Friday, November 1, 2013

First Impressions - Out of Touch

For our first First Impression for November, we have Robin from The Daily Dose. This is the first page of her novel, OUT OF TOUCH, a Paranormal Mystery/Romance. My comments will be in purple and to say what Dianne Salerni thought of this first page, head over to her blog, In High Spirits. And don't forget to add your comments!

Chapter One
Until one Saturday morning in July I was only a mildly damaged seven year old kid living in a mostly dysfunctional house.  All of that changed when I went to the Patterson garage sale with my best friend, Franny, and her mom.
Like all self-respecting garage sale junkies, we arrived at the crack of dawn.  All of the good stuff was always gone by 7:30 a.m.  Mrs. Patterson's house was our first stop.   We had chosen it for two reasons:  the merchandise and the gossip were known to be in abundance.  Mr. Patterson up and left Mrs. Patterson about a month ago and tongues were wagging.    Mrs. Fitzgerald's eyes opened round as quarters when she saw the contents on the lawn. These seem like more adult thoughts than a seven year old. But that's just my subjective opinion. I also notice you put two spaces between sentences. Standard usage now says one space.
Franny said, "Do you think there is anything left in the house?"
Mrs. Fitzgerald didn't answer, but she hustled out of the car.  We bounded out after her.  It appeared that the house had vomited up the sum of its contents all over the yard.  I had never seen so  much furniture outside of a home.  I didn't have any money, but I still liked to look.
 It was when I picked up the an ivy trimmed teacup and... (I think if you write it this sentence with a more active voice it will be improved) that my entire life changed forever - and I can't say it was for the better.  A feeling of panic engulfed me and the following scene rolled out like a movie:  I  saw Mr. Patterson drink from that teacup, clutch his throat, while his face turned a mean red, and then he pitched face forward into the table and looked...dead.
The cup slipped from my hands, I started screaming, and I tripped and fell into a wheelbarrow that was parked on the grass and marked with a "For Sale" sticker.  Then it happened again...
This time the feeling was satisfaction.  But not the good kind.  It felt black and mean. (like this) And the image of Mrs. Patterson wheeling Mr. Patterson in the wheelbarrow across the backyard to the garage popped up like I was actually there.  She took a shovel, dug a grave, put his body in it, and parked her Oldsmobile (I would question whether a 7 year old would know what kind of car it was, just sayin...) right on top.  Her car, right this minute, was sitting on top of Mr. Patterson. 
That was when it sunk in that  I was sprawled where his dead body used to be.   I couldn't get out fast enough.  However, my brain and muscles were no longer working in tandem, so I just flailed around like a beached fish.  Mrs. Fitzgerald yanked me out and we all made a beeline to the car.

I like this beginning. I think the only thing I would change is to try and keep with the 7 year old voice even if it is a memory in the very beginning. I don't know too many 7 year old garage sale junkies. After she finds the cup however, the narration feels much more natural, more like the memory of a seven year old who is rightly horrified by this vision of what Mrs. Patterson did. Which makes me wonder what else she'll touch and see...

I would totally turn the page to find out what happens next. What about you? What did you think of Robin's first page? Oh, and Dianne and I still have one slot left for this month if you want some help polishing your first page. Instructions are on the sidebar, top right.

See you Monday with another Robin's first page and have a fabulous weekend :)


  1. The premise is certainly intriguing! Agree the voice needs to sound younger. Even if she's much older looking back, a seven year old wouldn't remember details such as the make of the car. But otherwise really good.

  2. Excellent premise! Agree that the voice does not match a 7 yr old.

    Hugs and chocolate!

  3. Somehow I always end up at Diane's first, but I always love stopping by here, to see what you noticed differently.

  4. I think I'd change the word order in the opening sentence too!

  5. I visited Dianne's blog first, because seeing your comments as I'm reading the page sometimes influences my own reaction to the story. (Guess I'm easily impressed by your first impression?)

    Anyhow, one thing I failed to comment about on Dianne's blog is the slight disconnect I felt at the end. If Mrs. Fitzgerald is a true garage sale junkie, I don't know that she would have wanted to make a beeline to leave. She'd have pulled our girl out of the wheelbarrow, but since she wouldn't have any idea what had transpired, why would she want to leave before she finished checking out all the goodies for deals? She might miss something good...

  6. The voice is way too mature for a seven-year-old kid so I agree with you.

  7. This sounds great. I love the idea of her remembering what happened to her neighbor, OMGosh. I do agree that it sounds too old for a 7-year old. But the premise is wow. :)

  8. I would definitely turn the page. Will Robin make her protagonist older or change her voice?

  9. Thank you everyone for coming by to comment - I appreciate it and I'm sure Robin does, too :)

  10. I've commented at Dianne's, but yes, Marcy, I would totally turn the page and overall, I love this start to the book! Good luck Robin, I think the idea rocks! :-)

  11. Thank you everyone for the comments. Even though your suggestions vary the problem here is the voice. The book is written from the perspective of an adult. So it is a matter of writing the memory of something that happened to a kid (the way the kid experienced it), but as the adult remembers it. Thank you for helping me to figure THAT out.

  12. I'm definitely intrigued!! Good start here :)

    I think you might be able to work around the need for the voice to sound a little younger sometimes by inserting one (and really, you can probably only do this once in this section) sentence like, "This didn't mean anything to my seven-year old brain at the time, but looking back..." etc. Neil Gaiman does this really well in his most recent book, "The Ocean at the End of the Lane". The narrator is an adult remembering events from when he is 7, so the voice is mostly young with some adult elements thrown in. If you're looking for a good example, I recommend reading it :)


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