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First Page: Elemental Grace

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously.

Note:   This first page has graphic sexual elements.


The rain was always sensual to Grace Parson. It was the way it fell carelessly from the sky and caressed the earth, the way mist filled the air when cold rain collided with hot pavement.

Southern California didn’t get much rain, not like other places she lived, so this rain was unusual and welcoming. The gardens that surrounded the Parson estate were dotted with beautiful scent producing foliage which loved the moisture and showed their appreciation by filling the air with perfume. The garden also contained well manicured lawns, rose bushes and a rock garden. In the middle of the garden was the Neptune fountain and surrounding that were chiseled, well-built statues of Greek Gods.

Grace liked to walk the estate grounds when it rained. The white stone of the statues turned to pale grey. It was the smell of rain on stone that made her take her clothes off and rub her bare breasts on the rock hard cock of Apollo. She loved to watch the water settle in various crevices then lap it up with her tongue. It was especially pleasurable to lick between his toes also it was the perfect vantage point to admire the finely crafted sculpture. Up she looked past his calves and thighs, further past his penis and chiseled stomach. Then she gazed into his eyes and watched as his head bowed to lovingly look back. When the rain came at night, Apollo beckoned her to the garden.   His voice put her in a trance and he had his way with her.   His stone shell now flesh, he bent her over Neptune’s fountain and fucked her; rough, wet hands surrounded her waist as he thrust his rod in deep. The moans echoed past the rose bushes and cobbled stone paths. It snuck its way into the mansions windows and woke Grace from the dream.

The warmth from Apollo’s groin still lingered on her backside and her hair was damp.   Gasping for air she sat up in bed and turned to the window. The garden glowed and glistened under the moonlight. A cold breeze chilled the air from the partially open window. With a deep sigh she looked around the room for life, someone who would close it. One last look around and off came the blankets; it was a shame she couldn’t just call her maid or slap her husband and have him do it.

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. Tracey
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 04:41:10

    Okay. I’ve been on the Internet long enough to know that someone somewhere will find this kinky and arousing. That’s inevitable.

    For myself, though, I just find it weird. I can’t relate to a character who strips naked, rubs her boobs against a statue, licks it, and dreams (literally) of the statue fucking her. (I’m not sure what you’d call this. Eikonophilia, maybe? Abnormal affection for a created image, painting, statue and so on?)

    I know it’s an old kink; it dates back to Pygmalion and Galatea. But I just don’t get the appeal of having sex with someone who either is a statue (as here) or whose skin is as hard as stone (as in Twilight).

    This page isn’t badly written. It’s simply not a kink I’m interested in. And, because all we know about Grace at this point IS this kink, I wouldn’t be interested in continuing to read the story. If I knew more about her than her sexual kink, I might continue the story for a while. As it is…no. I know one thing about her, and it doesn’t appeal to me.

  2. joanne
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 06:55:08

    By the beginning of the third paragraph I was all done with the gardens. There was too much description and I would have stopped reading by then. That could all probably be added in bits and pieces later. Some nice writing hidden by too many details that don’t matter to me.

    For a first page this didn’t work for me, maybe later in the story.

    There have been some recent romances & paranormal romances that have statuary coming to life, some gargoyles coming to life, but that’s not what we have here, it’s her dream. When your heroine (?) wakes and she’s upset that there is no one there to close her window I really lost interest in your her.

    It will have appeal for some just not me.

    Thank you so much and good luck with your writing!

  3. NCKat
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 07:03:19

    Like Tracey, this is not a kink I’d be interested in. Also, why would Grace be compelled to have sex with cold hard inanimate objects? I know this is supposed to be the hook that would lead me to go on reading, but it doesn’t hook me. Grace is not very appealing, and the rain is a turn-off.

  4. Tiffany Clare
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 07:19:54

    Subject matter didn’t bother me. That being said, I wouldn’t read on. There is a disconnect with the story because it’s heavily narrative. If you want to tell a good erotic, something with feeling, you need to do it in deep POV.

