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9

I'm just rewriting. :) A bit of trimming, a bit of adding: "You understand — it's nothing personal." It wasn't quite a question. When Robert Jansen didn't quite provide an answer, the man turned and left. Jansen lowered his gaze to the Beretta on the desk. After a long moment, he sighed, picked it up, and left the study, locking the door behind him. ...


7

I think this is solid in concept but flawed in execution. I can't help but wonder if you started out with something else about the dream where you suddenly realise you're naked and how it doesn't help if everyone else is too but thought that was too cheesy. The problem with the whole "audience" thing is that I am presuming that your main guy is, at the ...


7

Introducing some kind of mystery is a common technique for hooking a reader's interest, but by itself it feels like teasing: the writer knows something but won't share it with the reader yet. So no, this does not entice me; it annoys me, makes me feel manipulated because your narrator is being deliberately coy. Try combining it with another technique: engage ...


7

This beginning does not grip me. Indeed it puts me off. For three reasons: I've had quite enough of books beginning with some dystopian teenage initiation rite. The claim that "this is the day" is completely vague and unexciting. And after the third unfamiliar concept (Booster, Emergence, Divide, Purgatory) I'm completely bored and ready to close the book. ...


6

So here's a question I'd like you to consider. You're trying to grip the reader. What, in this passage, do you expect/hope will manage to do that? I'm afraid I didn't find this opening to be very compelling. Sorry to welcome you with negative feedback, but I hope you'll find it helpful. This opening is mostly a whole lot of ominous foreboding - we're ...


6

Yep, works for me. Particularly if this is the literal opening of the story, not just the scene; I like to establish some sort of setting fairly early on. You don't linger too much. You're giving us just enough for us to grasp where she is, and then get back to the dialogue.


5

The ideas in this excerpt grab me. We have a first-person narrator who's dead; how does that work? This seems to have involved some sort of deal to help the narrator's son, and there seem to be alternate timelines or worlds involved. This makes me curious and it does not feel too information-intensive. I get the sense that you'll explain these details in ...


5

Fun idea. The professor's advice isn't the interesting part--get to the naked! I'd almost write your article in reverse. My heart skipped a beat as I walked past one of the signs proclaiming the beach clothing-optional. It sets up immediately the where and hints at the what. From there, you can get to the nerves, though I'd cut out the unnecessary ...


5

I think your first paragraph works well. You create a tiny mystery right off the bat -- what was it that Naomi said that her words are still "hanging in the air"? -- that sucks the reader in. It's often said that if you can hook the reader in the first couple of sentences, you've got him. (I may plagiarize this idea myself someday. :-) A great piece of ...


4

At four o'clock in the morning, the psychiatric clinic is dark and silent and empty, like a morgue. In the middle of the cafeteria, a lone young man sits in a chair drinking cheap vodka, his emotionless face illuminated only by the moon. I removed the striking of the clock. Psychiatric clinics aren't likely to have clocks that strike, especially at four ...


4

I'm just posting a second answer rather than try to force this into 500 characters: I kept your first sentence, although I punctuated it to sound like actual speech. I can certainly hear the intonation you intend, but that requires a pause. So I added an M-dash. I know what you were getting at with the idea that he's both asking a question and making a ...


4

I am not a fan of these "denoting something by describing that which does not exist" techniques, e.g.: "Yes," he said, unsmiling. The silence was very loud. etc. While it does say something, I feel it is left too much to the imagination. Certainly it can be used in specific cases, but as a general rule, only to create that specific feeling of ...


4

Two things immediately jump out at me: 1) Granted that this is a very short excerpt, there isn't enough info or setting for me to understand where the characters are, in time or in place (not literally — I get that they're in LA, but Adam acts surprised that they're in LA, so why would the character not know what city he's in?). There's something ...


4

I was confused about Hael Malstrom. The first sentence indicates it is a place (all emphasis mine): This is a story that parents in Hael Malstrom tell... The second sentence is confusing: ...when dragons were still common and the Great Fault was young and Hael Malstrom’s redwood was only a sapling on a bare hill... Hael Malstrom seems to own a ...


4

1) There are seeds of an interesting story there, so the premise is sound (that is, I'm basically interested to continue). 2 and 3) I don't know what your regular prose style is like, but I feel like this could be more lyrical. It doesn't sound like a legend. Legends have longer sentences, more antiquated phrasing, and more detail. They take a while to get ...


