Wednesday, December 5, 2012

First Impressions - Haunted

Today's first impression comes from Susan, a published writer who can be found here. She has written FOUR books! This is the first page of her YA paranormal novel, HAUNTED. My comments will be in purple and head over to Dianne's blog to see what she thought of this first page.


          It’s raining, so I shouldn’t have agreed to be the designated driver. (I'm immediately curious as to why the narrator shouldn't have agreed to be the driver. And what does the rain have to do with it?) But here I am. There are no alternatives. I take the keys from Jeremy and dash toward his Subaru. The earthy smell of water soaking into the dirt and pavement rises around us. Jeremy ducks down as if his little exercise is a way to walk between the raindrops, as if he will live forever within their spaces. A little confused regarding 'his little exercise.'
“Let me drive,” he says, though his speech is drowned in grogginess.

“I’ve got it,” I say as we scramble for the car. “You just relax. Get some rest.” I can use the rest myself as I teeter on the edge of sleep, too. (it seems odd she'd say this when she isn't going to be able to rest. Did you mean: "I could use the rest, too, but..."?) But I want to take care of him. He had so much to drink.

I fire up the engine and crank the heat. Jeremy slips into the passenger’s seat, pulls his door closed, and immediately turns on the stereo. Before taking off, I eye him briefly: his brown bangs hanging limply in his face as he tugs his plastered shirt from his chest. He pushes his head into the back of the headrest and closes his eyes. As our song plays, Jeremy lifts his lids and reaches out to finger the ends of my hair. His eyes mingle with mine for a moment, then he grabs my hand. “Love you, Hailey.”

“Love you, too.”

“I’m so drunk.” Then he lets go and balances between sleep and wakefulness.

I turn on the wipers and try hard to focus on the wet and blurry road ahead of me. My hands choke the wheel. I hate driving in the rain—at night. But I promised I would, which is why Jeremy drank at the party, then drank some more.Wait a minute. I want to know the real reason Jeremy drank at the party. Was he celebrating or mourning?

I wind my way along the county roads, twisting and turning. The vehicles that pass in the opposite direction douse my windshield in a blinding spray. I sit all the way forward in the seat, feeling the muscles in my neck tighten and the tendons in my fingers strain. This is good. Shows me how tense she is and I can totally relate because I hate driving at night in the rain, too!

I like this opening. It's tense and it sets up some questions. First off I'm a little unsure as to whether Hailey is entirely fit to drive. She seems tired to me, and that makes me worried. Plus just the fact that they're getting into a car and it's raining makes me a little suspicious. Then there's Jeremy's drinking. Why did he get so drunk? What precipitated the party? And why did Hailey go along with it? Oh yes, lots of interesting questions but the even cooler part is how Susan made me care with the simple exchange of I-love-yous. Yes, it's still a little rough, but I definitely want to know what's going to happen next.

Now, what do you guys think? Like it? Have some comments? Suggestions? Do tell.


  1. I already commented on Dianne's blog, but Marcy brings up some other points too. It's interesting to see the different viewpoints. Thanks and good luck Susan.

  2. i'd like to know what happens next too. tension is mounting! i feel a crash coming!

  3. I like the feel of it. I mean, you can tell she's nervous about driving in the rain and that it's possible something bad might happen. So, yeah, good opening tension. :)

  4. I really like your critique. I do want to know what will happen but I also want to know more about what has taken place.

  5. I think your questions and suggestions are spot-on. Kick it in the beginning and the story will just run.

  6. This is really good. It reminds me of a childhood friend of mine that had a similar incident. It didn't end well for him and reading this piece made me instantly recall that memory. I agree with Marcy and filling in some detail.

  7. Thanks for the feedback, Marcy. This was great! The driving part is answered later in the story. It is deliberately left out right now. And thanks to everyone for the comments.

  8. I didn't have any additional questions to what you asked. I think the tension of this section is well done. Seems like foreshadowing of a sort.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  9. Will there be an accident? I'd rather it start with the accident and she's thinking some of this as the paramedics are working on her. (Those are the kinds of comments you get from people when you post your work for the world. :)) But good skills. The first three paragraphs could be sharper, but after those three, it gets much better...kept me interested. I say KEEP WRITING!

  10. When I see your header, there's always a big sigh. So beautiful!

    Thank you, thank you for your support. You are truly a wonderful person! Yes, I'd love to do an interview. If you send me some questions (as you like, no censorship here), I'll answer and send to you today.


  11. I love some of the phrasing in this piece. I'd read on. :)

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