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First Page: Unnamed Paranormal Romance

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Slam. Slam. Slam. The sound of heavy doors closing had Madi glancing around the parking garage, trying to find the source. She didn’t see anyone on this level, but heard masculine voices. She heard one of the men say, “Glad you got that call from my dad about this club. I really did need to blow off some steam after last night’s fiasco with that damn strayer!”

    Madi stiffened. Strayer. She didn’t know if the voice belonged to a vampyre or fae, but quickly dismissed the word, and focused on the voice. He had the sexiest one she had ever heard and hoped his body matched. She definitely was going to have to file that away for those fantasies she liked to conjure up.

     Madi came back to reality and set her car alarm. She still didn’t see the group of guys and wondered if she had imagined it all. If she did, damn she needed to imagine more. She could still hear that deep voice, one that, if saying some naughty words, could probably send her spiraling toward a fast orgasm. She shook her head again, as she realized that once again she had fixated back on that voice. She was already running late from the earlier tickling session with her younger twin sisters.

    Reaching the elevator, she pressed the down button. Madi tapped her foot impatiently before deciding it would be faster to use the stairs. She jogged down the three flights and when she reached the ground level, she peered back at the transparent elevator shaft. Inside the elevator was a couple holding hands and a group of four tall gorgeous guys who appeared to be laughing and joking with each other. She turned to walk away and stopped.

    Four guys? Was her mystery sexy-voiced man one of those delicious men?

    She studied each face as the elevator moved from the third floor to the second. One of the guys, the one wearing a white shirt and dark jeans turned and caught her studying him and his friends. I hope he was the sexy voice I heard because damn he’s hot. She turned and quickly hurried to the employee entrance of the club.


    Gavin had just seen the most beautiful woman looking up at him. At least he thought he saw her. One second she was there and the next she was gone. She would definitely be a visual for him to remember for later.

    “Earth to Gavin, you still with us buddy?” Lucas said as he waved a hand in front of Gavin’s face.

    Gavin hadn’t realized the elevator had stopped and looked around at an empty elevator. He saw his friends looking at him as if he was crazy. Gavin began laughing aloud.

    Marco walked back into the elevator and slapped his friend on his left shoulder, “Man, you going to let us in on whatever you are laughing at?”

    Gavin stifled his laughter and replied, “I just saw the hottest woman…one second she was there, the next she was gone, Poof! I don’t even know if she was real or if it was my horny ass conjuring up the perfect female. I really must need some action to be dreaming up a gorgeous chick.”


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. LisaCharlotte
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 08:13:01

    First time I’ve commented on first page and it is about the FP avatar. Looks like corrections in blue ink. Reminded me when schools and other various “experts” decided corrections in red were bad for kids’ self-esteem.

    Only comment on the actual FP is I hate the mental lusting. It sounds so juvenile to my ear. Maybe it’s just me, but in all my 46 years I’ve never had such dialog in my head when seeing an extremely sexy man.

  2. LisaCharlotte
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 08:17:12

    Sorry for double post. All I get is an error message when I hit publish.

  3. SAO
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 08:38:38

    You give us one hint, with the word ‘Strayer’ that this book might have more substance than is on this page, but the rest is dull. Unbelievably hot guy glimpses gorgeous woman and vice versa. Lusting ensues. Nothing to make us think that there’s more to this book than bumping into each other at in the mall corridors and retiring to the nearest broom closet.

    If ‘strayer’ means anything to Madi, you have to show us when she hears the word, not have her lust after a voice.

    My experience is that overheard voices are just as likely to belong to 65 year old guys, guys with monumental beer bellies, etc, as anyone worth lusting after.

  4. Las
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 08:51:13

    The dialogue is awkward and I agree with LisaCharlotte and SAO about the mental lusting. It just doesn’t work for me unless the couple already know each other. And it’s weird for the heroine to go from worrying at the word “strayer” and then dropping it in favor of lusting over a voice.

    If this story is meant to be a short erotic piece all about the sex, then I might stick with it. But I’d put it down if it were a full-length novel.

  5. ang
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 08:53:42

    Unfortunately I have to agree with the above. Mental lusting is not satisfying on page one unless this book is all about the sex. I wanted something more to go on besides a voice.

