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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Giveaway Winners and First Impressions #26

Giveaway Winners and First Impressions #26

Before we get to this month’s First Impressions, I’d like to announce the winners of the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop! Thank you to everyone who entered! Now, a drum roll please …
Congratulations to Kat C, winner of a signed copy of WE HEAR THE DEAD – and also to Candie L and Ashlyn Jai, winners of an original photograph of one of the (soon-to-be) famous CAGED GRAVES of Catawissa, PA . I’ll be contacting you for mailing addresses, or you can email me first at dksalerni@gmail.com.
Today, we’ll be looking at the first page of WAITING FOR APRIL, a paranormal romance by Jaime Loren.
My life is a web of endless days, with periods of silent darkness my only indication that time is still moving. Others sleep. Those unlike me, who age and fall ill – they sleep. The darkness gives them time to recover from the fatigue and hardships the daylight presses upon them. For eight hours of their day they are allowed to forget about their troubles, and enter new worlds where anything can happen. Worlds where they can see and hold loved ones who are no longer with them. Worlds where they can go back in time and change their future.
If I could sleep, I’d dream it was 1729 again, and I’d save April Anne Fletcher.
And I wouldn’t have failed her another thirteen times since.
Every morning I stood in the hallway of Harvard’s Quincy House, waiting to discover if April was still alive. Today – the first day of our summer vacation – was no different. But this morning there was no light spilling out from under her door, nor had she answered when I’d knocked. Considering she could sleep through a severe hailstorm, these observations alone didn’t necessarily strike fear into my heart. No, it was the fact she also had a terrible habit of meeting her maker that sent me racing down four flights of stairs and into the courtyard. I checked my cell phone again. No text messages. No calls. My chest tightened.
I’d only just scrolled to her number when something slammed into my back.
My eye got stuck on the first line, and at first I thought it was a run-on, and then I thought it was just missing a comma, and finally I caught the rhythm of it and read it correctly as written. But since you don’t want your reader doing that much work on your very first line, I’d suggest simplifying it.
In fact, my attention was absolutely riveted by this sentence: If I could sleep, I’d dream it was 1729 again, and I’d save April Anne Fletcher. You may want to consider moving that up and making it the opening line. It would certainly get my attention! How important is that first paragraph really? What if you began with something like:
If I could sleep, I’d dream it was 1729 again, and I’d save April Anne Fletcher.
And I wouldn’t fail to save her thirteen times afterwards, either.
Now, the next thing I’m going to suggest kind of shocks me, because I’ve never done this (and the one time I tried it, I couldn’t stand it). But for some reason, I wanted the paragraphs after the section break to be written in present tense. Maybe it’s because that first paragraph you wrote was in present tense and I was expecting it to continue.
But of course, with just this one glimpse, I don’t know what complications of time are ahead of you. Based on the contrast between the date 1729 and the cell phone – not to mention the hints of immortality in that first paragraph – I’m betting this novel spans huge time gaps and you may be constrained by what tense you use when. Still, I was a little confused by the switch to past tense. Maybe a slightly altered transition would ease us into your past tense narration?
What do my blog readers think?
Jaime, thanks for sharing your first page with us! You definitely have my attention, and can I tell you, I absolutely love the name April Anne Fletcher as our repeatedly dying damsel-in-distress!
Please stop by Mainewords to see Marcy Hatch’s critique of this page, and check out Jaime Loren’s blog, The Lovable Protagonist.

10 Responses to Giveaway Winners and First Impressions #26

  1. Linda G. says:

    Wow! I’m definitely intrigued. And I agree with Dianne re moving that line up — it would be the perfect opener.

    I love the idea of the repeatedly dying damsel.

    BTW, Dianne, your new blog look is great. 🙂

  2. Congrats to the winner.

    I also agree with moving up that line. It’s the kind of sentence we all strive for as an opener.

  3. Love the new look Dianne.
    Jamie you are very brave and a intriguing story.
    I would agree with Dianne. Move that line up. You may want to play with moving the last two lines up. That’s what got me interested.
    I’m also not sure if the second half is to be a flashback since it’s in past tense and you wrote the first part in present. Not sure if that’s your intent, I think I would need to read more to determine that.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Good luck with this piece.