    The descriptions of the gardens don’t add anything to the story either. You say the word garden(s) four times in the second paragraph. The story is more telling than showing (again, probably because of the disconnect with the the deep POV/emotion that could be evoked).

    It’s also confusing that she’s in a dream, even though you say it after the fact. Some of your sentence structures are weird as well. This for instance: Up she looked past his calves and thighs, further past his penis and chiseled stomach.

    You are missing a number of comma’s and there are other grammar problems I’m sure many will point out.

    I’d say this is from a relatively new writer. Good for you for submitting, and good luck with your story.

  5. S
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 08:05:47

    Everything else aside, if it had been a male character whose first thought on waking was “it was a shame he couldn't just call the maid or slap his wife and have her do it”, we would know without any doubt this could not be the hero. I know I wouldn’t read about a hero who was introduced to me like this.

    I find it just as jarring and disturbing in the heroine.

  6. Fae Sutherland
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 08:33:38

    I think this may be the most jarring first page I’ve ever read. I’m reading along, bored by gardens and rain and suddenly this woman is rubbing her breasts on a statue cock and licking its toes! o_O Color me thoroughly confused.

    I’m not even going to try to deconstruct it and offer the usual thoughts on the writing ability or lack thereof or anything. I’m just going to say flat out that oh no, no I would not continue reading. I found the whole thing uncomfortable. Sorry.

  7. Katie
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:03:40

    I am bored

  8. ME
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:10:36

    what Katie said….

  9. theo
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:17:24

    The rain was always sensual to Grace Parson.

    This opening sentence did nothing for me. It’s flat and I don’t care that it’s sensual because that makes little sense. All you’ve done is told me something. Rather:

    Grace Parson felt the mist coil around with a sensual caress. The cold rain colliding with the hot pavement created a mist so thick, it parted before her like heavy drapes as she strolled the garden paths.

    Yes, I know, just an off the top, but it begins to pull the reader into Grace’s POV. I’m not being ‘told’ it’s sensual, I’m feeling it through the character’s POV. Big difference.

    Other descriptions were superfluous. “well-built Greek gods” is one. I’ve yet to see a garden statue of a Greek god that isn’t well-built. That’s the allure of having them. There were other places where that type of description is unnecessary, but I can’t read through the whole ‘raw sex with a marble statue’ thing again. I was thinking that this showed promise and then slapped in the face because Grace is licking a statue’s toes. Some will love this as others have pointed out, but for me? EWW. Sorry.

    I have to agree with Fae, very ‘confussed’ as my daughter has always spelled it.

    If you’re going for the shock value, you’ve done well. If you’re trying to construct something well written that will pull the reader into the story, at least for me, you haven’t.

    Don’t mean to sound harsh, but this is in desperate need of a red pen and harsh edits.


  10. Sandy James
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:40:08

    You’ve got a nice voice. However, this scene doesn’t interest me at all. I’m having a hard time figuring out if this is erotica or romance because you use a hybrid of both “languages.” You use a romance euphemism (rod), but you also use a more blunt verb (f***ed). A bit confusing. There just isn’t anything in the scene that entices me to read more. Grace had a sexy dream. Yawn. Verdict — in a store, I’d read the first two paragraphs, put the book back on the shelf, and fish for another. Sorry.

  11. Lynne Connolly
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:40:15

    Tiffany got it, I think. It’s not deep enough. We don’t know why Grace wants to have sex with a statue, and frankly, you don’t make me care enough to read on and find out.
    You start the story with a sentence containing “was.” I’m not a “was” fanatic, but it heralded the rest of the writing – passive, descriptive, too separated from the character.
    All I could think of was that having sex with a statue would hurt. That and the fact that well-endowed male nude statues are rarities. Even Donatello’s “David” which is frankly erotic doesn’t really emphasise the genital area, except to add the shockingly realistic detail of pubic hair.
    Whenever I read a description of a hero “like a Greek god” these days, I deliberately imagine Hephaestus. That’s what you get for being generic. Apollo was beautiful and deeply selfish, so if you want a generic Apollo, it’s less interesting. And I wondered what he did with his lyre. Can’t tell from this passage if you plan to go that way, but if you’ve ever seen a weathered garden statue, even the marble ones go craggy and grainy. Ouch.
    What I’m trying to show you is that you need to be more specific. If you want to describe the gardens, put Grace in them and use them to show something about her. If you want to describe her getting it from a statue, try to go into detail. Statues can’t hurt her emotions, she’s into painful sex, she just wants sex with no complications or she’s really kinky about statues. Or maybe she just likes the taste of guano.
    And at the back of my mind is lurking memories of those people who paint themselves the color of old statues, dress in canvas and go and stand on street corners.

