Friday, May 20, 2011

First Page Shooter #5

Word count: 102,000 words
Genre: mystery/adventure

Original 250 Words


I was looking at beefcake, rear view. Dark hair, broad shoulders, and a perfect ass in a pair of camo-patterned pants. This had all the makings of a great fantasy.

Except for my headache.

He turned, showing off delicious pecs and fantasy-issue washboard abs. The camo pants didn’t camouflage much, and I felt a leer spread over my face.

Dark eyes met mine. He evidently liked what he saw, because he grinned and licked his lips. I pressed full-length against him and pulled him into a hard kiss, which he returned with enthusiasm. I love the way you can cut to the chase in fantasy-land.

If only my head didn’t hurt so damn much. I touched the sore spot, and my fingertips showed a smear of blood. I puzzled over that for less than a second before I returned my attention to the much more interesting subject at hand. Or hands.

I ran said hands down his back and locked onto those buns of steel. We were making a creditable attempt to lick each other’s tonsils when a furious voice erupted from inches behind me.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

I spun around, swearing violently as pain and adrenaline pumped through my brain.

Okay, that was weird. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a fantasy that included a short, pissed-off paramedic. The paramedic locked eyes with Beefcake. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he repeated.

Beefcake lifted a shoulder. “I’m not doing anything. She jumped me.”

*****

With Suzie's Critique


I was looking at beefcake, rear view. Dark hair, broad shoulders, and a perfect ass in a pair of camo-patterned pants. This had all the makings of a great fantasy.

It might just be me, but "beefcake" doesn't sound very sexy to me...is it supposed to? I do love the next two lines though! I was confused about whether this is a real fantasy, as in a dream or something, or if it's real...

Except for my headache.

Interesting...but headache makes me think Real Life not dream.

He turned, showing off delicious pecs and fantasy-issue washboard abs. The camo pants didn’t camouflage much, and I felt a leer spread over my face.

This might be nit-picky but I think it's more powerful without the "leering" because I swear I've read that in other books.

Dark eyes met mine. He evidently liked what he saw, because he grinned and licked his lips. I pressed full-length against him and pulled him into a hard kiss, which he returned with enthusiasm. I love the way you can cut to the chase in fantasy-land.

Cutting to the chase in fantasy-land makes me think dream. But even if it is, how far away from him was she? I was imagining her walking down the street behind him (I know there's no textual basis for that), but wherever they are, how does she go from looking him up and down to suddenly being pressed full length against him and pulling him into a kiss. Also, pulling him into a hard kiss, which he returned with enthusiasm feels cliched--that might be intentional, but it's a little bit of a turn off for the first page.


If only my head didn’t hurt so damn much. I touched the sore spot, and my fingertips showed a smear of blood. I puzzled over that for less than a second before I returned my attention to the much more interesting subject at hand. Or hands.

Again, the headache feels very Real Life to me, and I'm starting to feel unsure about what's going on. 

I ran said hands down his back and locked onto those buns of steel. We were making a creditable attempt to lick each other’s tonsils when a furious voice erupted from inches behind me.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

I spun around, swearing violently as pain and adrenaline pumped through my brain.

Is she spinning her whole body around or just tearing her lips away from Beefcake to see who said this? What does "swearing violently" mean? That doesn't really tell us about our character. And pain and adrenaline pumping through her brain again seems cliched--but more importantly is it from the headache (as in, is the headache getting worse) or is it from spinning around.

Okay, that was weird. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a fantasy that included a short, pissed-off paramedic. The paramedic locked eyes with Beefcake. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he repeated.

If this is a dream/vision/fantasy and the twist is that we're going to notice it now, it should be a twist, so present it as real and then Aha! it's not what we thought.

Beefcake lifted a shoulder. “I’m not doing anything. She jumped me.”

"lifted a shoulder"--like he shrugged? Don't use three words when one fits better. I definitely like this as a closing line. And though I'm confused about what's happening, I am interested so I would keep reading, but if I didn't have something to grab onto soon, I would stop. On the plus side, I think the voice works. It does sound like this MC is telling me the story--she feels real. 


But I am wondering, how this is a mystery? Right now, if I didn't know the genre I'd think it was a romance. If Beefcake is a love interest or making out with random guys is going to be a problem or character trait or something reoccurring in the manuscript, this works, but if we're not going to see more of either thing...maybe it isn't the right starting point.



19 comments:

Amber said...

These crit points do ring true for me, as well, but I also would keep reading. Great job!

Travener said...

Intriguing, though I agree it sounds a lot like a romance novel and as such might turn off a lot of men.

Jodi R. said...

My read was that she got corked in the head and was slipping in and out of awareness - fantacizing in her head (beefcakes swirl around her head rather than birds and stars!) but then being brought back to reality by the massive head wound. Maybe there was an accident? In the midst of her fantasy she actually does grab a beefcake. Not sure what the paramedic is doing there - that's what's making me think vehicular accident.

I think this has a lot of potential to be really funny - I am dying to know the genre (hoping it's not romance but detective or something), but it needs a bit more clarification about what's real and what's fantasy.

