by Ray Rhamey
Writers, send your prologue/first chapter to FtQ for a “flogging” critique. Email as an attachment.
Many of the folks who utilize BookBub are self-published, and because we hear over and over the need for self-published authors to have their work edited, it’s educational to take a hard look at their first pages. A poll follows concerning the need for an editor.
When you evaluate today’s opening page, consider how well it uses elements from the checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling.
Donald Maass, literary agent and author of many books on writing, says, “Independent editor Ray Rhamey’s first-page checklist is an excellent yardstick for measuring what makes openings interesting.”
A First-page Checklist
- It begins to engage the reader with the character
- Something is wrong/goes wrong or challenges the character
- The character desires something.
- The character takes action. Can be internal or external action: thoughts, deeds, emotions. This does NOT include musing about whatever.
- There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
- It happens in the NOW of the story.
- Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
- Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
- The one thing it must do: raise a story question.
Blowing snow blinded me as I careened down Interstate 81. My jaw muscles throbbed from clenching my teeth for the past five hazardous hours, and the truck stop was still four miles away. The icy roads made me late–the exchange was planned for 9:15 p.m., exactly eight minutes ago. Unless my luck had been blessed with a major traffic accident, I wouldn’t be catching the seller. But maybe saving the child and interrogating the buyer were still within reach.
“If I don’t die before I get there, it’ll be a miracle.” My tires hit yet another packed down section of snow and sent the car sliding. I wrenched the steering wheel into the skid, my stomach burning as if I’d lit it on fire. Gently pumping the brakes and cursing the Polar Vortex, I saved the car from skidding onto the shoulder. The kid I was trying to save couldn’t afford my slowing down.
Pain burned my bottom lip; I dug my teeth out of the tender flesh. Two hazardous miles to go. The windshield wipers were on high, their annoying swish-swash giving me another reason to cuss.
After discovering Kailey Richardson had nearly been sold into an online sex trafficking ring, I’d decided to take my operation beyond old case files. Child sex trafficking was running rampant in this country, and law enforcement often found its hands tied by our legal system.
You can turn the page and read more here. Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This offering averaged 4.3 stars on Amazon. Lately I’ve had a lot of trouble finding a free BookBub novel that was both interesting and promised a minimum adequacy in writing. For me, this one passes the test.
We open with an immediate scene and a law officer racing to save a child from sex trafficking. The voice is fine, the writing is high caliber, and things have gone wrong—the icy road—and have great potential for going more wrong. There’s even a “clock-ticking” deadline of sorts. For me, an easy page turn. Your thoughts?
My books. You can read sample chapters and learn more about the books here.
Writing Craft Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling
Fantasy(satire) The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles
Mystery(coming of age) The Summer Boy
Science Fiction Hiding Magic
Science Fiction GundownFree ebooks.
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