Friday, November 7, 2014

First Page Blog Hop

The amazing Michelle Hauck is doing something awesome - for querying and agented writers. It's a first page blog hop! So, go ahead and review Michelle's blog for instructions, post the first 250 words, and post a link on your blog. Then start critiquing!

Here's mine:

Genre: Women's Fiction

First 250
When I was eight years old and still believed in happily ever afters, I swore I’d grow up and marry Tommy Devereaux, the cutest boy in third grade. I painstakingly stared at the class photo, tracing the letters of his name and repeating them to myself until I could spell it without thinking. I wrote “Brittany Devereaux” over and over, covering the insides of my notebooks, journals, any scrap of paper I found.

Fourteen years later, I met Colin Devereaux. No relation.

“Is this seat taken?” A guy about my age stood across the table. Hello, green eyes. One hand rested on the top rung of the empty wooden chair in front of him. Between the din of the coffee shop and my music, I barely heard his question.

I nodded. He let go of the chair. I pulled out an earbud and realized what he’d said. “Wait, sorry. No, it’s not taken. Yes, you can sit.”

“Thanks. I’m Colin Devereaux.”

A response tumbled from my mouth automatically, like when I was eight. “D-e-v-e-r-e-a-u-x.”

Smooth, Britt.

I wasn’t the most suave at talking to members of the opposite sex. That's probably why I could count the number of dates I’d had in the past four years on my right hand, not including hookups. 

What? I said I wasn’t suave, not that I’m a nun.

Colin laughed as if impromptu spelling were a perfectly normal reaction to introducing himself.

20 comments:

  1. I really like the voice in this - makes it so easy to read. I feel like I'm immediately immersed in the character, which is great. It's not really my genre, so I have a few quibbles that might be cluelessness on my part. I'm not clear of when the MC is relating this to us. You start with her at 8, and then her at 22, both seem to be in the past. Makes me unsure of where we are and where we're going. I like starting with something important happening, but I'm not sure if this is just backstory. Maybe something to make it clear what age the MC is relating this from, or how long ago the meeting with Colin happened.
    And a couple minor nitpicks - 'the words came out...' doesn't suggest that she's spelling out the letters to me. The 'few drinks pre-hookup' is a little clunky to me.
    But it's solid writing and I'd keep reading, hoping to get a little better sense of what the story is. Good luck!

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  2. This also isn't my genre, but I didn't have a problem with that time change as Blair did. I liked it. And I liked that she blurts out the spelling right away! I did stumble on the phrase "What? I said I wasn't suave..." Why is she saying "What?"? And are you saying that drinks before a "hookup" don't count as a date? I agree with Blair that that's clunky. But, like Blair, I'd read on to see what happens!

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  3. Thanks! Made a couple of small changes. Will ponder the "few drinks pre-hook-up" line to see how I can smooth it out.

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  4. I found the whole first paragraph pretty clunky with a lot of repetition. It's all back-story needed to explain why the last name is important, then he introduces himself with his full name and she fumbles it. Just feels very contrived, especially since most people wouldn't introduce themselves with their full name under those circumstances.

    I'm not sure this story starts on the right foot. Isn't there a better/more interesting way the two of them could meet?

    On the whole I like the writing beyond that first paragraph, but I feel the situation could be more engaging.

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  5. Love the voice. Britt is very likable. I like that's she not a prude. I think most issues have been addressed. I'm just wondering why she's thinking about Tommy. What triggered the memory? Is he still someone she wants 14 years later?

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  6. Hi there, I also like the voice, especially the first paragraph, I a good feel of the character, however, I have to agree re: the 8yo and the 22yo both seem to be talking in the past.

    Is the character now in her 30s/40s? is that where the next page takes us?

    The issue with WF is there is a lot of exposition so sometimes the real crux doesn't show up until page 2 or even further, so I'm happy to suspend the disbelief as long as, (soon) it's clear what age (and what era) the MC.

    Also, on the question of who is the MC, I took it as the one talking 1st person. Again, I accept WF style writing does need to be given time to unfold.

    I'd read on :)

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  7. I love the line: What? I said I wasn’t suave, not that I’m a nun. It gives me a sense of Britt's wit. Other than the slightly confusing few drinks pre-hookup that I had to read over a couple of times I love this!

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  8. I love the past (we've all written our names w/ someone else's last name!) and then how she reacts to new hottie. But can she painstakingly look at a picture? Tracing the letters of his name, sure. But looking at his pic?

    Like it!

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  9. The voice is great, conversational and like this person could be your sister or next door neighbor. My only stumble was on the last line.

    "Colin laughed as if impromptu spelling were a perfectly normal answer to introducing himself."

