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First Page: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

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***

"And eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart."

-Saint Jerome

Prologue

Saturday, December 29th

As Nicolas Siegfried expected, she was entering the party looking more prisoner than guest of honor. Two bodyguards gripped her arms while they shoved aside the frenzied crowd to force a path down the red carpet delivered just that morning. The media and gawkers had been camped for hours along the narrow entrance of the Luxembourg embassy where this circus of a debut had been thrown together.

Staring out through the recently flung open doors, Nicolas glared into the darkness filled with bright flashes from the cameras of the paparazzi. He had only seen her in photographs, but recognized her immediately despite her face being cast down. At each step she was quickly ushered up, her head bobbed side to side like her neck had been stripped of its muscles.

Reaching the top, the bodyguards reverently dropped their large hands from her thin, bare arms and stepped slowly back as if pushing a paper boat into uncertain waters. The guests, clad in tuxedos and designer gowns, seemed to turn in unison to stare up at her.

She stumbled forward onto the edge of the threshold leading immediately into the ballroom. Her hunched shoulders made her look more like a chastised child than an adult of almost twenty-five. Shouts outside from media for her turn for photos echoed loudly around the room but went ignored.

Moments burned slow while she stood frozen in the entryway staring at her feet. The voices around him fell off into curious whispers, but there was no question in his mind. She is unable to face it. His jaw tightened as he inhaled sharply at the familiar sickening rush of guilt curdling through his body. He cursed in frustration under his breath. He should have demanded they cancel this damage control guised as a celebration. It was an overestimation of her abilities to think she’d at least make it into her debut without having an emotional breakdown.

He glanced around looking for a solution to this embarrassing situation. The bodyguards and group who led her in were now hanging back looking as confused and shocked as the strangers around him. Nicolas shook his head dismissing the impulse to go help her into the ballroom. Contact with her would sabotage his near perfect plan. Not to mention putting a target on his back for the paparazzi to take aim, a predicament he’d been lucky enough to avoid so far.

His chivalrous dilemma was answered when she broke her paralyzed position by snapping upright and turning around toward the rabid camera flashes. Instead of hauling back down the stairs to run away, which was where he would have placed his wager, she raised an arm and gave a long, graceful wave to the crowd outside. The cheers elevated in reaction, and he, with the rest of the party’s onlookers, were left to stare at her back.

Following several more bows and enthusiastic flicks of the wrist, she returned from the outside stairs edge and spun to face the crowded ballroom. She took measured steps to the edge of the entrance catching the full light of the room’s chandeliers.

His eyes narrowed as he looked her up and down. It was all wrong. Her slender, bare shoulders lifted back with statuesque grace. Her dark curls no longer hid her face, but became an adornment piled wildly, almost arrogantly, atop her head held high. Diamonds in her hair and even the tiny beads swirling up her dark blue gown cast a garish confidence in camera lights still rapidly firing. What the bloody hell just happened?

***

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24 Comments

  1. Courtney Milan
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 06:44:14

    I think your writing is pretty good, but I also think there’s a problem here.

    “As Nicolas Siegfried expected, she was entering the party looking more prisoner than guest of honor.”

    Name of unknown person followed by pronoun tends to mean that the pronoun belongs to name of unknown person. I did a double take on this first line, thinking that that “she” was named Nicolas Siegfried, perhaps Nicki for short. Which is a weird name for a she–but hey, some girls get boys names, and I’ve seen books where the heroine is called George or Andy. Why not Nicolas?

    This weird impression was reinforced by the fact that we get almost no description of Nicolas’s own view of things. She does this; she does that; she feels more like a prisoner than a guest of honor. Your point of view character is so concentrated on her, that it sounds as if we are actually in her point of view (where “her” is some girl who is named Nicolas) up until the point where you drop what looks like a weird POV slip about some unknown “he” in paragraph two. My reading comes to a screeching halt; I go back to the start and read in confusion and reread, and then finally get it–oh, Nicolas is a he after all; he’s watching some unnamed she; and his own experience is completely submersed in hers.

    In the first four paragraphs, there is only one sentence that could only have been written from Nicolas’s point of view: He had only seen her in photographs, but recognized her immediately despite her face being cast down.

