Wednesday, October 3, 2012

first impressions - Waiting for the Horse




Our second first impression for October comes from Mark Koopman, who lives in paradise (also known as Hawaii). This is the first page of his Adult novel, REVIVAL: THE DONALD BRASWELL STORY. My comments will be in purple and to see what Dianne thought of this first page, head over to her blog.



Chapter One: Waiting for the Horse
                            “… People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…”
                                     – Hebrews 9:27 NIV
February, 2008 – Dallas, Texas
          In the long, empty restroom, my reflection waits for the answer to my supposed nugget of inspiration, but I’m cautious in case the door opens and I’m pegged as a weird old guy in a dark suit.
         You realize this isn’t your second chance; it’s your last chance, right?
Glancing at the door, I shake my head as the statement in the form of a question repeats itself. Leaving my unanswered reflection in ponder mode, I wave at the automatic towel dispenser, which releases a sliver (I'm not sure if sliver is the best word. What about a slip of brown paper?) of coarse, brown paper.
        Really?
        A little annoyed at the cheap cost-cutting measures of the swanky hotel, I wave my hands like a demented monarch until the reluctant machine parts with enough paper to mostly dry my hands. I add my small offering to a grey trashcan that’s erupting like Mt. Recycled, pull the door open and head toward the busy conference room.      

        America’s Got Talent had called and thousands of us (this phrase feels/sounds a little awkward to me.) descended on Dallas for this, their latest round of auditions. The guy in charge of our loose group had said we were “going up at about noon.” Looking at my Timex, there was still an hour to burn. Relaxed, (is he really? I wouldn't be the least bit relaxed - especially if it was my last chance.) I straddled a chair, with an annoying rock (A chair with a rock? I don't get this.)  – changed it for another – and went through possible answers to whatever questions the three judges might throw at me during the introduction. I wanted to be ready because if I beat the infamous buzzers, I planned to use every second of stage time.

Okay, so I was being a little picky here but only because the writing was very good and this felt very tight, almost perfect. I do have two overall concerns. One is that there's a lot of snark, which is fine, but make sure you want there to be a lot of snark. The second is whether the last paragraph should be first since that's what's likely to interest the reader (the fact that the narrator is about to audition for a famous tv show) and possibly an agent. On the other hand, I do like the way the previous paragraphs introduces us to the narrator, gives us his voice, snark and all. So, maybe we should see what Dianne thought about this...or, maybe you'd like to offer your opinion, tell Mark what you think of his first page.

15 comments:

  1. (Jumps off Jet-ski... ouch, my tailbone hurts)

    Aloha Marcy:)

    Greetings to those in Maine, from us in Hawaii. Mahalo for your kind comments and I will look into the snarkiness of this first page:)

    I'm not sure if I want the last graph to be first, 'cos I think it makes me sound like the former journalist I am, but it's worthy of consideration :)

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    1. I like the snarkiness myself, because I AM a little snarky! But I know sometimes I can be a little too sarcastic so...it's just something to think about.

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  2. Very nice writing. You got me right away with the Hebrew reference and I wonder how it's going to play out through the rest of the novel. You also made me curious about what he's auditioning for, what his "talent" is, and again, why and how that Hebrew reference is going to come into play...good job, Mark! I hope to visit Hawaii someday!

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  3. Oh, sweet! I didn't know there was a second opinion to these first impressions. Awesome. Thanks for having Mark over, Marcy. :)

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  4. I just have one question for Mark. Do the quotes right after the chapter head add anything to the story? Because a lot of the time, I find those things really boring and tedious to read. Example, Dune used these kinds of things a lot, and I hated them all.

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  5. I hadn't considered the idea of moving the last paragraph up to serve as the opening. Interesting concept. That would serve to present the most interesting aspect of this page first, and likely capture the reader's interest, but it does so in a "here's the facts" kinda way, as opposed to putting us inside the character's head, um, in the head. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.) As I said on Dianne's blog, I still find the current first sentence a bit awkward, but I still prefer that as a starting point, unless the info about the auditions can be presented in a more visceral "you-are-there" manner rather than as dry fact.

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  6. From the very beginning, I read slowly and re-read because many turns of phrase confused me:

    In the long, empty restroom, my reflection waits for the answer to my supposed nugget of inspiration, but I’m cautious in case the door opens and I’m pegged as a weird old guy in a dark suit.
    I don't see how a nugget of inspiration needs an answer. I liked the self description at the end. Good imagery.

    Leaving my unanswered reflection in ponder mode, I wave at the automatic towel dispenser, which releases a sliver of coarse, brown paper.
    But if he turns and waves his hands, his reflection isn't staying behind in "ponder mode." I agree with Marcy that "sliver" is confusing.

    I wave my hands like a demented monarch until the reluctant machine parts with enough paper to mostly dry my hands.
    I've never seen a demented monarch wave his hands - that simile isn't universal and conjures up no immediate understanding for me. I read "reluctant machine parts" and wondered what the parts were reluctant about.

    I add my small offering to a grey trashcan that’s erupting like Mt. Recycled, pull the door open and head toward the busy conference room.
    "An offering" sounds like a worshiper while a second ago, he was a monarch. I can't picture Mt. Recycling erupting. Mt St Helens I could picture. And that's two similes in a row.

    I straddled a chair, with an annoying rock
    I also thought there was a stone on the chair. Try wobble.

    Yes, I think Marcy's right about mentioning "America's Got Talent" in the beginning. When I read that, I sat up and paid more attention. That part is more interesting than the generic restroom/mirror opening.

    Good luck!

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    1. ooh, I like the idea of changing rock to wobble. I realized later what rock meant but initially I was a little confused.

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  7. I'd like to see the second paragraph lead in. I read the first one thinking...gee this guy is spending a lot of time in the bathroom, is that the story?

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  8. Mark, leave the quotes! I know why they are there and they do add meaning.
    I also like the snark. That should come as no surprise.

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  9. I like the snark at the beginning and the second paragraph where it is--I think it's more interesting getting to know the character's voice first.

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    1. I do too, it was just a thought, something to think about.

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  10. I like the personality that comes through in this piece (yes, definitely the snark). I do agree with Marcy's catches. Sliver would do better with a different word, and wobble would work better for the chair (as has already been said). I definitely questioned him being relaxed. If he truly is relaxed, perhaps give a reason for this, as it would reveal something about his personality. I'd be a quivering mass of Jell-O, personally!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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  11. 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 :)

    Obat Kulit Supaya Lebih Bersih Dan Sehat
    Obat Pilek Menahun
    Obat Alami Batu Empedu
    Obat Lupus
    Obat Ginjal Bocor
    Obat Infeksi Lambung
    Penyebab TBC Kelenjar
    Obat Gatal Bibir Vagina
    Cara Menghilangkan Infeksi Jantung
    Obat Penyakit Jantung

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