Friday, December 9, 2011

First Page Friday

These entries are just getting better and better! I have one Friday slot left open for January if you would like your first page critiqued by one of our amazing editors. Directions are on the sidebar.

Let's get to today's entry.

The Entry

by C. Michelle Jeffries

Antony Danic let the slide of his Glock .357 slam home. The sound echoed against the sterile surfaces of the industrial kitchen where he waited. Lines of stainless steel appliances and stark white counters filled the room that was half the size of his whole apartment. Elite would love this kitchen. His thoughts turned from his wife to the hit, machine-like calm settling over his body.

"HQ, this is Viper," he said as he double-checked the blade strapped to his calf and adjusted his blue-lensed Lanzen glasses.

"Viper acknowledged," one of four female operators said over his silver and red earpiece.

"Viper in recon position."

"Roger that, Viper. Radio silence commenced." The earpiece went silent. There would be no more contact until he initiated it.

Mr. Dellos held to a strict schedule when he was in town. He would arrive at exactly eleven to do a final walk-through of his restaurant before locking up for the night. Somehow, after chasing the man for three weeks, through the United States and the Middle East, Antony was now less than twenty minutes from home.

"Thank you," a voice echoed through the kitchen, coming from the direction of the dining room. "I'll talk to you later." A phone snapped shut and Antony could hear shoes clicking on the tile floor. He slid his finger from the side of his Glock to the trigger well. A wide man entered the kitchen, checking the small refrigerator by the door and wiping his finger on the counter.

Meticulous and well-fed, Antony thought as he stepped from the shadows, training his pistol on the man. Pretty oblivious, too. They now stood a mere ten feet from each other.

Antony cleared his throat—he refused to shoot a man in the back—and pulled the trigger.

Ms. Shreditor’s Comments

I want to preface this critique by saying that it isn’t going to be much of a critique. Aside from some minor syntax issues that a light copyedit would resolve, there’s very little for me to pick apart here. It’s one of the more submission-ready excerpts I’ve read as Ms. Shreditor.

What does this sample get right? For starters, its opening sentence. Antony cocks his gun, and we’re off. A few sentences later, we already know where he is and that he’s married to a woman named Elite. The name “Elite” may be my only bone to pick here. The word “elite” often carries a negative connotation, so it doesn’t necessarily leave the reader with a favorable first impression (or, perhaps more accurate, impression-by-proxy) of Antony’s wife. Is this deliberate? If not, why this name?

The story sustains the kind of quick pacing vital to a suspense/thriller novel. The writer makes economic use of dialogue to move the story along without lingering too long on extraneous details. Yet despite this careful, economic use of language, we’re able to envision the scene in vivid detail.

There’s something almost noir about Antony’s efficiency and emotional detachment from his victim-to-be. Although this appears to be a thriller, his demeanor is reminiscent of the classic hardboiled detective novels. There is no better example of this than the following line: “Antony cleared his throat—he refused to shoot a man in the back—and pulled the trigger.” It’s cold as ice. It illustrates just how lethal our hero (antihero?) can be and just how efficient he is at his job. There is a saltier word I might use to describe such an awesome scene, but I’ll have to settle for the quasi-synonymous “fearless” and leave it at that.

So all I can really say this week is well done. This first page certainly has my attention.

I really enjoyed it as well! Thank you so much for our submitter and to Ms. Shreditor. See you next week!


Janice Sperry said...

I think I've read a much earlier version of this where he was on the subway after his hit. This is the perfect place to start. Very well done. When the hit came in and you described him as a wide man was the only part I thought could be improved. You can remove the word wide because the line about him being well fed covers his size.

Noble M Standing said...

Thank you. What an awesome critique. I have reasons for Elite's name But they aren't anything deep or fancy. I'm almost speechless again, thank you.
~Michelle Jefferies

Sarah Pearson said...

I have nothing useful to add except that I love this. I would dearly like to read more :-)

Kurt Kammeyer said...

It's not clear to me which way "the man" is facing. Since he is oblivious, it would seem that he has his back to Antony. But Antony clears his throat and immediately pulls the trigger, even though he "refuses to shoot a man in the back". What gives?

Noble M Standing said...

Kurt, that is what the m-dashes are for. They create a pause of time for the reader in which the "man" (Mr. Delos)has time to turn around.

Thanks for the comments. It was a blast to participate. I encourage everyone to do this. You get amazing insights.