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#1 Timejockey

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 08:59 PM

Updated in #7

 

Everyone has been so helpful with my query letter, I thought I would post the first 250 words of my book to see how it is looking so far. I will be happy to critique back as well.

 

Waking up in the hospital is never a good way to start the day, especially with no recollection of what got you there. Coming a close second was the time I woke up in my ex-girlfriend's yard after spending the night begging her to take me back, but at least this time I was startled awake by the beeping of a blood pressure monitor and not freezing cold spray from a hose to the face by Sara's father.

It took a few minutes for my brain cells to start firing, just enough time to take stock of my situation. The starched white sheets on the reclining bed felt itchy on the parts exposed by the standard issue backless gown. The IV was pumping dark fluid into my arm below a thick bandage with faint stains the same color of red. An itch brought my fingers up to another bandage on the side of my neck. I said the only thing appropriate for the situation.

“Shit.” Simple, succinct, and to the point. It covered all the bases nicely and easily summed up my feelings.

I tried to sit up and immediately regretted it when my head started swimming and a wave of nausea washed over me. There was a plastic basin sitting next to me, but my retching didn't produce anything to fill it. As I eased back down on the bed, my fingers fumbled around until they found the call button for the nurse and I pressed it. Then I waited... and waited... and waited.



#2 Springfield

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 12:34 AM

Honestly, just that you're starting with a waking-up scene is so ill-advised I don't know if I should mention anything else. 



#3 Timejockey

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 07:37 AM

So I should just scrap the opening completely? Is it there a way to change what's there to get around that? Are there other glaring issues?

#4 Springfield

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 09:35 PM

I'd scrap a waking-up opening. The other issues are mostly that it's kind of scattery -- it's general, then flashing back to something unknown then coming back around to the hospital and yet never actually getting to what's going on. 

 

I think you'd be better off just starting with what's going on.



#5 Timejockey

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Posted 16 December 2017 - 12:07 PM

Thank you and I do understand that. I've read that waking up openings are always risky, but I was hoping the hospital angle would help with that. Here's the first draft of what I'm working on:

 

It's a hell of a thing to wake up in the hospital with no idea how you got there.

If my call button was working, no one seemed to be paying attention to it. I heard people talking out in the hall but none of them stopped in to check on me.  Yet somehow anytime I dozed off there would be a new tiny can of ginger ale on my bedside table when I woke up. You would think with as much as they charged the hospital could afford full size cans. 

Three sodas later I was still thirsty, still confused, and the starched sheets were giving me a nasty rash on the parts my gown didn't cover. I touched the thick bandage on my neck and the other on my forearm, just below the IV pumping fluids into me. I was desperate for someone to talk to, to tell me what happened, so I pushed the call button again and waited. And waited. And waited. Just as I was about to doze off again someone finally came in.

“Are we finally awake, Mr. Steward? Or should I call you Mr. Sleepyhead?” a cheerful voice came from a barrel-shaped women dressed in smiley face patterned scrubs as she entered the room. Her blond hair was pulled up in a tight bun that bounced with each step and white teeth filled her broad smile as she came over and absentmindedly checked the IV and the monitors behind my bed.

“Why am I here?” I asked, surprised at how dry and harsh my voice sounded despite all the drinks.

“Well that's a deep question for a Thursday night,” she said, reaching down to take my wrist to check my pulse. 



#6 mzbritney12

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 11:34 AM

Thank you and I do understand that. I've read that waking up openings are always risky, but I was hoping the hospital angle would help with that. Here's the first draft of what I'm working on:

 

It's a hell of a thing to wake up in the hospital with no idea how you got there. ( I really like how the voice of your MC shows in this first sentence).

If my call button was working, no one seemed to be paying attention to it. I heard people talking out in the hall but none of them stopped in to check on me.  Yet somehow (comma) anytime I dozed off (comma) there would be a new tiny can of ginger ale on my bedside table when I woke up. You would think with as much as they charged (at) the hospital (they) could afford full(-)size(d) cans. 

