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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | First Impressions: OUT OF TOUCH

First Impressions: OUT OF TOUCH

 

robin selfieOur last First Impressions for August comes from Robin, who you might know from her blog Your Daily Dose. This is the first page of her paranormal mystery romance, OUT OF TOUCH.

 

After college, I ran through jobs faster than a line of cars in a McDonalds drive-through at noon. 

I currently work for Brown and Bell, a small PR firm in Rockdale.  As an Assistant Publicist, I’ve learned the ins and outs of marketing and am in the running for a promotion. I’ve been here almost six months, which is the longest I have worked anywhere, and I like it.  Not incidentally, when I hit my six month employment goal I will finally move out of my mother’s house and into an apartment of my own.

I looked up and Roger Brown was standing over my desk.  My boss. “Gigi, can I see you in my office please?”

It wasn’t a question.

I followed him in and he closed the door.  He settled into his chair, cleared his throat, while his eyes darted around the room, not quite knowing where to settle. His obvious discomfort set off my internal alarm. I grasped the arms of my chair braced for what was to come. The sun bounced off a diamond cufflink on the floor.  Without considering the consequences, I picked it up. 

I was swamped with a feeling of desperation and lust.  The vision unfolded revealing my co-worker, and biggest competition for the Publicist position, Bambi, half naked. Roger tore off his clothes in an effort to catch up.  When he dropped the cufflink, the connection was severed.

“….understand that Bambi is more qualified for the promotion,” he said.

Bile rose in my throat. Bambi stooped lower than I dreamed possible to beat me out of a promotion. And Roger… it disgusted me that he fell for Bambi’s obvious move to pull herself up the ladder. I shook my head in an effort to erase the picture of them together.

“I realize that this is a tough break,” Roger said, “but refusing to accept it doesn’t change anything.”

“What?”

“I know this is a disappointment. “

This was more than a disappointment. This changed how I felt about Roger as a boss. As a man. As a human being.  “You and Bambi get naked and I lose out on a promotion. Unbelievable.”

I didn’t realize I spoke the words aloud until his eyes opened wide and then narrowed to slits.

 “Oh, crack.” I muttered to myself. When I was a kid, and things went sideways, I said, “Holy firecracker.” Over the years it became just crack.

 

I wonder if this paranormal ability to see things when Gigi touches objects has anything to do with why she’s run through so many jobs. It certainly seems like it’s going to cost her this one!

I do think this page should start with Gigi being called into her office by her boss, anticipating the promotion announcement at first – then realizing that things are going “sideways,” as she says. The back story of the first two paragraphs is better off shared later. Like, after she loses this job, which is what I assume will happen next. When she’s walking out the door with her box of desk-stuff, that would be the time to reveal all those other lost jobs.

The second paragraph is in present tense, while the rest of it is in past tense. If that paragraph is cut, it takes care of the problem, but Robin should closely watch her tense in the rest of the book – as well as consider if the book would benefit from being written entirely in present tense instead of past. Some writers feel it gives more immediacy to the narrative. Me, I’m not a big fan of the present tense (although I’m trying it for the first time in something I’m playing around with.)

Also, the scene in the office feels a bit rushed. Since it’s the opening of the book and presumably the inciting incident, I think Robin can take her time … describe Roger and his office a bit, have him compliment Gigi’s work and ramble about her qualifications before getting to the point … and transition us a little more smoothly into her vision when she picks up the cufflink.

Why does she pick it up, when she knows she has this power? I would expect her to be extremely wary of triggering these events. What if the cufflink was on the chair instead of the floor? She sits on it, feels it sticking into her butt cheek, discreetly digs it out while Roger’s not looking, and discovers it’s his cufflink too late to avoid getting that x-rated vision?

Readers, what do you think? Thanks, Robin, for sharing your first page with us. Marcy will have her own critique on Mainewords, and if you don’t already know Robin, you can find her at Your Daily Dose!

 

13 Responses to First Impressions: OUT OF TOUCH

  1. Mina B. says:

    I already commented on Marcy’s blog. Interesting opening, Robin. I want to know how Gigi handles getting fired.

  2. Okay, I really just read this for pleasure, and it was a pleasure. I LOVE the ability, love the amount of personality this MC displays, and love the tension in this first page. I want to keep reading. I didn’t realize she was having an actual vision when she picked up the cuff link initially–just that she was imagining what happened. I think the reader needs something more definite to clarify the ability is an ability as opposed to her imagination. Beyond that, big bubble hearts to this submission. =)

  3. Good points about expanding the scene. She needs to save the opening line if she moves it though. I still think it’s really funny.

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Oh, I agree! I forgot to mention that. I love the line, but I’m not sure it’s a great opener to the novel.

