You mention that you're not happy with some of your sentences.
In the first few paragraphs, there are a lot of long sentences. I think that's too much work for the reader. At this point you're trying to hook them, so try to avoid taxing them. Also, I think they all begin with the subject. Try for variety in sentence structure.
Instead of telling us how various people greeted Richard, give us the conversations so that we can see for ourselves. That's what "show not tell" means. Not only is it less interesting when you just tell us about something, it also implies that you don't trust us to figure these things out for ourselves.
Thinking about story, which is the most important thing, and to answer your question: no, I didn't make the connection about the fiancť and the emergency vehicles - and I read it twice. Second, you've given me absolutely no reason to have positive feelings of any kind towards your MC - which is fatal, IMO. Third, there are too many cliches: office rivalry, the Hawaian shirt (wouldn't happen), love at first sight, etc.
How is the reader ever going to root for this MC? If it's some quality he shows later, you have to include some sign of it here, I think. Also, show some hint that this story will be something other than a run of the mill office rivalry tale . . . assuming it is. The reader needs a reason to care.
Richard sounds like a douche to me. As a reader, I hope bad things happen to him, but I wouldn't keep reading.
Thanks again everyone for your opinions, they are really helpful. So many people hated that greeting paragraph and I donít blame you. LOL
I was most of the way through finishing a re-write of the post but I canít ignore the distinct lack of comments saying the story looked interesting, and the couple of posters who made it clear it wasnít.
@Cat, thanks for your comments. The main story is not about office rivalry. What happens to Richard is a taste of things to come for everyone as a result of a new phenomenon sweeping the world. The trouble in the cityís north is related to that. I was disappointed that Richard came across as being a douche but thanks for letting me know . I was just trying to portray him as a decent person with a positive future, making it all the more meaningful when he, along with everyone else, loses everything. Perhaps if the reader knew this was coming the beginning may have been more interesting but I doubt it.
For the sake of improving my writing skills I might still post the re-write but it would seem that this is simply not a good beginning to the story. If people donít feel hooked then I need to start again from a different angle.
Hi everyone. Here is the re-write, (changes in red so you donít need to re-read it all). I did write a new dialogue to replace the widely despised paragraph but decided the whole section didnít add anything to the overall story and discarded it.
As I mentioned earlier, nobody seems interested in where the story is heading. I think this might be because the post appears to just offer the reader a drag through some common office rivalry. The reader is unaware that this is just the setup for a group of people who are experiencing the beginning of an ultimately devastating change that sweeps through every society on Earth. But even so, the beginning needs to be a hook and Iím considering different angles to start from.
@Cat, you make an interesting point regarding most sentences beginning with the subject. I will try to mix it up more in future work.
Richard possibly is a douche according my portrayal of him, not just a decent guy who has a lot to lose. If anyone has any suggestions for where I went wrong there I would love to hear them.
Thomas ignored the speed limits. It was the first morning in years he actually tried to arrive at work on time. Sabotaging his subordinateís promotion had been a cruel thing to do but he still wanted to catch the look on the guyís face when he got the news. Hell, the whole office would be in shock.
Thomas would have arrived early had he not been continually forced to pull over for so many emergency vehicles racing to some crisis in the cityís northern suburbs. The last fire truck pushed him right off the road into loose gravel and the subsequent bumping set the Napoleon bobblehead on his dashboard expressing its disappointment all the way to the company parking lot.
His car was automatically manoeuvring itself into his reserved space next to the branch managerís when he saw Richard - the subordinate he had secretly grown to hate over the past five years. Thomas breathed a sigh of relief Ė the show hadnít started. He flicked an empty plastic coffee cup onto the branch managerís car and followed Richard into the elevator.
ďGood morning, Thomas,Ē Richard said.
ďYou might say that, young man. You might,Ē Thomas said, stone faced and never making eye contact.
Thomas always exchanged workplace pleasantries with an odour of condescension, none more nose wrinkling than those he passed to Richard. To him, the twenty-three year old had been like one of those fire trucks, moving up the ranks behind with surprising speed while everybody else appeared to just pull over and let him pass. Only Thomas wasnít ready to pull over for Richard. He had been stuck as assistant branch manager for years and didnít fancy competing with some ďrising starĒ almost half his age for a higher position. The current quality control supervisor was due to retire soon and Richard was expected to be promoted into the vacancy. This was still one rank below Thomas but it was too close. It was time Richard hit the brakes.
Richard stepped out of the elevator first and moved straight to his cubicle in the senior programmerís row. A bright pink sticky note had been placed conspicuously in the middle of his computer screen and he knew it was from his fiancť. Richard and Julie became an item soon after she transferred to his branch a couple of years ago. He put down his rucksack and peeled the note from the screen.
ďHi Rich. I had to go out, some trouble up at the Northern Suburbs branch but Iíll be back this afternoon.
J (love heart drawing)
P.S. I think Michael is retiring TODAY!!! Good luck!!! (Smiley face)Ē
That last part made Richard stand up straight to peer over the cubicle walls and into the executive offices. Michael was the retiring quality control supervisor and Richard could see he was dressed casually, his face was all grins, and boxes of his belongings were being loaded onto unmanned furniture removal machines. Richardís heart bounced like a tight rubber ball. This was the day.
Actually, I hope nobody minds but I am going to repost my new work in the critiques section. I am still learning my way round this forum and if this is a problem, moderators, please don't hesitate to act.