05 October 2009

First page Critique Game #11

While you're waiting on results for our next issue (and it's awesome, if I might say) I thought I'd throw out a new First Page Entry for your perusal.

Dr. Roy Motts eyed Mandy’s lifeless body lying on the steel slab. Lacerations decorated her face, and the fatal sever to the carotid artery launched his stomach into an audible churn.

He rested his hands on his Twinkie-padded belly. “I’m so glad Hal wasn’t in the car with you,” he mumbled under his breath and looked downward.

“Me too,” a voice said with a whisper.

Startled, Roy looked up and saw Mandy sitting, staring at him. Her dark-rooted blond hair flowed over her shoulders and her green eyes sparkled.

“Whoa.” Roy stumbled back. He squinted at the body still lying on the slab then to the apparition of Mandy sitting next to it.

She smiled.

“What’s happening?” He tugged his shirt collar. It suddenly felt like a choker pulled three notches too tight.

“Okay, here’s the scoop. I’m a Keeper.” She hopped down from her perch. “Or I was a Keeper. I’ve only been dead a few hours, so I’m not used to the past tense talk yet.”

Roy’s mouth fell agape.

“There is something you need to see.” Mandy reached out and grabbed his arm.

As if plummeting down on a rollercoaster, Roy’s stomach dropped. The floor beneath him fell away, then with an abrupt jerk, returned to support him.

Once the sickening motion ended, Roy opened his eyes. His neck muscles knotted.

They were at the accident scene.

“How’d we get here? How am I seeing you?”

Kudos on this one for throwing a problem up front, or at least throwing your main character for a loop. We've got a dead Keeper chick who's dragging someone back to the scene of her accident. This alludes to "mystery." But I think this first page real estate could be put to still better use. What is Roy to Mandy and vice versa? At first glance I thought he was the M.E. but then the mention of Hal threw me. Who is Hal? Really, who are all these people and how are they connected? I don't get a feeling of sadness from Roy, if he is sad (maybe he isn't). Also, Mandy seems awfully chipper for being dead. Not a dealbreaker; it just struck me. I think it'll take some explanation at some point.

No real comments on the writing at all. It seems fine. I rather like "Twinkie-padded belly." As an aside, I wonder if this is meant to date the story. I know they still sell Twinkies, but does anyone still eat them? I did, as a kid, lo these 30 years ago. :)

So really, just a few more specifics to ground me, and I think I'd be hooked to read more.


writtenwyrdd said...

I couple of punctuation fixes and a bit of trimming here and there and this will be a killer opening. It tells us what genre, sets up an intriguing situation, establishes that our doc knows the vic, and most importantly makes me want to know what happens.

Great stuff!

I'd suggest trimming "Whoa!" out and deleting "She smiled" in favor of having the previous sentence say "...the apparition of a smiling Mandy..." You can tighten elsewhere, but these two things stood out for me.

lesleylsmith said...

Thanks for playing, Author. We appreciate it! The premise here, of a dead "Keeper" who has some kind of magical powers is fascinating. I would definitely keep reading.

I agree with writtenwyrdd that tweaking the language a bit could make this piece outstanding.
Warning: the following are all nit-picks. The phrase "the fatal sever to the carotid artery" seems awkward to me (maybe sever should take a different preposition? or is a verb being used as a noun?).
FYI-I happen to know Editor Dave really dislikes "sparkling eyes", thinking them a cliche.
Finally, the choker simile seems too girly to me. Are we talking about the necklace? Why would a guy think about a necklace? Metaphors and similes should serve to build your world or your character.
These are all minor points, however. Nice job! Good luck selling this.

Anonymous said...

Nice job, author. Thank you for playing!

I think they pointed out some stuff that will make this great story, better! Some things I didn't even see.

Great submission

David E. Hughes said...

"You're right!" said Dave, his eyes sparkling.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

You need to photoshop your picture to match, Dave.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I like this and would read on. The one line that stood out for me was about his mouth falling agape. Maybe it's just me, but it reads funny.

I love the twinkie tummy. He eats major crap that no one cares about anymore and it shows.

Not sure about his neck muscles knotting after he opens his eyes. Is that meant to show his reaction to the accident scene? I get it more as his reaction to being jerked around in time and space (or maybe just space).

Great job!