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First Page: Unnamed Paranormal

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She waited for him at the bottom of the steps. He would be out from court soon, after having some trouble with the key witness. He would be angry, so angry that once he heard what she had to say, he would bite her head off-’literally. But she couldn't back down now.

The agreeable weather made her think that she might have some luck, but the look on his face as he walked down the steps, towards his men, made her think otherwise.

"Excuse sir, I–" she started to say but he cut her off with the raise of his hand.

"I'm busy. If it's of importance, call my secretary for an appointment. Otherwise, leave me alone." The tone of his voice made her shake-’he could probably smell her fear and didn’t care–but she quickly controlled her emotions. She had to talk to him know! He was the only one who knew of her brother's whereabouts-’or could find out.

"But sir–" she was cut off again, this time by the slam of his car's door. Dammit! At least she knew where he lived. She would wait until nightfall to sneak into his home.

Later at around ten, she got on her bike and rode towards the suburbs where the werewolves lived.

When she got there she was gasping for breath. It's true what they say: the suburbs are hell. There were so many hills that she had to bike on her way there, and sure the view was fantastic, but the going uphill was not.

One block away from the Alpha's house, she got off her bike and hid it in the bushes nearby. Wiping the sweat of her brow and neck with her handkerchief, she pondered just how exactly she would sneak into the Alpha's house. Even from this distance she could see her men hiding in the shadows-’well seeing wasn't the correct word; it was more like she could feel their presence-’and it was obvious that their only weapons weren't just their teeth, but also guns and knives.

She silently stretched then crept toward the huge house at the end of the street. Three houses down, she climbed up a tree, and started jumping from tree to tree. She didn't dare risk staying aground and bumping into the guards and getting caught-’and possibly fed to the ghouls. Werewolves liked to keep the feet-’or paws-’on the ground; it was the werecats who like trees, but there weren't any within a ten-mile radius seeing as how they hated werewolves, so she was safe up high. Thank god she was young (and had taken plenty of pain meds earlier today), else she would have cracked up her back by now and been caught by the werewolves.

Holding on the tree's trunk, she caught her breath as quietly and softly as she could, before she continued onward to the fortress that was the Alpha's house.

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

17 Comments

  1. Joanne
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 06:57:49

    It has a weird sort of charm for me as a lover of all things paranormal but this work needs some serious editing.

    There are a lot of errors for a short first page– and that’s not a good thing. She had to talk to him now, not ‘know’. You have’her men’ for (I have to assume) his men. Also ‘the feet’ for their feet. And ‘was the werecats’ for is the werecats. I haven’t any idea what “cracked up her back” is suppose to mean.

    If you start the piece with “One block from the Alpha’s house” you’re still where you want to be without all the preceding wasted words that show your reader nothing. Just the title “Alpha” will tell your readers enough and they will know that he’s isolated and protected.

    My advice to authors, always: read what you’ve written as though you didn’t write it.

    Just my opinion and thank you for putting your work here. Much good luck with your writing.

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  2. may
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 07:15:05

    I read some interesting bits… but what exactly am I getting into here? A lot is happening but nothing i can sink my teeth into and I find myself more frustrated than wanting more.

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  3. sao
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 07:16:59

    For me, you don’t quite convey determination at the courthouse. She asks, he cuts her off, end of scene. I’d ditch it.

    I didn’t get the cracked her back thing. And is she a werecat?

    I feel like you are doing too much explaining here. Better to have her as a werecat in the trees (if that’s what she is) sniffing out the werewolves.

    You’ve made her seem weak to me. She gets cut off by the alpha out of court, she gets tired riding her bike (with no mention of distance) and she takes pain meds and nearly cracked her back. Is this what you want?

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  4. theo
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 07:41:15

    He would be out from court soon

    Maybe it’s me, but if she’s standing on the courthouse steps, it reads better as ‘out of’ rather than from.

    but the look on his face as he walked down the steps, towards his men,

    Toward, please. Not ‘towards.’ The latter sounds messy.

    “Excuse sir, I-”

    Excuse ‘me’, sir, I-

    Later at around ten, she got on her bike and rode towards the suburbs where the werewolves lived.

    When she got there she was gasping for breath. It's true what they say: the suburbs are hell.

    There were so many hills that she had to bike on her way there, and sure the view was fantastic, but the going uphill was not.

    You tell me in the first sentence that she gets on her bike and rides to the Alpha’s. Then in the third sentence, the way you have it worded; “there were so many hills that she had to bike on her way there,” made me stumble. Maybe rephrase that to “There were so many hills on her way, she’d grown weary by the time she arrived.”

