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First Page: Unnamed Paranormal

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***

Sweat dripped down my forehead. My hair hung damp in my face, a limp version of its former self. We’d been at this for hours. Hours. And all I’d managed to move was a pencil. Two inches.

“Again, Cameron,” barked my tutor, Deacon. “You’re not focusing. Move it to the end of the desk and we’ll call it a day.” Most people go out of their way to make him happy. I’m not most people. I picked the pencil up and threw it across the room.

“There. It’s moved.” I blew my bangs back from my face, crossing my arms over my chest and leaning my hip on the desk. Translation: I’m done for the day.

“Perhaps it’s time to rest. Come. Meditate.” He bared his feet, carefully tucking his socks into his black Nikes and indicated I should mirror him. Once prepared, we sat across from each other, legs crossed, backs straight.

I suppose this could be where my problem lies. The point of meditating is to have all your focus on, well, meditating. My focus lacks focus. Random thoughts flutter around my head and try as I might, I still find myself thinking about my parents, or how much I want the new Lucky jeans, or why some people just can’t stop with the plastic surgery. I mean, seriously, when your face starts rivaling Barbie’s in texture, it’s not a good thing.

Oh, crap. See? I was supposed to be centering my focus on relaxing my muscles. Instead, I went a little crazy with the inner monologue. Okay, Cami. Focus. Relax your toes. Breathe. Relax. I hope mom remembered to feed Pippa.

Well, yeah, that’s about how it went. For ages. Until he decided we had focused all we could. Only then could we stand back up. Goodness. Life was so much easier before the Touch took hold in me. I missed my quiet life with my parents and my cat. I haven’t even seen them in months. Not since the training began and Deacon got saddled with getting my powers under control.

“That’s enough. Now, I want you to try the pencil again.” The object of my lesson floated from its resting place on the plush carpet to land back on the desk. Show off.

“Not all telekinetics have been honing their power for over twenty years. Did it ever occur to anyone that the one time I actually moved something was a fluke?” That was a great day. The day my life changed for ever. The day I stopped being mundane and became Touched. Well sort of. I’ve been Touched since I was six, but I was more of a dud, like a firework that never explodes. “Maybe it was the combination of environmental factors that initiated the original, successful telekinetic display.” That’s a nice way of putting it; I threw a man over his car. Without touching him. For whistling at me.

“Environmental factors?”

“Yes. The vampire blood was still in my system. And,” I struggled to come up with support for my flimsy premise. I finally settled on, “PMS.” There. I’d like to see a man argue with that.

“The vamp blood will always be in your system, Cameron. Your body can’t process it out. As for the other factor, give me a calendar; I’ll be sure to schedule us on a day where your usually pleasant, fun-loving demeanor is replaced by the unpleasantness that afflicts women. Oh, wait. That’s everyday for you. One more try and you won’t have to see me the rest of the day.”

Well, hell. That’s motivation in itself.

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

15 Comments

  1. Tasha
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 04:12:53

    This isn’t really my cup of tea. The voice is interesting, but the story is familiar (person with special abilities used them once accidentally but can’t do so on command), and for me it’s not enough of a hook.

    Also, and I realize this isn’t ready for publication, but this needs a beta reader. You’ve got spelling errors, capitalization errors, and at least one change in verb tense.

  2. RBrose
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 05:05:43

    Okay, seriously, what is going on at Dear Author?! I tried to enlarge other websites to the text size of this one, and it was over 200%!! The text is ENORMOUS. What are you guys doing?!

    When you fix the site I will be capable of reading this First Page!

  3. eggs
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 06:40:13

    Soooo much backstory! It’s page one and I already know: main character’s name is Cameron, she has a tutor, his name is Deacon, most people try to make him happy. Deacon likes meditation and wearing black nikes. I also know MC wears bangs, likes lucky jeans, doesn’t like plastic surgery, has both her parents but doesn’t live with them anymore, has a cat, has been ‘touched’ with telekinetic ability since she was 6, has vampire blood, and she thinks the idea that women menstruate is embarrassing.

