Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Hooked? #7

TITLE: For the Love of a Child
GENRE: Adult Suspense/Thriller

When I passed out last night, I gave myself a fifty-fifty chance of waking up again. The sunlight slanting through the blinds let me know fate’s coin flip had come up heads. This time.

I turned my head slowly, careful to keep the rest of my body still. My shoulder dropped back ever so slightly and my neck strained as far to the side as possible in an attempt to see directly behind me.
Even before I laid eyes on him, his hot breath caressed my ear. My arms tensed.

I waited five breaths before turning back and easing out of bed. A glance behind verified that my husband slept on undisturbed. Another coin flip won. I should find a casino.

The digital clock on the nightstand confirmed the suspicions the sunbeams put in my head. Half past noon. The pills had done a number on me, but I could still make it to work on time. A double shift should give him enough time to cool off, maybe even forget.

I grabbed my purse from the floor and slipped into the bathroom. In went a brush, some deodorant, and my toothbrush and toothpaste. There were fresh scrubs at the hospital, and I’d manage wearing yesterday’s for a few more hours.

Shoes in hand, I tiptoed into the disaster of the apartment’s living room — a problem for another time. Right now my well being relied on getting out of here without making a sound.

The telephone rang.


  1. SO, good voice, tone and mood set here. This is a play-by-play scene that starts with tension and we fear for your MC. First off, I’d like to know male or female? Description of room, clothes?

    My first impression is that I feel like this builds up tension, then lets us down. I’d rather see a word or two about how the husband is menacing, or what she’s actually scared of. It’s a bit confusing.
    The part about giving him time to cool off is too cryptic.
    Not sure about reading on due to having to go back to clarify things.
    There’s nothing here concerning the love of a child. If it’s a big plot point, bring it in first paragraphs somewhere.

    The ending, however, adds a nice element of surprise, knocks us off balance and works well.

  2. I do enjoy the phone ringing, very ominous. I might change the first word to BEFORE I passed out...

    Agree with many of the notes from above re: cryptic cooling off? Well done.

  3. hi, I felt we get a fairly clear picture of your MC's state of mind and attitude, it doesn't bother me so much that the threat is a bit vague at this point, but you'll have to spell out the stakes fairly soon.
    I was also going to say about changing the first word to before, as in "Before I'd passed out last night, I'd given..." so that the tense makes more sense.
    also, "confirmed the suspicions the sunbeams HAD put in my head..."
    I'm not quite sure why she is trying to look directly behind her, in the bed, I can't picture how she might be laying to need to do this.
    loved the "I should find a casino" line. such dark humor!
    also having the telephone ring after the line about needing to get out quietly. very nice!

  4. The idea on the page is interesting. It's a good opening. You create some suspense and tension, and the ringing phone is a great ending.

    But for me, the writing doesn't do it justice. That's where the problems lie. Perhaps consider a rewrite. A few suggestions --

    Instead of your mc telling us what she did, just have her do it. This is all told. Try showing.

    Say what you have to say in the shortest, clearest way you can. Short, direct sentences raise suspense because they read quickly.

    Be sure your words say what you mean.

    Parg 1 - the first sentence doesn't work, because if she's passed out, she can't tell herself anything. She has to tell herself before she passes out.

    Parg 2, she has to strain her neck. Currently, her neck is acting on its own volition, and trying to see. It has no eyes. It can't see.

    Parg 3, you don't tell us who 'him'is until parg 4,

    Parg 5, the sunbeams didn't put any suspiscions in her head, because when she first saw them, she didn't think about what time it was.

    These are simple fixes, but they create big problems in understanding, they cause confusion, and they make me think the rest of the novel will be like this. Give it another rewrite or two.

    1. Great feedback. This is a new attempt at an opening -- which I'm finding to be the hardest part of the novel.

      Could you give me an example of what you are looking for when you say "Instead of your mc telling us what she did, just have her do it. This is all told. Try showing. "? Thanks!

    2. Hi, Pete. I'm with you when it comes to openings. Deciding when, and how to start, has always been tough for me. And I've always found first person the toughest form to write in. It's too easy to slip out of the story. So, some examples of telling instead of showing, and how to turn them around.

      Look at your first parg. What is your character doing? You might say she's waking up and realizing she's alive. But is she? Am I seeing her wake up? Am I seeing sunlight slant through the blinds? No. Your mc is explaining her situation to me (the reader, who lives in another world. How does she know I'm out here watching her?) She's telling me she didn't expect to wake up. She's telling me sunlight is slanting through the blinds. None of it is happening.

      If you showed it, she would be living it. She would open her eyes, perhaps be blinded by sunlight slanting through the blinds. She might sigh with relief that she's still alive. She would not be talking to me. She wouldn't know I exist. She'd be living her life in her world. Here'a quick rewrite in showing mode.

      I opened my eyes and a glint of sunlight slanted through the blinds and flashed across my face. Morning, and I was alive. (I'm not explaining what happened - the passing out part - because she knows what happened and wouldn't explain it to herself. And she can't explain to me because she doesn't know I exist.) Fate's coin flip had come up heads. This time. (And now the reader is wondering why she didn't expect to be alive.)

      Parg 2. Again, what is actually happening? She turned her head slowly (sentence 1 works. It's showing.) But after she does that, she pops out of her world and into mine to tell me how she looked at her husband. How can you tell? "My shoulder dropped ..." telling. "I dropped my shoulder..." showing. She's doing the action. She's not telling me what action she took. This is what makes first person so difficult. You have to do this for an entire novel.

      So, in general, you want your characters doing the action rather than telling us they did the action. And if it's explaining, cut it and rewrite.

      Hope some of this helps.

    3. Helps tremendously! Thank you!

  5. It is a suspenseful beginning. The short paragraphs add to the tension. Cutting back on unnecessary information will help with clarity (mentioned in other comments). For example, "there were fresh scrubs at the hospital" is all I need to know to reinforce she's trying to just leave. Word changes such as "safety" rather than "well-being" may be worth considering. Without knowing more of the story it's hard to say. I like the coin-flip analogy and the sentence about sunlight (agree with suggested changes to it though). Good luck

  6. I didn't care for the opening line. It immediately made me stop and ponder how this would be possible. I think you want to make sure your first line isn't jarring people out of the story.

    I felt the tension gradually build up in this, which I liked. And when the phone rang I thought "Oh crap!" so that is good lol

    I'd read on to find out what is up.

  7. I kind of want to start with the near final paragraph with shoes tiptoeing out because it immediately makes me wonder why "tiptoe"? The phone ringing is good and could still happen. I thing you've nailed tense feel. I'm hooked and want to read more.

  8. I liked the whole thing..Good job..