Wednesday, March 02, 2011

March First Impressions with Melissa Jeglinski

Well, it's March (ALREADY????) and time for a new First Impressions.  Every month we draw a one page submission to critique.  We invite everyone to add their own helpful impressions in the comments section.  (My notes are in red.) This month's selection is:

"Inner Demons"
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author: Gloria Oliver

                One moment I was in my apartment, about to relax after a long day at work, then the next I found myself on a dark street with a set of headlights coming right at me.  (I like the immediacy of this first sentence.  Though I do think it reads a bit abrupt.)
                I froze, my breath catching at my throat, my brain refusing to acknowledge the impossible change. (I would like a bit more.  After the first short sentence this reads a bit choppy.  Again, the sense of danger is here but a bit more description could help to set the scene better.) 
               The car swerved at the last moment, the screech and pronounced beeping of a pressed horn crashing (I don't think of sound as "crashing" and it becomes confusing as the car did not crash into this person.) into my ears. As if in the middle of a slow motion picture , I noticed the dark blue color of the Oldsmobile (Can this person recognize it's an Oldsmobile so readily? Perhaps a sedan or SUV or something more generic?) as it missed me by mere inches, the glow of streetlights reflecting from its sides. Humid wind brushed over me trying to pull me along as the car rushed past. I smelled the stench of the exhaust as it coiled about me, and I half spun around to see the trailing red ridding tail lights shrink into the night as the car never even slowed (maybe: as the car kept going, never even slowing down).
The echo of yelled curses trailed behind it as a white arm shot out the window, the middle finger held up for viewing.
This was real. I was here.
Other pairs of headlights were coming my way and fear spiked through me, yelling (You used yelled just two sentences before.) at warning me to get the hell out of there. I almost tripped when I took my first panicked step, the shoes on my feet feeling strange and awkward. I glanced down and saw I was wearing white boots with six inch heels. Worse, it looked like I was also wearing a dark sequined dress that only went down far enough to cover but a small part of my thighs. (overly wordy descriptions here. Something more lke, high-heeled boots and a very short sequined dress.  She's in danger and out of her element--there's not time to really have her think about how short her dress is.) 
 Disorientation swept through me. I wasn’t a prude, but I had taste, dammit, and these things just weren’t me. (Is this really the point for this though? Seems like the need to flee from the middle of the road should be her first priority.)  I stumbled toward the sidewalk to my right, still only too (dont' use still twice in one sentence) aware of the traffic still heading my way.

There is something interesting to this opening.  I like the protagonist's sudden change of venue although a little more setup could be helpful.  I didn't really get enough sense of who she was as a character although I suspect that will come across soon enough.

There's enough her to grab my attention and keep me reading. 


To enter First Impressions, email your first page (300 words or less) to Contests(AT) with “First Impressions” in the subject line. Include the title and genre in the email, as well as the name you wish us to use when referring to you publicly. All genres are welcome. Do not send your entry as an attachment; it must be within the body of the email. Winners are randomly selected using

**Disclaimers, Rules, Stipulations, What Not, and All That Jazz: By emailing your entry to Contests(AT), you agree to have your first page posted on our blog for critique. Entrants will remain in the selection queue indefinitely, so your number could come up tomorrow or two years from now. Such is life. We will drop you a line if your email is pulled out of the hat. Maybe. It’s best to just swing by our blog often and check things out, no? Winning a first page critique does not in any way indicate an interest or offer of representation by The Knight Agency, and we reserve the right to delete any material that we find improper or offensive. Though we encourage blog readers to offer positive, thoughtful feedback, we cannot control their opinions with Imperius Curses. However, we will promptly banish nasty, mean-spirited comments to the outer limits of cyberspace. Dontcha wish you could do that with people in real life? Addendum (11/03/2010): In order to give everyone a fair chance, only one entry is allowed per person. If you've submitted more than one first page, your initial email will be added to the queue; however, subsequent emails have been deleted



Blogger Mary Frame said...

Sidenote: I like the title of this contest, "First Impressions" since that is the original title of Pride and Prejudice (is that intentional, I wonder?)
Anyhow, moving on. I really enjoyed this opening and here’s why:
1. It starts with action (yay!) and immediately puts questions in my mind that I want to know the answer to, i.e. Why did she suddenly transport to the middle of a busy street? What’s going to happen to her?
2.Strong verb usage, such as “I smelled the stench of the exhaust as it coiled about me” and the flipping the bird sentence was also done really well and different (which is good!)
3.I like this sentence: “Disorientation swept through me. I wasn’t a prude, but I had taste, dammit, and these things just weren’t me.” Because it tells us a bit about the character, however I agree that it is probably in the wrong spot. At this point, the character should be in action mode to get out of the street. Once the immediate danger has passed, she’ll have the opportunity to react and decide on the next course of action and that’s where you can give us more details about the character and her personality.

It needs to be cleaned up a bit, but I like what I read so far and would definitely keep reading.

Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 9:31:00 AM EST  

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