    Since in that section, she’s concerned and worrying about breaking into a house, I don’t know that she’d take the time to think about the view. I’d be more inclined to think she’d be plotting her entry into the house.

    Those are just a few things that good editing would fix. And I agree, starting with her trying to sneak into the Alpha’s house would be better. The beginning was unneeded info that can be worked in as she’s speaking to the Alpha. Provided she gets in the house.

    Wouldn’t the Alpha, as a werewolf, smell her coming though?

    The second to last paragraph where she mentions the ghouls sounds like a TMI moment. I don’t need to know about them unless they play a significant part and right now, they don’t.

    Tighten this up, get rid of all the unnecessary verbiage, I agree about reading it as if someone else wrote it to get a better idea of how your reader will look at it, and I think your premise will work well. But not right now.

    Kudos for putting it out there. It takes guts, I know! Good luck.

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  5. Debra
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 09:03:33

    If you can fix some of the issues the others have talked about this sounds like it could be a very good book. I know I would buy it. I want to know what happens

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  6. Jennifer M
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 09:45:09

    I love shifter stories and usually give them a lot of latitude, so I would normally be interested in this. It needs tightening up, but the idea sounds interesting. Unfortunately, this has so many grammatical errors on the first page that I would never read on. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, and grammar isn’t your strong suit, then please do yourself a favor and find a good proofreader. You owe it to your readers to at least fix the obvious mistakes before putting your work out there for criticism or review.

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  7. LisaC
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 09:54:19

    Reading this I wondered if English isn’t the writer’s native language. The mistakes seem odd.

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  8. Marianne McA
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 10:03:12

    I don’t really read paranormal, so my comment may be way off the mark. But I felt “he would bite her head off-’literally” could have used clarification, as in -

    ‘he would bite her head off-’literally; but this was worth dying for’

    or

    ‘he would bite her head off-’literally; and while she might heal quickly, she loathed being used as an oversized chew toy.’

    Gives the reader more of an idea what’s at stake for the character.
    Is she risking death? – because if so, she seems to be fobbed off very easily.

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  9. El
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 11:52:50

    Agreed that this sounds like the writer’s first language isn’t English. Just want to say (as a former professional copy editor)–don’t let that get in the way of telling the story. Get a great story, THEN get someone to clean up the details.

    Note: This comment really belongs to an entry several weeks ago with a rather harsh comment about poor grammar. I don’t have the storytelling gift; wish I did. If you don’t have the grammar gift, find someone who does to go through the story before you submit. Lots of professional authors do this.

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  10. job
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 12:36:21

    I like to see a character take action. I’m also a fan of rational planning.
    We start out with our MC worried the Alpha won’t talk to her.

    “But sir-” she was cut off again, this time by the slam of his car's door.

    Ok. She expected to fail and she tried and failed.
    Could we show that she had a coherent plan for grabbing his attention? Jumping in his path and tearing her clothes off? Lying down in front of his car?
    Or let’s say, she knows that if the Alpha hears the name Maurice Kavenaugh, he’ll stop and listen.

    “Sir. It’s about Maurice Ka–”
    He didn’t hear. He was turned already to the smaller man at his side. Then the car door slammed and cut her off.

    Still no success, but this time she’s thwarted in a plan she’d invested in. She looks smarter and the ‘close call’ raises the stakes.

    You show her biking all the long way from town without making preparation or thinking up an entry strategy.

    Wiping the sweat of her brow and neck with her handkerchief, she pondered just how exactly she would sneak into the Alpha's house

    What say she’s done the thinking and she’s taken intelligent action.

    Even from this distance she could see men hiding in the shadows. She took out the bottle of Were-away she’d bought in the last bodega before she left the city. Fiendishly expensive, of course, because it was mixed by demons. But if she . . .

    The action can remain the same. She can fail. But can you let her put up a better fight?

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  11. Tabby
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 14:51:07

    I’m not getting why she’s breaking into his house in the first place. He brushes her off–a busy, powerfull guy being approached in public by a stranger. That makes sense, I’d ignore her too. But her next course of action is to break into his house? Bit of an extreme reaction considering she needs his help. So why doesn’t she go to his house and just knock on the door? Maybe write a note “this is life or death please talk to me” and stick it on his windshield? Almost anything else would make more sense to me than breaking into the guys house.

