This topic is so fun!!
RSMellette - LET ME BUY YOUR BOOK.
Cat - HOOKED, HOOKED, HOOKED, and HOOKED! Not surprising. :P For the first one, I'd suggest changing the comma after "desk" to a colon, because the first time through, I wanted to read it as some unidentified noun sitting on top of the notebook. (Because of course, no one's expecting an icky feeling from a beat-up old notebook.) On the fourth, I'd advise tweaking this sentence a little: "Now picture him with short blonde hair and grayish eyes
with, and throw in
a few dimples
." Just a suggestion, since I definitely pictured dimpled eyes for a second, which was sort of terrifying.
WTE - Not quite there for me. But I understand the terror over a mother seeing bad grades! So I'm invested in the situation, but not necessarily the character. I think things are moving a little too quickly, to be honest - there's some time lapse in-between her receiving the progress report and her mother pulling up, and it's a teensy bit disorienting. I'd also nit this: "I
stuff hide (to make a clearer parallel to the later 'hide')
the progress report in my back pocket, in case Mom goes through my backpack. When she pulls up, I see what Nick is wearing, and I want to hide me, too."
RLS - Not my genre, admittedly, but I'll say that the third paragraph lost some steam for me. I know backstory is a no-no and all that, but I think your opening is a little too light on the background and too heavy on the present action and description. What he's doing doesn't appeal to me as much if I don't know more about this crazy ordeal he's been through - and what he's seeing definitely doesn't feel important enough to occupy this much space on your first page. Purely my opinion, of course, but I'd love to see more of the character you've got in paragraphs 1 and 2 rather than further description of the lay of the land, etc.
Joey: I suggest you start at "Is two-fifty still our offer?" and tweak everything afterward to work in the backstory you've exposed earlier (in a car, going to the airport. all easy stuff). Imo, this line of dialogue is where the action really starts - that's where I started getting hooked. A lot of the things you're telling us earlier - and they are straight-up told, in some spots, which isn't good for hooking - are clearly displayed after the "is two-fifty" part. (They were moving fast, almost too fast, in the search for the right candidate for national sales director.
I feel like you're talking directly to me! Very unsettling.) But I'm definitely interested in the situation combined with the uber-cool title! Awesome character names, too.
SC - my suggestion is to start at "The son took the journal in his hands, feeling the torn black covers. He giggled. “Dad, this doesn’t look like a bedtime story.”" That, and everything after it, interests me far more than anything before. Felt like too much inner debate for the father, to me - wasted words on the reader. I don't know the dad, the son, or their story, so to read all the "should I? Should I not?" is just frustrating, rather than intriguing. Also, is this a frame narrative? I'm not sure I know why you don't just start with Alphi - does the kid reading this become relevant later in the story, or is he just added in for the beginning? As of yet, not hooked so much as puzzled.
RC, you know how I feel about this first page. And holy crap, another fantastic title from RC. *shakes head* Lady, you're a wizard.
JayMG - I know you mentioned you're working on yours - can't wait to see a revision! You always have such great advice for people, and your original version intrigued me.
Pete - Yes. Yes. Yes. I don't even read crime fiction. HOOKED.
Steph - Interesting, this new version! I'd specify a few things - the face in the puddle, is that hers? And the "I wonder"s feel a little too tell-y to me, and the 'speed up, slow down' line doesn't click for me. Other than that, I like the lead-in.
Here are a couple of mine -
The last time I climbed a fence this high, the world was a different place. Back then, la Guerra Civil – the Mexican Civil War – was still young. Back then, the Splits of America were fifty united states, and their capital was a thriving city, not a smoldering bombsite. Back then, we lived on a farm near Acapulco, and Mamá and Papá worried about silly things like me sneaking into a nearby village to see my best friend, who had a tall chain link fence around his house.
We can’t afford to worry about things like that anymore. I am not thirteen years old, and the biggest risk about climbing this chain link fence is not falling off and skinning my elbow. If they see my brother and me clambering over this barrier, they’ll shred us with bullets.
The fence has taken agonizing minutes to climb. Shrouded in darkness, outlined with moonlight, Davio and I finally slip over the top. I would wonder why the fence doesn’t have barbed wire, but enough barbed wire stretched over the last three fences to compensate. Border Patrol probably didn’t think anyone would dig this far.
We drop the last six feet, hitting the sand in silence. On the other side of the fence, Mamá and Papá stop keeping watch and start climbing.
I turn around, stare through the starlit semi-darkness. Did we cross at the right spot?
Then floodlights slam on. They bleach my brother’s skin the color of sand. His expression turns to horror, and my own face twists instantly to mirror his.
We stand in a pool of daylight in the middle of the night, pinned in place by the white bulbs. Frozen between countries. Frozen between worlds.
When I come home, the lights in the kitchen are dim, seeming to cast more shadow than light. I’m glad. Sometimes, when it’s bright, I catch sight of myself in the mirror above the sink, and the picture never fails to horrify me.
“Amira?” my older brother calls from the linkroom.
“Don’t come through here, okay? Leanna’s streaming with me.”
The unspoken words: and I don’t want her to see you.
I bite my lip. “Where’s Mom?”
Jansen sticks his head into the kitchen, electrodes still taped to his forehead, his eyes directed as far from me as possible.
“Mom’s out,” he says.
My throat tightens. She didn’t come home for my last day? “I … oh.”
“She wants you to go to your room and activate your feed and stay there until they come for you.”
In Which Abject Humiliation Becomes the Least of My Worries
I ran into Cal Marquez just as he was fleeing the bathroom. He had this look on his face like some serious shit was going down in there, and not the literal kind, either.
Marq jumped and cringed away when my shoulder knocked into his chest, which was borderline bizarre, given that the lacrosse captain stood a good six inches taller than me. He glared at me, grabbed me by the upper arms, and moved me out of his way.
“Uh,” I said, with my usual flair and eloquence. “Sorry. About running into you. In front of the bathroom.”Oh, God.
Had that really come out of my mouth? Mentally, I whacked myself in the forehead. The last round of lacrosse tryouts started in ten minutes. God knew the lacrosse guys were as much a social group as a sports team – if Marq linked the name ‘Landon Spencer’ to That Awkward Sophomore In Front Of The Bathroom
, I was cut for sure.
But, thank Jesus, Marq seemed to be in too much of a hurry to dwell on my awkwardness. In fact, the way he practically ran down the hall made me nervous to walk into the bathroom and take a piss.
But I did anyway, and everything went totally fine. Sure, the stained green walls looked sort of suspicious, but that was a normal thing for Quincy Adams High.
I started toward the sink.
A noise like gunfire rang against the tiled floor and plaster ceiling, and I just about had a heart attack.