Would You Keep Reading?

I’m moving right along for Camp NaNoWriMo with editing Love, Lies, & Clones.  One of the first items on my novel editing checklist is to share the first page with someone to see if they would continue to read the story.  If not, then I need to rewrite it.  So…  Here’s the first page, if you could help me by giving me your feedback, I’d really appreciate it.

There is a poll on the bottom of the page, please vote and fell free to offer me any suggestions you have.  Thanks in advance!

I almost spilled my second cup of coffee when Thursday sprang off my bed and rushed to the front door with his tail wagging.

I put the coffee down and followed him. “What is it?” I asked, trying to further excite him. I loved seeing his energy. His entire hind end swayed in rhythm to his tail and his ears perked up. I watched the man approach my door though he digital intercom display while I wondered who would visit me. Someone must be looking for my neighbor.

Crap! The chocolate brown eyes and round face gave him away. My father found me. I fought my instinct to crawl back in bed and bury myself under the covers and go back to sleep.

Instead, I took a minute and gathered my courage while Thursday bounded beside me with his tail wagging and letting out a few excited barks.

I cracked the old wooden door open. “What do you want?” the words were harsher than I expected. “It’s been three years.”

“Can I come in?” He was polite, yet his voice held an edge to it I didn’t remember.

“This is not a good time.” It will never be a good time for him to visit. “I have to go to work in an hour and I still need to get ready.” I didn’t back away from the door, but Thursday tried to push his nose through the gap to get a good sniff of the guest.

My father looked at me, one eyebrow raised and head cocked – the way only a father could do. I let out a heavy sigh and stepped away from the door, allowing him to enter. He strolled across my living room and into my kitchen, finally sitting down at the round pine table. Nothing like making yourself at home.

He looked younger than I remember. Sure, he may have a few more gray hairs and a couple extra crow’s feet wrinkles, but he looked good. Maybe it was because the last time I saw him he was drowning in a bottle of cheap whisky. I examined him for bloodshot eyes, glazed expression, and thought back to our interactions so far. No signs of intoxication.

I didn’t join him at the table. Instead, I distanced myself as much as I could from him, tucking my body in the corner of the kitchen. The lower unit of the duplex I rented was small and despite my attempt, I was still too close to him.

I rubbed my finger on a wear spot on the laminate countertops, waiting for him to speak. Eventually, I gave in to the silence, hoping to get him out of here. “How did you find me?”

“I have my ways,” he said with a sly smile.

“You called James, didn’t you?” Of course he’d call my ex. I had changed all my contact information when I left James, trying to avoid his apologies and pleas, but I ended up giving him my information anyway because we had a house to sell.

Thursday had laid his head on my father’s lap. He avoided my question. “Who’s this?” he said ruffling the light reddish brown fur behind his ears.

I also ignored his question. “Let’s just get to the point. Why are you here?”

“There’s no easy way to say this.” He wrung his hands together. “You need to get out of town.”

I laughed. “You can’t be serious?” Though, he had always been a serious man. “What’s going on?”

“Sit down,” he said eyeing up the kitchen chair across from him.

“Really dad, I don’t have time for this right now. Can you just call me later? I’m sure James gave you all my contact information.”

“Yeah, I have all of it, but this is too important to do over a call.” His voice was firm and, like always, his gaze averted my face. “Sit down.”

I felt like a child again, obeying his command by pulling out a kitchen chair to plop myself down on the blue checkered cushion.

He still looked at his hands. “I’ve been asked to help with another cloning project.”

“And why does this make me need to leave town?”

“I turned them down and am afraid of what they’ll do to make me help them.”

 

Clone Cover

(Version 2 of the cover is above.  I’m happy my daughter posed for the photo.)

About Joynell Schultz

Writer & lover of all types of speculative fiction. I'm shivering in northern Wisconsin. Learn about my novels here: http://Author.to/JoynellSchultz
This entry was posted in Love, Lies, & Clones, My Writing Journey, News!, Writing Tips & Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Would You Keep Reading?