    I had to read it three times to get it. At first it was like she spelled it out why doesn't it say herself. Then I realized on the third try (I'm a slow learner) what it was actually saying. I think it might help to switch out answer with response. Colin laughed as if impromptu spelling were a perfectly normal response to his introduction. I don't read women's fiction nor write it but I really like this.

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  10. Great voice. I had absolutely no trouble jumping from the memory to the present. I love how awkward she is and while I stumbled a bit on the "What? I said I wasn't suave. Not that I'm a nun." bit it took maybe three reads before I realized she was addressing the reader. Personally, I have no problem with fourth wall breakage, but I do know that there are plenty of people who hate that kind of thing. I love how she spells out his name. That's cute and awfully awkward at the same time. I hope this helps.

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  11. This was really engaging right from the start. I had a hard time finding things to comment on other to say that I thought it was great. I did stop at the word "din" Not that there was anything wrong with it, it just made me stop for a moment and think about that word choice.

    One other phrase that made me stop was "not including a few drinks pre-hookup" I had to re-read this phrase a couple times to figure out what you were saying, I think you meant you were not including these "meet ups" as a date? It was just a little confusing to me.

    Awesome beginning!

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  12. I love your voice in this. It immediately made me feel close to the MC. I didn't have any problems with the age jumping, anthough I did wonder how old she is (about my age) but it might come through with the cover copy. I thought spelling the name out loud was funny and I loved "No relation."

    I'm not a fan of breaking the 4th wall. Maybe just removing "What" from that paragraph would smooth it out. Or you could keep the same sentiment with something like "I may not be suave, but I'm not going to live like a nun." (but better than my clunky sentence). Good luck!

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  13. Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I tweaked the "hook-ups" line to make it a bit less clunky, and streamlined a couple of other things. Hopefully it flows a little better.

    The nun line is a fourth wall break, which I fully expect my agent to tell me to edit out. But reader addressing is fairly consistent throughout the MS, so we'll see.

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  14. Laura, I love the voice in this and I actually really like the transition from third grade to young adult. Her spelling out his name made me laugh out loud and totally seems like something I might have done at some point in my life ;)

    This line tripped me up though: "Fourteen years later, I met Colin Devereaux. No relation." I wonder if you could say something that evokes her awkwardness around guys even fourteen years later, and then let us discover his name in dialogue instead of with her telling us about it in exposition? That might increase the emotional impact of an already solid opening scene.

    Best of luck!

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  15. Love it. The voice, the flow, all of it.
    The only place I tripped was, as Julie Artz says, in the introduction to Colin. I get what you're aiming for -- I just wonder if there's another line in between - as in, what I didn't expect was that learning to spell the name would end up mattering not because I married Billy but because I eventually met Colin Devereaux. No relation.
    Yeah, that's clunky too -- but I'm trying to say I think you need a tiny transition there!!
    Good Luck - hope the read this one day! :)

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  16. I came late to the party, so the drinks were already gone when I got here. Your writing is well polished, no sharp edges to distract the reader or pull them away from the story. The time gap between age 8 and age 22 doesn't bother me, nor does the telling in past tense -- as long as it is consistent within the work, it should be fine. The only thing I can remark on is the use of painstakingly - I've had it drilled into my head to avoid -ly adverbs as much as possible, especially in the early stages of the book. That said, if you're really wanting to emphasize her staring at the picture, your only real choices are the -ly adverb or to choose a different verb.

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  17. This isn't a genre I read (ever!), but I love the voice so much I'd make an exception for yours! It was easy to identify with the main character - even in the first paragraph when it's in the past. The description paints a great image in my mind without making it dull - definitely a plus! I really can't find anything to critique, personally! :)

    Hope this helps!
    Good luck!

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  18. This is very smooth and fun to read. Fantastic! The only time I felt pulled out of the character's voice was this sentence: I wasn’t the most suave at talking to members of the opposite sex. I think it's the phrase "most suave" and possibly "the opposite sex." It just doesn't sound as conversational as the rest of it. Love the voice and set-up. Awesome, Laura!
    Missy Shelton Belote
    http://www.missysheltonbelote.com

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  19. I loved the opening with the child's infatuation. It rang so true. Although I'm not sure you can stare painstakingly :). You captured something true and touching there.

    Unfortunately, the adult encounter with Colin isn't as exciting. When he doesn't react to her spelling his name, I felt cheated. We had all that great build-up and explanation for something that turns out not to matter? What was the point of it then? If he'd looked at her strangely then gone to sit somewhere else, that would have worked for me. Then she has to figure out what to do if she wants to connect with him.

    There's no conflict here. Just a friendly encounter between a woman and a man she finds vaguely attractive. I would really have liked the writing in the encounter to be as unique and perceptive as the start.

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