    Why not just spend the first page having Cameron try to move the pencil across the table? If it’s as difficult as all that hair-drenching sweat indicates, then surely it’s enough to fill a page? And we’ve been told so much about Deacon, but I have no idea what feelings (if any) Cameron has towards him. This is in the first person, so it reads very strangely to have so much physical description of the MC (her hairdo, her sweat) but no insight into her emotions.

    Also no description of Cameron in relation to MC. Does he loom over her, or gaze up at her Yoda style? Is he older or younger? Does that effect the way he treats her and expects her to react to him? Is he even important enough to the rest of the story to have so much real estate on the first page?

    You are trying to do too much here.

  4. Anonymous
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 06:59:25

    I’m with eggs – there was a LOT of back story. And the struggle to move the pencil WOULD be a more dramatic place to start. So far, all we’ve really seen is a mouthy student quitting something, and then meditating. It’s not action-packed.

    For me, there was also too much voice, if that makes sense… I felt like I was kinda being beat over the head with what a hip young rebel the MC is. It made me dislike her, but I think that a lighter touch with the asides and irreverence would take care of that.

    For my taste, this was also heavy on the short, choppy sentences and the sentence fragments. They lost their effectiveness when they became your default style. For example, in your first paragraph, if you changed the last chunk to “We’d been at this for hours and all I’d managed to move was a pencil. Two inches.” it would flow better, I think.

    Also, I was assuming YA, but it’s labelled Paranormal… what’s the noun that goes after that adjective? Normally I’d expect Romance, but in this case, as I said, I don’t see a Romance voice as much as a YA one…

  5. Lil
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 08:55:49

    Dissenting opinion. I generally dislike paranormal stuff, but I quite liked this. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the backstory and I enjoyed the light tone. The absence of gore and anguish were a relief, and I liked the throwaway line about tossing the guy over a car for whistling.

    It rather reminded me of Krenz/Quick/Castle, and she’s the only author I read in the paranormal vein. I suppose that makes my taste paranormal lite? Anyway, I enjoyed this bit and would read on.

  6. Abbie Rhoades
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 10:35:07

    Hi Author of the Unnamed Paranormal:

    First off great job! Kudos to you for having the courage to put your work up here for others to see. Overall I enjoyed reading this.

    My suggestions come from my thoughts as I read through this. They’re just my opinions so don’t change anything unless it feels right to you.

    “…barked my tutor, Duncan.” — You don’t need ‘my tutor’.–it’s telling, when you are already showing the reader he’s her tutor.

    “Most people go out of their way to make him happy. I’m not most people. I picked the pencil up and threw it across the room.” — It seems to me you ‘tell’ then ‘show’ what you’ve told. It would be more effective to just ‘show’. “Most people go out of their way to make him happy. I picked the pencil up and threw it across the room.”

    “I blew my bangs back from my face, crossing my arms over my chest and leaning my hip on the desk. Translation: I’m done for the day.”–Again you show then tell. Get rid of the last sentence. Her actions speak loud enough.

    You do the same with meditating–tell the reader she has trouble then show the reader she has trouble. Stick to just the showing. It’s more immediate.

    Readers are smart people–they read. Have a little faith that they’ll understand your character’s actions without you having to translate everything she does.

    I agree with one of the other commenters that this feels like a YA. If it’s not YA, you’ve got a lot of work to do to give this more of an adult feel.

    And now I’m going to back pedal. I personally don’t like to read snarky teenagers–they just get on my nerves and it always feels like they’re talking to the reader which then makes it hard for me to get lost in the story. So I fully understand that some of what you’ve written may be in an effort to be snarky. If so just disregard my comments. You have to honor your voice and your way of telling the story.

    What you have presented isn’t a new premise–this has been done over and over and over. What makes your main character different from all the other characters in other books? What makes her ability unique from the other abilities that have already been done? What makes your story different from the thousands of other ones out there? There has to be something that makes your story unique or you wouldn’t have created it. Play those things up–show the reader so they won’t feel like they’ve ‘been there done that’.

