a hard look at their first pages. A poll follows concerning the need for an editor.
When you evaluate today’s opening page, consider how well it uses elements from the checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling.
Donald Maass, literary agent and author of many books on writing, says, “Independent editor Ray Rhamey’s first-page checklist is an excellent yardstick for measuring what makes openings interesting.”
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.
THE DRONE PERCHED atop the slate roof like the big black bird for which it was named, saving battery, waiting to strike. Its minders waited nearby in a black Tesla Model X: a pilot, an engineer and the team leader.
Under normal operational security protocols, the three Russians would have hidden away, out of sight, as drone commanders usually did. But this wasn’t a normal operation.
This was a test run.
A learning exercise.
All three team members needed to experience the first human capture directly.
The pilot needed confirmation that Raven’s cameras were sufficient for combat operations. The engineer needed confirmation that Raven’s weapons would work as designed. The team leader needed feedback, immediate and first-hand. If they unearthed any flaws, he’d have to figure out how to fix them, fast.
The house beneath the slate roof was typical old-European city-center. A centuries-old stone-block facade abutting both neighbors on a cobblestone street. The street lights were also classic. Old gas lamps turned electric, now yielding to dawn. The neighborhood was still asleep, other than the baker—and the three Russians in their silent Tesla.
“Why this particular house?” Boris asked.
You can turn the page and read more here. Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This earned a very strong 4.8 stars on Amazon. Good clear writing, a strong authorial voice promise skilled storytelling ahead. In our society, Russians are the bad guys, so story questions are brewing as soon as you read that. What are they up to? The drone has weapons. It’s going to do a human capture. So there’s a promise ahead of conflict with someone, assumingly the protagonist. Good “what happens next” questions because we know from this opening that something is going to go wrong for someone—their target, or them, or both. It was enough to get a turn from me. Your thoughts?
My books. You can read sample chapters and learn more about the books here.
Writing Craft Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling
Fantasy</strong >(satire) The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles
Mystery</strong >(coming of age) The Summer Boy
Science Fiction Hiding Magic
Science Fiction GundownFree ebooks.