4

In my experience, chapter length does not matter. Your book may look more 'impressive' or 'official' with long chapters, but are they necessary to the book itself? No. As long as the first chapter does what the first chapter is supposed to do (be that introducing the protagonist, setting the scene, introducing the conflict, etc.), it doesn't matter if it is ...


3

You are definitely improving from your previous work. :) Minor fixes: My corrections are in italics; do not add the italics to your story. "No other human presence" makes me wonder: is there a non-human presence? An animal? Something supernatural? pointing at her glass then glanced around (the parallel grammar is technically correct, but a native speaker ...


3

A quick answer - I would make the third paragraph start with "Her father", just to clarify that it is reminiscing - as it stands, it doesn't flow particularly well, there. For the final paragraph, you might want to start with "Back in the present, Sophia ...", to indicate the end of the reminiscing. However, it is not "wrong" to do as you have. That third ...


3

4AM at a psychiatric clinic packs a fair punch as an opening. Nothing interesting should be happening there and then, but if something did, it would probably be awfully interesting! The improbable hour is a very nice touch, IMHO, that potentially takes this a step above merely using a clinic to show off a socially sensitive character or expose some ...


3

Here's my suggestions: My public speaking professor from freshman year always told us to picture our audience naked when we got nervous. It was her no-fail technique for overcoming your nerves. But was it the protag's technique? I don't care as much for what the professor thought worked--did it work for the protag until now? Well, apparently ...


3

I'm intrigued by the title but not by the intro. The key to an effective opening paragraph, and story as a whole, is you don't want your readers to think about sentence structure and other technicalities. You want them riding the roller coaster of your characters' experiences and emotions. This intro doesn't do that for me. One, I'm not sure where I am. At ...


3

I wanted sensory details in the first few paragraphs. I had no idea what kind of room the characters were in. At first I thought it was some kind of operating theater, where some kind of weird procedure would happen--the MC on one operating table, and Akiko on another. When I learned that it was their bedroom, I felt jarred. I had to re-imagine what I was ...


3

Overall, the opening seems fine. I've seen worse. I don't see a problem with the setting being mentioned a couple of paragraphs below. The only thing I can't figure out is the genre. Every genre is suited different types of opening. If it's a short story (I see on your profile that's what you like to write), then it's a pretty good opening. For an YA novel, ...


3

In my experience, and from research into other's writing and professional opinions, the length or lack there of does not matter. Only you can know when your chapter is officially over. If you feel you have accomplished what you intended when you wrote that first chapter, than it is a success. If you feel it is lacking, than it probably is. Reread it and see ...


2

I will say that the "half asked, half asserted" construction is a bit cumbersome. I then expected him to half-turn and half-exit while leaving half-empty silence in the air. I also found the "make and model" of the gun and car to be a bit jarring. Lauren mitigates this in an effective way, but specifying these things might be part of your style. Within ...


2

I like the flow just the way it is. I don't see any inconsistencies in these few paragraphs. And I think there is plenty here to intrigue readers. Several stylistic choices tripped me up as I read. My first stumble was over modifiers. Consider replacing "swiftly walked" with a stronger verb. "Tragically" is unnecessary. We know that a daughter's ...


2

I wouldn't start out your first sentence the way you did. The problem with the sentence, is that "picturing your audience naked" is such a well known and oft repeated technique, that it borders on being cliché. I do think it's alright to reference the technique, but I wouldn't use it as your leading sentence.


2

In addition to what others have noted (as always, just my opinion, use it or ignore it): It didn't grab me, either. Quoting the television is good for an info dump, but I don't feel it works as an opening. I find it too factual and boring. I can see you've tried to introduce an air of mystery by withholding information (recovering from what, how have they ...


2

The problem I have - and it is a promising idea, btw, so keep at it - is that the speaking does not feel natural. People don't actually talk like that, except in very staged situations (or Scandanavian crime stories, where it works, oddly) "What earthquake?" Erin said, staring at Ruth with narrowed eyes. "9 last night. A 4.3 they said on the news. ...


2

Start straight away with the dialogue. "There was an earthquake last night?" grabs me right off my seat - I'm thinking "holy shit, an earthquake?" The way you have it know, your story starts with an extremely passive act. Staring is quite boring. Not much happens when someone "stares." I stare at people all the time. Earthquakes, however? That is unique, ...



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