    Also, where are they besides a parking garage? Is it day, night, mid-afternoon. What is she doing? And what does — She was already running late from the earlier tickling session with her younger sisters — mean exactly. I found this very odd to just throw out there. Maybe coffee with her sisters might be more appropriate. Tickling just doesn’t do it for me. Makes it sound like the Playboy mansion.

    I think on page one the protag needs a purpose. Perhaps if you explained why she’s late and what she’s late for first, then possibly you can lead us into the whole Gavin thing. I want to know why I need to care about her. So far I don’t.

    And with only those 3 words — strayer, vampyre and fay — this reads like any other romance novel out there. I need more on page one for this to be paranormal.

  6. Kristi
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 09:43:10

    Had to comment about the tickling session. You are throwing in all that sex thoughts and then tickling with twin sisters? Feels kind of like a kinky erotic to me…

  7. theo
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 09:44:10

    My head is spinning.

    I have no idea what’s going on here other than a lot of “mental lusting” as SAO put it. They’re in a parking garage, she’s on the stairs, people are in an elevator. That’s it. No sense of time and place really. Nothing to indicate what she does, why she’s there though I take it from her last couple of sentences she works at a club?

    And sorry, but you want me to believe that Gavin has the most remarkable, sexy voice and he uses the word ‘poof?’

    I have no idea if you have a good premise here or not because nothing gives me that information. And vampyre, strayer and fae aren’t enough to tell me anything.

    Tighten, edit, cut and cut again.

    Kudos for submitting it. Been there. It’s hard, but invaluable.

  8. Jaclyn
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 09:51:10

    I don’t mind the mental lusting on the part I’d Madi, she doesn’t have any expectation of meeting the guy w/ the voice, she intends to fantasize based on the voice. What did jar me was the ‘tickling session’ w/ her younger twin sisters. Huh?

    Something that doesn’t quite gel for me is that the setting seems so normal–girl in parking garage going to work– and then
    we’re told there are vamps, fae, and something called Strayers.

    It’s cliche that Madi is the most beautiful woman ever. I’d rather something specific had caught Gavin’s attention–her hair color, skin tone, eyes, etc.

    There’s something here that’s caught my attention. I think it could develop into something interesting.

  9. Author
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 09:51:27

    As one of my beta readers mentioned, this chapter originally was chapter three. After reading many articles, I discovered you should start the first chapter with the action. It seems I have more editing to get to the action.

    All of the comments have been an eye-opener and I appreciate the constructive criticisms.

  10. Laura
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 09:57:21

    I’m reading what everyone is saying above, and though the story made sense to me perfectly fine (Madi took the time to talk and tickle her much younger twin sisters into hysterics before going to work), I see why. I read the original first two chapters and this was at first chapter 3. I hope that makes sense to all! #facepalm failed beta reader Laura

  11. theo
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 10:10:29

    I came back after tossing this around a bit (the edit function is gone for the comments again though) because my comments probably weren’t the most constructive, but they were my first thoughts about this and I think that’s what you have to look at.

    What is your reader going to feel/think/hear on this page? You want to suck them into the story. Granted, not every story needs to open with a whiz-bang scene, but you should have something in that first paragraph that makes the reader want to know more.

    Madi heard the car doors slam and a moment of panic shot through her. She didn’t see anyone on this parking level, but heard the masculine voices. In a city full of vampyres, fae and the occasional strayer, a girl had to watch her back.

    “Glad you got that call from my dad about this club. I really did need to blow off some steam after last night’s fiasco with that damn strayer!”

    The comment drifted over the cars toward her and her panic changed to intrigue. That voice was one of the sexiest she’d ever heard. She wondered if it belonged to a body that matched or one of the doddering old men that occasionally wandered into the club she worked, looking for some young thing to score with for the night. Then again, it didn’t figure that an old man would have a run in with a strayer.

    She got to the glass elevator and pushed the button then glanced at her watch. Late again if she didn’t hurry. Opting for the stairs, she’d taken the first seven or so steps when she glanced up to see the elevator had finally reached her level and a group of four men were entering. Could the voice she’d heard belong to one of them?

    This is Q&D, but it gets almost everything in your first four paragraphs. Leave the lusting till later unless this is as someone else said, an erotic short.

