Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Secret Agent #34

TITLE: Letters of a Dying Misanthrope
GENRE: Adult Romance

PROLOGUE

            Red and blue lights flashed across my blurry vision, like a macabre, dripping watercolor. The lights reflected in the floor to ceiling glass doors of the ER, reverberating into my head with a harsh pulse.  My mouth opened and shut several times, any words I had hoped to speak died on my tongue. The pulsing grew louder, so loud that I could barely think. This wasn’t real. None of this was real.
            A loud, manic, guttural scream burst through my chest, a banshee’s heartbreaking wail curling into the damp, night air.

            My heart thumped painfully against my chest as I woke up drenched in sweat, my throat completely raw. Shaky hands fumbled with my water glass, spilling it all over my nightstand, all over my brand new paperbacks.

“Crap,” I croaked as I scrambled for socks, my comforter, anything to clean up my mess. Frustrated tears fell as I managed to rake my hands through my hair as my eyes scanned for the red and blue lights. Another sob broke through my pained throat as I fought to make the nightmare fade away.


CHAPTER ONE

Did everyone in Berkmore get together and decide to go to the post office at the same time? My palms started to sweat as my gaze slid across the parking lot, taking in all of the cars, the old men still shooting the breeze while propped up against their pickup trucks, the women loaded down with packages going exactly where I needed to go.
           

9 comments:

  1. The opening lines are gripping. But there's o need to put it in italics. Also a lot of romances don't need a prologue, unless they're historical romances.
    You really need to ask yourself if there's a need for the prologue and can you just use the opening for chapter 1. Start right in the action instead of the prologue. The opening for Chapter 1 is more like your voice. It's a good voice and done well. You should stick with that instead of the omniscient POV. Hope this helps.

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  2. I like the voice, but agree, the prologue, not so much. You could do better without it or maybe work it into the post office scene.

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  3. Comment didn't post - sorry if this ends up being a repeat! Trying again :)

    I agree with the comments about the prologue. One of the most common pieces of advice I see from agents and editors is to not start with a dream.

    I think you've set up some intrigue with the first paragraph in chapter 1 and I already want to learn more about the town. Here's an idea: what if she sees a cop car near the post office with lights flashing and that triggers the memory that she dreamt about? So you can still get a line or two of that across without using a prologue and dream.

    Good luck!

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  4. I really like how this starts, until I realized it's a dream. It's very visceral and feels real, exactly how a person in that situation would react, and then the rug kind of gets pulled from under the reader when she wakes up. I have seen advice time and again that warns not to start a book with a dream, or even with a character just waking up in the morning. I've seen it so often that I think this is one of those rules you probably can't get away with breaking. So if there is any way to introduce whatever this trauma is without it being a dream, I would encourage that.

    I had to laugh at the scene outside the post office. Every time I have to go there, my eyes are raking the lot, trying to figure out how many are going to be in line in front of me! I can definitely relate!

    This sounds really interesting, I would love to read more. Good luck!

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  5. There are a lot of comments here about the prologue and opening with a dream. I would have to agree. Drop the prologue. I’m not saying it isn’t written well. It just doesn’t belong here.

    The prologue also did not entice me to read on. The first paragraph of chapter one did. It made me want paragraph two. Her hands are sweating. This is good. It makes me want to know why. You had me with that one group of words.

    Great work. I really would want more.

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  6. A prologue is one thing, but when a fair herd of agents complain about novels opening with a dream or nightmare, I see only many quick rejections because of this.
    One difficulty I see with many comments is that the writer attempts to address all of them, even though some are in conflict with others. As they say: a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Yes, you cannot satisfy everyone, and you have to decide who is giving you solid advice and who isn't going to "get it" no matter what. If you're writing to satisfy a particular audience, that's a sound marketing idea. If you're trying out a little audacity and defying a few norms or rules, well, I've started to read some novels that make me wonder how millions may have seem something good in this book. The opening with the dream? Yes, I'd assume tossing it will give you a better shot to getting this read by an agent... despite how well-written I feel it is. Perhaps somehow place this later in the manuscript, somehow? Just a thought.
    Yes, let's see more past that first paragraph. I feel there is some promise to be found once I get to read a standard 250 words.

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  7. MY apologies for a second post. Started posting my reviews before fully reading the directions, which clearly state not to post anonymously. So, in case anyone needs to know, the below post was mine.

    There are a lot of comments here about the prologue and opening with a dream. I would have to agree. Drop the prologue. I’m not saying it isn’t written well. It just doesn’t belong here.

    The prologue also did not entice me to read on. The first paragraph of chapter one did. It made me want paragraph two. Her hands are sweating. This is good. It makes me want to know why. You had me with that one group of words.

    Great work. I really would want more.

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  8. I tend to agree with the others that I'm more drawn by an entire town congregating at the post office because I have a sense that the narrator is quite annoyed by this. While the nightmare is clearly upsetting, a hospital ER is naturally an upsetting place. The post office with its old men and package laden women promises more specifics for the narrator to comment on and reveal herself.

    Prologues and dreams are tricky beasts, so I recommend careful thought there.

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  9. I think that you could remove the entire prologue and start from chapter 1. Starting a story with the character dreaming and/or waking up has been noted as starting to be clichĂ© so I would suggest removing it altogether. If the scene is really important and positively detrimental to the story, then I would suggest trying to incorporate it somewhere later on in the story. The first page needs to grab the reader and keep them from start to finish. Some may not feel invested enough in the story if they’re not planted right in the middle of an attention-grabbing scene. Now, it doesn’t always have to be packed full of action but as long as the voice is strong enough and the writing is well done then something as easy as the character going to the post office can easily suck the reader into its pages’ depth.

    Thanks for entering!

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