Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Hooked? #3

TITLE: Island Shell Game
GENRE: Adult Literary Fiction

James couldn’t remember the last time he’d read a newspaper. Even now he wasn’t actually reading the Providence Journal—he was hiding behind it. Hiding from the sun’s glare off the harbor. Hiding from that empty dock where the ferry should be. And hiding from the chatter at the tables around him—the place sounded like a seagull feeding frenzy.

James should’ve delivered the island’s morning commuters to the Newport docks more than two hours ago. And right now, he shouldn’t be sitting here on the crowded outside deck of the Bean; he should be steaming south out of Narragansett Bay, carrying a few hardy spring tourists back to Brenton again. On a clear morning like this one, he’d cover the three and a half miles in sixteen minutes, aiming at the tall lighthouse until it was time to round tiny Piglet Island to starboard. Once he cleared the harbor breakwater, he’d idle across to the town pier and spin the forty-eight foot Homer S. Morgan in her own length to come in port side to. At exactly ten minutes past eleven, dock lines and a metal gangway would land on the Homer’s side deck.

When his passengers—two or twenty-two, it didn’t matter to James—smiled their goodbyes and headed up the wooden dock, their first stop was usually right here at the Bean. This shingled bungalow just beyond the ferry landing served as the island’s unofficial welcome center.
James would follow a few minutes later, barely nodding to the regulars at the big table before heading inside.


  1. I love the beautiful description of James' typical morning, but I was hoping for a hint more as to why he's hiding. I think that would draw me in more. I did enjoy the picture you paint of where he is sitting and the familiarity he has with his normal morning commute.

  2. You paint a lovely, descriptive picture of the harbor, of the boat and all the surroundings, but there were no hints of why James is hiding, no tidbits or IM to give us insight into what is going on. I think you need to add something to hook the reader, a clue as to why he isn't steering the boat into the harbor.

  3. The opening parg is intriguing. I'm wondering why he's hiding, and from who, and why the ferry isn't there.

    But then the rest is all about what he 'would' be doing, and I don't care about what he would be doing. I want to know what he 'is' doing, and why.

    Perhaps cut those two last pargs, and just get on with the story. What is happening now? Now is where we are. Now is what we care about. A general rule of thumb is to never put back story in chapter one, and certainly never on the first page. Get your reader involved in the story.

  4. Nice writing, but I'm not hooked yet. There are some fine descriptive elements in the opening, but as others have mentioned...move us along a little faster. Did something happen to the ferry?

  5. I was hooked. The lovely, lyrical writing shows me what the day should be, and I'd definitely read on to find out why it's totally different. What happened to the ferry? Has James been fired or was he responsible for what happened?

    Though it's not a typical opening, you've created a mystery in a very gentle way, and given me enough to make me want to read on for the answers.

  6. I am intrigued..no, I am HOOKED. I really like this. I can't wait to read more about James and why he is hiding.