Wednesday, January 28, 2015

First Five Sentences #7

GENRE: Mystery

Who leaves bustling, exciting Chicago and moves to quiet, small town Ellwood City, a butt-bump away from Ohio in southwestern Pennsylvania? Who would do that? I was talking to my dog, Othello, trotting beside me on Lawrence Avenue past still dark retail stores. Retirees might return. But someone just out of college?


  1. I like the noir-ness/John D. MacDonald feel in these first five. Definitely a voice I dig.

    Don't know whether your MC is male or female, but I'm not sure it matters. I get a clear sense of time and place.

    I do think you could ramp up the grittiness just a tad. Also suggest (maybe) a line break after Sentence #2 and possibly one after Sentence #3. As far as minor line edits -- I'd hyphenate "small-town" and "still-dark", but that's gonna give you three X-hyphen-Y instances in five short sentences.

    Nice job. I'd read more!

    LUCKY THIRTEEN entry #15

  2. I'm not sure the questions your MC asks him/herself in this opening really work for me. I think it's because opening with your MC moving to a small town is a common trend in manuscripts, so it just doesn't seem like this crazy, outlandish idea. If there is something about your MC that really makes him/her unique, or something about your story that is different or unique, I suggest starting with that, and not focusing on the move to a small town. Otherwise your ms might blend in with too many others. Clearly you write well though! Hope that helps!

  3. Well, we definitely know the location, because you straight up told us--although, for the people who don't know what it's like in rural Pennsylvania, a description would be nice. And we know the time, because of the dark stores, which was a nice touch. But was he/she really talking to the dog? How would we know that? Why would we have to know that? Why not just add quotes or italics, if it must be so? Also, your protag is in denial if he/she doesn't think college students move back home after being in a city. (It depends on what they majored in. It's really hard to find jobs. ) But anyway, Othellois a great name for a dog :3

  4. I liked this because I found it funny. I like the idea of the MC talking to her dog. I agree with Empress Awesome that it would then make sense to have her questions in quotes and make them a little more conversational. I would also make the "I was talking with my dog Othello" a new paragraph. I also like Empress's idea to add a tad bit of scenery to depict rural Pennsylvania more clearly.

    After reading the comments, I think Anonymous has a point about the clichéd aspect of opening with somebody moving from a big city to small town, but for me the humor pulled me in and I really didn't mind the fact its a bit cliché. Hope this helps, and good luck!

  5. I like the voice! An issue for me is that I can't imagine talking out loud to my dog so coherently while jogging. Probably what bothers me more is that the MC switches from talking to her dog to telling the reader that this is what she's doing. I suggest less telling. I would keep reading--the humor makes it fun.

  6. I sort of feel like I'm being talked out of wanting to read your story! Because, you're right! Who does something like that? No one very interesting. So start with something interesting. Include the small town setting, but add in some action to keep me reading. Good luck!

  7. I liked the opening sentences, but was confused when I got to line 3, 'I was talking to my dog'. If she's speaking, adding in quotation marks will clear this up for the reader. You could cut the 'talking to' bit by showing us Othello's reaction to her words (or lack thereof). I like the MC's voice and the fact that she -- for some reason -- has had to return to a place she doesn't find appealing.

  8. I want quotation marks, pretty please. Also, could you show us that Othello is a dog without telling us so. Another "First Five Sentences" author did that well.

  9. I like how you set up the scene, but consider revising to eliminate the questions.