Monday, July 9, 2018

First Impressions - Hotel Room



Well, it's been a while since Dianne and I have done this, but out of the blue someone emailed me wanting their first page critiqued and who am I to refuse a fellow writer in need? So, without further ado, I present Selena's first page from her work in progress.




HOTEL ROOM

She woke up with a splitting headache and a muddled mind. Without opening her eyes or trying to form a coherent thought, she pushed her head deeper into the soft pillow and sent a silent prayer to the heavens for the pain to go away and let her sleep a little longer. Unfortunately, it took only seconds for a nagging feeling to appear in her stomach, telling her something was wrong. Peeling her eyelids open, she took in her surroundings. The city lights coming through the large floor-to-ceiling window were enough for the sleek lines of the furniture around her to form a disturbing picture in her head. A hotel room. She was in a hotel room. An expensive one at that, if the leather armchairs positioned by the coffee table and plush curtains framing the window were anything to go by. At the same time, she noticed the silky feel of the sheets covering her body and realized she was naked. Panic made her lift her head up with the jerk, and she immediately regretted the move since blindingly sharp needles of pain pierced her brain. Firmly shutting her eyes, she let her head fall back down and waited for the onslaught of nausea to pass. She really was in a hotel with possibly the worst hangover of her life. The good news was that the room was still dark which meant the morning didn’t come yet. Nobody was in bed with her or even in the room, so she didn’t have to get up right this second. Her brain will would probably offer some information about the last night events at some point, so there was no need to panic. She allowed herself to relax just a little bit and sunk sank into the softness of the bed trying to decide on the a course of action that will would get her out of this room and home. Preferably as soon as possible. A headache wasn’t going anywhere, and she didn’t have any painkillers so the shower should probably be the first stop of her escape route. That will clear her head enough to find her stuff, leave the hotel and find a cab that will drive her home. Well, it appears that forging the plan wasn’t so hard after all.

My thoughts: First off, I would give her a name. It's hard to connect with someone who doesn't have a name and the goal of the first page is to pull the reader in and get her to connect with the character. Like so: 
Sasha woke up with a splitting headache and a muddled mind Without opening her eyes or trying to form a coherent thought, she pushed her head deeper into the soft pillow and sent a silent prayer to the heavens for the pain to go away and let her sleep a little longer.
It's much easier to feel sorry for Sasha than some unnamed person. 
The second thing I noticed was that our narrator isn't too alarmed at finding herself in a high end motel room, naked no less, and has access to painkillers, although she doesn't have any on her. This leads me to make certain assumptions about her. Is she a call girl? Does she often drink too much and end up in strange people's beds? 
Last but not least, a first page needs to do something to make the reader want to turn the page and read more. The question of how this character got where she is isn't enough, in my opinion, but mostly because the character is so nonchalant about it. She's not worried so why should the reader be? 
With that said, if there's a reason our character had so much to drink, I suggest that information be conveyed sooner to give the reader more impetus to turn the page. I would also suggest that she feel some regret. Not necessarily for ending up in a hotel room for a one night stand, but for having drank so much that she can't recall. That's not a good thing, and even an alcoholic would be remorseful - and want to get the heck out of there as fast as possible. 

Selena, thank you for submitting your first page, and I hope my thoughts have helped. Readers, if you have anything helpful to add please do, and don't forget that Dianne is critiquing this page as well so head over to her place to see what she had to say. 




10 comments:

  1. I agree she needs a name. And a little more urgency of wanting to get out of that room. With that, it would be a really tense scene.

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  2. Agreed on the name :)
    I think the rest depends on the assumptions you want us to make about your character. As is, I assume she's done this often enough not to be freaking out over it, she's a hard drinker which makes me wonder why, sex with strangers doesn't bother her much. I don't have a lot of empathy for her yet, so I'd like to see that built up somehow (fear, panic, regret,...)
    Hope that helps a little bit! good luck with it!

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  3. My greedy reading self is intrigued. Her attitude speaks volumes about a life which is alien to me. However, I agree about the name. And the tense issues.

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  4. As someone whose current WIP starts with a person waking up... I've heard that starting a story with a character waking up is a terrible cliche. Is there some way to start this later or earlier?

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  5. Thank you everyone for your comments!

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  6. I'm thinking this scene could be much more tense if she tightened it up. Yes, use a name,but also, give it some urgency. To give an example of what I mean, I edited the first few lines... Name woke with a splitting headache and a muddled mind. She pushed her head deeper into the soft pillow. Something was wrong. City lights bled through floor-to-ceiling window. The sleek lines of the furniture around her formed a disturbing picture. She was in a hotel room. An expensive one at that, if the leather armchairs positioned by the coffee table and plush curtains framing the window were anything to go by.

    Remember that every word you use should add to your story...keep it sharp and crisp, not blurred with excessive detail.

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  7. First off, that is beautiful bloom in your header!

    I totally understand where you are coming from in your critique. I was wondering also, but I assumed we weren't told the name for a reason. Maybe the lady herself doesn't know her name. Maybe she has no idea how and when she got there. It could have been because she had a total blackout, was drugged, or maybe amnesia. I would like to read more before deciding anything.

    Maybe the first page and/or chapter are the answers to questions that haven't been revealed yet. Like when a lady (Uma Thurman in the movie version) woke up from a coma in the hospital in Kill Bill. Everything that happened in that first chapter was answers. I could be completely wrong, but that is how my brain works.

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  8. It intrigued me, for sure. ~nods~ Be well, my dear.

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