Tuesday, June 29, 2010

7 #64 Susan Bradley

Slowly I pushed the door all the way open and craned my neck to peer inside. All the crime books I’d ever read stated never to go inside and to call the police from a neighbor’s house. I intended to do just that until I saw a running shoe with purple laces out of the corner of my eye.

I rushed inside and my world froze.

I couldn’t process what I was seeing.


  1. Hi Susan,

    This is an intriguing situation, and the purple laces are a good detail, so there is lots of potential here. I would recommend against starting with an adverb though. You can easily use a more descriptive verb to tell us how the door opened. Be clear about your motion in the second part of that sentence, too. Craning her neck doesn't necessarily let her see around the door.

    Also, consider whether you need the reference to the crime books. It's a bit confusing, and it slows the action, but on the other hand it is currently the first hint that a crime has been committed. As your opening is written now, you have the reaction before you show the action. Presumably she sees something that suggests she has to go call the police. Presumably she recognizes the shoe with the purple laces because it belongs to someone close to her? But all of this is too vague. As a reader, in an opening like this I want to have a better foundation.

  2. I really like this beginning... I love the small details (like the crime books and purple shoelaces) you give here and it definitely sets up a feeling of creepiness as far as the setting is concerned. The only thing I really have hesitation about here (I don't personally have a problem with adverbs) is the last sentence because I would assume your character DOES have to process this in the next few sentences/paragraphs.

  3. I have to agree with first comment, Susan. As a whole, I'd read further just to see if it's what I THINK is going on, but your action/reaction is kind of backwards. If you want to keep the crime books reference, you could always start with it: "The door hung open. Against the advice of every crime book I ever read..." LOVE the purple shoelace reference. Tells me right away that the MC thinks she knows one of the involved parties enough to risk going against her own instinct. If you tweak the first few lines, I think you'll be able to take it from there.

  4. i'm going to have to agree with the others on the small details -- i love the purple shoelaces (why purple? why running shoes? it makes you think), and i like the intrigue you've set up thus far. but my concern is actually with the very first word. the opening sentence begins with an adverb and this totally throws me off -- it makes me think of passive voice -- and with a scene that's supposed to be so involved, active verbs are your best friend.

    instead of: Slowly I pushed the door all the way open and craned my neck to peer inside.

    you could say: I edged the door open and peered inside.

    this way, we already understand that you're opening the door slowly, and that you created enough room to peer inside. the fact that you needed to crane your neck is implied. "peering" is a very specific sort of "looking."

    i would apply this same idea to the rest of your sentences in order to activate them -- empower them to make this scene move a little more quickly so we feel the tension as the protagonist does. as it stands, the pacing doesn't suit the conflict you're trying to build.

    i wish you all the best of luck -- you have a lot of potential here!

  5. I agree with Tahereh (big surprise I know). I like the clean sound of that sentence, I edged the door open and peered inside. I LOVE the purple shoe laces.

    I disagree with the comments against the detective books you have. I think it tells us something about the character and is a nice touch. Just tighten up the wording and I think you're good. I'm excited to find out what happens.

  6. I liked this and the reference to the purple shoe laces. I agree with Lisa and Tahereh on the first sentence suggestions. And like Lisa said, just tighten up the second sentence.

    But I'm definitely intrigued. I want to know about the purple shoe laces, so want to read more.

  7. Great premise! I would suggest a little tightening. You have a lot of extra words that are slowing your reader down. For example:

    Before - Slowly I pushed the door all the way open and craned my neck to peer inside.
    After - I pushed the door open and peered inside.

    You can see how the second sentence gets your point across faster and more clearly.


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