Three sodas later I was still thirsty, still confused, and the starched sheets were giving me a nasty rash on the parts my gown didn't cover. I touched the thick bandage on my neck and the other on my forearm, just below the IV pumping fluids into me. I was desperate for someone to talk to, to tell me what happened, so I pushed the call button again and waited. And waited. And waited. Just as I was about to doze off again someone finally came in.

“Are we finally awake, Mr. Steward? Or should I call you Mr. Sleepyhead?” a cheerful voice came from a barrel-shaped women dressed in smiley face patterned scrubs as she entered the room. (I think this last sentence should be broken up into two; it's a bit ling for a tagline.) Her blond hair was pulled up in a tight bun that bounced with each step and white teeth filled her broad smile as she came over and absentmindedly checked the IV and the monitors behind my bed.

“Why am I here?” I asked, surprised at how dry and harsh my voice sounded despite all the drinks.

“Well that's a deep question for a Thursday night,” she said, reaching down to take my wrist to check my pulse. 

 

Hey TimeJockey!

 

I enjoyed reading your paragraph. I didn't have too many comments except for a few grammar items. 

I think, one thing that would intensify your opening scene, would be to play more with the 5 senses. Show us more how the MC is feeling as he is lying in bed. Describe more of the pain he's feeling, and where it's coming from. I imagine, as with anyone, when you wake in a hospital after something crazy happens, you feel immense pain. You mention starched sheets--maybe he smells them instead. Starch is usually pretty strong. What does he hear? Probably the machines he's hooked up to. 

 

I hope my comments help!

As always, good luck with your writing journey! It's an exciting time! 


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#7 Timejockey

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 08:04 PM

Thank you for the feedback! Here is a corrected version.

 

It's a hell of a thing to wake up in the hospital with no idea how you got there.

The chemical smells turned my stomach, and over the constant beep of the monitors I heard people talking out in the hall, but no one came in to check on me. If my call button was working, no one seemed to be paying attention to it. Yet somehow, anytime I dozed off, there would be a new tiny can of ginger ale on my bedside table when I woke up. You would think with as much as they charged at the hospital they could afford full sized cans. 

Three sodas later I was still thirsty, still confused, and the starched sheets were giving me a nasty rash on the parts my gown didn't cover. I touched the thick bandage on my neck and the other on my forearm, just below the IV pumping fluids into me. I was desperate for someone to talk to, to tell me what happened, so I pushed the call button again and waited. And waited. And waited. Just as I was about to doze off again someone finally came in.

“Are we finally awake, Mr. Steward? Or should I call you Mr. Sleepyhead?” a cheerful voice came from a barrel-shaped women dressed in smiley face patterned scrubs as she entered the room. Her blond hair was pulled up in a tight bun that bounced with each step and white teeth filled her broad smile as she came over and absentmindedly checked the IV and the monitors behind my bed.

“Why am I here?” I asked, surprised at how dry and harsh my voice sounded despite all the drinks.

“Well that's a deep question for a Thursday night,” she said as she reached down to check my pulse. 



#8 Andrea Roche

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Posted 22 December 2017 - 06:38 PM

 Hi TimeJockey,

It's haunting really. What I keep wishing is it would be read in present tense. It would put the reader in the place of the person in the bed, seeing things from his eyes. It would improve the voice of your character and bring out your writing style.

 

 


 

It's a hell of a thing to wake up in the hospital with no idea how you got there.

 

The chemical smells turn my stomach.  I hear people talking in the hall over the constant beep of the monitors. Still, no one comes in to check on me. I can't tell If my call button is working, no one seemed to be paying attention to it. Yet somehow, anytime I doze off, there is a new tiny can of ginger ale on my bedside table when I wake up.

 

You would think with as much as they charged at the hospital they could afford full sized cans. Three sodas later I am still thirsty and still confused. The starched sheets are giving me a nasty rash on the parts my gown doesn't cover.

I touch the thick bandage on my neck and the other on my forearm, just below the IV pumping fluids into me.

 

I am desperate for someone to talk to, to tell me what happened.  I push the call button again and wait.

And wait.

And wait. Just as I am about to doze off again someone finally comes in.