  12. Jill Myles
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:40:56

    All I can think of is bird poop on statues.

    I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…I know it’s not what you intended, but that’s all that’s going through my head as I read about her licking on the statue.

    I didn’t think the writing was bad, though?

  13. Sandy James
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:48:09

    @Jill Myles

    All I can think of is bird poop on statues.

    Oh my. Hadn’t even thought of that, but now it’s stuck in my head. lol

  14. Julia Sullivan
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:58:04

    So far away from Grace. If she is the heroine, you need to be in her head, experiencing what she’s experiencing.

    I’d start with her rubbing herself on the statue and go from there. Screw the vague description of the gardens and what-not.

    So instead of “She liked to lick his toes” tell us what the toes taste like, how she felt driven to do this crazy thing, how hot the rain is on her naked skin, etc.

  15. foolserrant
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 10:38:10

    I think this would work better later in the story. Everyone else has hit on the actual structural issues of the writing pretty well, and I agree, but there’s a couple of other reasons I wouldn’t read this. First, I have no idea why she’s hot for the statue. It is kind of creepy to have action like this with no explanation as to why she is that way or anything. I believe others have touched on that as well. Also, she’s already married — I’m not interested in reading about women who don’t like their husbands, especially since I’m guessing the statue thing is the love interest and is also not her husband. (Sorry that’s garbled haven’t had my coffee yet) But that may just be me.

  16. Stephanie
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 11:51:47

    So, what genre is this? Is it real-life or is it just fantasy? (Sorry, “Bohemian Rhapsody” echo, there). Or is it meant to be erotica? I don’t mind quiet, atmospheric openings. but this page doesn’t engage me. I feel distanced from the main character and the introduction of erotic content is jarring, not to mention I can’t quite wrap my mind around the human/statue kink. I keep thinking about stone dildos and wincing. Finding out this is an erotic dream doesn’t help, either. Opening with a dream has become a hackneyed storytelling device; it needs exceptional writing to carry it off.

  17. Likari
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 12:43:09

    Some have remarked the writing is good, but I think maybe not because of this:

    When the rain came at night, Apollo beckoned her to the garden. His voice put her in a trance and he had his way with her. His stone shell now flesh . . .

    You spent a lot of time before this sentence talking about what Grace likes — she likes the rain, the stone, whatever. Then you slip in this piece of information, buried in all that stuff about Grace’s mind/intentions. If she’s in a trance, being used by Apollo, then I’m confused. Is this is about what she likes or wants or what Apollo wants?

    I wonder if you’ve actually told the story that was in your head? If you started the page with something like:

    When the rain came, Apollo beckoned Grace to the garden. His stone shell now flesh, his voice commanded her will . . .

    But if she came back to her room after being with a god and whined about open windows and slapping husbands, I still wouldn’t care about her.

  18. A
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 14:39:57

    I agree with other comments regarding excessive passive voice and description.

    Passive voice distances the reader from the story. In my opinion, the first page being a dream scene magnifies the distancing effect. Dreams are complicated writing and they don’t always “pay off,” well-written or no, since not every reader will “get” the significance behind the dream. Confused readers = disinterested readers. You don’t want confused readers on page 1.

    It might be a good idea to eliminate the dream sequence entirely OR mention it in passing (i.e., begin your story where Grace is talking to someone, ie, her maid, her husband, or a close girlfriend, and telling them, “I had this strange dream about the garden. *insert brief description of the dream.*”

    If the more “up close and personal” view of the dream is vital to your story, I reccomend: 1) condensing the scene as much as possible, 2) modifying tone/language and utilizing greater emotion and sensation to draw your readers into the dream, and 3) clue the reader in early that Grace is dreaming.