    What this means is that you are writing from Nick’s point of view, but you are doing so shallowly, in such a way that as a reader, I don’t even know whose eyes I’m seeing through. And yes, my experience was intensified by the fact that you introduced a name, followed shortly by an unidentified pronoun, leading me to believe the pronoun belonged to the name, and I was in the unidentified-she’s point of view. . . . But I think that even if you cleared that up, the problem is that the person who has the most at stake here–the person who is acting–is She. Not your point of view character.

    If She is the heroine of the book, is there any reason you are not starting this from her point of view? Showing her walk down the stairs, trying to keep things together, thinking that she is just going to run . . . up until the point where she feels Nicolas’s eyes on her, and lifts her chin and says, “screw you all, I’m going to do this right.”

    Because it feels to me like you are distancing me, the reader, from the emotional content of this scene by putting it in the point of view of someone who doesn’t even give the heroine a name. Your choice of POV is literally setting the reader down twenty yards from the action and keeping her at a distance. The POV character has no personal stakes here–and the stakes seem even more impersonal since you say he’s never met her, and we don’t even get her name.

    I’m just not connecting, and your writing is otherwise good enough that I should be. You have a real gift for short turns of phrase that communicate volumes, e.g. “rabid camera flashes”–I know exactly what you mean, and exactly what that looks like.

  2. Shannon Stacey
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 07:21:23

    It wasn’t until I read Courtney’s comment, then reread the passage that I realized it’s all in HIS pov. At first I thought her name was Nicolas, and then I actually thought, after a bad POV shift mid-paragraph, that a mistake had been made and they were both being called Nicolas. Once I read her comment, I reread it and I get it now.

    My comments would be more or less a ditto to Courtney’s. There were some interesting phrases and what they’re actually doing there is intriguing, but the name/POV issue was distracting enough to keep the reader at a distance.

  3. GrowlyCub
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 07:45:28

    Easy way to fix that first sentence and avoid the POV confusion.

    “As Nicolas Siegfried *had* expected, *the woman* was entering the party looking more prisoner than guest of honor.”

  4. Leah
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 07:58:48

    I didn’t notice the POV thing, either, until I read Courtney’s comments. I didn’t have trouble with Nicholas and “she,” but there was a part of me that kept thinking, “ok, ok, so what’s her problem?” I didn’t want to stay in Nicholas’ head all that long (but, tbh, I tend to prefer the heroine’s POV, anyway). I love the “screw you moment,” and while it might have more power coming from her, if your goal is to show us how it confuses Nicholas, that works, too. I’m intrigued and definitely want to know more.

    Best wishes!

  5. joanne
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 08:06:29

    I love this kind of first paragraph because it hints that the female mc is going to have strength, even if it’s hard-won on her part. I would certainly keep reading.

    But as a reader I don’t know this character the way you do. I can’t see her the way you do. I don’t have any knowledge about her except what you show me.

    Her face is ‘cast down’. I read that as an action as in: she ripped off her face and threw it to the ground. Not a pretty mind-picture for the reader to have of your heroine. Her head is bobbing and she has thin arms (which is what I pictured later when she gives her wave) and the she stumbles over ….nothing, she just stumbled. From Nicholas’ thoughts I have to presume that she has had previous emotional breakdowns. When she is cast in a ‘garish’ light from her gown I’m beginning to see her very clearly. A thin bobble-head doll with a good hairdresser.

    I know she’s more, better, prettier…. but you as the writer aren’t showing me that.

    BUT: I want to read more and I think you have a wonderful story here. Thanks so much and good luck with your writing!

  6. Jules Jones
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 08:22:59

    And another vote for “good writing, but fix the confusion on whose POV it’s in”. I’m perfectly happy with it being in his POV rather than hers, so long as it’s clear up front that this is what’s going on. Right now it isn’t, for the reasons already described.

  7. Barbara Sheridan
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 08:25:06

    The Nicolas/her confusion hit me right away, and I had to reread to get things straight. Still, it wouldn’t be too hard to tweak and make the pov clearer.

    I rather like it being in Nicolas’ pov because I certainly want to know who he is, what his connection to the mystery woman is, who exactly she is and what damage are they attempting to control.

    Those are great unanswered questions that will have a reader turning the pages to learn more.

