Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First Five Sentences #20

TITLE: Lies We've Told
GENRE: Literary Fiction

After Cody broke up with her, Katie drove him to a bar by the county line to smoke and make-out. He’d bought some pot off a guy in Waco, and they parked by the dumpster, rolled the windows, lit up. The remains of a twelve-pack lolled in the space behind her seat – seven already downed.

The bar, Dirty Dogs, sat just outside the boundaries of Collier Springs, one of the few dry towns left in Texas. Most people looking for a buzz took the main road into Harker Heights, where a string of dives and drive-through liquor barns and 24-hour pawn shops lit up the strip like Vegas.


  1. The setting comes through really well, but not what makes this literary fiction. It does a great job of getting you interested in the MC since she's already making the questionable decisions of making out with a guy who just dumped her while smoking pot and drinking in excess. :) But It doesn't feel literary to me. Still want to read it though!

  2. I do feel grounded in the setting, but I also feel anxious to return to the car and find out what's going on between these two characters. From these 5 lines, I can't tell if it feels literary yet. I think it depends on where it goes from here - whether you use unconventional storytelling or if the prose becomes more important in and of itself. It's hard to judge by this opening.

    One nitpick is that I wasn't sure whether they rolled the car windows up to be discrete or down to let out the smoke. Very minor detail, but it pulled me from the story for a moment.

  3. Is she making out with the same guy she just broke up with? I liked lines 2 and 3. Setting has real feeling. Not sure if it fits the genre.

  4. It's hard to tell from a five-sentence snippet. Literary means more than just the treatment of the prose, so I can't say from just seeing this. I think it sounds like it could be literary.

    The setting is well done. I feel like I'm in a seedy little part of town with two very reckless people.

  5. You get a good sense of the setting from this, but I agree with Keri - the second paragraph feels like a break because I want to know more about the characters, and this info about the bars sounds like something that could be mentioned later.

    But this sounds interesting! Good luck!

  6. I agree with those who said this doesn't really feel literary. In literary fiction the language itself adds another dimension to the reader's experience, either because it's lyrical and poetic or because it's clever in a distinctive way, or perhaps uses a voice with a particular manner or accent that tells us a great deal about the character; in other words, the writing does double duty and goes beyond just telling the story.

    The voice here is blunt and fairly typical of many plot-driven genre fiction stories, and I'm afraid that 'lit up the strip like Vegas' strikes me as a rather simple cliché.

    But there is something whimsical about the idea that this couple broke up and then goes off to spend an evening together anyway, and I think it does make the reader curious about the characters and their relationship.

  7. For me, reading this was like watching one of those afternoon expose' TV shows. Not my world, but I couldn't look away if I wanted to. Nice voice.
    Good job setting the scene. You put us there!
    I would like to see how she felt instead of so much town description.