    Regarding the erotic element to your first page, I noted multiple other posters were put off by Grace’s “wooing” of Apollo the Statue. It did not disturb me, because I picked up on the idea that this was a dream/fantasy sequence, and I figured there was “more to it.” Your title (“Elemental Grace”) is a good clue to that effect. That said, I did not find this scene sensual due to the “distancing effect” of the language and structure.

    There’s a lot to like in this scene. I loved some of the imagery in your prose, and I believe tightening up your writing could produce a wonderful story.

    Some recommendations and food for thought:

    1. Go through your page and eliminate as much passive voice and adverb excess as possible. A good “writing rule” is to eliminate all language not vital to the scene. When you “trim away the fat” you have your “meatiest” writing PLUS you have extra word count allowance to “beef up the meat.”

    2. Show, don’t tell. Easier said than done, but it always works.

    3. Eliminate repetition, UNLESS the emphasis created by repetition is vital to your story. Irrelevant repetition distracts the reader.

    4. Instill emotion in this scene. How does Grace feel? What is her perception of her own actions? Is she fearful, disgusted, resistant to Apollo’s “summons”, aroused by it, eager for it? Demonstrate emotional behavior from Apollo the Statue. It doesn’t matter what the emotion is — indifference, lust, tenderness — just show it to us. So far, all we’ve got is Apollo the Statue’s “loving look” while Grace’s licking his wet stone feet.

    We (readers) need to “know Grace better,” otherwise our first impression of Grace is that she’s got some rather peculiar erotic fantasies OR a rather peculiar statue of Apollo. As it stands, she might be mentally ill or experiencing mirage/hallucination.

    Try introducing some monologue, perhaps even empathic or telepathic communication between Grace and Apollo that conveys positive aspects of Grace’s personality and/or the Grace/Apollo relationship.

    5. I get the feeling you’re unsure where you want the “heat level” of this scene to be. My advice: this is Grace’s dream. Ladies — even very refined, sheltered ladies — don’t dream of “rods.” If you’re shy of the explicit, eliminate the references and the sentence will still make sense:

    His stone shell now flesh, he bent her over Neptune's fountain and fucked her; rough, wet hands surrounded her waist as he thrust his rod in deep.

    Less explicit
    Hot flesh freed of marble camouflage, he bent her over Neptune's fountain. Rough, wet hands surrounded her waist as he thrust deep.

    More explicit
    Hot flesh freed of marble camouflage, he bent her over Neptune's fountain and fucked her. Rough, wet hands anchored her waist as he thrust, his cock sinking deep.

    You need to select a “style” and remain consistent with it.

    6. (From the middle of your third paragraph):

    When the rain came at night, Apollo beckoned her to the garden.

    This sentence qualifies as the “main idea” of the scene. I suggest using this sentence as your opener, perhaps modify it to convey Grace’s dream state or trance state as in the following:

    She dreamed of nighttime rainfall, Apollo beckoning her to the garden.


    The moans echoed past the rose bushes and cobbled stone paths.

    What moans? Who’s moaning? His moans? Her moans? Their moans? Someone else’s moans? I love the imagery, but again, wording like “the moans” distances and bores the reader.

    Caution: many romance readers are put off by adulterous references. The reference to Grace’s husband is ambiguous; I’m uncertain whether he’s real and alive (which adds to the “adulterous ick factor” if Grace loves Apollo OR amplifies the horror element if she’s actually being haunted or thralled by Apollo) or passed away (which eliminates the ick factor.)

    I do see wonderful potential in your writing and storytelling craft. Thank you so much for sharing your first page with us and I hope you keep working on this.

  19. hapax
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 15:55:15

    I don’t have much to add to what others have said, but I felt like *somebody* should admit that the statuesque sex didn’t disturb me — in fact, it could be written as pretty erotic, especially if the text maintained the sort of languid dreamlike fantasy atmosphere of the first two paragraphs.

