Monday, March 3, 2014

First Impressions - Descent



It's the first of the month and you know what that means...First Impressions is back in which yours truly and Dianne Salerni critique someone's first page. This month we have Kallie Ross with the first page of her YA Fantasy, DESCENT. You can find Kallie at any of the following places: 

 Blog: KallieRoss.com
Twitter: @KallieRoss
Facebook: Kallie Ross

My comments will be in purple, and to see what Dianne had to say about Kallie's first page, head over to In High Spirits -
  

Chapter 1


The pounding of my feet on the dry, cracked Texas dirt is met by the pounding of my heart.
“Jesse!”
He was there one minute, taking a shortcut through the field behind our houses, then gone the next. The earthquakes have grown more frequent (since when? In the last few minutes or over a longer course of time?) and the ground more unstable. As I stumble, a strong hand steadies me, and I know it’s my neighbor, and Jesse’s older brother, Mateo. How does she/he know?
“Jesse!” His cry stretches across a huge rift that is opening at the foot of a natural gas drill. The town conspiracy theorists say that those drills, that are peppered in our subdivisions, are the cause of these quakes. (or: The town conspiracy theorists say that the drills that pepper our subdivision are the cause of these quakes. Just a thought...)With another tremor, I glance back at Mateo. His lean build will have him caught up to me in a few more strides. (How does his lean build have anything to do with him catching up? One does not necessarily follow the other - ) Behind him, Alexis’ (Who is Alexis and where did she come from? Maybe identify her) blonde bob is bouncing and her shorter legs are struggling to keep up. Our slumber party is not going to end with french toast and selfies. LOL!
In front of me, the gap continues to grow, and I can’t stop fast enough. No one can save any of us now.
“Ollie!” The last thing I hear is Mateo’s voice as I fall into a void of black.
I’ve been here before. Dreamed this before. Gold specks of dust shimmer around me, it’s peaceful, and as I take a deep breath it makes me feel stronger. It’s heavenly. Reaching out to touch it, the omniscient light scatters away from me and reveals a large room made up of marbled rock. If this were Heaven there would be golden streets, not an aura of it, and my father would be here. The higher the glowing cloud rises, the closer the dark shadows encroach upon me, and it feels as if I'm falling, again. Maybe this is Hell.
“Olivia.” I hear my name being called by a deep calming voice, but don’t want to look away.
A tribal drum beat echoes across the room, and I tear my eyes away from the glorious light to find the drummer. Noticing a lone figure standing in the distance, he waves for me to move toward him. His presence gives off a feeling of familiarity as I move closer, but I’m not walking.
           "Hello?" My voice is muffled in my own ears and doesn't echo across the room the same way the steady beat bounces off each jagged wall.


My first impression is that the opening is a little confusing (to me). I think I'd like it to be clear that it's an earthquake and then an explanation as to how Ollie got outside. Was she having a sleep over and then the earthquake started? I think I want to feel a little more grounded in the event before things get all weird. Does that make sense? Maybe if you show Ollie in the normalcy of a sleepover which is then interrupted by the quake...? And maybe no one reacts at first because this is a common occurrence - But of course, this is just my opinion and Dianne may have an entirely different take on this opening. I'm also thinking that starting with the sleepover may give the reader a little insight into Ollie's character before she's thrust into her adventure. But again, these are just my first impressions...

What do you guys think? Any suggestions for Kallie on how to make this first page better? And a huge thanks to Kallie for submitting her first page :)



18 comments:

  1. I was a little confused at the beginning. And Mateo steadied her one moment, and then was several strides behind her in the next instant. Although that does happen in a dream.

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    1. Thanks, Alex! I'll take a look at that, and try to make it more clear.

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  2. First - it's great to meet you, Kallie!

    I know what you're getting at with the first line, but I think it needs rewording. The emphasis by using 'pounding' twice actually takes away from the line. I actually kind of like the next part to begin the piece - "He was there..." If you tweaked that a little, I think it could make a great impact on the reader. There's mystery, character, and even setting there.

    Best of luck!

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    1. Thank you so much! I really appreciate your feedback on the wording... And the encouragement!

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  3. now, that's a nice author picture

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  4. Is it the 'sound' of the pounding feet vies with the pounding of her heart? I see what you're trying to say but the first sentence threw me off. And I agree, great author shot!

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    1. Thanks for commenting! I look forward to working that first sentence out so it resonates better with the reader!

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  5. I have to admit, I have a few unfinished novels that start out in the middle of an action sequence with no setup. It's a natural thing to do, but it completely loses the reader. Just a few short sentences of setup would go a long way.

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    1. Thank you, Steven. I actually have a lot of backstory I've written, and can't wait to incorporate some of it to ground the beginning a little better. I really appreciate your thoughts!

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  6. I agree that starting with the slumber party would help clarify things for us. And I had the same thought about the earthquakes growing more frequent - could mean over the last few months. Also, I hope this entire opening sequence is not a dream.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Joanne! I promise, it's not all a dream, and I'm the type of reader that hates an ending where it all ends up being a dream! LOL!

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  7. While it is confusing, what you have written has my attention.

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  8. First off, THANK YOU! Marcy, I really love that you took the time to ask questions, and I look forward to answering them as I go through revisions. I appreciate your time, and the opportunity to improve!

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  9. Kallie....this is great! I'm so glad you were courageous and put the beginning of your novel "out there".

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  11. interesting things going on here, but I need a little more information to be totally drawn in. As it is I'm confused, and when that happens my mind starts to wander.

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