Wednesday, April 1, 2009


TITLE: Instinct
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

"Casey Parker, if you're not out here and ready in 5 minutes I will drag you out kicking and screaming!" Heather calls to me while pounding her hand on the bathroom door.


  1. This needs some work. The present tense bothered me a lot. You could make this much stronger: Heather pounded on the bathroom door, "Casey Parker..."

    I probably would stop reading.

  2. Sounds like a normal day in my household. :)

    The tag is overwritten. I don't feel the need to read on.

  3. The voice sounds middle grade to me, so I'm really not sure it's working as the opening to a paranormal romance, sorry.

  4. Not bad but needs a little tweaking:
    "Casey Parker, if you're not out here in 5 minutes I will drag you out kicking and screaming!" Heather pounds her hand on the bathroom door.

  5. I'm not so thrilled with the present tense, either. And it does feel young - YA maybe?

  6. The dialogue is strong, but I lost the sense of immediacy when the exposition hit. Maybe cut out some or all of the "slow down" words?
    Instead of: calls to me,
    Just: calls
    Instead of: while pounding her hand on the bathroom door,
    Just: pounding on the bathroom door

  7. I'd add the following suggestion, insert the 'beat' (the tag after the dialogue) into the dialogue, to break it up and increase tension:

    "Casey Parker," Heather pounded her hand on the bathroom door, "if you're not out here and ready in 5 minutes I will drag you out kicking and screaming!"

    Yes, I instinctively put this in the past tense, very few published novels are written in present tense...

  8. I like the snappiness of the first part,

    "Casey Parker, if you're not out here and ready in 5 minutes I will drag you out kicking and screaming!"

    But I think the 'Heather calls to me while pounding her hand on the bathroom door.' completely drains the energy out of it.

    Is it because there are two pov in one sentence?

    Having said that, I would read on.

  9. Sorry, you lost me at "pounding her hand on the bathroom door." I don't mean this to sound snarky, but what else would she be pounding?

    I'd go with something similar to Peter's suggestion:

    "Casey Parker!" Heather pounded on the bathroom door. "If you're not out here and ready in 5 minutes, I'll drag you out!" (I'd leave off "kicking and screaming.")

  10. Thanks for the advice everyone, this is exactly why I participated in this event. I knew that the first sentence was lacking something, but I think that I'm too close to the material to have picked up on what it is on my own.

    This has given me some amazing insight on how I can fix it to make it snappier.

    As for the comments on it being in the present tense, I actually originally tried to write it in the past tense, but it never worked. The only way that it sounds right on paper is present tense, first person. I know that it will be a difficult sell with how most books are written these days, but I'm up for the challenge!

    Thanks again!

  11. I liked Peter's suggestion.

    I read A LOT of YA. And I read at least one novel a week in first person present. So I have no issue with the tense. However, I don't read adult paranormal romances, so I have no idea what is normal. Personally I like the tense here. If that's what works in your novel, then go with is right for you. But realize it might be a tough sell if that isn't what readers of adult PR are used to.

  12. I'd actually love for it to be a paranormal YA story, but my MC is 21 and I'm not sure if it would sell well.

    Do any of you think that a YA story with a slightly older MC would go over well? When I was that age, I would've read it, but I don't know what is considered too old today.

  13. Definitely sounds YA. Is there any way to make your MC younger? That might solve other problems too (if you're having them).

    That being said, I'm in my mid-30s and still read YA, but this didn't really grab me at all.

  14. I think the dialogue feels detached from the narrative so perhaps this could be reworded so that it feels more like it is coming from the narrator. Also, I think you can use contractions in dialogue, unless your character is really fastidious about speech and is enunciating each word to make a point. I like paranormal romance but this really didn't give me a feel for it so perhaps you could consider how to bring that out more clearly in the opening. This sentence could be any genre.

    Good luck!

  15. A YA with a 21 year old character wouldn't sell. You would have to make her in her teens. That isn't to say teens don't read books about 21 year old characters. It just can't be labeled as YA if she's that old. And yes, at this point this does sound YA. Hope that helps.

  16. I was with you until the present tense. That threw me.

  17. I like Peter's suggestion of putting the beat into the middle of the dialogue. As it is, you've technically got two sentences here. There'd be no need to tag that onto the words.

    Also a nitpick, it should be 'five minutes' rather than '5 minutes'.

  18. This needs some tweaking. I'm with Deb S (above) on her recommendations. I wouldn't read any further at this stage.

  19. I've never been a fan of first person present tense, mostly because it's the way we're all first taught to write as children, and thus can sometimes come across as immature writing. Whenever I come across a first person present tense story in a book store, I usually put it right back on the shelf.

  20. Probably don't need "calls to me while" -- just have Heather pound on the bathroom door. The exclamation point indicates how she's saying her line.

    Wow! Word verification: chonest probably with a silent "c"

  21. Sorry, I'd pass. The fact that 5 isn't spelled out tells me the writer isn't aware of the norms. There should probably be a comma after "minutes". The present tense makes it hard for me to get into dialogue that's done simultaneous as narrative "she bangs on the door and says at the same time," but the way I read it one comes after the other. May not be a problem later on, but opening with it feels strange. Also, "calls to me" seems off to my ear. She's yelling, or hollering, or screaming. But when I think of "calls to me" I think of the wild calling to me or my destiny calling to me, not a ticked off sister. And lastly, I can live with the hand pounding, I suppose, but since he's on the other side of the door, how does he really know what she's hiting the door with?


  22. I have no problem with the present tense. (And I don't really get the unease it causes in a narrative.) That being said, I think the dialogue without the tag would work.