    It’s the abrupt change in tone in the third paragraph, combined with the whining and slapping in the last, that would compell me to put this one down.

  20. Jeannine
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 18:38:46

    I’d agree with the general consensus here, re: need for a deeper POV, much less telling, and that the whole sex-with-a-statue idea is not quite what I’d be interested in — though that could be written in a way that makes it less jarring.

    Jumping from a seemingly quiet walk in a rainy garden to suddenly rubbing naked breasts on a statue and licking its toes has potential to put off even the most open-minded of readers, especially at the very beginning of a story…

    There is a lack of transitional phrases to connect the scenes in a comprehensive way:

    …rough, wet hands surrounded her waist as he thrust his rod in deep. The moans echoed past the rose bushes and cobbled stone paths. It snuck its way into the mansions windows and woke Grace from the dream.

    The moans” — what moans? Grace’s? Apollo’s? Both of them? Not clear.

    They echo past rose bushes, and then “it” snuck into mansion windows — what is “it”??
    Does “It” refer to the moans?

    As it stands, I am left wondering how Grace can be woken from a dream by her own moans coming in through windows…?

    You mention Apollo’s voice putting her in a trance — what did he say?
    How did it lull her into a trance?

    You tell the reader that his voice put her in a trance, that he had his way with her, that he turned to flesh…
    Show all that – write about what he said and how he said it (was his voice rough, soft, deep, scratchy?), that it gave her goosebumps, how she felt the cold marble turn to hard, warm flesh and trembled, that she heard a sharp intake of breath behind her, the feeling of that first touch, etc…get into Grace’s POV and what she sees/hears/feels/smells, rather than describing it from a distance.
    Truly put her into the scene, rather than moving her around within it, if you know what I mean.

    My suggestion would be to strive for clarity and closing the distance between the reader and your character by exploring Grace’s feelings about what’s happening, rather than how she feels about weather and windows. ;)
    And maybe decide whether or not your target audience would be open to the idea of statue sex within the first few paragraphs…

    The writing has potential, for sure; perhaps just needs a little tweaking here and there.
    Best of luck with it. :)

  21. BlueRose
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 03:02:35

    Im not an expert on the plants and flowers of the California area, but in my experience, when it rains, it tends to decrease the perfume in the air, not increase it. The pollen and other bits that make up the smell get washed away with the rain.

    Humidity is a different issue altogether, it can increase the smell, but rain and humidity are not necessarily the same thing.

    I spent so much time thinking about how much this particular point annoyed me I didnt even notice the rest of the page.

  22. SAO
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 03:10:31

    Aside from the ickiness factor of cold stone on skin (which you could have been erotic if we were in Grace’s skin, feeling it. It didn’t help me at all that I am sitting in the far North in November and it’s drizzling. You didn’t make me feel summer rain in California).

    She rubs her breasts on the statue’s *ahem* manly parts, but he’s at the perfect height to lick his toes. She gazes up his thighs, implying that she’d have had to clamber up the statue’s plinth to rub against his crotch. So, I didn’t get the geography/logistics of the scene.

    I also didn’t get the transition from wacky naked woman frotting a statue to erotic dream. So, all in all, this felt jumpy to me. First I have an omniscient view of gardens, then Grace is naked and breast to thigh with the statue, then lips to toes, then the statue is alive and at her back, then she’s in bed. It was so steamy that the rain sizzles on the pavement, now it’s so cold she doesn’t want to get out of her warm bed to close the window. I didn’t feel any of this scene. The details were confusing.

    More importantly, I didn’t get a sense of Grace’s internal feelings. A restlessness, a lack of satisfaction with her marriage something to make me sympathize with her actions. The first hint of who she is was the ‘slap her husband’ line.

    So, I don’t know what her conflict is or what the book is about. I’m not at all sure I want to know her. I’d probably read another page or two before making up my mind, but not if I had to pay to do it.

  23. Linda Rader
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 05:12:34

    Lost me after the second paragraph. Just not my cup of tea and that’s just the garden description.