  8. Shannon Stacey
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 08:32:03

    I forgot to say it in my comment but, like Barbara said, if you go back and ground the reader a little better in the first paragraph, I like it in his POV, too. It asks intriguing questions that wouldn’t be the same from her POV.

  9. Gennita Low
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 08:40:01

    I really like this beginning. To fix the POV problem, you need only to change the beginning paragraph. Something like:

    At the first swell of crowd murmur, Nicolas turned to look. Everyone was anticipating the arrival of *** ***. The media and gawkers had been camped for hours along the narrow entrance of the Luxembourg embassy where this circus of a debut had been thrown together.

    The bodyguards blocked his view at first. His eyes narrowed at the sight of her between them, looking more like a prisoner than the guest of honor. She looked so fragile with those burly idiots gripping her arms while they shoved aside the frenzied crowd to force a path down the red carpet delivered just that morning.

    The above is just an example and probably needs to be tightened (sorry, just started being caffeine-ated for the day). I was really intrigued by this start, though, and wanted to know more about the mysterious woman. I wish you luck!

  10. ME
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 08:55:12

    I too had to re-read the first paragraph, but once I got it, I quite liked this. I think it holds a lot of promise and I would read more for sure. Good job and good luck!

  11. Monique
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:08:48

    While I got the POV and love seeing the scene from Nicolas’ point of view, you had me at Luxembourg. Now I am seriously intrigued why Luxembourg has a connection to your story as my mother is Luxembourgish and that makes me half. So, for the first time in a very long time, I want to read a contemporary. This sounds great to me so far!

  12. shenan
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:24:04

    —-As Nicolas Siegfried expected, she was entering the party looking more prisoner than guest of honor. Two bodyguards gripped her arms while they shoved aside the frenzied crowd to force a path down the red carpet delivered just that morning. The media and gawkers had been camped for hours along the narrow entrance of the Luxembourg embassy where this circus of a debut had been thrown together.

    What embassy allows its invited guests to be mobbed? What bodyguards worth their salary allow their client to walk into that kind of a situation? Why is the crowd frenzied? Who are the guests to an embassy party? Mass murdering heads of State the crowd would like to see dead? Getting all frenzied over the merely rich and famous seems over the top.

    As for the unknown woman, I wonder what kind of wimp she is to allow herself to a) get forced into attending a party she apparently doesn’t want to attend and b) be manhandled by a couple of goons. Or am I assuming too much by the use of the word “prisoner”?

    —–Staring out through the recently flung open doors, Nicolas glared into the darkness filled with bright flashes from the cameras of the paparazzi.

    Was he staring or glaring?

    Does it matter if the doors were recently flung open instead of being open for a while? Why weren’t they sedately opened instead of flung open?

    —– He had only seen her in photographs, but recognized her immediately despite her face being cast down.

    If he can see her face — which I’m assuming he can from the fact that he recognized her — then the fact that she is looking down doesn’t mean anything. And if her face is cast down so far that he can’t see it, how did he recognize her?

    —-At each step she was quickly ushered up,

    The read there is awkward. I had to read it twice to figure out what it meant.

    —-her head bobbed side to side like her neck had been stripped of its muscles.

    Why is her head bobbing so violently? And really, if her head is moving like she has no muscle control at all, it would be flopping rather than bobbing. Not to mention — without muscle control, her head would hang down, not move from side to side. So how violent is her progress through the crowd that someone WITH muscle control has her head flung from side to side? Again I ask — why isn’t the embassy controlling the crowd?

    —-Reaching the top,

    The top of what?

    —–the bodyguards reverently dropped their large hands from her thin, bare arms

    They go from gripping her arms as they pretty violently force her through a crowd to reverent? (How does one drop something reverently anyway?)

    Too many adjectives and adverbs. Does it matter if the bodyguards have large hands versus medium-sized ones? Does it matter if the woman’s arms are thin and bare? (Not to mention, if her arms are bare and thin, it sounds like she’s going to have some nice bruises come morning.)

    —- and stepped slowly back as if pushing a paper boat into uncertain waters.

    The boat visual seems out of place there. Not to mention, the act of pushing is a forward motion, which doesn’t track with the guards stepping back. Also — what difference does the state of the waters make to a paper boat? I’d think it would sink soon enough even if the waters were nice and calm.

