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First Page: Dancer – A Little Tale of Revenge, erotic thriller

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This city is so gorgeous at night. Full of gorgeous people, and gorgeous men who will hurt you if you’re not careful.

My name is Sam, short for Samantha. Some people call me Sammy but I hate that nickname.

My BFF is Allison. She’s my age, nineteen. We’d been friends all throughout high school. Both of us went a year in college; then both of us grew bored and frustrated enough to drop out.

Quitters are birds of a feather.

Allison is more outgoing than I am. She asked me to go to SIN, a new downtown nightclub. At first I refused but then changed my mind.

How could it hurt to go out of my comfort zone for just a few hours?

Famous last words.

Clad in a flaming red dress with a flared skirt, I met Allison at the club. We wound our way through the boisterous crowd, then sat at a table near the front.

Disgusting ashes and cigarette butts strewn the table surface. Smoky fog hung above like a transparent sheet.

Since it was opening night at the club, a female singer was about to perform. Angelique Tremont stood at the microphone, stared into the crowd and awaited her cue. Male back-up dancers posed behind her on each side of the stage, preparing to do what they do best.

Both dancers had a golden-tan complexion, their skin-tight black pants nestled low on their hips. They sported collars around their necks and ebony masks obscured their eyes, but I could tell they were handsome guys, especially the one on the right. His sandy hair was neatly combed back, slick and shiny in the pale lights.

Angelique gripped the microphone and began singing.

I looked away for a second. Wait—did I feel one of the dancer’s eyes on me? Why would any guy look at me twice? Especially one who looked like him?

Turning back, I saw my favorite dancer gaze past me and straight across the room. Like I was invisible. Like I wasn’t even here.

Disappointment burned.

Regardless, Angelique’s resonating voice hit the main verse and that’s when the guys came alive, started dancing.

Fast-paced music thumped. It was an explosion of lights, sound and hot guys with lean, sweaty bodies which writhed and shimmied to the beat.

“God,” Allison said. “I’d die for the one on the right. Just a one-night stand and I’d be happy forever.” She stared, toying with her smooth blonde hair.

I had to agree with her. The one on the right was incredible, both in looks and dancing. Arching his back and lifting his arms as he swayed, his bright green eyes shifted to me, teasing with each pelvic thrust… as if he were only dancing for me.

Don’t I wish?

Oh, if only my wildest fantasies would come true. He was so beautiful. Glistening sweat trickled down his tight, ridged stomach to his navel.

As the song wound down, twin male dancers raised their arms and froze. Music cut off.

“Thanks guys.” Jillian grinned, waving at the cheering crowd.

Six songs later the trio left the stage. I knew I’d never see the hot dancer again. On the other hand, so what if I did? It’s not like he’d notice me. Granted he looked at me while doing a dance move, but that didn’t mean jack shit.

Then Dancer Number Two (my favorite) stopped near our table to stretch his muscular arms. Tattoos of barbed wire encircled his large biceps, and the tightness of his jeans didn’t leave much to one’s imagination. His firm ass was clearly outlined.

My heart stopped. He was close enough to touch. Close enough to feel the heat from his body.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

8 Comments

  1. Kate Sherwood
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 07:18:43

    This feels very NA, and NA readers tend to be pretty forgiving, from what I’ve seen.

    Even so, I think you’d benefit from tightening this up, a LOT. It feels really jerky – the paragraphs are short because the ideas are short, and there’s no real transitions between them. You’re also telling a lot, and for no good reason. We don’t need to know every variation of the MC’s name right off the top – have someone call her by name, and then later on have someone call her by a different version of her name, and have someone call her by the nickname she doesn’t like and have her react to it – the last one is especially good because it’ll give us characterization as well as information.

    There’s other finer details – does someone who considers going to a dance club a big risky venture even OWN a flaming red dress? If the club is as crowed as you describe, would there really be a free table right at the front? Where is this set? Would two nineteen-year-olds with no club connections really be getting into an opening night without any complications? If the dancers’ eyes are obscured by masks, how can the MC tell where the dancer is looking? How can she tell, from a distance and under bright lights, that his eyes are ‘bright green’? etc.

