Why/Why Not, Wednesday!

December 9, 2009 | Karin's Blog | 14 comments

Okay, I couldn’t pick just one submission!  Actually I didn’t pick them, I numbered the submissions and had my son pick two numbers!

Real quick, let’s be nice but forthright.  No arguing, no flames, no nastiness. 

 And now? Let us put our magnificent brains together and help an author out!

Here’s the first, first page. When commenting refer to it as page one.

Holding her tighter over him and closing his eyes he breathed in her scent. He loved her…all of her. As urgency washed over them and fearing this bliss ending too quickly he whispered, “slower love; we have all night…” He wanted to savor this.  She gripped him tighter as a deep-throated cry left her lips urging him to…

RING!!!

“Doorbell… Always when I’m on a roll.” Serena sighed looking down at her cat JJ.

She got up from her writing desk and made her way to the door. “I have a deadline, I don’t need these distractions now.”

“Ms. Serena Foster?”

“Yes?”

“Sign here please.” Signing the clip board she smiled politely at the messenger before closing the front door. The envelope was from Dublin, Ireland.

“Hmmm…I don’t know anyone in Ireland.”

MEOW!” Replied JJ, who was now circling patiently at her feet. She carefully slid an antique letter opener beneath the sealed flap.

Dear Ms. Foster,

You have been listed as a beneficiary to the estate of Arthur J. Kilkenny of County Cork, Ireland who recently died at the age of 97.

The reading of his Last Will and Testament will take place on August 12, 2009 at 11am at the office of McDougal and Finch.

In the event you are unable to attend the reading in person, a representative on your behalf may attend. Please contact my office for further information at the number listed below.

Please accept our deepest condolences for your loss.

Thomas J. McDougal, Esq.

Here’s the second, first page, please refer to this as page two.

The sharp, acrid scent of sulfur wafted through the air just when I was about to call it a night.  Bingo.  I raised the wine glass to my lips. Now, which one of these bar flies was my target?  The only way to find out would be to leave and see who follows.  Initiating plan A.  Slugging back the rest of my merlot, I steadied my empty glass on the bar before sliding off the stool.  Pausing a second, I wobbled on my stilettos as I made a show of straightening my pencil skirt.  Not that I needed to catch my balance, but I wanted to give the impression that I was stupid drunk with a target plastered on my back. 

Here, demon, demon.  A sloppy grin quirked my lips as soon as the thought crossed my mind.  Of course, I knew it was a sloppy grin, considering I had practiced it often enough in the mirror.  I could do drunk.  I played it quite well, thank you very much. 

Clutching my purse, I slid the narrow strap over my shoulder and walked out of the bar and into the hotel lobby.  My heels clacked across the marble floor.  I had every intention of miss-stepping to give the impression I was toasted, but there was no pretending about it as my right heel slid out from under me.  Landing on my ass should have been the least of my worries with a murderer on the loose. 

 

Comments?

I’m going to be gone for the better part f the day, so behave while I’m gone (and sorry this went up late, I was up with the baby last night!)

Karin*

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14 Comments

  1. Sarah Simas

    HI Karin!

    I hope you get a nap after being up late. 🙂

    I really enjoyed reading today’s submissions. Thanks for the tasty teasers!

    Page One: I liked Selena’s writing intro. Very Romancing the Stone! I would have liked the surroundings a little more tangible. Other than that, I thought it was very well written and would have read further.

    Page Two: This was a very fun read. I enjoyed the humor and imagery. I was hooked and intrigued. The writer’s voice definitely stood out. Great job.

  2. J. Carson Black

    Page One.

    I really like this – it’s a good beginning, and the love scene pulled me in instantly. All in all, a very good start, and most of it is pristine, although there are commas missing in places (marked).

    The only thing I’d add: try to find ways to make it more interesting. You have a nice straightforward style and that’s good, but maybe you could give us a vivid image once or twice. Maybe with the cat, or with the messenger. Or the strange-looking envelope from Ireland. You want to keep the reader’s attention by challenging her to read every word, so give her a little something specific to chew on. Instead of “Hmmn,” which is generic and adds nothing, show something about her by her reaction. Now these are stupid, but they’re off the top of my head: “Well, I’ll be dogged.” Or, “Wow, that’s weird.” Or, “What the—?” or “Ireland?” — Jake

    Holding her tighter over him and closing his eye (comma) he breathed in her scent. He loved her…all of her. As urgency washed over them and fearing this bliss ending too quickly he whispered, “slower love; we have all night…” He wanted to savor this. She gripped him tighter as a deep-throated cry left her lips urging him to…

    RING!!!

    “Doorbell… Always when I’m on a roll.” Serena sighed AND LOOKED (looking) down at her cat JJ. I LIKE THIS!!!!!

