Wednesday, June 26, 2013

First Page Critique

If you would like your first page critiqued, send your first 250 words of chapter one to lisaphillipsbks(at)gmail(dot)com 

Here's this week's offering (not in the slaughter and roast sense, but I get it can feel like that sometimes!):
Chapter 1
"So would you put idiot or moron?"

We were seated in the office of Newton Investigations. The office contained eight used but clean artificial wood desks with old office chairs. The walls were a sterile white with nothing hung anywhere except for our business license and the first dollar the business ever collected, both of which hung behind the boss near the window which gave a nice view of traffic down River Street towards the Library. To the right was the oak door to the consultation room with the light off. Only my desk and the boss' were being used at the moment.

The boss, Jerry Netwon looked up from his gold colored custom PC. "Ustick, neither is quite up to our professional standards."

Newton wore a blue sweater with a white dress shirt and red tie underneath. He was a little chubby, and evidence of his intent to change this was apparent in the plain celery sticks in a plastic baggie on his desk. The only other adornment was a citation for the Idaho Medal of Honor for Law Enforcement.

“But this has got to be the dumbest guy I've run into. I come to his house and he's got a stack of these stolen computers, mind you with the company lease numbers facing the windows, and he s got three of them in the back of his wife's car. He copped out to the whole thing. And I got on to him just because of his shoes."

1. There's a typo of the guy's name "Newton" in the third paragraph. It's an easy slip of the fingers, but something that is totally fixable before submitting. But first, you have to catch it ;-)
2. The first sentence is intriguing enough, but didn't hold my attention through a whole paragraph of describing the setting. I'd like to know more about who asked the question, perhaps how he feels about the office - about how life has brought him here. They're the only ones there, so maybe he'd rather be somewhere else than this sterile office. To connect with the story, readers need a person (with feelings) to connect to.
3. The gold-colored custom PC was an interesting touch. I didn't even know they came in that color! Makes me want to know more about Jerry Newton and who he's trying to be with his diet and his 'professional standards'.
4. The last paragraph is, presumably, our guy who asked the question at the beginning, though it's not totally clear. We actually meet him a bit more in the next paragraph, but we got to 250 words first so I had to cut it off. But I'm interested to know how he caught the guy just from his shoes.

Interesting, and what seems like would be a private detective-type story. I'd like to see more of the main point-of-view character up front, otherwise the reader will connect more with Newton before we meet the guy who I'm assuming will be the hero of the story.
But at the end of the day, rules are just guidelines. You bend them to work for what you're trying to say. 

Great job! 

Lisa Phillips is a wife, mom of two and author. She writes during nap time and while the kids play at McDonald's (that's what the play area's for, right?). Her first novel, The Ultimate Betrayal will be published by Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense, summer 2014

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