    —–The guests, clad in tuxedos and designer gowns, seemed to turn in unison to stare up at her.

    They SEEMED to turn or they DID turn in unison?

    Where is she that she is higher than the party crowd? And who is she that the rich and famous are all going to turn and stare at her like she is something way out of the ordinary? (And okay, that’s part of the mystery, I’m sure, but I don’t find myself intrigued.)

    —-She stumbled forward onto the edge of the threshold leading immediately into the ballroom.

    She stumbled ONTO the threshold? Or she stumbled ON it? The way it’s written, it sounds like she stumbled over her own two feet and landed on the threshold. Or its edge. Which makes her sound like she’s pretty precariously perched.

    Why is this woman having so much trouble with muscle control? First her neck. Now her feet?

    I can buy an embassy having a ballroom (Hey, what do I know?), but a ballroom that opens up directly to the front walk? No lobby?

    —–Her hunched shoulders made her look more like a chastised child than an adult of almost twenty-five.

    If I’d just been manhandled through a frenzied crowd, my shoulders would be hunched too. And if I’d just witnessed someone being dragged through that crowd, I wouldn’t see those hunched shoulders as a childish gesture. Makes me wonder about the hero’s perception of the heroine.

    —-Moments burned slow while she stood frozen in the entryway staring at her feet.

    Wouldn’t those burning moments have melted the ice keeping her frozen?

    Is she in the entryway, standing on the edge of the threshold, or in the ballroom? (It read to me like she went directly from the front door of the embassy into the ballroom — or onto the threshold of the front door.)

    —-The voices around him fell off into curious whispers, but there was no question in his mind. She is unable to face it.

    What voices? The way everyone turned to stare at the woman, it reads like the ballroom had fallen silent. If not, there was no mention of any sound but the cries from the paparazzi. (Wouldn’t the frenzied crowd outside also be making a lot of noise?)

    What does the crowd whispering have to do with the hero thinking the Mystery Woman can’t face the crowd? (At least, I assume “it” refers to the party.)

    – He should have demanded they cancel this damage control guised as a celebration.

    Guised? You mean “disguised?”

    —–He glanced around looking for a solution to this embarrassing situation. The bodyguards and group who led her in were now hanging back looking as confused and shocked as the strangers around him.

    What group? Who led her inside besides the bodyguards? Why is everyone all of a sudden looking shocked and confused? Before the crowd was staring and whispering. Nothing that I’ve seen warrants a shocked or confused reaction.

    For me, this excerpt needs to be pared down and toned down. Too many adverbs and adjectives. Too much overly dramatic writing and character movements. As for the characters, I find myself more annoyed by them than intrigued.

    The pov — I agree with those who think the scene would be better from Mystery Woman’s point of view. As written, the heroine (I assume) reads like a wimp. Or a rag doll being dragged hither and yon. Plus, the hero doesn’t appear to have a very good opinion of her — which influences the reader’s opinion, seeing as his is the only viewpoint. We don’t read her inner thoughts of rebellion, aren’t privy to the reasons why she is letting herself be manipulated. Is she a weak patsy? Is she suffering for a noble cause? Is she a tough chick trapped into doing a job she hates? What?

  13. theo
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:27:47

    I didn’t have a problem with the first paragraph as far as who was ‘telling’ the story. I gathered right away that I was seeing this woman through Nicholas’s eyes. What confused me were the almost contradictory comments:

    The body guards seem to be almost dragging the woman along and then ‘reverently’ drop their hands.

    Nicholas has never seen her and yet, he’s the one who should have canceled this sideshow.

    Nicholas wants to go to her side and help her, but doesn’t want to sabotage his perfect plan, nor does he want the paparazzi to target him. If he’s the one who set all of this in motion though, it would be highly unlikely that he could fly under their radar since this sounds like a huge celebration.

    And I’m with him. She sounds totally drugged and then suddenly, comes to life? What the hell just happened, indeed. I’m guessing she’s probably not drugged, but it would be nice to have some idea if it was terror on her part that’s making her act that way or if she’s drugged. A slight edit:

    At each step she was quickly ushered up, her head bobbed side to side like her neck had been stripped of its muscles. He knew they hadn’t drugged her. But what was causing her rag-doll demeanor?