    And then why is she riding a bike to his house? Is she a kid? That’s different/interesting to me so if that’s the case let me know–that’ll keep me reading a bit more to see where you’re going with it. If she’s not a kid why is she on a bike? That just strikes me as odd and needs an explanation. So far I’m not really following along with your story and I’d probably stop reading at the next thing that seems off to me–especially in the first chapter of a book by a new to me author.

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  12. Polly
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 16:15:49

    I’m another one who’s curious about why she’s breaking into the alpha’s house. Why not knock on the door? Maybe breaking in if the knocking doesn’t work is an option, but it seems like a pretty poor choice for a first and best option.

    You’ve done a good job of showing urgency. I definitely get the main character feels urgency and concern. And there’s definitely action and movement, so good job on that.

    I’d like a name for her, and some hint about age, given that she’s riding a bike. The bike seems a little odd to me, unless we know that this is a city with lots of biking, or that the suburbs are really close (at least, since I live where there’s not a lot of biking and the suburbs are far and difficult to get to via bike, the biking seems unusual to me).

    Also, if she’s biking there at night, how would she notice the view? I’m also curious about what suburb has trees that are big enough and close enough that a person could jump from one to another. Most ‘burbs are clearcut before building, so the planted trees are pretty young and small, or they only have a few big trees.

    Is she a werecat? If so, it seems like she should think that there aren’t any other werecats around, not just that there aren’t werecats around. And if she’s not, how is she jumping through the trees, pain meds or not?

    One last nitpicky thing–I really don’t like the “he would bite her head off–literally.” She seems pretty positive about his reaction, and if he’s literally biting her head off, she won’t have a head. Which is leaving her pretty unfazed. Maybe she thinks he might bite her head off–literally. I get that you want to juxtapose the idiom with actual possible behavior for him, but I think you should present it instead as what might happen rather than what will happen. And, I also don’t understand what “cracked up her back” means.

    I’m definitely your target audience, and provided things got fixed, I’d certainly read on a bit. Good luck.

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  13. Joe G
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 21:17:27

    That first paragraph makes it sound like she knows him really well, but then he blows her off. How does she know his routines?

    I dunno, the details aren’t connecting in my head. It moves really fast and you’re withholding a lot of info. If you’re doing that, you should give us more of a sense that she knows something we don’t.

    I also feel like you’ve crammed a ton of action into one page. Pick a scene and start with it. Either you’re going to start with the werewolf lawyer and show us how powerful and Alpha he is, and then reveal that there is a young girl who just HAS to speak with him for mysterious reasons, or skip that all together and start with her sneaking into the house. Otherwise I get the impression that you don’t know how to pace a story or stay in a scene without jumping around like crazy.

    The breezy tone is fun though. I liked the “–literally.” joke.

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  14. theauthor
    Apr 10, 2010 @ 21:25:20

    It’s the author here! It seems that I submitted the wrong draft of my novel. My mistake! I differentiate the drafts with the number of periods on the title and it seems that I got them confused.

    Anyway, thank you all for taking the time to read my very rough and full-of-grammatical-errors draft. I appreciate all your criticism and advice.

    The information about her back, why she rides her bike, and why she’s sneaking into the Alpha’s house comes later; but since many have agreed that the courthouse scene is not needed, I might edit it out and/or clarify why she’s doing what she is.

    As I reader I hate info dumps that happen in the first three pages of the story, so I didn’t want to bombard any readers with facts too early. But I get your point. I’ll add in details; hopefully that’ll help.

    Oh, I AM a native English speaker, but what I accidentally sent was more like my notes and I think faster than I type. Sorry about that!

    Well thanks all of you for your help and I will definitely make some changes to the first chapter! =)

    (And if there are any typos in this comment, it’s late here and my thoughts are all jumbled up.)

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  15. katieM
    Apr 11, 2010 @ 13:22:08

    If you sent the wrong version because you didn’t count the periods the end of the title, then you need a new system. Maybe numbering your versions or dating the versions would help. If you type seven versions of something, you are using a lot of periods at the end of your title. Numbering or dating is more accurate.

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  16. veinglory
    Apr 11, 2010 @ 20:36:45

    I think you need to find some way to make the basic situation of the protagonist obvious up front. Otherwise all we get is that some woman tries, but fails, to talk to a lawyer–for some unknown reason. Then she goes back to a house run by werewolves where she seems to be living, for some unknown reason.

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  17. illukar
    Apr 11, 2010 @ 21:25:01

    I liked the style and flow of this. It reads well, overcoming any minor glitches.

    I do feel you should name your pov and give some form of identity to who ‘he’ is at the outset (“Emmeline waited for the lawyer…”)

    ReplyReply

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