    She got up from her writing desk and made her way to the door. “I have a deadline, I don’t need these distractions now.”

    MAYBE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OR AT LEAST AN ALLUSION TO THE MAN ON HER DOORSTEP. LIKE, “A MESSENGER STOOD ON THE DOORSTEP.”

    “(Ms.) Serena Foster?”

    “Yes?”

    “Sign here (comma) please.”

    SHE SIGNED THE CLIPBOARD, SMILED POLITELY AT THE MESSENGER, AND CLOSED THE DOOR.

    The envelope was from Dublin, Ireland.

    “Hmmm…I don’t know anyone in Ireland.”

    “MEOW!” Replied JJ, who was now circling patiently at her feet. She carefully slid an antique letter opener beneath the sealed flap. NOTHING WRONG WITH “MEOW,” BUT YOU COULD MAKE IT BETTER AND LESS GENERIC, MORE PARTICULAR TO THE CAT. MEOW IS OBVIOUS CAT LANGUAGE, BUT THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO DESCRIBE IT. OR EVEN OTHER WORDS, MOWR OR ROWRF. AND IF HE’S CIRCLING HER FEET, HE MUST WANT SOMETHING, AND IS PROBABLY LESS THAN PATIENT. HE’S THE ONLY OTHER CHARACTER IN THE ROOM, AND HE COULD SHOW SOMETHING ABOUT SERENA AND HIMSELF.

    NOTE THE QUOTATIONS FOR THE LETTER:

    “Dear Ms. Foster,

    “You have been listed as a beneficiary to the estate of Arthur J. Kilkenny of County Cork, Ireland (comma) who recently died at the age of 97.

    “The reading of his Last Will and Testament will take place on August 12, 2009 at 11am at the office of McDougal and Finch.

    “In the event you are unable to attend the reading in person, a representative on your behalf may attend. Please contact my office for further information at the number listed below.

    “Please accept our deepest condolences for your loss.

    “Thomas J. McDougal, Esq.”

    EXCELLENT LETTER. AND INTRIGUING ENOUGH FOR ME TO WANT TO READ ON.

  3. Theresa

    My thoughts on the first page:

    I have to admit that my first thought on reading this page was that this opening has been done over and over again, and this approach doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Personally, I think it would have benefited from some kind of twist, so that it stands apart from its counterparts.

    Maybe rather than having the opening a love scene, have it a death scene- or a chase scene–something that will drag the reader in fast only to have them realize that the action isn’t *real* so to speak. Almost most every book/chapter I’ve read with this type of an opening uses a love scene, so maybe mix that up a bit?

    I’d agree with the first two posters that I’d have liked more descriptive detail, and more of a sense of characterization.

    But when it came to the delivery of the letter, I also felt like that aspect has been used repeatedly before as well, and this approach didn’t bring anything new to the reader. I would have liked another twist here…although, I honestly can’t think of something off hand– but just throwing ideas out. Maybe she entered some weird kind of contest, or it says in the letter she entered some kind of contest and she knows she didn’t, or she wins it in a lottery, or the deed just shows up in the mail with her name on it and she doesn’t know why. Or maybe she is going through her a close relative’s things and comes across the deed and wonders about it since she never even knew they had the place…

    In any case, between the opening with the love scene, and the delivery of the letter informing her of her inheritance—it just felt like I’ve read this before.

  4. Edie

    I agree with Jake on her corrections and Theresa that starting with a sex scene that turns out to be from a story the heroine is writing is overdone. It does feel that it’s there to catch the reader’s attention — which isn’t a bad thing. But if it was missing, it won’t matter to the story.

    It does sound like an interesting story, though. I’d want to read on.

    For the second one, I know who wrote it (waving hi!). I like it. Very much. It’s a fun, catchy beginning. The only thing I’d watch out for is the sentences starting with an “ing” phrase.

    Here’s the problem sentence: Slugging back the rest of my merlot, I steadied my empty glass on the bar before sliding off the stool.

    As phrased, she’s slugging back the merlot and putting the empty glass on the bar at the same time. I see sentences like that often, even in pubbed books. Drives me nuts.

    Otherwise, excellent first page!

  5. J. Carson Black

    Page Two

    What can I say? This is excellent! I like the fact that we’re just plunked down in media res—it’s effortless. We have a character who thinks ahead and tells us volumes about herself through her actions and thoughts. She knows stuff, and we rely on her as the narrator who will eventually let us in on the secret. The descriptions are evocative. Maybe there’s one two many repeats of the drunk act–I’d take out the clause, “Not that I needed to catch my balance, but” –it’s a redundancy. You kept me reading every word, wanting to see what would happen. Do that for a whole book, and that’s about as good as it gets.

