Friday, March 16, 2012

First Page Friday

I am so grateful for all the submissions we've received in the past week. As you all know, they are critiqued in a first-come, first-served fashion, so be watching for yours!

I also want to thank everyone on this blog who has tried to cheer me up and wished me well over this past week of misery while I've been sick. I even had a blog reader send over a McDonald's chocolate shake! I have the best blog readers in the world. Thank you.

On to this week's submission!

The Entry

by Carol Ayer

I craned my neck to look up into the giant's face. “I'm really tired of this. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna sell.”

The giant had no counter-argument. Neither did the beanstalk nor Jack himself.

I sighed. It was way past time to go home, and the late September sun was already setting in a picturesque manner behind Rapunzel's Castle, with brilliant reds and oranges blazing across the sky. If I'd been in a better mood, I might have stayed to enjoy the show.

On the drive home, I reviewed my circumstances. My storybook park was twenty thousand dollars in the red. If I didn't turn things around, I'd have to file for bankruptcy. The answer seemed clear. I should sell StoryWorld to the ThrillsLand conglomerate. Then I could go home, lock my door, and never come out. At the moment, an idea had never seemed so appealing. I knew it would be an unpopular decision for everyone but me, but I had no clue what else to do.

As often happened when I was feeling low, I began thinking about Jamie. Which led to missing him. Which led to crying. The tears came easily, the grief as familiar to me as the park I would soon sell. I finally had to pull over when I couldn't see through my tears.

I finally arrived home, too tired to even eat. I went directly to bed, still wearing my work clothes. I only removed my shoes.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

There are a lot of compelling elements on this first page. We meet a character facing imminent business failure and grieving over the loss of someone named Jamie. But we don't know who Jamie was, nor do we learn any identifying details about the narrator. Is this person male or female?

Most confusing to me was the opening. After rereading several times and giving it some thought, I concluded that the giant must be some kind of park attraction or statue. At first read, I wondered if the giant were a literal, living giant or perhaps a business executive. The first sentence needs to clarify somehow that the giant is inanimate. This minor tweak will solidify an opening that I find to be otherwise effective.

This first page does an excellent job of establishing what is at stake: The narrator must think fast or sell StoryWorld to an amusement park chain. I imagine this book will zero in on his/her effort's to save the park from ThrillsLand ownership. Especially in this day and age, when chains reign supreme and mom-and-pops struggle to keep the lights on, David v. Goliath stories encourage a lot of readers.

The writing conveys despair in the narrator's sigh, his/her desire to withdraw from the world, the grief over Jamie, and the sleeping in work clothes. Be careful not to let the narrator wallow too much in this despair; otherwise, he/she may give off a helpless vibe. To avoid this, consider introducing the Jamie element a bit later. While his death may have been a defining juncture in the narrator's life, we don't learn enough about it to feel like it's a pressing concern.

Some of the above suggestions would tighten up this opening and make for a more compelling hook. The text itself is pretty clean, with no glaring errors. I'd be interested to learn more about this narrator, who is somewhat of a blank slate to me right now. Overall, the author is on the right track; the intro just needs some tweaks here and there to make everything gel.

Thank you so much to Ms. Shreditor and to Carol for their time and effort. See you next week!


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the comments. I appreciate the opportunity. My utmost thanks to Julie & Ms. Shreditor.

Unknown said...

Sorry. I thought that would display my name. This is Carol Ayer, the author of the work above.

Janice Sperry said...

Ms. Shreditor's comment about David and Goliath made me think about how appropriate this starts off with her talking to a giant. I hope the author goes with this and continues to make her feel small until the end when she manages to slay the giant.

That first part was a bit jolting for me too. At first I thought the story was actually a fairy tale. This might be what the author was going for but it doesn't work for me. Anyone reading the book would have already read the back cover and have a general idea of what's going on. I'd like to see some details about the park instead. Maybe the giant statue is missing a thumb and she picks it up while she talks to it. The bean stalk could be a nesting ground for pesky birds. Little clues here and there about the park will speak volumes as far as the condition and give clues about its imminent failure.

A storybook land is a really fun setting. There is something magical about amusement parks. Add in fairy tales and I'm in love.

Debra Erfert said...

Oh, heck, I thought the mc was talking to a real giant. I could picture her looking up at him, and the giant looking down at her with a frown on his oversized face. I was jarred out of that illusions when the words "storybook park" was mentioned. Since I didn't read the back cover, it would very well had been a fantasy and not what I suspect is a romance.

I like it. But I also like Janice's suggestions about picking up the giant's thumb from ground, and other signs of park dilapidation, then I wouldn't have had that fantasy sense at the beginning.

Great critique, Ms. Shreditor.