      Well, maybe … if it led right into the scene with her boss and that second paragraph was cut …

  4. Gwen Gardner says:

    It looks like Dianne has it covered about the opening. I agree that too much backstory at the opening, as interesting as it is, should be saved and worked in later. I can tell this book is going to be a hoot, though. I love the scene where she’s getting fired and can’t control her thoughts. Good luck, Robin!

  5. I agree with everything. The first two paragraphs should be moved. And it’s a personal pet peeve of mine (so I’m sorry about this) but I don’t like opening sentence similes.

  6. Robin says:

    Taking into account what you and Marcy said, I tweaked a bit. Do you like this better?

    After college, I ran through jobs faster than a line of cars in a McDonalds drive-through at noon.

    Roger Brown was standing over my desk. My boss. “Gigi, can I see you in my office please?”

    I followed him in and he closed the door. He settled into his chair, cleared his throat, while his eyes darted around the room, not quite knowing where to settle. His obvious discomfort set off my internal alarm. I sat down and braced for what was to come. The pain in my thigh was unbearable. I groped for the offending object and was assaulted by a vision when my fingers made contact.

    I was swamped with a feeling of desperation and lust. I saw my co-worker, and biggest competition for the Publicist position, Bambi, half naked. Roger tore off his clothes in an effort to catch up. When he dropped the cufflink, the connection was severed. (in italics)

    I stared at the cufflink in my hand in horror. I wanted to take a bath in rubbing alcohol.

    “….understand that Bambi is more qualified for the promotion,” he said.

    Bile rose in my throat. Bambi stooped lower than I dreamed possible to beat me out of a promotion. And Roger… it disgusted me that he fell for Bambi’s obvious move to pull herself up the ladder. I shook my head in an effort to erase the picture of them together.

    “I realize that this is a tough break,” Roger said, “but refusing to accept it doesn’t change anything.”

    “What?”

    ” I know this is a disappointment. ”

    This was more than a disappointment. This changed how I felt about Roger as a boss. As a man. As a human being. “You and Bambi get naked and I lose out on a promotion. Unbelievable.”

    I didn’t realize I spoke the words aloud until his eyes opened wide and then narrowed to slits. He morphed from an easygoing guy who made his living writing witty ads about golf balls to every boss I’d ever had.

    “Oh, crack.” I muttered to myself. When I was a kid, and things went sideways, I said, “Holy firecracker.” Over the years it became just crack.

    I desperately needed time to think this through and had none. Roger Brown stared daggers at me, waiting for an explanation. I could try to laugh this off. In the past, that sometimes worked. But, I would still have to work here. For him. With her.

    He shrunk into the chair like a Lay Flat To Dry blouse run through the dryer. I watched him mentally calculate the risk of keeping me around.

    The whisper of the ax cleaving the air preceded his verdict. “You’re fired.”

    • DianneSalerni says:

      I think you still need some sort of transition between the first line and the next one. Like, “But I thought I’d finally found my niche working at Brown and Bell. I was even expecting a promotion.”

      Or something like that.

      You could also place us in time and before saying “I looked up …” We might like to know where she is so we can picture it when she looks up.

  7. Robin says:

    Thank you to you – and everyone who commented – for the input!

  8. Liza says:

    I commented over at Marcy’s too. But I agree…and said so, that the start to this store is Gigi getting called into the bosses office. I also suggest that Robin use her senses to put the reader “in scene.” That said, there is great voice and I’m really intrigued to find out Gigi’s power gets her into, and out of trouble!

    Liza@MiddlePassages

  9. Lexa Cain says:

    I read the new version, too. It’s better but I’d drop the first line. I like the premise very much, but what will hook me in the first page is her emotional reaction to being fired (horror, shock, anger) and then the vision as she’s leaving. Most of the backstory and info about her moving, etc. should come later in the chapter.

    • Lexa Cain says:

      Oops, I should have written “promotion” not being “fired” – although her being fired directly would perhaps work better than her not being promoted. I’m not wild that she is dopey enough to tell him what she saw, knowing he’ll get mad, knowing she has no proof, and that no one will believe her. If she’s had this gift for a while, she should know better. (In fact any employee knows better than to insult the boss.) She’s made the firing her fault and then she’s not really such an appealing victim.

  10. I LOVE this story start! (And love seeing the pic of Robin, too!)

    The rewrite Robin provided is even better than the original, but I agree about needing a segue between the first and second sentences. Maybe something along the lines of, “But this time was going to be different. I’d already set a personal record by lasting for six months, and better yet, I was even up for a promotion.” (And maybe even a funny comment about being able to afford eating inside McDonald’s soon… and super-sizing.)

    This is off to a great start, and I would definitely keep reading.