    I really like the line “Quitters are birds of a feather.” It’s simple, but it tells me something about the character and the way she sees not only herself but her world.

  2. Jack
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 07:48:12

    I like it but I agree with Kate that the transitions between paragraphs need some work:

    “Allison is more outgoing than I am. She asked me to go to SIN, a new downtown nightclub. At first I refused but then changed my mind.

    How could it hurt to go out of my comfort zone for just a few hours?

    Famous last words.”

    I think this cold be improved a lot.

  3. Marianne McA
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 08:20:32

    I liked the opening line, but it seems to come from a different book than the rest of the page.

    The male dancers are vividly drawn – though, as Kate said, I was mystified by dancer 2’s eyes – how vivid is his eye colour that Sam can see it from the audience, while he’s wearing a mask that obscures his eyes? However, Sam reads like a placeholder (which might be what you intended).

    ‘Strewn’ isn’t used correctly, and (nitpicky, sorry) I’d use translucent rather than transparent. Also, it seems odd that Sam says first ‘a female singer’ and then ‘Angelique Tremont’. If she knows of Angelique, and the text is pretending her reader does too, surely the natural thing to say would be “Angelique Tremont was about to perform. She stood at the microphone…” (I’m assuming Jillian is an earlier version of Angelique .)

    Great title, btw.

    Good luck.

  4. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 08:52:08

    just – do nightclubs still allow smoking in the premises? Maybe it’s different where you are, but smoking inside anywhere except your own home has been banned here for years. And if it’s opening night, how come it’s so disgusting?
    How did she get in to the opening night of a new nightclub without connections?
    With flashing lights and dim mood lighting, how can she see the colour of his eyes?
    Everything up to and including “Famous last words” needs to be cut. It’s irrelevant to the scene. You can have Alison meeting her outside and saying “Where did you get that gorgeous dress, Sam?” and they’re in. Maybe she dated a doorman or maybe they went to school with Angelique, something of that nature. Those touches, the dress, the getting in and the table at the front make the story lean towards Mary Sue territory.
    Close your eyes and go there. When you next go to a nightclub, make notes. Note-taking apps for the phone are a boon. I have lots of scrappy little “impressions” on my computer that I write at the time, my immediate impressions, like free writing. If I title them properly later, so I know what they are (!) they’re immensely useful later on.

  5. wikkidsexycool
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 10:18:40

    “I looked away for a second. Wait—did I feel one of the dancer’s eyes on me? Why would any guy look at me twice? Especially one who looked like him?”

    And that’s when I stopped reading. If there’s anything I hate, it’s the “why would anyone be attracted to me?” trope that pops up way too often in romance. I liked the opening, I liked the characters, but if the narrator’s in a dress that screams look at me (flaming red with a flared skirt, as per the story) and then she has such low self esteem that she wonders why any guy would look at her twice, then why should I even read her story?

    I think you get what I’m saying, author. You’ve got a lot of things that work in this first page. There’s heat, anticipation of what’s to come, and I even though I left this page, I did return to read the rest. I agree with the changes others suggested. This needs tightening. But it’s a promising storyline and if you can make your lead have less Mary Sue thoughts, then I’m in. I do like your style of writing and your turn with a phrase.

    I wish you all the best with this, and thanks for having the courage to submit it.

  6. Carol McKenzie
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 10:22:33

    Thanks for sharing your work.

    I agree it needs tightening up, smoothing out, unpacking those little bits of thoughts into something more complete, with more information in those sentences.

    “They sported collars around their necks and ebony masks obscured their eyes…”

    What kind of collars? What kind of ebony masks? And if ebony refers to black, say that. Ebony isn’t just a color, but a type of wood. I see them with ebony African masks and I don’t think that’s what you want me to see. And if their eyes are obscured, how do they see to dance? And how does she see his eye color?

