Thursday, February 23, 2012

First Line Grabber #12

TITLE: A Sister's Love
GENRE: Contemporary Category Romance

She pressed the receiver to her ear and heard crying—terrible soul wrenching sobs.

43 comments:

Milena said...

No. Over-the-top angst before I have invested in anyone in the novel is a turnoff. Besides, I'd prefer to have the protag's name, or something else to anchor me in the story.

sue laybourn said...

No. The 'terrible soul wrenching sobs' is way over the top as far I'm concerned. 'Heard' is a filter word. I'm not curious to read more.

Elizabeth said...

No. Too much emotion without a little prelude to the reason, or a set-up, to prepare the reader for it.

B.E. Sanderson said...

No. 'terrible soul-wrenching sobs' at the beginning of a romance kind of turn me off.

Cheyenne Hill said...

No. I'm already depressed and I haven't read beyond the first line.

Tyson said...

No.

Bit yawn-worthy, like it's been done a hundred times before. Doesn't stand out. Also, a bit over done with the terrible soul wrenching sobs part.

Alessa Hinlo said...

No.

A bit overwrought for an opening.

Alice said...

yes, I'm wondering who these people are.

Holly Bodger said...

No.

This is really close but it's a little telling. It would be stronger if she pressed the receiver to her ear and heard the sobs (the crying is implied). Also, "she" should have a name.

mfleming said...

No, felt cliched in a sense. I would be more intrigued if the 'she' held the phone away from her ear, that would convey her reaction to this obviously disturbing phone call.

Nicole said...

No. I feel like this has been done before, and I don't get a lot of set up to differentiate it.

Jessica Negron said...

No.

There are two things that make this not work.

1. Drawn out description of her holding a phone. These are details you have to make the reader take for granted. If you just say, "She heard crying over the phone." then we are less focused on how she is holding the phone (which is pretty universal) and more focused on the crying.

2. The last part of the sentence requires more of an emotional commitment than a reader would be prepared to make at this point. Don't tell us how heart-wrenching the sobs are yet. Tell us that she's crying. Later we'll find out why she's crying, and we'll imagine the heart-wrenching sobs then.

Loralie Hall said...

No. I think it needs to be shortened and less telling to have the impact you want. Since sobbing implies crying, so to get the full impact I think you could cut straight to the soul-wrenching sobs and leave out 'crying'

Katherine Ernst said...

No. I second everything everyone else said. Also, soul-wrenching should be hyphenated.

KimberlyFDR said...

No

Too much over-the-top emotion to start off with. I want to be invested in the characters, not annoyed by them. Scale back the emotions and hook us in.

Amy said...

No.

I think the sentence is fine, but that you could use a more original way to describe the sound.

Rick said...

No. Besides the fact that it's over-the-top emotion too soon, the phrase I'm more familiar with is 'heart-wrenching'. "Soul wrenching" makes me think a bit more literally than you want to, and I wonder why the other person on the line is getting hacked by a Grim Reaper or some such. (Unless she actually is, in which case yes, I'd read more.)

Jean Davis said...

No. I like soul-wrenching sobs, but the rest could be tightened to: She answered the phone and heard

Erin said...

No. Starting with a pronoun turns me off as a reader. I find it hard to care about a she as much as a specific person. I also think it should be crying or sobbing, they're similar in nature but very different in contexts.

Julia said...

No. It doesn't quite work for me -- there's no hook here, you just throw us into the situation.

A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...

No. Too much emotion before Ive had a chance to get invested in the characters.

Yttar said...

No. I'd like to say yes, but the part after the -- pushes it into melodramatic territory and I'd be worried the rest of the book would be that way.

Sara J. Henry said...

No. A bit overwritten.

Chelle Sandell said...

Yes. As an avid contemporary category romance reader this sentence immediately hooks me. I expect emotion in category books and specifically read them for that reason. I don't care for books that attempt to set-up the entire storyline in the first sentence or paragraph.

SMKrafty said...

No- while there is tension in someone crying, I don't know or care about them yet.

Heather said...

No.

I felt it was melodramatic and over written.

You don't need to redescribe crying, so you can tighten up the text by ditching the "soul wrenching sobs" and just saying she heard sobs. "She pressed the receiver to her ear" seems oddly specific phrasing for "answered the phone."

The trouble with this kind of opening is it shoves a lot of high emotion at the reader without much grounding. It's like: "Look! An awful situation you should care about!" even though I don't have any specific beyond sobs and a phone.

What would help me invest, I think, is some idea of what the call means to the MC. Is this a random call she picked up at home or work? Did she just dial her sister and this is the answer she got? Is she a 911 dispatcher?

To apply meaning to this scenario, I need additional context.

Jenny Kaczorowski said...

No.
It's too much all at once. It felt like jumping into cold water. And it's hard to keep that up for a whole book (and exhausting for readers), so you're starting at a high place and then either the tension will drop off or you'll keep it that high and it will loose impact. Start a little slower and you'll have more room to grow - and take your readers with you. We want to care about why someone is sobbing - or having to listen to someone sob.

Larissa said...

No. I need a name, for one thing. Also, without knowing the mc or whether or not the person sobbing is close to her, I just don't have enough info to care yet. Sorry.

sarahwedgbrow said...

No. It would depend on my mood whether I'd want to jump straight into this emotion.

A.C. Turcotte said...

No. I'm not a fan of the terrible soul wrenching sobs. It just makes me feel like the book might be overwritten, which is not something I hugely enjoy.

Cheryl said...

No. This is a lot of emotion to be faced with before I know anything about what's going on.

JL Dannor said...

No. We don't know anyone here yet. Therefore, knowing someone is doing terrible soul-wrenching sobbing only makes me want your mc to get off the phone.

AG said...

No, it was too melodramatic.

Wen Baragrey said...

No. A bit too over the top. If someone is ringing with bad news, they're usually quiet or maybe sniffly. If they're in the middle of being murdered, they might be crying that way, but otherwise, it feels too much.

Beth H said...

No, it feels too emo/melodramatic for me.

Ailsa said...

No. It's not very interesting. People cry all the time - why is this significant?

Shakier Anthem said...

No. Without specifics about character or situation, I'm not invested enough yet to care about this level of emotion from the characters.

Nata ArtistaDonna said...

No. I have no idea what's going on. Confused.

macaronipants said...

No. Doesn't grab me. I don't know who's crying, so I'm not curious as to why.

A Little Push said...

No. I agree the "terrible soul wrenching sobs" is too much for the first sentence.

Stephsco said...

No, I'm sorry. I think this could be tweaked to work, though. I would like to see the character's name in the first line.

Traci Van Wagoner said...

No, too much for a first sentence, especially the soul wrenching sobs. That's over the top without a reason yet to care. I may have said yes without the second part.

Abbe Hoggan said...

No.

As others have said, too melodramatic. And is there any reason not to give her name in the first sentence?