Monday, October 1, 2012

first impressions - Goodnight Stranger

Our first submission for October is repeat offender Rebecca Buss who can be found blogging at A Page and a Half at a Time. This is the first page of Goodnight Stranger. My comments will be in purple and to see what Dianne thought about this first page head over to her blog, In High Spirits.

 In the middle of the night, and in the middle of a rainstorm, Paige Aldridge climbed up a set of metal-grate stairs in nothing more than her pajamas. The stairs were about as reliable as a fire escape, and a shoddy one at best, but there was no indoor entrance to her friend’s apartment – and Paige did not have many other options so late at night. I wonder if you can show the unreliability of the stairs rather than tell.

It had only been a few minutes earlier that Paige had woken up with her face pressed against the road. It was the rain that had pulled her from her sleep. (was she actually sleeping in the road? Or had she passed out, been knocked unconscious, or ...? Just asking.) A few drops of water landed on her hand and immediately she knew something was wrong. Then the sky opened up and soon Paige was soaking wet. Disoriented at first, she knew what had happened. Only she was not expecting to wake up lying across the double yellow lines of Third Avenue.

Somehow, Paige managed to get out of bed. (wait, I thought she was in the road?) Somehow, she left her house and wandered miles away, only to lie down again in the worst possible place. Somehow, Paige had managed to do this while she was still asleep, and unfortunately, this was not a new thing for her. ok. now I get it. She sleepwalks. But I think you can do a little trimming and combine these two paragraphs to make clear what has happened. And I think as soon as she wakes up enough and sees she's in the middle of the road she'll know what has happened because this isn't the first time this has happened.

Paige reached the floor she wanted on the apartment building– three stories above the Westtown Deli, and only one story below the rooftop – and paused. She had to wonder what time it was. She had to wonder if it was a good idea to wake her friend and his brother just so she could come in out of the rain. They probably wouldn’t mind. Was it a better idea to make the trek home though? Or maybe that option was not even a safe enough one to consider. Why isn't it safe? Also, this is a bit of an awkward sentence.

She reached out her arm, gleaming with both sweat and rain, and knocked on the door. Her friends were not the lightest of sleepers. She knocked on the door harder, worried she would wake up the neighbors first. Paige raised her hand again, but she dropped it quickly to her side when the door cracked open and someone peered outside.

“Paige?” she heard.

“Yes,” she said, her voice still surprisingly heavy with sleep.

Ok. So aside from the fact that there are some clarity issues I think this is a very interesting first page which sets up all sorts of questions. One, why does Paige sleepwalk? Not that it's that unusual but sleepwalking so heavily that you end up outside in the road is definitely strange. Two, how come no one in her own house heard her? If this is a common occurrence wouldn't her family lock her in her room or something? Be alert for this behavior? Three, why doesn't she go back home? Why isn't it safe? Four, who are these friends she can go to in the middle of the night? 

All these questions make me want to read on and find out more about Paige and her sleepwalking. Oh, and I love the title :)


  1. A little clarity on the sleepwalking would be good.

  2. I wonder if having her wake up on the road as the first sentence would be even better - have her feel that 'oh no, not again' panicky feel. Sounds like a fun story!

  3. I already commented on Dianne's blog earlier, but I wanted to see your critique, too. (Good job!) Even though I found some parts of this to be confusing, the sleepwalking premise holds a lot of promise.

  4. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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