See you next week!
Origin of Storms
by Joshua Berry
Rolling thunder frightened the people of Taylor Springs to near panic. The strength of its voice even shook the bones of those lying in the town cemetery. People all around predicted the very next day would bring the end of the world. Following another burst of lightning across a darkened sky a clap of thunder was accompanied by human screams. Then, without further preamble, the lights of Taylor Springs, every one, went dark.
Mike Cannon walked through his darkened bedroom. He retrieved a flashlight and made his way to a cupboard where he stored several candles. He lit one to illuminate a cluttered kitchen. The clutter didn't include dirty dishes, however. Mike was good to keep dishes washed. He didn't want small rodents roaming around. Pouring a glass of water he considered the people of Taylor Springs. Why did they believe the world would end the next day? He thought it was total nonsense.
Kaleb Browning's many conversations with his brother-in-law about the end of the world always ended the same. Even before he'd married Michelle Cannon he and her brother, Mike, had engaged in spirited dialogue concerning the earth's final days. So many events of nature spoke clearly of the earth's end. And Kaleb believed something else of which he wasn't shy about telling others. Satan had control of the earth and when all was finished it would belong to him.
The sin of the earth's inhabitants would mark their downfall, Kaleb believed. He'd been taught as a child the earth was created by someone who loved him very much. This creator did only good things and believed in peace in the world. But Kaleb saw death at every turn, destruction along every path, and he knew Satan, the author of all evil, had taken control. The hold wouldn't be relinquished easily because the people on the earth favored his ways. They were easy to live and the people felt comfortable in their grasp. But the deception could only lead the people to one thing, eternal damnation.
Ms. Shreditor's Comments
This first page has good bones, but it needs some developmental editing to bring forth the bits that will make the most compelling beginning. Once the thunder has rolled and the lights have gone out, we meet Mike Cannon briefly before the story shifts to Kaleb Browning’s point of view. While we learn next to nothing about Mike, we learn a great deal about Kaleb.
Having multiple narrators on the first page creates a lot of confusion, so I would consider separating the two throughout the book. The best option would be to separate Mike and Caleb into separate chapters. I get the impression that this story will highlight two men with vastly different perspectives. To convey this dichotomy effectively, make sure that each character gets enough face time for the reader to forge a meaningful connection.
The first paragraph makes effective use of sound as a suspense-building agent. However, this section also leaves the reader wondering why the townspeople are predicting the apocalypse tomorrow, and even Kaleb’s thoughts in the fourth paragraph don’t illuminate why people are homing in on a specific day. Is the world in such a shambles that the apocalypse seems imminent? All we know from the text is that the thunder is rolling and the power has gone out, but this doesn’t seem noteworthy on a global scale.
Try to avoid extraneous details as a general rule, but particularly on the first page. When we meet Mike, he responds to the power outage by lightning candles and then goes on a tangent about dirty dishes and rodents. Then he pours a glass of water and ponders the mass hysteria. It feels a bit disorganized as is. The most important thing we learn about Mike comes at the end of the paragraph, when he questions why people are so convinced the world is about to end.
As you continue to write this story, consider some of the aforementioned issues. Allow one character at a time to command the narrative, as head-hopping creates reader confusion. The opening paragraph has the right idea; it serves up an eerie setting and sets the plot in motion with the power outage. The challenge will be stringing together a cohesive story that successfully interweaves two characters’ narratives.