 

“Are we finally awake, Mr. Steward? Or should I call you Mr. Sleepyhead?” A cheerful voice comes from a barrel-shaped woman dressed in smiley face patterned scrubs. Her blond hair is pulled up into a tight bun (I took out the bouncing bun, if it is tight it wouldn't bounce) and her white teeth fill her broad smile. She comes over and absentmindedly (I think Absentminded is not the right word here- better to use casually, if you think adjectives are necessary at all) checks the IV and the monitors behind my bed.

“Why am I here?” I ask, surprised at how dry and harsh my voice sounds, despite all the drinks.

“Well, that's a deep question for a Thursday night.” She reaches down to check my pulse. 

 

I took out the "She said". It's really not necessary if there are only two people in the room.

Sounds great, good luck.


Andrea Roche

Author: Nights Arose on Amazon

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Twitter: @Rose121562


#9 RMLucas

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Posted 22 December 2017 - 10:33 PM

Great start. I have to agree with Andrea. It seems easier to read when it’s in the present tense. It gives you a sense of what he’s experiencing and get a better sense of his voice. Keep up the good work.

#10 Timejockey

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Posted 22 December 2017 - 11:16 PM

Thank you for the great feedback! In terms of the tense, the book originally started in the format of a journal written by the main character. I dropped that but it kept the general tone of that. Do you think the current past tense format is a deal breaker? I was hoping to avoid a total rewrite at this stage, but I want to do what's best.

#11 Andrea Roche

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 02:18 AM

Since this is all I have read I don't know if a rewrite is warranted.

All I can say is- it is the difference between showing a story and telling a story. You may want to tell the story from the viewpoint of what happened in the past,  but I can say it is better to show the story from the viewpoint of a person as it is happening. It is more interesting and as stated above by RMLucas it is easier to read.

 

BTW RMLucas thanks for saying I am right, I do love being right.

 

It doesn't seem too difficult to change the tenses from the past to the present.  A few adjustments and BAM you are done.


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#12 Timejockey

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 10:59 AM

Here's a crack at present tense, just to see how it looks.

 

It's a hell of a thing to wake up in the hospital with no idea how you got there.

I hear people talking out in the hall but none of them stop in to check on me. If my call button is working, no one seems to be paying attention to it. Yet somehow, anytime I doze off, there's a new tiny can of ginger ale on my bedside table when I wake up. You'd think with as much as they charge at the hospital they could afford full sized cans. 

Three sodas later I'm still thirsty, still confused, and the starched sheets are giving me a nasty rash on the parts my gown doesn't cover. I touch the thick bandage on my neck and the other on my forearm, just below the IV pumping fluids into me. I'm desperate for someone to talk to, to tell me what happened, so I push the call button again and wait. And wait. And wait. Just as I'm about to doze off again someone finally comes in.

“Are we finally awake, Mr. Steward? Or should I call you Mr. Sleepyhead?”

A cheerful voice comes from a barrel-shaped women dressed in smiley face patterned scrubs as she enters the room. Her blond hair is pulled up in a bun that bounces with each step and white teeth fill her broad smile as she walks over and checks the IV and the monitors behind my bed.

“Why am I here?” I ask, surprised at how dry and harsh my voice sounds despite all the drinks.

“Well that's a deep question for a Thursday night.” She reaches down to check my pulse. 



#13 RMLucas

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 12:03 PM

Haha Andrea! Yeah, changing the tenses definitely makes it flow better. It doesn’t sound as clunky. Cool start though. Now you have to decide if you like it better and whether it’s worth it to you to change it. Good luck!

#14 Timejockey

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 04:36 PM

I need to let it percolate a bit. Personally I'm not a huge fan of present tense perspective in books I read, and I know that it can largely be personal preference with readers. I don't dislike it, but I need to change a bit more, maybe at least the first chapter, and see how I feel about it. Thank you for the feedback and keep it coming!

#15 Andrea Roche

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 10:30 AM

I think if you read it out loud you will see how much changing the tense improves the tension and reader interest. 

After all, what you want to do is write a story the reader just can't put down.

Past tense is fine if you are writing in 2nd person. My entire book is written in second person past tense.

