Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First 50 Words #17

TITLE: Unwritten
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

She woke with a gasp, drawing a ragged breath as she wrenched her eyes open.

Her heart beat like a steel drum inside her chest, pounding so hard she could see the blue silk of her pajama top shake to its rhythm.

The room still echoed from her screams.


  1. Conventional Wisdom says never, ever start with someone waking up. But I admit I'm struggling with this right now too in my WIP. I like the room echoing from her screams (although she had better be in a big, acoustically live room to make that more than a nice phrase), but at this point we need to get straight into action. I guess what I'd ask is this: is the waking from a nightmare (or the nightmare itself) the inciting incident? Or is there a better place to start?

  2. I agree - starting with waking up has been done so much that it is hard to feel the excitement you are trying to establish.

  3. This feels overwritten to me, like you're trying a little too hard to place us in the MC's situation. Is it even possible for your heart to beat so hard that it disturbs your clothing? On the first read, I thought something fantastical was going on, but the genre suggests otherwise.

    And yeah, a waking-up scene is a really tough way to start a manuscript.

  4. I've read the same about starting with a wake up scene, especially if the screams are related to dreams. Tell us as readers, what happens next that is more exciting? What other type of scene could give us the same information? Good Luck : )

  5. I'll comment because I like your title. However, I think you need to lighten this up a bit. Too much 'drama' in how body parts are wrenching and throbbing and whatnot. Sometimes a little goes a long way. I'd read on due to the title, but if the next 50 words were as heavy as these, I'd stop. Romance doesn't need to be overdone to be done well.

  6. She woke with a gasp - and yet, at the end, the room is echoing with her screams. When did she scream?

    Wrenching her eyes open makes it seem like it was really hard to open her eyes. Why is opening her eyes so difficult?

    A steel drum is just a steel drum. It doesn't beat unless someone hits it, so you have to take the simile further, and that would only make the sentence more overwritten that it is.

    And as somone else said, is it even possible for a heartbeat to shake your clothing?

    I'd suggest rewriting the entire opening. Don't use description just to have description. Think about what you are writing and be sure it says what you mean and that it makes sense within the context of what you've written.

  7. I like the title as well, but I have to agree with some of the other commenters. It's a bit too much for the opening. Descriptions are just a bit too flowery. I think your best bet with this opening is to keep it simple. Good luck :)

  8. Overwritten - ragged breath, wrenched, beat like a steel drum - and pounding and shaking don't work together in an image. (Heart pounds - it might make her pajama top move, but not shake.) Dial it back, way back.