  24. Stevie
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 05:53:28

    My supply of new author tolerance ran out at:

    beautiful scent producing foliage

    If you can’t be bothered to look up some examples of beautiful scent producing foliage, I can’t be bothered to read your book…

  25. Mala
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 11:34:40

    I was turned off even before I got to Grace canoodling with the statue. The word “rain” is used four times in the first three sentences. We get it, it’s raining. If the weather isn’t vital to the plot, then we don’t need four mentions of it right off the bat. At least come up with some synonyms!

    Of course, then I got to the statue licking and Grace wanting a maid to close her window for her and I donned my virtual galoshes and ran screaming for the hills.

    My Greek mythology is a little fuzzy these days, but I don’t think husband-slapping rich women were Apollo’s type…

  26. A
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 13:24:47


    I also didn't get the transition from wacky naked woman frotting a statue to erotic dream. So, all in all, this felt jumpy to me. First I have an omniscient view of gardens, then Grace is naked and breast to thigh with the statue, then lips to toes, then the statue is alive and at her back, then she's in bed. It was so steamy that the rain sizzles on the pavement, now it's so cold she doesn't want to get out of her warm bed to close the window. I didn't feel any of this scene. The details were confusing.

    SAQ, I think this type of confusion and misdirection are frequent in dream scenes. It makes sense, IMHO, because dreams usually ARE confusing and misdirecting. That’s why dream scenes don’t always translate so well in fiction, with the exception of more “rational dream” scenes (ie, like an Indian “vision quest” or something.)

    Another issue sparking dislike for this first page may be lack of clarity in the genre. I and a few other posters “went with the flow” of the page; I’m assuming those posters, like myself, perceived “Elemental Grace” having paranormal elements in it. I read the scene assuming Grace was a paranormal creature or a human of paranormal heritage (maybe a nymph, for example.)

    This story also echoes classic (Bram Stoker’s novel) “Dracula” to me, a la Lucy Westenra’s “sleepwalking seduction” by Dracula. Lucy, a respectable, wealthy, engaged woman, responds to the vampire’s “summons” in her sleep, joining him and permitting him to feed (definitely a metaphor for sex in the Victorian era.)

    I think I made a lot of assumption that something to that effect was going on in “Elemental Grace” and my assumptions made the more unorthodox aspects of the read palatable.

  27. Valerie
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 14:29:39

    I agree with most of the comments already made here, and would add that, as a native Southern Californian, I HATE being told how rarely it rains in SoCal, particularly during a rare rainstorm, in fiction. Such a cliche, and a sloppy way to ground the story geographically. Further, in my experience, during a rain, the most predominant smell is wet asphalt, not fragrance from soggy flowers. It didn’t help that it seemed the only reason to waste a whole parargraph establishing that it was raining was so you could justify there being water in Apollo’s toes for Grace to lap up.

    As I read this, I couldn’t help thinking that you were describing the Huntington Gardens, which then made me imagine a museum security guard approaching Grace as she buggers a statue to remind her not to touch the artwork.

    I didn’t actually have a problem with the idea of the assignation with Apollo, but the scene as written squicked me out. The imagery is not sensual, and I don’t get any real sense of motivation or emotional response, as a result of which the scene reads a bit like amateur erotica.

    Finally, I have no interest in a heroine who wants to slap her husband to make him close a window for her.

  28. Venus Vaughn
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 19:31:18

    I’d ditch the first two paragraphs. We can infer it’s raining from the first line of the third paragraph, we can also infer it has an amorous effect on Grace by the fact that she’s humping statues in it.

    If the fact that she’s in CA is important, it can be added later after you’ve set up the action and where the story is going.

  29. Anion
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 20:12:23

    Basically dittoing everyone else here. (Good call on the Dracula reference, A! I thought of that too.)