  6. Theresa

    So sorry, I got interupted before I could finish posting my thoughts on the first page posted.

    love, Love, LOVE the cat.

    I really love animals in books, lol–that alone would keep me reading.

  7. Theresa

    On the second Page posted.

    I remember the first paragraph on this from Lori Brighton’s first paragraph contest.

    It has an strong and immediate sense of characterization, setting and action which drew me in quickly.

    Loved the Here demon, demon–for some reason I keep wanting to add a third demon to that, maybe because I associate calling a kitty with three. You know, here kitty, kitty, kitty. Personally, there is only one thing I’d consider taking out, and that’s the bit right after the here demon, demon where you have the thought crossing her mind. I’d keep the sloppy grin, but take the thought crossed her mind out. That came off as unnecessary to me.

    But other than that, I loved this opening and would have kept reading.

  8. HollyD

    Both of these worked for me. I would love to read more.

  9. Amie Stuart

    PAGE ONE:

    Holding her tighter over him and closing his eyes he breathed in her scent. He loved her…all of her. As urgency washed over them and fearing this bliss ending too quickly he whispered, “slower love; we have all night…” He wanted to savor this. She gripped him tighter as a deep-throated cry left her lips urging him to…

    >>The entire snippet of the love scene she’s writing doesn’t really grab me.
    1st sentence, comma after ‘eyes’. Third sentence comma after ‘quickly’.

    RING!!!

    “Doorbell… Always when I’m on a roll.” Serena sighed looking down at her cat JJ.

    She got up from her writing desk and made her way to the door. “I have a deadline, I don’t need these distractions now.”

    I think this entire section could benefit from some scene setting and a lot of PUNCH. Make us feel the author’s frustration at being interrupted–surely you can relate 😉

    “Ms. Serena Foster?”

    Again try to set the scene a little…who is at the door? What season is it? what time of day is it? Has she been lost in her writing for hours? Is this her regular fedex/ups/usps dude? Are they on a first name basis? Is she thinking, “Damn it’s spring and I”m missing a lovely day for this freaking deadline???”

    I’m not saying you need ALL These things but I definitely vote for fleshing out some of the details.
    “Yes?”

    “Sign here please.” Signing the clip board she smiled politely at the messenger before closing the front door. The envelope was from Dublin, Ireland.

    Overall I’d vote for punching this up quite a bit.

  10. Amie Stuart

    PS I’ve yet to meet a cat who circled patiently LOL 😀

  11. Margaret

    Oi! I’m late to the party! I’ve been busy making candy for the last four days and haven’t had a chance to look at the subs . . . and then see mine on the list! Thank you, Karin and son!

    Page one: I do like the way it starts, but like the others have commented, it’s been done before. I felt there was a little repetition that could be tightened or deleted. I love JJ, in fact, I love reading about animals in stories as they bring there own personalities (Mister in the Dresden books by Jim Butcher comes to mind–cause I’m currently reading one). I think JJ has more personality than the reader is privy to at this point. Does he butt against her legs? Or try to climb her leg because she’s ignoring him? I’d read on.

    Page two: Can’t comment since it’s mine. But thank you all for your insight. I’ve beens struggling with writing for the past few months (haven’t we all!) and wondered if I should keep at it or not.
    –and Edie: I stared at that darn sentence for five minutes trying to figure out what was wrong with it! Now, I know. Thanks, hon!

  12. B.E. Sanderson

    Sorry I’m late. It was one of those weeks. Anyway, my thoughts on the pages:

    Pg1 – I think the page shows promise, but the set-up came off as a little flat. It’s the same device as the beginning of Romancing the Stone, without the zip and emotion. Keep at it, though, because I think you could really make this something. The idea of getting a letter about a bequest from some long lost relative is a good one. I wouldn’t know for sure without reading more, but maybe you could skip ahead and have her reflect on the lawyer letter and her writerly deadlines as she’s getting ready to leave for Ireland.

    Pg2 – Very good, but it reminds me of the opening to Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress Series, only with demons instead of vampires. Not a bad thing, btw, just an observation. You might need to find a way to distance your writing from hers, though. Having said that, there’s very little else I can find in this passage. I’d add another ‘demon’ to the ‘here demon demon’. Good job. This sounds like something I’d buy, so I’ll be waiting impatiently to see it in print. =o)

    Hope that helps. If either writer has any questions about what I’ve said, they can email me through the link on my blog.

    Thanks again for doing this, Karin. You’re a peach.

  13. Amie Stuart

    I have to agree with Jake. I really liked this one and like Jake, liked being plunked down in the middle of the action. My only question (and really it’s a quibble) is, if she’s going to chase/kill/etc a demon, why the pencil skirt? LOL Told you it was a quibble. 😉

  14. Amie Stuart

    Margaret keep at it. I really like your entry!

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