  1. I left my comments on the poll page, lol. But I’ve got one more now that I’m looking at your draft cover. After having just the above excerpt to go on, the cover doesn’t capture my interest as much as the excerpt did. Perhaps showing someone watching her on her morning run? Or a suspicious looking car parked further up the road…? Looking forward to reading along as you bring this one closer to production :-). You’ve done a good job, in my opinion, with the start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and the feedback! Your poll result didn’t come through.. ugh. It’s my first time using a poll. I agree with the cover – I need something to show a threat as it’s an action/suspense novel. I am so grateful for your feedback that I just wanted to say thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome! And what I’d written in the poll comments was that I’d use “worn” instead of “wear” in the sentence with the counter top description. A tiny thing that for a split second took me away from the interest / tension building as I read. :-).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. S B Williams says:

    I like the premise and the exchange of conversation at the very end of the page, but the first half of the page is awkward and boring-ish. I have come up with a few suggestions.

    I loved his energy: Instead, show by using actions. “I grinned down at him.”
    Typo: I watched the man approach the door through THE digital intercom
    Also, this sentence is kinda awkward. ‘the man’ should be ‘a man’.
    “I fought my instinct…” use more physical reactions in your descriptions. How does that feel to want to go back to bed? How does your body react? (heart rate speed up? Stomach tighten? Quick breathing?)
    “I took a minute to gather my courage…” Again, more physical description instead of ‘telling’. Show. “I inhaled a deep breath. Or even some mental encouragement thoughts could be written out.
    “it’s been three years…” That can be omitted from the dialogue. You wouldn’t say that unless you were just trying to tell the reader. Instead, let the reader guess and hmm and haw over it longer.
    “I didn’t join him at the table.” Omit this sentence. Just use the physical description of what you “DID” do, such as the following sentence. “I distanced myself as much as I could from him.” Btw that’s a great sentence because it shows the reader that you really do not like this guy. The following parasgraph afterward is great, too!
    “He wrung his hands together.” I don’t really see a middle aged guy who appears rather calm during the entire scene wringing his hands together. But , you have the right idea, using physical actions. Maybe something like….”He exhaled,” Or, “he ran a hand through his hair.” Look up other nervous gestures and think about that character, and what would be more fitting for him. When I read ‘wringing hands together.” I think of a woman in distress.
    “His gaze averted my face” Kind of confusing…averting means to look away. Maybe something else like, “His gaze compelled me to look at him.” Or “…compelled me to comply.
    “He looked at his hands.” Not sure again, that a middle-aged guy would do this. Particularly now that we know he’s a scientist of some kind.”
    I like the premise and the exchange of convo at the very end of the page, but the first half of the page is awkward and boring-ish.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. jlamborn3 says:

    S. B. gives you some great advice. I’d rethink the opening line — maybe … Thursday was the only one happy the day my father hunted me down and told me I had to get out of town.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. First of all, I really like this.

    I agree with many of the comments above. I have a less than rigid viewpoint on the ‘show vs. tell’ rule than a lot of writers, so I do think you can get away with a little bit of telling when you have as much to show as you do here. Making every single thing a ‘show’ can sometimes be overwhelming to a reader’s senses, so in a situation like this where you have a lot going on under the surface you can soften it by using a couple of strategically chosen ‘tells’ in place of the ‘shows’. Just make sure you are deliberate about what you choose to show and what you choose to tell and have a reason for the choice, being sure to consider the entire scene as well as each individual instance.

    It took me a couple of re-reads to realize that “Thursday” was a name. Unless you need the dog’s name to be Thursday for some reason, you might consider an alternative. (Great name for an actual dog, though! Once I figured it out, I enjoyed it.)

    The closing needs a bit of punch, also.

    [He still looked at his hands. “I’ve been asked to help with another cloning project.”]

    [“And why does this make me need to leave town?”]

    [“I turned them down and am afraid of what they’ll do to make me help them.”]

    Try something like:

    {He still wouldn’t look at me.}

    {“I’ve been asked to help with another cloning project.”}

    {“So, why are you telling me to leave town?”}

    {“I told them no.”}

    {So?}

    {“They don’t do ‘no’.”}

    I like that you close the scene with dialogue, but when you do that in a scene, you need to end with something like a #dropmic statement. I’m not saying that what I wrote as a suggestion fits the bill, but something of that nature should be helpful to create that punch to the reader’s gut that will make them turn the page before they’ve even thought about whether or not they want to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fantastic feedback-thanks!!! I struggle with show vs tell . I’m always told I do too much telling, so I make a conscious effort to show. Thanks for your side of that argument. I think I need to find the balance. More showing emotions mixed with a little telling of what’s going on. Thanks for taking time to read this and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Esther says:

    Hmmm, I really like the premise of this and the scene itself, but I feel like the reference to James detracts from the scene overall. It’s not really pertinent to the situation, and it seems like the MC would know her father could find her if he really wanted to. I may be wrong, but he appears to be someone in the position to do so. To me, it came off as a bit of an information dump too early on. At this point I’m not invested in the MC and I certainly don’t care about her ex, I only want to know what is happening right now with the people in this scene.
    Maybe you could just have her say something like,
    “How did you find me anyway?”
    “I have my ways,” he said with a sly smile.
    I pursed my lips. [italics] You certainly do. [italics[\] (or, ‘do I even want to know?’)
    Thursday had laid his head on my father’s lap. “Who’s this?” he said ruffling the light reddish brown fur behind his ears.