    Just something quick but it answers the question a bit more. Now I want to know why, not what.

    You have some great writing in here, but *for me*, I would need to see it tightened quite a bit to keep me reading.

    Good luck! :)

  14. Susanna Kearsley
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:45:42

    Years ago I took part in an intense editing workshop out at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and one of the editors leading the course made the point that the true first sentence of a book is often partway down the first page. Here’s what I think yours is (because it’s the line that struck me right away):

    He had only seen her in photographs.

    Not to re-write your page for you, but I’d personally be tempted to do something like this:

    He had only seen her in photographs, but Nicolas recognized her immediately despite her face being cast down, and the fact that she was entering the party looking more prisoner than guest of honor. Two bodyguards gripped her arms while they shoved aside the frenzied crowd to force a path down the red carpet delivered just that morning. The media and gawkers had been camped for hours along the narrow entrance of the Luxembourg embassy where this circus of a debut had been thrown together.

    You don’t need to give his surname in the first sentence, that can always be supplied later when someone calls him ‘Mr Siegfried’, and his first name’s more important anyway, for us to connect with him.

    Just a thought.

    But it’s a good first page. Best of luck.

  15. Lynne Connolly
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:52:10

    I liked this. A bit of tidying up needed, and you’re there, I think. I’d also try to go a bit deeper into Nick’s pov. Why should we care about him? And by his observations, I’d say he was into fashion, or he had something to do with the place where the function is happening because he cares that the carpet is new, and other touches.
    It’s tricky, but a bit more of Nick, maybe more idiosyncratic language, a stronger voice, without taking attention off her, and you’re there.
    Is this going to be a category?

  16. LindaR
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:57:52

    Dear Author:

    pushing a paper boat into uncertain waters.

    This phrase is wonderful. It is also a demonstration of everything that is wrong here: your lack of discipline.

    Because you’ve been too lazy, you are making your readers work too hard. Whose head am I in? Where am I, physically, in the scene? In the crowd? In “her” head? Outside of it all with Nicolas?

    Almost every sentence needs work:

    Staring out through the recently flung open doors, Nicolas glared into the darkness filled with bright flashes from the cameras of the paparazzi.

    You’ve got two verbs here, so that makes it easy — lose one of them. And clear up the existential impossibility (darkness filled with bright flashes). Paparazzi is a darling word. Kill it. Or kill cameras. And why is Nicolas staring out through recently flung open doors? Why does he know they were recently flung open? Why do I, the reader, even need to lurch back to the event of the doors being flung open? What doors, anyway? Where are they? Isn’t the point of this sentence that:

    Nicolas stared into the mix of darkness and bright camera flashes

    His chivalrous dilemma was answered

    Don’t tell. Let me decide that he is chivalrous.

    There is too much writing going on. Is there one simple, straightforward sentence? The readers weeps. Don’t get me wrong! There are diamonds in this rough. Let’s get back to my opening.

    pushing a paper boat into uncertain waters.

    This phrase is wonderful. It is also a demonstration of everything that is wrong here: your lack of discipline.

    You have 1, buried this lovely, perfect phrase in a sea of words and 2, thrown it away on insignificant characters engaged in a mundane act. I would love to see a scene where the H attempts for the first time to express feelings for the H, not knowing how they’ll be received, “like pushing a paper boat into uncertain waters.”

    But I would feel so cheated if the tenderness of that moment got buried in an avalanche of description.

  17. Tina Burns
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 10:04:26

    I agree with most of the comments here. I had to read it a few times to get that Nicolas wasn’t a woman. The reader is being “told” most of the action in this scene, not shown, which goes along with Shenan’s comments about too many adjectives and adverbs.

    Even in a prologue you want your reader to connect with the story, or the character, and typically the prologue is a paired down necessity to some background of the story. I got nothing but a jumbled mass of people, a woman being dragged to her own debut (to what? society?) and a man who feels guilty for it but isn’t connected to the woman anyway.

    pushing a paper boat into uncertain waters.

    This was my favorite line, but I agree it didn’t jive with the actual action.

    Find a class on writing “active vs. passive” or Google “showing vs. telling” and you’ll start to understand how most of the comments here apply to your story.

    Susanna, you are dead on with that first line rewrite. Wow.

