Thursday, February 23, 2012

First Line Grabber #14

TITLE: Death of a Florida Purse
GENRE: Adult Cozy Mystery

Elsie stepped out of the airport shuttlebus and gazed around in horror.

52 comments:

  1. Nnnno. I love cozies, but this doesn't ring like one. If we were told what it was that Elsie gazed at in horror, and if that something was incogrous, or funny, then, yes. As it is, I'd need a killer second sentence to be grabbed.

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  2. Yes
    It leaves me wondering what she could possible be seeing that would provoke horror.

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  3. Yes, I'd want to know what's causing the horror - even if the sentence is a little unwieldy.

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  4. No, every airport is horrible.

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  5. No.

    Again, I'd like to say "Maybe" here but the "horror" was too much telling for me. You need to show her horror with a specific reaction. For example, "Elsie stepped out the airport shuttlebus and immediately wished she could get back on." I'm not saying that you should use this exactly but you need something that shows us her reaction and makes us wonder why she is having it.

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  6. No.

    "gazed around in horror" doesn't jive with me. Mostly because when I think 'gaze' I think dreamy, lovely, or blank stare. Gaped, gawked, stared in horror. Not gazed, it's too casual. Unless horror is the wrong word. I don't know. Just missed the mark for me.

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  7. No. I would have been more intrigued if what the horror was instead of her gaze. And agree that gaze is the wrong verb to relate to horror.

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  8. No, I want to see a better reaction from her. Something stronger to catch me and reel me in to see what this horror is.

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  9. No. It just seems bland to me and lacking voice. I feel like "gazed around in horror" is an overrused action.

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  10. No. The addition of "in horror" really takes me out of it.

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  11. No. "gazed around in horror" seems trite. I agree that showing rather than telling here would help tremendously.

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  12. No.

    I think if you removed the middle part of the sentence to make it "Elsie gazed around in horror." it would have been better.

    Then I'd want to know what she's gazing at, where she is, what's happening.

    But mentioning the airport shuttlebus sets up the scene, and I know right away that whatever she's horrified at can't been all that bad.

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  13. No. It's a little too generic for me.

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  14. No.

    Close though, if something more descriptive than "horror" had been used. And shuttlebus isn't a word although I imagine it's possible in other parts of the country it's used as one?

    Good luck with it.

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  15. No

    Gazing around in horror doesn't work for me. Seeing as she's in front of either an airport or a hotel, depending on if she's coming or going, the use of horror seems over-dramatic for the situation.

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  16. No. I'd rather have what she's gazing at described so I see the horror.

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  17. Yes, because I'm already grounded in a setting, character, and her reaction at something - I want to know what. And where she's going.

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  18. Yes. It makes me want to know what's happened--especially since it's at an airport or near one. Another terrorist attack? Hostage situation? Possibilities are endless!

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  19. No. The word gazed threw me. When I think of gazing I think of looking lovingly at something not seeing something horrific. Maybe if that word was different it would pull me in more.

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  20. No. The combination of "gazing" and "in horror" don't work for me for the same reason others mention. The outcome is that I lose confidence in whether I'm going to get authentic reactions/emotions in the story if I continue reading.

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  21. No- the commonplace suddenly becoming 'horror' doesn't really grab me

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  22. No, not quite. I wish there were more specifics in the first line. Also, "shuttlebus" should be two words.

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  23. No. That "gazed" seems to be tripping the rest of the sentence up, because it doesn't match with "horror."

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  24. I wish I was more in the scene with Elise. If you just wanted to provide what horrifies her in the next sentence, could you have her stumble out of the bus, just catching herself? Something to get us there with her/make us really get a sense of her character right off the bat.
    Ninja Girl

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  25. No.

    I might be off base because I've never read a cozy mystery, but there just wasn't enough of a hook here for me.

    I do like getting her name up front and I like that she's just stepped off the bus--that gives me an immediate sense of who and where we are. I have some suggestions:

    First, gazed/horror is the wrong combo. Find a better verb.

    Second, I think you stopped one description too soon. I can see this opening serving one of two purposes: Set the immediate problem or show characterization. But for either of those to work, we have to see what she sees.

