Dianne Salerni author Dianne Salerni author Dianne Salerni books Dianne Salerni blog Dianne Salerni Appearances Dianne Salerni contact Dianne Salerni teachers
Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | First Impressions: ROSE AND WATCHES

First Impressions: ROSE AND WATCHES

Today Nicole Zoltack is here with the first page of her adult steampunk romance, ROSE AND WATCHES.
Cage wrinkled his nose at the stench of rotting food, then adjusted his goggles, the green shifting around and made his stomach churn. His Stygian Specs allowed him to see the paw prints on the dirt ground; without them, tracking at such a late hour would be impossible.
He intended to find out why such a large animal haunted London. Rumors of a huge wolf beast—one with intelligence, capable of human speech, a fierce solo predator—had circulated lately. His great fear was that this beast and the creature he was tracking were one and the same.
Not that he hadn’t hunted other odd, powerful creatures and always emerged the victor.
His fingers brushed against the handle of his six-shooter. Shadows crept along the alley. He stalked along the trail, his cape fluttering behind him. Down the next alley, he spied wetness on the stones. He bent down and touched it, brought his finger to his nose. Tasted metal. Blood. But whose? The animal’s or a victim’s?
Cage quickened his pace through the lonely alleyways. This late at night, most of London was either sleeping or partying. He wasn’t much the partying type and refused to believe they were worth the extravagance most boasted of them.
The trail broke here and there, with larger and larger gaps between. When it disappeared, Cage punched a gloved fist into his other hand. A wasted expedition. Nothing did he hate more than time spent in an inefficient manner.
Hurmph. He removed his Stygian Specs and tucked them into one of his inner vest pockets. With a jerk, he pivoted and returned to the previous unoccupied alley.
Only it was no longer unoccupied.
There is a lot of very good description here and a strong voice that conveys character on this first page, but I think the first two paragraphs need some tweaking. The first sentence gives us too much unexplained information and should probably be broken into at least two sentences. What is giving off the stench of rotting food? Is it the alley itself, or something left behind by the beast? What is the green that shifts around and makes his stomach churn? Is it a green color caused by looking through the lenses – or “green” in the sense of a common grassy area in a city?
I also thought that “haunting” might not be the right word in the second paragraph. The beast is hunting in London, not haunting. And since it’s clear that Cage, in turn, is hunting the beast, it’s not correct to say he “fears” these tracks belong to it, right? That’s why he’s here. He’s looking for it.
The only other thing I’d suggest for this page is removing the one word paragraph: Rubbish. It’s not needed.
Nicole has certainly left us off at a suspenseful moment, so there’s no question I’d be turning the page to see what happens next! Readers, what do you think?

Nicole, thank you for sharing your first page with us! Nicole can be found at her blog, Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight, and don’t forget to check out Marcy’s critique of this page at Mainewords.

13 Responses to First Impressions: ROSE AND WATCHES

  1. Pk Hrezo says:

    ooo love the idea of a wolfbeast in London combined with steampunk! Fun fun fun! I do agree it can be tweaked just a tad for a smoother flow. That 4th para read a bit choppy to me. But I know first hand what a fabulous writer Nicole is. 😀

  2. I would absolutely keep reading, this is an exciting start. I agree with Dianne that some of your descriptive sentences could be broken up and explained more. However a very nice start! Good job!

  3. I am very intrigued! I found myself tensing…. waiting for the next steps. 🙂 Is the green his glasses? A little explanation here might help for those of us who are not familiar with these glasses.

    I think “haunted” is okay, because the city truly is haunted by this creature, right?

    I was, though, a little confused by the comment about partying: “He wasn’t much the partying type and refused to believe they were worth the extravagance most boasted of them” Maybe a little clarification would help here as well.

    I would certainly read on. Good luck!

  4. Susan Oloier says:

    Nicole, your writing definitely creates a sense of place and suspense. Excellent. I wasn’t drawn in until the six-shooter paragraph, though. But I think it’s because I stumbled with a verb tense change: the green shifting around and made his stomach churn.” (making instead of made?)
    Definitely suspenseful and dangerous territory you’re taking us down!

  5. Gwen Gardner says:

    A beast in London? I’d definitely keep reading based on the first page. I would revise the first two sentences. Maybe make the first sentence into two, because it doesn’t quite flow right with the green shifting around part. What is the green? Rotting food? Maybe maggots are making it shift?

    In the 2nd sentence, the “dirt ground” sort of threw me. I think you should use either dirt or ground. Something that threw me is that he’s in a London alley – aren’t they usually cobblestoned or paved in some way?

    That’s all I have. Again, I’d definitely read on, Nicole!

  6. Tonja says:

    I like the idea of the story too. I would rework the first sentence – the structure seemed a little awkward.

  7. I read an earlier version of this. Wow, it’s even tighter and better!

  8. Great Steampunk flavor, Nicole! I’m intrigued.

    Have to admit I was confused by the first sentence, as Dianne mentioned, especially what the green was, and also that tense confusion, as Susan Oloier said above. I was also bothered by the dirt ground, as Gwen Gardner mentioned.

    Haunting didn’t bother me. That seems to be the point! But in the fourth paragraph, you’ve used the word “along” twice in two sentences. (Shadows crept along the alleyway. He stalked along the trail…). Maybe you could find a different word or rework that second sentence. He followed the trail, his cape fluttering behind him (or whatever).

    Nice work. Love that last sentence.

  9. Angela Drake says:

    I don’t read steampunk so I came at this from a writer perspective. I agree with the general consensus the sentences seem a bit long in some places. Though your description is excellent and pulls me in.

    The paragraph re: He wasn’t much the partying type and refused to believe they were worth the extravagance most boasted of them.

    Although this does give us insight into your character, it’s more of a speed bump here. I think info about your character would be better injected with more about him.. not tagged in as a single sentence in the middle of what you want your reader to focus on… the surroundings.

    Overall, great job. Glad I found you on twitter. Keep writing and Creative Blessings ~ Angela

  10. Thanks for having me, and thanks for all the great comments, everyone!

  11. lbdiamond says:

    I’d totally keep reading this!

  12. Cynthia says:

    Good critique and good excerpt. I could feel the suspense building up.

  13. Angela Brown says:

    Dianne’s and other comments touched on the items that gave me pause as either a writer or a reader. So I won’t echo them.

    I will say we were left at quite the suspenseful moment. I REALLY want to know what happens next 🙂