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.
My younger sister screamed.
Natalie ran across the driveway and pulled open the driver's side door of the shiny, red BMW. She moved aside the red ribbon from the giant bow and climbed inside the car.
The new-car scent wafted over to where I stood with our parents. I glanced over at my used, hard-earned Ford. It languished next to the glistening BMW.
Three of the six driveway lights exploded into tiny pieces and fell to the cement behind us.
My oblivious sister sprinted back to our parents as her blonde ponytail swayed back and forth. She gave them each a big hug and a perfect smile. "Daddy, can I take it to practice and show my friends?"
Natalie pleaded with her big doe eyes.
"Of course, sweetheart. Let's get a picture first." My dad turned to me. "Alexis, will you take a picture of us in front of Natalie's new car?"
"I'd rather get a selfie." Natalie pulled out her phone and held it out. "I can't wait to post (snip)
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received 4.4 stars on Amazon. There are two reasons I flog Bookbubbers—one is to illustrate the all-too-frequent need for an editor, and the other is to fine light and entertaining reading for when I do my treadmill. In this book, the writing is good, and so is the voice. Keeping in mind that I knew this was a YA book, the character and the action are fitting.
The opening line is catching, but then it quickly feels like a little bit of bait and switch. Perhaps the forgiving note is the succession of bursting lightbulbs showing us that something unusual and possibly paranormal is going on. But is that enough of a story question? Ordinarily, I’d say no. But, as I said, I’m on the lookout for a fun read. So, in this case, I read on.
The story is one I’ve seen before in YA novels—girl is brainy and smart and doesn’t know that she’s gorgeous, and she has hidden paranormal abilities that she doesn’t know about but are starting to manifest. But I did find the character and voice to be satisfying, so I’ll probably go on to read this one—but, had it not been free, I don’t think I would have gotten here from the first page. It still needs a stronger story question.
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.