  4. Dawn Brazil says:

    Wow. I really liked this. Very interesting story this far with the whole not sleeping thing – vampire perhaps? You immediately give us a dilemma – he or she is trying to save April. My only criticism would be is this a girl or boy? I may have missed it. I’ll read again. Great start!

  5. Those two lines Diane mentioned would make an awesome jacket blurb. They alone would make me want to pick up the novel. Actually the whole first section reads like it would go well on the jacket cover.

    I’m going to be different to eveyone else. I wasn’t sucked into the first section. It was too telling for me. I would have prefer you to just start with the second section and woven it in somehow to build the mystery.

    Definitely an intriguing story. 😀

  6. I like the first line, because of the lyrical, literary bent it carries, but I think if you cut the “with” it would flow much more smoothly, and not have to be re-read for clarity. Also maybe change “that time is still moving” to “time still moves.”

    Another thing I could cut is either the “fatigue” or the “hardships.” They’re not exactly the same thing, but they’re close enough that either one conveys the point you’re making.

    I think I understand the idea behind the tense switch, but I have to point out that this kind of thing is frowned upon. I used to have something like this in my MS, and every agent who read it said to cut it. I’m not saying you can’t jump back and forth from the past to the present, but you don’t have to change tenses to make it work. They can either both be written as present tense (which would be very hard to pull off), or they could both be written as past tense (which would be easier and would make more sense).

    Otherwise, I would read more. Good stuff!

  7. mshatch says:

    good call, I like the idea of that sentence being the opening one, too.

  8. KrysteyBelle says:

    I agree with you, Dianne. I would cut that opening paragraph altogether and just start with the “If I could sleep” line. It’s so unique. Mary Kole (kidlit.com) did a blog a few weeks back about writing a first line that could not fit in any other book, and that line fits her description perfectly. Plus, it speaks volumes about the MC.

  9. Kat C says:

    How intriguing. Once again, thank you for the book ! I appreciate it.

  10. Jaime Loren says:

    Thank you, Dianne, for giving me the opportunity to show my first page! I was incredibly nervous about it, but this feedback has given me a huge boost in confidence! You’re absolutely right, that first paragraph isn’t all that important, because that information will come later, too (the expanded version, anyway). It’s great to see that those two lines have grabbed your attention (and the attention of your readers). That’s a pretty good sign I should just start with them! 😀

    Linda G., I also love the idea of a repeatedly dying damsel (obviously)! Nothing says “I love you” like a hero who spends eternity trying to save you. 😉

    Theresa, you wouldn’t believe how many rewrites I’ve done! I’m so glad everyone agrees on which lines I should open with!

    Christine, I agree – the last two lines are definitely going up! It’s always interesting to see what grabs people. Those two lines seem to have done the trick with most people.

    Dawn, great point! I never considered the fact you can’t tell if it’s a male or female narrator straight off the bat! I’ll put something in the first few lines! 😀

    Stina, I love a bit of mystery, too. I was told off by my crit partners for having TOO MUCH mystery. That first section is new. At least I know which part of it to keep, now!

    Matthew, thanks for recognising the lyrical, literary bent I was going for! Since submitting this page, I’ve put everything in past tense, with no break. I like how that has turned out, but this feedback allows me to concentrate on what actually grabs the reader. 🙂 Also, I think if I tried to change it all to present tense, my brain would implode. So, past tense it is!!!

    Marcy, thanks so much for putting me up on your blog, too! I’ll head over there in a sec to comment! 😀

    KrysteyBelle, thanks for the compliment! I missed that post by Mary Kole. I’ll go and check it out now. I’m glad it represents the MC so well, because that was exactly what I was going for! 😀

    Kat C, I’m so glad you found it intriguing. Congrats on winning the book! 🙂

    Thanks again to all who commented and provided feedback! It has been extremely helpful. With a few adjustments, I’m confident I’ll have a good opening page, now!