But in first person, I think present tense is the way to go.  It's just more natural.

 

I was wondering if you could look at my addition to the 250 words. I would love to hear your opinion.

Best,

Andrea


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#16 Timejockey

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Posted 27 December 2017 - 08:32 PM

Well, present tense is generally how we talk, so it does sound more like a conversation. But in checking with my betas, they seem pretty evenly split on preference between the two tenses. I am still percolating.



#17 lnloft

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 04:23 PM

I'll say that I'm a person who definitely prefers past tense over present tense in my books. I generally get over it pretty quickly, but it does periodically catch me, usually when I start reading a chapter. I'd much rather read an entire book in past tense than present. Regarding your piece here, I also don't think that changing it from past tense to present tense really changes anything with the flow. So I say stick with your instinct. I write strictly third-person, past tense, but I've had people suggest first-person, or that I write the book from multiple perspectives when I'm writing it from only one, and I've always rejected those suggestions, the former because frankly that's not how I write and what I'm less inclined to read, and the latter because it's not the story I want to tell. Obviously, do seriously consider suggestions from betas, but ultimately, this is your story. Tell the story how you want to tell it, and tell a story that's how you would want to read it.


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#18 mzbritney12

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 12:28 PM

Timejockey, I totally agree with Inloft. At the end of the day it's your story, and it's up to you to choose what tense you write in. I personally prefer past tense, and I also prefer to read books that are written in past tense--it eludes to the whole, "someone is telling a story here" vibe. At the same time, though, I've written books in past tense and in present tense, but I always end up going back to past tense because it flows better to me. It's clearly a personal preference. The biggest advice I have for you is to write what you love. If you do that, I promise there will be other people out there who love what you love as well. So if you write in past tense, you'll have people rooting you on, and if you write in present tense, you'll have people rooting you on, too. 

 

As for your 250 words, I really do like the play on the senses and how/where you've implemented them! It really does open up your character and make him feel more relateable/more human.  

Best of luck to you!


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#19 EmperorOfTheNorth

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 07:11 PM

I dig the flip. I am of the belief that waking up scenes can spark the V8 motors.
I dug your first part. This is certainly making me wonder why MC is in the hospital. That is the story or at least part of it. I am intrigued,
I dig your explanation of those tiny soda cans and the bed-rash from the nakeditity behind a hospital gownl
Good stuf. I prefer past tense here for certain.
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#20 TheBest

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 02:24 PM

It's a hell of a thing to wake up in the hospital with no idea how you got there. (I love this opener. Immediately establishes location dn voice.)

I hear people talking out in the hall but none of them stop in to check on me. If my call button is working, no one seems to be paying attention to it. Yet somehow (I felt this was inconsistent with the voice), anytime I doze off, there's a new tiny can of ginger ale on my bedside table when I wake up. You'd think with as much as they charge at the hospital they could afford full sized cans. 

Three sodas later I'm still thirsty, still confused, and the starched sheets are giving me a nasty rash on the parts my gown doesn't cover. I touch the thick bandage on my neck and the other on my forearm, just below the IV pumping fluids into me. I'm desperate for someone to talk to, to tell me what happened, so I push the call button again and wait. And wait. And wait. Just as I'm about to doze off again someone finally comes in. (I love this paragraph! Great momentum.)

“Are we finally awake, Mr. Steward? Or should I call you Mr. Sleepyhead?” 

A cheerful voice comes from a barrel-shaped women dressed in smiley face patterned scrubs as she enters the room. (This sentence is interesting but its awkward. Rearrange the words.) Her blond hair is pulled up in a bun that and bounces with each step and, her white teeth filling her broad smile as she walks over and checks the IV and the monitors behind my bed.

“Why am I here?” I ask, surprised at how dry and harsh my voice sounds despite all the drinks.

“Well that's a deep question for a Thursday night.” She reaches down to check my pulse. 

 

This is a great opener, and the voice actually reminds me a lot of one of my own works, so I'm naturally in love with it. The one issue I see is the phrasing -- my advice is to go through each sentence and rearrange the syntax and word placement so that the sentences don't get bogged down. Good luck!






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