Know what'd be really funny? If she grabbed the non-beefcake paramedic in her la-la state. Then "WHAT are you doing?" could be directed at her as she quickly realizes she has a handful of short, stock paramedic ass in reality instead of a beefcake's in her fantasy!

I would read on to see where it's going - fun stuff! Good luck!

Jodi R.

Jodi R. said...

SORRY - totally missed the genre tag at the top. YAY!

Jodi

Deb Salisbury said...

I thought this piece was brilliant. Though I was unsure as to if it was real or a dream until a last lines, I spotted one mystery element immediately. Why is she seducing this guy while battling a headache - and a bloody head?

Jumping anyone's bones (in print) is not my thing, and I normally wouldn't read it, but I was intrigued enough to want more.

L. said...

Romance? Do romances start with bleeding?

If they did, I might be more interested in them...

I thought it was a good start.

Beth said...

Really confusing. I could not get a fix on where she was. At first I assumed she was sitting in a cafe or something admiring someone walking by. She was behind him (obviously, because she was leering after his rear), and then suddenly they were embracing. Then I thought maybe she was just fantasizing about kissing him, but then there was blood and the headache and she mentions a paramedic, so I thought the whole thing, including him, was a dream...and then Beefcake answers the paramedic, so it's NOT a dream...

To make this work, it needs some context. Some description of surroundings and her place in them to ground the reader. Without that, it just floats in space and leaves the reader--this reader, anyway--whirling.

Kee B. said...

I love it. The author is letting me figure out what's going on instead of spoon feeding it to me. I had the gist of dream vs reality after the first switch. Love, love the voice. I would have totally pegged this as romance suspense. I would read either way.

April said...

While the critique was valid, this kind of setup totally works for me as a reader. I love the uncertainty of the blurred lines between fantasy and reality. I like to fantasize about the possible explanation, which I felt was coming on page 2. Loved the narrative voice. I would have kept reading.

Monika said...

I laughed in a very good way. I like the voice, and I totally could see it played out in my head. It's sort of was like Romance except if it's adventure. Were you going for something like Romancing the Stone--the cheesy 80s flick about a romance writer getting thrust into a whirlwind romance and adventure. Think Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. I think you can watch it on Netflix, streaming it onto your computer.
Oh and I would totally keep reading!

Angie said...

I read this easily to the end and would have liked to continue.

Leer sounds like what an old nasty clochard does to your three year old daughter and beefcake is not sexy to me either, but I wanted to read more expecting some clarity soon.

If there were some indication of what the situation was to be - like she is licking the toe cheese off of beefcakes feet thinking that the big toe is his tongue and he is a paramedic trying to help her or whatever then I would be more intrigued.

marlenedotterer said...

This worked for me right from the start. I totally got the head injury going on. I do agree that some of word choices were jarring (such as beefcake), but that could also be good characterization. We are, after all, in the (injured) head of the character.

Detective novels aren't my thing, but this sounded fun.

earth said...

I liked the voice. It promises an interesting story and an interesting MC. The scene was confusing. I was so sure it was a dream, the way the pain kept intruding into the scene. If it's real life, it's a little hard to take in, but I'm perfectly willing to read on because of the humor and the writing style

Stephsco said...

I agree with the critique, I was also a little confused what was real or a dream, but I would keep reading. It seemed in the vein of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum with the beefcake and sarcasm. I think a touch more clarity and less of the physical motions of spinning around and looking different places will help. Nice work!

hillary said...

I like it! My first take was that she suffered an injury, assumed she was hallucinating/in a fantasy and jumped a hot guy, but he turned out to be real. Cute! Not really a mystery at this point, but I guess that ooooohhhh-mysterious doesn't have to pervade every 250 word section. I'd keep reading for at least another 250 words.

Lauren B. said...

I won't rehash what others have already said, but one thing that stuck out to me was I had a hard time picturing the MC because I couldn't tell what age she was supposed to be. I figured 30s based on the voice except that I was doubting myself based on the use of 'beefcake', which feels like an outmoded term to me that could indicate the character is older.

deeann said...

Maybe putting the fantasy/unreal parts in italics or some other format that stands apart would help make it clearer?

Marina J. Lostetter said...

I agree with Jodi R.'s original assessment. I got the impression the MC had some sort of traumatic injury that was making her mix what was really happening with some sort of hallucination. Didn't find that aspect confusing or off-puttying at all.

I do feel the audience would benefit from a few lines about the setting. Where is she? I initially thought she was sitting at a table in a bar, because that's where this kind of leering usually occurs. And that's pretty much the opposite impression Ms. Townsend got. Just a sentence or two could clear up the confusion and better ground your
readers.

I also agree that the word "beefcake" Is distinctly not sexy.
Actually, it's a big turn off, and not only a character turn off but a first-line turn off.

Good luck!

Taymalin said...

I'd need a fairly good explanation for why she hasn't been immobilized. If she's been in a car accident or attacked and sustained a head injury, she's likely to have been immobilized to prevent the chance of further injury(especially if there's a chance her spine or neck has been fractured). She's a risk to herself and the paramedics if she's going to be jumping people.

Honestly, if she is hanging off paramedics she's not likely to be hurt all that badly. People do hit on paramedics and grope them, when drugged up though--so that part I believe, and think is funny.

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?