Friday, March 1, 2013

first impressions - Patriots


 Our first first impression for March comes from Sal Cuciti. He doesn't have a website or a blog, but he does have a pretty nice motorcycle, don't you think?



Here is the first page of his Adult mystery. My comments will be in purple and do head over to see what Dianne Salerni had to say about this piece. 

Patriots - Chapter 1



Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil – Psalm 23



The moon over the orchard followed me, lighting my way across the fields, and the last traces of purple sunset stained the sky over the mountains. It was the last full moon before Halloween. A blood moon, or a harvest  moon, I wasn't sure. (Are they the same or different? Either way, it seems like an omen of what's to come...) The moon seemed to fly through the gnarled branches of the apple trees as I gunned the old Truimph down the road. I was flying too, following invisible lines of perfection in the curves and hills. The growl of the exhaust pipes stretched out behind me, and wind noise surrounded me. I shifted down a gear, gave her some throttle and leaned into the turn. The motorcycle tracked a perfect line, with no correction needed, and screamed out the exit as if to rip the asphalt, lifting the front wheel, singing a like tenor in third gear, trying to tear itself out from under me. I tightened my grip. In the dim light the landscape rushed past us in a blur. My thoughts, my rambling chattering conscious brain hushed and paid homage to this moment; a second from destruction and content to be so. There was just the road and the howling motorcycle, the peace and the danger, the red moon and me. I like the imagery of this first paragraph. I can almost feel what it might be like to be on that motorcycle, flying through the night by the light of a harvest moon.  


That moon had gotten to me, it had come in through my windows with promises to light my way.( I suggest cutting this for two reasons. One the paragraph above lets us know our narrator in intrigued by the moon and two, this way you don't start two paragraphs in a row with moon in the first sentence) An hour ago I had been standing in my living room staring up at it. I found myself a few minutes later, lacing up my boots in the garage and looking for my helmet. (hmm, what made him want to go for a ride, I wonder? Was it just the moon or something else?) The old familiar fear came again, (fear of what?) tickling my nervous system and the pit of my stomach with butterflies. I took a deep breath and shook my head and studied the motorcyle. The faces of friends who have died or been hurt came back to me as I buckled the helmet, tickled the carb and kicked the starter. (why does he think of these dead friends? Were they hurt or killed while riding? If so I might make that clear here.) It’s a feeling of dread which experienced motorcyclists know too well. But it quickly went away of course. And so did I, out to race the red moon, to find a friend, for a pint of ale and some talk. I wanted to talk politics, dharma, some Buddhist teachings, football, anything to let out this restlessness inside me. And drink beer and eat wings. A spiritual journey does not mean necessarily bread and water. Not for me, Adam Paradise.


This is an interesting set up and even though nothing has happened yet the talk of the blood moon and death makes me think it will - and soon. The only thing I might like more of is a little more insight into our narrator's fear. Is it the fear associated with riding and knowing how often motorcycles aren't seen? Did this happen recently to the narrator? If so I might add something about the incident here. It doesn't have to be the whole story and I think just a hint would be intriguing but doing so would set up more of a connection between the reader and the narrator, which in turn will make the reader more inclined to turn the page. But that's just my opinion. What do you guys think? Care to offer Sal any suggestions on his first page?

A big thanks to Sal for his first page :)

Monday, we will have our second first impression for March - NOT ME, a YA thriller.

17 comments:

  1. That first paragraph is really well done. Very effective descriptions and not too much.

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  2. Sometimes it's great to start a novel off with a hook that is actiony and thrilling. This is an example of starting a novel off with a gentler hook that pulls the reader in until we've no choice but to continue on.

    I like the way Sal introduces us to the things that appear to be of significant importance to the MC: his motorcycle and the joy of riding. Sets up great characterization.

    I agree with the comments shared thus far. At this point, as a reader, I'm thinking that whatever has happened to the friends mentioned has to do with motorcycle accidents that have taken friends. Yet, the writer in me gets the feeling something else - in relation to the red moon - has to do with these lost friends. A hint of it would go a long way with making sure the reader is grounded with the character.

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  3. Great submission!
    I agree with Marcy about cutting the second reference to the moon. This is very close to what is known as an echo, saying the same thing over again.

    Very, very intriguing. The hook is MaSsivE

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  4. lovely descriptive first sentence

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  5. Yeah, engaging voice. People like to put down first person, but I've always enjoyed first person POV's. You get much closer to the MC on an emotional level, if done right.

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  6. Really strong start! I enjoyed it.

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  7. Good call on the vagueness of his fear, Marcy!

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  8. Hi Motorcycle Man!
    I loved the atmosphere of the first 6-7 lines, but then it started feeling more like an homage to the motorcycle than a story. There are a lot of novels that start with longish inner musings by the mc, so I can't really tell you not to do it, but I like to feel in-the-moment with things that are actually happening. Other than a guy on a ride, nothing happens here - there isn't enough of a hook for me.

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  9. Thanks for the critique Marcy and thanks for the great comments. My MC is a very modern guy and so he is like many of us - ADD. Adam sees a lot of skies and landscapes and he has a lot of little flashbacks in the next 200 pages and while he is struggling through Buddhist meditation to stay in the present I am struggling to keep the narrative crisp while reflecting his condition. That's why it is written that way, but I might switch it back to straight narrative on the first page and leave the flashbacks or ADD stuff until a little bit later. . I'm 60,000 words into a first draft so the first page seems like the least of my worries until that is done.

    Thanks again.

    Sal

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    Replies
    1. I agree, Sal, the most important thing is to complete the first draft. Then you can go back and revise :) and thank you again for submitting!

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  10. I've got to give Sal's piece a big thumb's up! Yes, the little things cleaned up on Dianne's blog jumped out, but since I knew it was a first draft, it didn't interfere with the read. His MC is so much like our godson--modern and on the go and out there--I wondered if they knew each other! I've ridden motorcycles (Louisiana levees) and totally related to the MC's emotions. My hub's ridden more. We both know people who were injured. Anyway, I think Sal nailed it and, for what suggestions are worth, would keep on as is. The voice is perfect.

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  11. Great first impression, and great critique! And I love the title. That kind of title will always hook me.

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  12. I agree with Kittie. Sal does an outstanding job of capturing the sense of freedom and pumping adrenaline one feels when flying on a motorcycle. (My hubby rode a Harley for many years.) I get the feeling that Adam was almost lured out of his house and onto the bike by the sight of that moon. All bikers have friends and acquaintances who've been injured or killed in accidents, but the deaths haunting Adam seem like something more.

    I love it, and I would definitely keep reading.

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  13. Excellent critique -- and kudos to Sal. A writer without a website/blog? I'm sure he gets a lot more writing done!

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  14. Great descriptions.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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