    “As the song wound down, twin male dancers raised their arms and froze. Music cut off.” You may want to look at the order of events in your sentences. “The song ended and the dancers froze, arms raised over their heads.”

    Yes, strewn is wrong, or you’re missing words in the sentence. “…butts were strewn across…” But where in the world do they still allow smoking in clubs? And smoke isn’t transparent. It’s thick and obscuring. But again, why the smoking in the first place?

    Other nit picks:

    Who is Jillian? Why does Sam have a red dress if she’s never been out, or appears not to go out much. Why is Allison more outgoing? How did they score a table in a packed club?

    And please do not have men shimmy…strippers shimmy, meaning shaking what they’ve got. Men shimmying has me seeing a gay male dance review, which would be fine, if you had a M/M erotic story here. But I don’t want to see the (possible) hero of my story like that. I want athletic and graceful, powerful and sexy, cat-like and sleek. But no shimming. And I think you want the word “who” instead of “which” in that sentence.

    I do read NA and might want to read further. But the short choppy paragraphs and lack of deeper detail might make this a read I’d forget after I read it.

    And I have the niggling feeling of 50 Shades lurking beneath. Outgoing friend, hints of “I’m not good enough to look at’, fish out of water set up. The “Oh, if only…” sentence. And in an erotic story.

    You do have a good start here and with some work, you could have a much better story.

  7. Nemo
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 22:22:44

    Keep in mind that I’ve written stories that fail to hit the mark. That I still write stuff that isn’t up to snuff. I was lucky enough to have someone sit me down, hand my writing back to me, and kindly say that everything I’d written was wrong and I should start over. You were brave enough to send this in and deserve the same kindness. Feel free to be absolutely furious with me and brace yourself for criticism.

    The narration doesn’t work because it’s rushed and simplified. It’s blatant, boring telling. This is how preteen girls talk, all false modesty and overblown bravo. It doesn’t suit the inner thoughts of a nineteen year old college drop out at all. I have no sense of place, character, or mood. These are the main problems of the page.

    Then there are little missteps. For example: “Since it was opening night at the club, a female singer was about to perform.” The structure of ‘since this happened, this must happen’ implies that there some tradition about opening night that demands a female singer must perform. I think you mean that “Since it was opening night, the club had booked Angelique Tremont” or “It was opening night and the club had booked one of the hottest new female singers around.” Editing should have caught this.

    “She’s my age, nineteen.” Most people assume that best friends are around the same age. Singling this out is strange and makes it obvious that you’re trying to tell us her age quickly. This is lazy writing. Instead you could have said something like: “After our disastrous freshmen year we quit school and moved in together.” This gives us readers an age range without being obvious about it.

    You build a bit of heat up towards the end, but it’s not enough to draw me in.

    I think that you need more time to develop. Write another story. Edit this one. Most of these problems are just traits of a writer who hasn’t quite broken out of their egg shell yet.

  8. SAO
    Sep 22, 2013 @ 23:36:33

    I thought it was too choppy. You have far too many one sentence paras. You give us a lot of information dropped in. Like Sam first refused to go the nightclub, then agreed. Without context, it tells us nothing.

    If you start in the nightclub, with Allison saying something like, “aren’t you glad I talked you into this” and Sam thinking something not really my scene, I was more into laid-back jazz/country/quiet night at home with a movie, and saying something else ,etc. You’d introduce that information more smoothly, if you need to introduce it at all.

    Equally, the ‘famous last words’ line is good, but without context, it seems like telling. Rather than telling us that they wound their way through the boisterous crowd, show it. Dodged waving arms, squeezed past something, settled in a table near the front, next to a bunch of jerks shouting, etc. That would immediately set the scene.

    I’m sure you’ve never been in a smoky nightclub because long before there’s a visible haze of smoke in a room, your eyes are stinging and you SMELL it. It assaults your nose when you walk in.

    You want to limit the extent to which you describe two people as both being the same, because that immediately sets them up as generic.

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