    The physical issues SAO described confused me also, as did some of the references/descriptions. White stone doesn’t turn gray in the rain, for instance; it’s still white. Light gray stone will turn dark gray, but white is white, wet or dry. “Beautiful scent producing foliage” doesn’t evoke any particular fragrance and sounds like a bit of a cop-out; in addition, is it “beautiful scent-producing” or “beautiful-scent-producing”? It’s clunky, and tell-y. Had you said something like, “The antique rosebushes dotting the garden with fat pink blooms absorbed the rain, and in exchange released their sweet, musky fragrance into the mist,” I might have felt differently (although I agree that rain smells like rain, and most flowers smell less during the rain and more immediately after it stops, at least in my experience. Lilacs, I think, release more fragrance when wet though). I was also confused by how Apollo’s groin could have left Grace’s backside warm, when they were outside in the rain on a cold-breeze-filled night; I’d picture flesh that had moments before been stone being rather chilly on such an occasion, and you never said differently.

    I don’t have an issue with erotic fantasies involving statues, either, although like many others I was thinking of how painful such a thing might be (and you should have addressed that right away, I think, so as not to distract the reader). The problem is this is all TELL. You tell us Grave loves the rain. You tell us while wandering in the garden she suddenly, apropos of nothing, strips naked and starts rubbing her body all over the statue. You tell us Grace likes this, but we have no sense of what she’s actually feeling. When Apollo fucks her we don’t know how that feels either, or what she’s thinking.

    It all reads as if she’s just sort of going through the motions. She could be folding laundry for all the passion she shows here. You mention briefly that his stone “shell” (are most statues hollow?) has become flesh, but we don’t know how that feels different, because we don’t know how he felt before or after. Is flesh better than stone?

    Why does Grace take off her clothes and hump the statue? Is she in a trance? Is she lonely? Did she wander out into the rain because the rain turns her on, and then she suddenly came upon Apollo, and noticed him like she’d never noticed him before, how hard and lean and long his body was? And she was so aroused, looking at him, that she started touching herself, first over her wet clothes, then under, and became consumed with the need to touch Apollo? Did she glance around the garden to make sure no one was watching first? Did she, after her first tentative touches, become more aroused, and found the stone wasn’t hard and rough but smooth and cool and delightful, and the rest of the world disappeared while she gave in to her passion and ground herself against him? Did she have an orgasm while doing so?

    This opening page could and should be several pages all on its own. All of the above questions should be answered. This has the potential to be a very erotic scene, because we’re dealing with Grace’s fantasies, and fantasies should be erotic.

    It’s also confusing that first she’s masturbating with the statue in the daytime, and then “when the rain came at night, Apollo beckoned her into the garden. His voice put her in a trance and he had his way with her.”

    1. Is the fantasy scene at night, when Apollo has brought her into the garden? Or do you mean he regularly calls her to the garden at night? Or is it later that night? As written it’s ambiguous and thus confusing.

    2. How did he beckon her into the garden? Was she at the window watching him, and thus saw him beckoning? “Beckoning” is a nonverbal gesture.

    3. When did he speak, before or after she arrived in the garden? How did his voice put her in a trance, was it a spell or simply the sound of his voice? What did he say?

    4. Again, is this the first time, or does he always do this? Isn’t she curious or frightened, or, if this is a recurring experience, isn’t she excited and aroused the second it starts raining at night?

    Now all of the sudden, after euphemisms like “had his way with her” and the careful omission of any and all real physical sensation, he’s suddenly fucking her from behind. I agree also with those who mentioned “the moans” and “It echoed…” Whose moans, and what is “it?”

    Then it’s a dream, I guess. Which feels like a cheat.

    In addition, there are quite a few punctuation errors, and little variance in the sentences; lots of flat declarative statements that don’t flow.

    It sounds like I have a lot of issues, and I do. But I actually rather like this idea and where the story could potentially go; the concept of a spoiled rich bitch developing this rich sexual fantasy life and the potential events which could lead from that intrigues me a bit. As with every time I comment here, I urge the author to keep working on it. Don’t be in such a rush to get the scene finished that you end up just describing it rather than letting us experience it.

    Good luck!

