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Thread: Good Opening?

  1. #1
    Rich L.

    Good Opening?

    I'm just finishing up a novel, but I keep returning to the opening chapter. Like every author, I want to hook the reader from the start. This is the result of my latest edit. I'd appreciate any feedback on this. Sorry if it's long.

    I watched through the diner window at the big woman running in small circles in the parking lot, smiling and laughing, her arms out-stretched. Her long red hair had streaks of gray and flew in unkempt streams behind her. Both her face and her overalls were in need of a good washing.
    “Fat Chance,” the waitress said.
    “I beg your pardon?”
    “You asked her name. It’s Fat Chance. Well ok, her name is really Patty, but everybody around here just calls her Fat Chance because…”
    “Wait, let me guess-- because she’s fat right? How clever. Does she always do that?”
    The waitress scowled. It wasn’t a look that sat well on her face. She was too pretty and too young and too blonde to pull it off, like a high school cheerleader in one of those cheesy teen slasher movies who always gets killed right after showing her tits. “Every damn day. She runs around town flapping her arms like a fool and making bird sounds. If she’s bothering you I can try and run her off.”
    While the idea sounded mildly amusing, I didn’t really think it was necessary.
    “Yeah, well she’d probably just come back anyway. They put her in the hospital every once in a while when she gets real bad but then she gets out and won’t take her medicine and just goes back to being crazy.” The waitress-who-wasn’t-a-cheerleader shrugged. “But then I guess you got a few crazy people in New York too, huh.”
    “Almost all of them. By the way, what’s in these scrambled eggs?”
    “Just the usual: eggs, milk, salt and chili peppers.”
    “Uh-huh. And do you always put chili peppers in the eggs?”
    “We put peppers in everything. Why, is there something wrong?”
    “I have an ulcer.”
    “Oh. Well in that case, you really shouldn’t eat chili peppers.” She topped off my coffee and carried the carafe to the next table. I stared back out across the parking lot as the first faint flicker of fire ignited deep in my stomach.
    Damn you Juke. Why did I let you talk me into this? I should be back in New York shunning our own mental cases, not gazing out across a New Mexico parking lot at one of theirs. Take a vacation you said; see the country. Ass hole.
    The red-haired woman had stopped running in circles and now stood quietly with her arms at her side, looking directly at me. We held each other’s gaze for a brief moment before she blew me a kiss and laughed, then turned and ran down the dusty street and out of sight.

  2. #2
    Rich L.

    Re: Good Opening?

    Damn, just saw the post. Didn't realize indents needed to be coded.

  3. #3

    Re: Good Opening?

    Sounds okay to me. It definitely left me wondering what happens next. This first sentence could use some work though, maybe mention looking at the woman before mentioning the window. Or maybe try this:

    I looked out the diner window and watched the big woman run in small circles in the parking lot. (Then describe how her mouth is curved into a smile, describe her giddy laughter and describe her arms as they are out-stretched.), smiling and laughing, her arms out-stretched.
    Use more of your senses; see, feel, hear, taste, tough, even sense of time and space.

    Hope this helped. ;-)


  4. #4
    The Raven-Haired Girl

    Re: Good Opening?

    Somewhat reminds me of Mark Hudson MUSIC IN MY HEAD. Sounds wonderful! Makes me want to know more about your lead character and the somewhat 'fondly' nicknamed lady Fat Chance, and the connectioned that will possibly grow between them.

    I agree with Terri on the senses. Definitly add some feelings of time and space as well, like how time seems to slow down around him.

    Keep at it!


  5. #5
    Ryan Bruner

    Re: Good Opening?

    I agree with Terri...the first sentence needs work. It feels like a run-on even though, technically, it isn't. Also, I had to go BACK and reread the first paragraph to figure out what the character was talking about (referring to "Does she always do that?"). Frankly, I didn't "get" what she was doing that was so odd the first pass. So, you might want to make it seem more out of the ordinary by giving more details.

    Also...and this may JUST be me...but I don't like the "t" word there. (See, I can't even type it!) Mostly because that level of "talk" is typically reserved to a very close-knit circle of friends, even if it is first-person. I would use "breasts". I mean, right at that moment, I lost interest in the character. But, as I said...it is possibly just me, since I don't like reading nor hearing swearing in books unless it adds emphasis for a reason.

  6. #6
    Rich L.

    Re: Good Opening?

    Thanks for the feedback RHG and Terri. It's something I'll work on. The basic premise is that the lead character is a writer on his way to LA when his car breaks down in the little town of Mystic Falls, N.M. (think hootersville on steroids). He gets caught up some craziness involving a copper mine, an indian burial site and of course the aforementioned Fat Chance.

  7. #7
    Defran Mason

    Re: Good Opening?

    Why do I get the feeling I\'m reading a play or screenplay?

    You wanted reaction - that was mine.

    Good luck with it.


  8. #8

    Re: Good Opening?

    The description of the wiatress seemed out of place.

    She was too pretty and too young and too blonde to pull it off, like a high school cheerleader in one of those cheesy teen slasher movies who always gets killed right after showing her tits.

    I don't get it, where's the connection. She couldnt pull off the look "like a . . ." This is too lose in my opinion, left me thinking, "what is she trying to say here?"

    Also I feel like Im waiting too long to get even a hint of the flavor of the story.

    The red-haired woman (why not say Fat Chance?) had stopped running . . .

    Good luck.

  9. #9

    Re: Good Opening?

    I'm sorry, to be honest, it's a little too kooky for me to take this seriously.

    What genre is this is? If it's comedy, I think you're on the right track. But if this is going to be a serious, suspense, psychological thriller story dealing with a crazy woman... you'll have to rework this to make her seem scary, not weird.

    But, to give you some credit, the dialogues do sound natural.

  10. #10

    Yeah, GREAT opening.

    <<She was too pretty and too young and too blonde to pull it off, like a high school cheerleader in one of those cheesy teen slasher movies who always gets killed right after showing her tits.>>

    Actually, this is a good line. It sets the tone well. Excellent voice. Very witty.

    If you can sustain this voice and this level of interest in the reader throughout the work, you'll have a good, readable book. It's the best I've seen in this forum in quite a while.


    SquidNote, esq.

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