    Just some ideas, hope this helps! Good work, keep it up. 🙂

    (Yes, I am the sad ‘no’ vote on your poll, since I didn’t really notice the ‘other’ until after voting. Right now, no, I wouldn’t keep reading, but with a little tweaking such as what is mentioned in the comments above and other editing, I definitely would!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Joynell, I’d keep on reading. Let me explain my reasons.
    Although the beginning of the scene doesn’t get me too excited, Thursday’s excitement about your main character’s father puts a huge grin on my face. You don’t describe much about the dog, but it’s enough to draw a friendly and most of all happy picture of him.
    Your main character’s aversion against her father doesn’t get to me entirely, it stays a bit too much on the surface. But when her father tells her about the cloning project he turned down and why your MC has to leave town, I’m curious to know how the story goes on. That’s why I’d read on.

    Generally I’m not very skilled in writing critiques, but I hope I could help you a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for taking the time to read the first page and for your comments. I’m glad Thursday made you want to keep reading, he’s one of my favorite parts of the novel. Your thoughts are a great help for when I revise it. Thanks again for the comments! (And I thought you did well on the critique 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Arthur Macabe says:

    I’d keep reading. The cloning project got me interested. The conversation was natural, nice work. Dialogue can be difficult. Keep cranking!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, I admit I haven’t read all the comments but I do agree with one of the comments about showing not telling. The main one that jumped out at me, was the one about putting distance between you and your father. Maybe just describe it I a different way to allow the reader to work out that’s what’s happening, maybe stand behind a chair to create a barrier between them, without having to explain to the reader. Does that make any sense? Well done for being open to comment – it takes guts

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t expect all the comments, but am happy I received them. Much of the feedback I can use throughout the manuscript — I tend to make a lot of the same mistakes. Thanks for taking time to read it and for the feedback! Showing vs Telling is tough. There is a balance that I’m still working on. Good suggestion with the chair and not saying why she’s doing it but let the reader figure it out.

      Like

  9. Pingback: First Note – tristworthy

  10. Honestly, I would not keep reading. The last little exchange makes it somewhat tempting to say yes, but it isn’t enough. The syntax is rather dull and sometimes clunky. I agree with S B Williams’ comments. Also, you need to watch for tense shifts. You do it quite a bit.

    For example:
    He looked [past] younger than I remember [present]. Sure, he may have [present] a few more gray hairs and a couple extra crow’s feet wrinkles, but he looked [past] good.

    You have an interesting premise, but the language isn’t quite there yet, and it’s pulling me out of the story.

    Like

  11. Yes, I would keep reading (I also voted yes), but I do have a few suggestions for your cover (or just notes to think on). One, I would suggest cropping the photo and adding a band of dark color above and below the photo for several reasons–the first being that a dark color makes you think suspense/thriller, second being that zooming in on the photo to focus on her would make it stand out more, and three, the solid bands of color would make your title and name stand out more. I have a few covers on my website that I have done over the last year. They are here: https://jccauthon.wordpress.com/in-progress/ (if you are interested in looking). I am not a professional graphics artist, by any means, but they are similar to many that I have seen over the years.

    I hope this helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Concur with the previous comments about the cover. The first page gets your attention and draws you in to the story immediately which is great. First person POV works great, Scene Great, Characters Great. With that being said, there are numerous grammatical and structural errors that need to be dealt with before it’s ready for prime time. I read a few of the other comments. Some of them are fact based and have to be dealt with. Others are opinion and while they offer useful information, remember this is your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Thanks for the comment on people’s opinions. Sometimes I forget that and want to please everyone (which we all know is not possible). I’m definitely seeing the value of hiring an editor regarding grammar/structure. As much as I try, I can’t catch them all in my own writing.

      Like

  13. Pingback: Guess What? Revising & Editing are Different! | Joynell Schultz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s