Friday, March 7, 2014

First Impressions - The Devil's Nightmare


Last but not least, we have Steve Symes with the first page of his novel, THE DEVIL"S NIGHTMARE, a contemporary science fiction novel (with a healthy dose of the paranormal). My comments will be in purple and you can find Dianne's thoughts over at her blog, In high Spirits


Everything was such a blur, even though simultaneously it seemed like they were moving in slow motion. One moment Christine was returning home from grocery shopping with the baby, the next moment the emotions came crashing over her like a sea deeply reddened by blood. She walked into her room, saw her eleven-year-old son bathed in slick red, on his shirt, his pants, his hands. He was cradling her husband's head, which looked more like the grotesque remains thrown in a butcher's backroom garbage.
                In that moment of panic, one detail struck her more forcefully than seeing her husband of thirteen years dead on the floor: her son was not shedding a single tear. His youthful face had an anguished look painted on it, but other than that he was stoic as he bid goodbye to his father.
                Samuel looked like some sort of a perverse, life-sized doll left crumpled on the ground. The dull grey pistol was still limply holding onto his hand, mocking her with a cold, detached gaze.
                Christine saw something else in Peter's eyes in that moment: hatred. She knew immediately it was not hatred of his father who took his own life. Instead, it was hatred for her and the wrongs he perceived she had done to their family. That hatred had grown in intensity since then, but Peter was not one to display his emotions with regularity. He was more calculating, his mind harboring secrets she suspected went far beyond the large science books he lugged home to supplement his regular high school coursework.
                Since that day, Peter had become something small and damaged, like a vase you accidentally have broken and glued back together, the seams still showing the imperfections that lie deep beneath the surface. On the inside the putrid glue that holds the fragments together oozes and festers in sticky pools, reminding anyone who dares look into the vase that it is and always will be damaged goods.  
                That day changed everything for Christine. She lost her husband and her oldest son. Unknown to her at the time, forces had already been put into motion that would mean she would lose her youngest son, the tiny baby she cradled in her arms, through a series of events that would rock her to the very core.


First off, my apologies for being late! I got so involved in my own writing last night I totally forgot I hadn't quite finished with this post...ACK! Sorry! Now, for my first impression...I would like this first scene to feel more immediate. The way it stands we're being told to look back at something that's already happened as well as being told what's to come. I'd rather come upon this horrific scene and see it through Christine's eyes. In fact, I almost want this scene to be a prologue even though I know a lot of people hate prologues (I just don't happen to be one of them). I'd also leave out for now Christine's thoughts about her son and move that to the next chapter or scene, the aftermath of the awful event that took her husband. Don't tell us that she's going to lose her son and hint at the events to come, let them unfold so that we can see what's happening, how their lives change after the event. Sometimes it's good to reveal secrets so that the reader will be anxious to read on, but sometimes it's better for them to be a surprise.

So. That's my opinion of this first page. What's yours?  

11 comments:

  1. Wow, brutal start! Well done, Steven.

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    1. Alex, thank you very much, kind sir.

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  2. I already commented on Dianne's blog, so I'll keep it brief here.

    Good call, Marcie. The way this is currently written allows the reader a certain sense of detachment, whereas greater immediacy would make it more like a punch in the gut.

    Not often that I invite someone to punch me in the gut, but go for it, Steve! Good start.

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  3. You have a great story with a lot of tell. Saw, was, felt are passive. Remember, if your character can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste, show it. Also, a lot of the 'was' issue can be put into your MC's thoughts.

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    1. Shelly, this has been the general consensus, and now I'm seeing it. The funny thing is, the rest of the manuscript so far is very much show. Now I can see why I've been thinking the intro is off. Thank you!

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  4. Susan, thanks again for your input!

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  5. Marcy, no worries about being late -- I fell asleep writing last night, literally. Your frank feedback is most helpful. Thank you for featuring my work on your blog!

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  6. These first impressions made me realise I kind of miss sharing bits of my writing with people who aren't me. :P It's been a long time.

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  7. I am late to this party, but I agree. This piece can be excellent simply by moving the information around a bit. Good job!!!

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    1. Robin, thank you. I've already begun playing Tetris with the arrangement, yet again, only this time I have some excellent input .

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  8. Maybe it could be improved and maybe not...
    All I know, is that it sounds like an intense ride.

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