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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Three-Hundred Thursday #3

Another first pages participant. I love that you guys are so willing on this. Way to get out there! Way to be brave.


Some secrets shouldn’t be shared. (My opinion on this opening is just that, my opinion. I'm not sure I like it. It seems more like it belongs on a query letter or back cover.)
To keep secrets, lying was necessary. Lucy James knew this better than most people. Her whole life had been a series of deliberate misinformation (This phrase is tripping me up for some reason. I'm not sure if it's because we have "series" -- plural -- up against "misinformation" -- not plural, or if it's because series leads me to think of events and "deliberate misinformation" aren't events. Hmmm.)—not out of a fundamental dishonesty or a disregard for civility, but out of self-protection. Some would say a cheater’s glimpse into the future was a gift. To Lucy it was a curse she had to protect through constant deception.
Lying was also one of her job requirements as a CIA courier.

Settling down in a big city like LA would give Lucy plenty of ways to stay in the shadows, yet still be a part of society. Patting the handbag along her hip, she smiled, knowing at least her dream of planting roots would soon be a reality. She had She'd signed papers to have utilities changed over to her name by tomorrow (Without "by" it sounds as though she is signing the papers the next day, but "had" means she already did. Since seeing into the future is already part of the storyline, it could confuse a reader)—the same day the house she bought should close.
The big, two-story City Hall building (At first I thought the description was about the house she just bought, so the "City Hall" part threw me.) in which she walked held many offices, and all of them connected with some city organization. On the same floor as the water and sewer department, the fire department had their administrative offices. (Only because I've beta read this novel do I know why this is here [cheater, cheater ... I seem to be doing that a lot lately.] If I pretend that I don't know this, the description sticks out as odd. As I talked about with the last Three-Hundred Thursday first page critique, Gennifer Albin recommended putting as little exposition in the first pages as possible. Give what is needed to ground the reader in the scene and nothing else. Consider cutting some of the description of the building and focus on her actions. One possibility -- let her walk through the building and give concise, quick descriptions.) The doors across the hallway from them belonged to the mayor of Los Angeles and other city administrators.
For the most part the other occupants of the busy hallway were polite (Are there some that aren't polite?) and returned her eye contact, brief as it was. By the time Lucy started descending descended (leave out start, begin, etc. unless a sentence wouldn't make sense without it.) the long, curved staircase, she saw (Revise sentences to avoid wording such as saw, heard, feel, etc. If the scene is in a character's POV, allow the character to simply experience the sense. The reader doesn't need to be alerted that the character sees this or that.) a handsome man (who happens to be one of my fave heroes ... just saying.) dressed in a dark blue t-shirt with a firefighting symbol near the shoulder. His brown eyes captured her attention, as well as his smile, and he was looking looked straight at her (Is there stronger wording that could be used to convey this action? It's a heart-beat-missing moment; I need heart-beat-missing wording to match.). Lucy’s heart missed a beat, and she quickly returned the smile. As she She worked up the courage to say hello, maybe stop and ask his name—
A familiar phantom wind blasted across Lucy’s face, jerking away her breath, leaving gooseflesh skittering down her arms in its ghostly wake. (LOVE the description) The sickly cold sensation she knew so familiar to her went unfelt by anyone except her. It was a precursor to a phenomenon she’d known since she was a young child—a warning that someone was about to be killed (Passive voice, which should be avoided when it can. In this case, I'd suggest "when someone was about to die.").
It’s happening!

As I mentioned in one of the comments above, first pages need to contain as little exposition as possible. Ground the reader in the scene and stick with mostly action. In the first few paragraphs I see lost of description that can probably be cut and inserted later. Be clear, be concise -- concepts that far too often seem at odds with each other. (I'm wrestling with it in my query right now!)

Thank you, kind participant #3. Good luck!

Add your comments below, and as always, be courteous and respectful.

Are you interested? Use the Contact Me page to send your first three-hundred words or your query letter for critique. Be brave!
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1 comment:

  1. Lines I love:Lying was also one of her job requirements as a CIA coordinator.

    ghostly wake

    precurser to a phenomenom

    I already like the premise here and see where the story is going. CIA ingrigue, lies, romance, and it looks like some people are going to die.

    I wonder if you could jump straight into the story instead of explaining things to us in the beginning. Set us right in the scene and SHOW us how she's walking in the building, how she's feeling (is she nervous, excited, dreading it) and what she's doing to show this emotion. Then BAM she has a heart-skipping moment with the (I assume) future love interest that's ruined by thoughts of death.

    Premise is there. Writing is there. Just consider letting go of the first few paragraphs and getting right into the story.


About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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