Act 1, Scene 1, Page 1. Need your critique!

OK, my writer and reader friends, I need your help. I’m attending an exciting event in July, the Pen on Fire Speaker Series at Laguna Beach Books. On hand will be literary agents Barbara DeMarco Barrett, Jamie Weiss Chilton, Jill Marr and Sally van Haitsma who have agreed to review a single page of selected attendees’ fiction works in progress.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have just begun Chapter Three–although the truth is that I lay in bed scribbling notes on ways to improves Chapters One and Two. (And, so the process goes on and on until we are satisfied that we’ve offered our very best.) In an effort to offer my very best, would you, could you, be so kind as to read the one page I’ll be offering? Your honest critique is so valued!

Here it is:

Tossing a long tendril of sun-bleached hair behind her shoulder, Treva stared at her reflection in the driver’s side window of a late-model sedan. She considered sweeping the loose, wavy mass into a clean updo. She preferred a more mature appearance–no one wanted to buy a car from a little girl–and with her hair back she could direct her gaze with unerring confidence. Relentlessly determined, Treva’s impressive sales record demonstrated a stubborn unwillingness to back down, but she’d barely rested the night before and this morning it required all her energy to show up at the dealership dressed to sell, dressed to lead–dressed for success.

Treva wanted what Liam didn’t: partnership in the family’s used car dealership. No, more than that. She wanted what her father Mike Hayden wanted–growth, profitability, market share, recognition. In truth, what Treva really wanted was her Daddy’s attention. He’d spent his life pouring every spare moment into building the lot around her, and the fact was he didn’t have much to show for his hard work. But Treva would change all that. She knew she could, if he would just give her a chance.

The morning had been a blur. Ignoring the iPod on her nightstand, she showered and dressed in silence. Every limb felt numb, her heart strangely fuzzy. A tinny, unpleasant hum rattled faintly in her ears. Her mother’s funeral the day before went as expected. Camille had made most of the arrangements herself, with the help of Liam, ever present at their mother’s side. Treva considered this a morbid preoccupation; shouldn’t Camille have focused more on getting well? If it had been her, Treva would have fought the cancer, she would not go down without a fight. She sighed. Camille had done her best with the luck that had been dealt her, and she knew it. She missed her mom already.

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7 Comments

Filed under Fiction Novel Writing, For the love of writing

7 responses to “Act 1, Scene 1, Page 1. Need your critique!

  1. I would say easy on the description in the first sentence: “tossing her caramel” hair actually says more allows to the reader to get into the story without getting entangled in lots of description.

    Less is often more and overloads of description cries amateur.

    Good Luck

  2. I agree that less is more. I would go with sun-bleached hair. But it looks like something I would want to read more of.

    • We’re in consensus, then. It’s interesting reading classic books written long before the advent of TV. They are ALL about juicy, long-winded visual descriptions. Fewer words were dedicated to action when compared to scene and character descriptions.
      Reagan, thanks for your encouraging words–wanting to “read more” is the highest compliment!

  3. Hilda

    I agree that less is more. I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of adjectives in the first graf. Description is good, but it’s best done subtly. A well placed metaphor is better than a dozen adjectives.

    Also, what genre are you writing in? It reads a bit like something from the romance genre, more so than mainstream fiction.

    • Thanks, H. I will definitely tone that first paragraph–I should have trusted my intuition and not added so much extra description.
      As far as the genre is concerned, I’m still somewhat up in the air. When I first wrote this, it seemed to ring a little Lifetime channel-like to me. I didn’t want to stifle my flow, and the truth is that Lifetime has some quality productions and a huge audience of avid readers who enjoy books-into-mini-movies, so if if swung that way—and they would take me!–I’d be quite thrilled indeed.
      By most standards, my outline does not fit a romance novel whatsoever. There will be some “romantic encounters” between lovers but the lasting love that will prevail will be familial ties. Make no doubt about it: I am primarily writing for a female audience. While there will be cunning betrayals and jilted romance, I’m looking forward to creating a fashion show and culinary event scene. (Inner whoop of excitement!)

  4. Pingback: 8 points to consider when writing your synopsis « the written word

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