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First Page: Awakening

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A wave of powerful supernatural energy washed over Charouth as she navigated the depths of an abandoned subway tunnel. Decades ago the E train sped along these tracks ferrying passengers during rush hour. Now it all lay in ruins. Graffiti several layers thick covered the walls. Support beams, stripped of their paint jobs and coated in rust hardly looked strong enough to hang a hat on much less keep a ceiling up. Wooden and cement rubble crunched under her heavy boots as she traveled farther away from the point of entry. She glanced behind her. A weak emergency bulb shed meager light on the six mortals making their way down the treacherous steps onto the platform. They needed to hurry. The rotten scent of a not so fresh corpse hit her. Ugh. Gross. This kind of work was so far below her rank.

“Hurry up guys,” she called to the struggling humans. “Dinner party’s almost over.”

She reached the point where the tunnel began a sharp curve. The heavy grunts and footfalls of the humans stopped right behind her. Charouth didn’t need to see what lay ahead. The familiar slurping and gnawing sounds of demonic creatures feeding gave her all the information she needed. These guys were nasty, but didn’t have enough power to keep that piss poor emergency lightbulb going. Something worse awaited them.

“Take this.” The leader of the humans crept up behind her and tried to slip a gun into her hand.

“No thank you. I have my own weapon.” Cool white light pierced the darkness as a sword of pure celestial flame formed in her hand. The energetic flames licked around her hand and wrist yet she remained unharmed. The weapon was as much as part of her as her blood. She held the sword up higher and frowned. The flames usually burned brighter. Still not one hundred percent then. No worries. She still had enough power to get the job done.

“You sure you’re strong enough for this?”

“Of course, Jack. These flesh eaters will be a piece of cake.”

“You could barely move yesterday.”

“I’m fine now. Don’t worry.”

Poor Jack. He didn’t know the half of it. How could he? He was just a man. A man who’d witnessed an angel crash land in his backyard a week ago. Luck would have it that Jack was a member of the Order, a select group of humans who served as Heaven’s earthly exterminators. In exchange for his hospitality while she healed, Charouth agreed to help Jack and his merry band of men on their next hunt. Better to get this debt settled sooner rather than later. Gods Above and Below how embarrassing. Owing a human a favor. If the other angels found out there’d be no end to the mockery.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Cara Ellison
    Sep 01, 2012 @ 07:11:04

    This worked for me. The description in the first para went on a little longer than I liked but I think overall it was quite good. I liked the voice – I’d trust it to go on for a page or two more before I decided whether the book was for me.

  2. Arwen
    Sep 01, 2012 @ 13:17:28

    I’m interested enough to read another few pages, but not clear on an angel who needs to heal. Aren’t fallen angels generally problematic? :)

  3. Jacques
    Sep 01, 2012 @ 13:21:09

    I kinda like it, too. And agree the 1st paragraph has just a little too much description. But this sort of fantasy isn’t my thing, and I’d keep reading, so that says something.

    I’m not sure I like the way you embed dialogue in the beginning of explanatory paragraphs. This may be optional, but I’d let the dialogue be it’s own paragraph in most cases.

    One interesting image: “Graffiti several layers thick covered the walls.” The idea of layered graffiti is intriguing. It’s not so easy to picture, but it suggests a sort of visual complexity that might yield fascinating narrative analogies.

  4. Bren
    Sep 01, 2012 @ 16:26:08

    I like this beginning. I think it’s intriguing and well-written. However, there’s something clunky about how it reads. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it’s the transitions between description to dialogue and then to back story (that last paragraph). Each time I hit a transition, I found myself foundering in my reading a little bit.

    I’m almost inclined to advise you to delete the entire first paragraph and start with the line of dialogue. We really don’t need all that intricate description on the first page. Throw in a line or two of that further down but we don’t need to see EVERYTHING… just give us the essentials: ruined subway tunnels, darkness, rotting corpse odor.

    By starting with her dialogue and especially the , “she called to the struggling humans” you immediately hook the reader by raising questions in her mind… why is this character referring to the others as “humans”…if she’s not human, what is she?… why do they need to hurry?

    Also, noticed that you break up practically every line of dialogue with nearly an entire paragraph of description or backstory. Streamline it or delete it entirely. We don’t need it… and some of that info can be given in dialogue, a much more interesting way for the reader to absorb it.

    It looks like a very promising story, though. Best of luck with the spit and polishing. :-)

  5. hapax
    Sep 01, 2012 @ 21:33:56

    I think that the premise intersting interesting. I’m not a big urban fantasy reader, but a female fallen angel seemed a bit different from what I’m used to. Especially one who didn’t seem all that well disposed towards humans!

    I did find the …. rhythm (for a lack of a better word) of the writing to be distracting. Very repetitive, staccato, subject-verb-object, sentences all the same length. Perhaps trying to mix things up a bit?

  6. Loreen
    Sep 02, 2012 @ 12:18:52

    The prose is good but I am wondering if you are starting in the right place. If Jack is the love interest, I think you should back up to where they first meet and make their deal. In general, I am more interested in the relationship between he characters and their internal battles rather than a demon/angel battle. I know I may not be typical of this genre’s readers, but I skim over the battle scenes because I find them repetitive. Before sending your characters into battle, make us care about whether they live or die. Give us a little more information about this world too.

  7. sao
    Sep 02, 2012 @ 13:37:20

    I kind of choked on ‘a powerful wave of supernatural energy washed over Charouth.’ I didn’t know what kind of energy, good or bad, what it felt like and I certainly didn’t guess that it was her energy — although I suspect that’s what it is.

    Did she suddenly feel stronger? My struggling with the first sentence kind of ruined the page for me. I’m not much into supernatural creatures and probably wouldn’t read this anyway.

  8. Nemo
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 13:31:56

    This is my genre of choice, I like paranormal/urban fantasy. However I would not have continued reading after this page. In the first paragraph you’re working too hard to set the scene, throwing descriptions as us, each one as cliche and mundane as the last. There’s more information than the reader needs.

    Throughout the page you hint at things then stated them. For example:

    “Still not one hundred percent then. No worries. She still had enough power to get the job done.”

    This is over-writing. You don’t need the last sentence at all and I’d cut the second. You don’t need to tell us she’s not worried and that she can get the job done. That’s like starting up the car and saying, Yep, still got enough gas to drive. Unless it’s a problem, it’s not worth mentioning. The first sentence tells us everything we need to know and makes us wonder why she’s not at her best, even worry for her a bit.

    The dialogue is clunky and flat. It doesn’t impart any character.

    The last paragraph should be taken out. Show us, hint at things, never TELL us about the back story or the world it’s set in.

    Nothing here stands out yet: fire swords, creatures that eat flesh, fallen angels, subways. It’s been done before in a million different ways. Unless you have a great voice, something snazzy hidden in the background, or a really good plot, it’s a bit doomed.

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