    Sure, you can add the camaraderie between the men, maybe the smells or damp chill in the garage, but right now in your first page, I don’t care enough about your characters to read further because there isn’t anything here to indicate more than sex and though sex is a wonderful thing, you need more of a story.

  12. Jane
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 10:12:43

    @theo: The edit link should appear by your commenter name. You only get 30 min to edit, though.

  13. Author
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 10:17:51

    @theo: Thank you so much for your second post. I definitely see the scene better with your spin. I will take what you have suggested and find a way to incorporate that into my work.

    Thanks again!

  14. theo
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 10:32:11

    @Jane, I found it eventually ;) I was looking for the old format where it was at the end of the post.


  15. Rhianna
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 10:39:30

    I’ve never commented on these before so please bear with me anonymous author as I felt one thing hasn’t yet been directly pointed out. As a PNR reader/reviewer it’s an important thing to me that it feels like PNR from the first page. Aside from a few words dropped regarding vampyres and fae this could be any romance (though I must agree the lusty bits didn’t fit a romance first page IMO).

    On a side note—and this is purely my personal preference with any PNR or UF novel—I give an author bonus points for letting the reader know within the first few paragraphs if this is an open (everyone knows about paranormals being real) or closed (hiding from everyone is essential) world. In this case knowing if Madi and Gavin’s relationship will require that kind of ‘secret keeping’ would be a plus. BUT… only if it flows naturally. If it can’t be fit into the first few paragraphs by natural means save it for the rest of the first chapter. ;)

    Anywho, good luck with your manuscript and thanks for sharing it with us. :)

  16. Fia
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 14:26:01

    Your prose is very stretched out and occasionally distant and/or redundant. You’d do good to pull sentences together and give them a more immediate feel with stronger verbs (it would serve you well to get rid of as many -ing verbs as possible.)

    “At the sound of heavy doors closing, Madi glanced around. She didn’t see anyone on this level, but she heard a male voice say…”

    In general, you’re giving us a lot of transitions to explain she stopped one action and then started another. Eliminating that would really tighten up what is otherwise some very good writing.

    What we don’t get a play by play of is the inside of her head: Why did she think she imagined them? Why did she set her car alarm? Why did she think his voice was sexy?

    She also switches from thinking about orgasms to her sister in about ten seconds flat. I’d like to know Madi’s motivations, her emotions, and I feel like if you could get closer to that, your writing would sizzle.

    Looking at this, I would further say you have a very literal mind. Things are as they are. I would rely more heavily on sensory details and embrace figurative language (metaphors and similes and the like) for scenes that you want the reader to really immerse in.

    With Gavin, same problems. Why does he think she’s hot – what’s she look like and why is that attractive to him? (“She had that hourglass shape only a woman had, but the big, brown eyes of an innocent girl.” or some such)

    Making these fixes would also help capture the reader’s attention: I certainly am curious why these two keep thinking the other disappeared, but not, I think, for the reasons you want. It would also help the reader relate to Madi and Gavin and think of them as real people.

    Best of luck, writer!

  17. Terri
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 22:33:55

    I agree with the above comments. I want to see the crowded parking garage, smell the exhaust fumes, feel Madi’s anxiety about running late. I think you could do a little more condensing because some of what you tell us later shows up in dialogue. Kudos to you for putting it out there. Sharing your work and opening yourself up to critique takes courage. Good luck.

  18. Nadia Lee
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 07:21:16

    @Author: After reading many articles, I discovered you should start the first chapter with the action. It seems I have more editing to get to the action.

    It’s not just starting with the main action. You need some kind of tension or conflict from the very beginning (or some hint of conflict / tension to come).

  19. Author, Jynnipher Olbert
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 07:39:15

    @Nadia Lee: You are completely correct! All of the comments have been very helpful. A commenter recommended a wonderful book to me and I am 30 pages into it, as well as other library finds.

    I have only been writing since Nov 2010 (Thank you NaNoWriMo!) and have been enjoying every minute of the journey. I know I have a lot to learn.

    I really do appreciate the time each of you have taken in providing me feedback.

  20. Nona
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 17:50:02

    … “vampyre”. Please, please, please. Never use this. It immediately makes me think there is going to be a main character named Rayvyn Darkcrofte who drinks bloodwyne somewhere in there, too.

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