  30. Masha
    Dec 07, 2009 @ 17:56:27

    No one else has mentioned this, but Southern California is mostly desert or almost-desert. We usually don’t get summer rainstorms. We can go years without any summer rainstorms. Most rain comes in along with a cold front, so as soon as “mist filled the air when cold rain collided with hot pavement,” I would have stopped reading. It’s like describing gladioli blooming in the garden in early March in Massachusetts. It’s possible, but unlikely.

  31. Heather
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 08:16:16

    I think the story plot has potential. An awakening statue? Yeah I’d def. say that could become something of sensual fantasy but as the others said, I believe there is too much description of rain and gardens. Personally I lost focus after the first paragraph. Try suming up the look, the feel, the smell the garden as you go on through the story or polish it up for the first paragraph. Too much description can suffocate your dialoge or the plot.

    Also, for me ‘lapping up water from his toes’ was not a description I enjoyed picturing BUT that said, there are some who might really find that attractive.

    As for sentence structure I would consider revising the lines so that they flow better. For example:’The rain was always sensual to Grace Parson. It was the way it fell carelessly from the sky and caressed the earth, the way mist filled the air when cold rain collided with hot pavement.’ This could be “The rain was always sensual to Grace Parson. From the way it carelessly fell from the sky and caressed the earth, to the way mist filled the air when cold rain collided with hot pavement. Just a thought.

    If this is truely a romance, sex scenes are really the spice of the story. They should be longer, more heated, more descriptive. THIS is where all the description should be. You’d want to tell how Apollo’s skin felt against hers. Was he hot?cold?stone or flesh? was he as soft as the petals of her roses or was he still as hard as stone? What does he smell like? When you said he beckoned her and his voice put her in a trance, what did his voice sound like? whispers of wind? a sympony of nature? And IMO I’d take out ‘had his way with her’ the language in romance should be seductive. Every word should be chosen to paint the reader an erotic but tasteful image. Consider Grace’s background and heritage. If she’s truely some dainty aristocrat then would she really be thinking that he ‘fucked her?” or would she really call his man parts a cock?

    And finally, I know from experience that writing dream scenes are difficult so IMO I think it’s best to establish that she’s dreaming sooner rather than later. Perhaps have the heroine wondering if she is in fact dreaming. In this case I’d have Grace excited to see her dream lover once again (if that is truely the direction of the story) If not I’d rethink opening with this scene. That way the reader isn’t lost or confused by what’s going on.

    All in all I really think the plot has some good potential. This is only the first page so I can’t really say what you’re true idea for this book is but if it’s ravashing male statue come to life, I like it : )

    Good luck

  32. Lilac
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 00:24:38

    It takes a lot of courage to put your first page out there for criticism, and I say good for you! I’m so glad that Heather weighed in, in a constructive way, to suggest that the plot has potential. I completely agree.

    There are definitely romances I have been unwilling or unable to wade through, but I usually give it more than one page to see where the story is going. It’s true that there’s no real character development in the excerpt above, but let’s not expect TOO much from page one!

    The only thing I have a real problem with is the last line of the excerpt — Grace’s desire to do violence to her husband is truly unappealing. It’s also difficult for me to drum up a lot of interest in a woman who would call in a maid to close her window because she can’t be bothered to get out of bed herself.

    Other than that, I think with a little reno-ing, this could be a pretty interesting beginning. Some of the feedback above doesn’t come off as very supportive, but keep in mind that people who liked the excerpt — and may not have had any suggestions for improvement — were probably less likely to comment. Don’t give up!

  33. Erik
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 17:26:11

    I am the writer of the story. Thank you for all of the responses. I have not written much since high school (15 years ago) and decided to try it again. This story is very short, about novella size, and has not had much revision done. This is also the first “erotic/romance” story I have written. I am also male, not that it matters, but it may explain word choice. If any of you do want to know what the story was about here is a synopsis. Grace is a reincarnation of a greek goddess. Her husband recently died. The elemental gods are in love with her, wind, water, fire and air. The death of her husband sparked the fight with the gods and they are trying to win Grace’s affection. She doesn’t know she is a goddess until later.

    Again, thanks for the comments.

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