    If the thing she's looking at is actually horrific, then you need to describe it but you don't need to tell us she's in horror. "... and gazed at the corpses littered up and down the hotel circle drive." We infer horror.

    If, however, it's not something horrific and you're using it to show her overreaction to something stupid, then keep "horror" but give us something character building. "... and gazed in horror at the never-ending sea of pastel buildings."

    But if it's not actually showing us something horrible or giving us characterization, then I think it's the wrong kind of opening t use.

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  26. No. "Gazed around in horror" is just a little too generic a description for me.

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  27. No. I'd rather see what is causing her horror. "Gazed around in horror" just gives me a case of the meh's, sorry.

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  28. No. I'd prefer a physical reaction or one of the suggestions mentioned above. Without seeing or feeling her horror, I don't care enough yet. Sorry.

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  29. Happens to me all the time. I'm going with Yes.

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  30. No. It needs something more interesting/unusual.

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  31. Yes. I like that you're starting right in the midst of the action, instead of bogging us down with a lot of back story and info dump. Your title helps. Love it!

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  32. No. Mostly because it's a cozy, so I think I'd be disappointed that there isn't likely to be anything actually horrible there at the airport (or exciting horrible, since all airports are horrible). Now, if there really were something horrible, that'd be a different thing altogether!

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  33. No. This feels like a false set up--I doubt she is gazing around at anything truly horrific but is only displeased by the traffic or something. I'd rather get a glimpse of what she's horrified by than hear that she's horrified.

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  34. Yes. I have to know what's going on. What has she seen? Where is she? Why was she on an airplane?
    ~Sarah F.

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  35. No.

    This is a classic case of "telling rather than showing." You tell me Elsie is horrified, but I don't see what she sees and I don't have any reason to empathize with her horror. I'm sure the paragraph continues with a description of what she sees, but the opening itself lacks that necessary punch.

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  36. No. If it were that she stepped out of the shuttlebus and gazed around in horror AT something, then it might work.

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  37. No. There's not enough pull here -- tell us WHY she's staring around in horror, and then I'll be interested.

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  38. No. I'd rather know what she's looking at that is so horrific. The phrased "gazed in horror" doesn't sound very original, either. Not original enough for a first line, anyway.

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  39. No. There isn't much to tell me what is going to be interesting about the story, or why she's horrified. I don't feel any connection to her.

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  40. No. Like others, I didn't like the "gazed" entry. Would have like to read evidenc eof the "what" and hope it was quirky and fun.

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  41. No. As others have mentioned, horrible is pretty much the default setting for airports. Specifics might help, either in terms of what's unusual about this particular setting's flavor of horrible, or why her experience of the horror is unique (for example, if she had agoraphobia or an intense aversion to security agents).

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  42. No. The phrase "gazed around in horror" feels cliche, and it doesn't seem warranted.

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  43. No. Not enough to set the scene. Gazing around in horror seems awkward.

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  44. No.

    Too many things she might be staring at in horror that are not interesting - traffic, litter, graffiti. It's not specific enough to make me want to read on.

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  45. No. Sorry! Gaze and horror don't quite fit together. Gaze is leaisurely; gazing around doesn't imply a sense of urgency that horror would require. I agree with the commenter who suggested you describe what she sees and let the reader fill in the emotion.

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  46. No. "gazed around in horror" didn't do it for me.

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  47. No.

    I should be thinking 'Why? What's going on?' but I'm not. It just doesn't pack a punch. 'Scene of horror' is just too vague.

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  48. No, too much telling instead of showing. It would help if you add more to the sentence, showing us what she's looking at. That would ground us in the setting and in the character. I suspect she's overreacting to her new surroundings.

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  49. Yes.

    It has just enough pull to get me to read the next sentence. I'm curious to know if it's truly horrible or if she's been melodramatic, and I'm hoping to be surprised.

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  50. No.

    "Gaze" isn't something that you do in horror. Gazing is casual or melancholy.

    Also - if she were stepping off of a shuttlebus, she would have seen all this horror through the window. It would be odd to just notice this when she steps off.

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