    I agree with eggs that there is absolutely no description of Duncan–you don’t need a lot, just something for the reader to sketch an image of him in their minds.

    Good Luck and Keep Writing!

  7. Spaz
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 13:33:44

    I was really interested to read a paranormal about a telekinetic. I thought, “Finally, a break from all those vampires and werewolves!” Then, the part about the vampire blood cropped up. But that’s okay, you’ve got me. I would read further. I do, however, have a few observations:

    1) Just because your narrator-protagonist has attention deficit issues doesn’t mean that you, the writer, should, too. I actually have ADD, and this selection struck me as scattered.

    2) PMS jokes are never as funny as you think they are.

    3) Filler words like “Well” and “Yeah” may seem to add a casual tone to the text, but they pile up fast, and can really annoy readers in a full-length novel.

    Best wishes!

  8. eggs
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 13:38:43

    I just realized that I referred to your male character as Cameron and Abbie called him Duncan. I think his name (Deacon) might be too close in sound to your MC’s (Cameron and Deacon and Duncan).

  9. Abbie Rhoades
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 16:01:45

    @eggs: Too funny! You’re right. Oops. My mistake. I meant Deacon.

    But you do have a point about the similarity. Deacon and Cameron share a C, E, A, O, N. And both names end in ‘on’. At first glance they don’t seem all that similar, but two of us mixed them up. It’s worth thinking about.

  10. JB Hunt
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 18:05:59

    There’s a lot to like here, but I wonder if it would work better in third person?

  11. Terri
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 22:49:21

    I liked this a lot. I like the voice and I like the premise. I think maybe you could slow your roll just a bit, IMO. I know the first page has to jump up and grab you by the throat and throttle you within an inch of your life to make an impact, but I think your voice makes an impact. I’d just like a bit more description, a little bit more of a set up of Cami trying to move that damn pencil and what it takes out of her, not just the sweat, but maybe the self-doubts, leaves her brain feeling like mush, etc. But I think you’re off to a great start. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. cbackson
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 00:31:16

    I’m inclined to sympathy with your narrator, because the Dalai Lama himself couldn’t teach me to meditate (I mean that literally – I went to a class that he taught, and was unable to meditate for even five minutes. Really. Not even five minutes. I crept out in shame while everyone else was sitting in half-lotus). That said, I agree with others that you’re trying to cover too much ground here.

    The blocking is also a bit unclear to me – physically, I can’t tell if the narrator is sitting or standing, where she is in relation to her teacher, etc. The whole thing feels a bit unmoored to me. I think that’s a facet of the fact that you’re telling too much, and not showing enough, as others have said.

  13. theo
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 19:18:37

    Sweat dripped down her forehead, her hair hung limp around her face and yet, she blows the bangs back from her face?

    When your face is covered in sweat, your hair soaked and clammy with it, you’re not going to be blowing it out of your face.

    I need to be able to trust the narrator. Between the misspellings, the punctuation errors and the inconsistencies…I might still have read on giving this the benefit of the doubt that as Tasha stated, it hasn’t been beta read or critiqued yet, but when you threw the vampire blood in, it took the uniqueness away. I’ve read enough vampires.

    Kudos for putting it out there though and best of luck.

  14. Loreen
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 11:45:25

    Where are we? Is this a temple? A school? I need a bit more background. How does this world differ from our own?
    I also agree that I want to know more about Duncan. Why does everyone go out of their way to please him? If he is so awe-inspiring, why does he tolerate this annoying little twit who can’t sit through a lesson without throwing things and tries to shock him with her period-talk?
    I say tone down the sass a little and give the reader a chance to like your heroine. She would be much more appealing if she weren’t so ticked off about everything.

  15. M.
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 12:48:38

    For me personally I dislike reading books written in first person and this particular story is no exception. I found the first page to be load with unnecessary information.

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