  18. vanessa jaye
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 10:19:15

    I didn’t have a problem with the pov, either. I got right away we were in Nicolas’ pov.

    But, I did feel like I’d been dropped abruptly into the story, so the first sentence would be (for me) a concern in that light.

    I think if there was a little more build up, if would solve both concerns re the pov & the slight confusion re what is happening.

    Otherwise, good writing/ intriguing start.

  19. Amy Redwood
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 11:33:03

    Just a quick comment to let you know that I got right away that we are in Nicolas' POV, but it wouldn't hurt to rewrite to make it clearer. You already have many great suggestions to tidy up the writing, and then you're there, I think. But the prologue worked for me, and I would read more. Good job and good luck!

  20. vanessa jaye
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 12:15:28

    Came back to unsubscribe to comments, but I just read Suzanne’s suggested revision and I think she’s got in bang on. It’s immediately clear whose pov we’re in (for the folks who were concerned about that) and it addresses my itch that the start was a bit to abrupt.

  21. JoB
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 12:51:00

    What Linda R said.

    This is a bit overwritten. Your sentences are long, involved, complex, clunky, overburdened, discursive. My suggestion is to chop things up. Make short sentences. Stay in the moment. Strip off all those modifiers.

    Let me choose a paragraph at random –

    Reaching the top, the bodyguards reverently dropped their large hands from her thin, bare arms and stepped slowly back as if pushing a paper boat into uncertain waters. The guests, clad in tuxedos and designer gowns, seemed to turn in unison to stare up at her.

    Here’s a simplification:

    At the top of the stairs the bodyguards turned her loose. She ventured on alone, fluttery as a paper boat moving into uncertain waters. To the left and right, down the long room, tuxedos and designer gowns turned to stare.

    Another, longer segment …

    His chivalrous dilemma was answered when she broke her paralyzed position by snapping upright and turning around toward the rabid camera flashes. Instead of hauling back down the stairs to run away, which was where he would have placed his wager, she raised an arm and gave a long, graceful wave to the crowd outside. The cheers elevated in reaction, and he, with the rest of the party's onlookers, were left to stare at her back.

    Following several more bows and enthusiastic flicks of the wrist, she returned from the outside stairs edge and spun to face the crowded ballroom. She took measured steps to the edge of the entrance catching the full light of the room's chandeliers.

    The interesting parts of what’s happening are so buried under modifiers and discursion we don’t really get a clear picture.

    This could be pared down to:

    He didn’t have to do a thing.

    [insert name] turned to the crowd. Out in the dark, bulbs flashed like rabid lightning bugs. She raised her arm and gave a long, graceful wave, accepting the cheers. Then again. And again. When the enthusiasm finally quieted, she bowed and turned, unhurried, and took measured steps to the entrance, the diamonds in her tiara catching the light of the chandeliers.

    All this said, you have an interesting story here. I think any problems with these kudzu modifiers is fixable.

  22. Maya M.
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 13:42:24

    Have not read previous comments, so apologies if this is repetitive:

    - first sentence confused me. Figured it out once I got to second sentence, but maybe it’s not helpful to have the reader saying ‘huh?’ from line 1.

    - the paper boat description was excellent, original and evocative

    - for some reason, my first impression was that Nicholas was observing her arrival and progress up the steps from outside, so that when the sentences describing what happened inside began it took a confused little while for me to understand that he was actually part of the crowd in the ballroom

    - two of his observations didn’t make sense to me: her head bobbing side to side (if that was true, it meant either the person is fully passed out or else the bodyguards are incredibly violent, which is contradicted by the paper boat part) and her taking ‘more bows’ (why ‘more’? previous sentence only mentions a wave. And ‘bows’? Really? Because that means bending from the waist/hips. Is this intended to signify that she is Japanese, or of another bowing culture? Or was it supposed to be along the lines of little head nods in acknowledgement to the crowd?)

    hope that’s helpful

  23. JulieLeto
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 14:08:52

    Yeah, I agree totally with LindaR and JoB.

  24. the "author"
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 13:04:29

    Thank you all so very much for the thoughtful and thorough comments / critiques. I've been having such trouble with my opening pages, and you've succinctly articulated many of those issues I've been missing or warring against.

    What a gift this is for writers!

    Thanks again~

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