Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Page Contest

Where to Belong
Women's Fiction
72300 words

The uncomfortably small helicopter rattled as if it were wrestling with itself as it slowly gained altitude in the cloudless night sky. Madison glanced out the rounded window behind her to confirm they were actually rising instead of falling. She quickly turned back to the narrow gurney and her wounded friend upon it. He looked rough.

"Hang in there, Skyler," she shouted over the deafening ruckus of the chopper. His blue eyes opened for a moment as he grasped at the hand she had pressed to his bandaged chest.

Madison studied him as she thought over their failed assignment. She couldn't understand what had happened. It went horribly wrong. Someone must have set them up. Her team followed the rules and conducted themselves flawlessly. They walked right into a trap. It had to have been. Now, Skyler was badly hurt and Morgan made the choice to stay and complete their assignment on his own.

With her free hand, she tugged at the ring hanging from the delicate gold chain around her neck. She wasn't supposed to wear the engagement ring during assignments. It might give away her identity, or Morgan. Tucking it back into her shirt, she looked again to the window and wished her love to stay safe and hurry back to her.

The abandoned factory building shone brightly in the light of the full moon on the outskirts of Miami. There were no lights within the three story structure beside the pier, but Madison knew it was active despite the darkness.


  1. I like how you described everything! I would just have her hold the engagement ring instead of explaining anything, it loses the impact you want it to have. The description about the abandoned factory shining brightly doesn't work with the fact there were no lights. I think it's just the wording - maybe have it illuminated against the full moon.What does the building have to do with the helicopter ride? Are they landing there?

  2. I'd watch the adverbs and adjectives - you use a lot of them in places where a more direct approach might be better.


    "The helicopter rattled, wrestling with itself as it tried to gain altitude in the cloudless night sky. Madison glanced out the window to confirm they were rising instead of falling."

    The character is interesting. From this first bit I can tell she's tough, but with a heart and something to lose. As a reader, I want things to turn out for her.

    Good luck!

    Let descriptive, but with more impact.

    Etc. I like knowing that the helicoptor is small and the quarters inside tight, but you might be able to show this in later paragraphs. The first sentence may not be the best place.

  3. *Less, not Let

    Weird. Blogger cut off part of my comment. :/

    What I wrote was that I like your character and I like how you show she's tough, but with humanity and something to lose. Good work on that!

  4. I'm very intrigued by the story, which is a good sign you're doing something right! There are a lot of elements introduced which are surprising: a helicopter, a mysterious assignment, a wounded companion... it all promises a novel rife with intrigue, mystery, and action. Only suggestion is that you break up the paragraphs a bit, to further heighten the tension you achieve through your short, staccato sentences. Good work and good luck!

  5. I like your description. Very intriguing plot, I definitely want to read more.

    My only issue is with your voice. It doesn't feel very "hooky" to me; it seems kind of calm and almost boring. It doesn't really help me relate to the characters, in such a situation. Also, the voice feels sort of disjointed from the story. It feels almost long-winded for such an actiony situation-- you could add more tension and excitement.

    Whatever :) It's very intriguing-- I'd love to read more.


  6. Hi Wendy.
    I like the danger and injury right from the start. Shows that there are large stakes.
    Couple of things.
    First line is very wordy. Think about making it punch.
    "The uncomfortably small helicopter rattled as if it were wrestling with itself as it slowly gained altitude in the cloudless night sky."
    "The compact helicopter wrestled itself into the starry sky."

    "Madison glanced out the rounded window behind her to confirm they were actually rising instead of falling."
    "Madison verified that buildings receded below them."

    Think about how much more you can pack into 250 words by making each line contain just the essential information. Unless you're saying that helicopter might not make it, it's enough to say that it's a crappy helicopter that makes them nervous.

    A few places you're telling me instead of showing. "He looked rough." Describe instead of tell.
    I think if this is cleaned up, it would be pretty strong.

  7. I agree 100 percent with Sarah's suggestions. Limit the use of -ly words. I love when your mc looks out the window to make sure they are rising instead of falling, it shows instead of tells. So you don't need to tell us in addition. I'm confused how the ring would give away her identity, or Morgan's. Is it their identity or their relationship nobody is supposed to know about? I'm definitely interested in what their mission was, how it went wrong and what will happen with Morgan! christy

  8. "In the light of the full moon, the exterior of the abandoned factory building on the outskirts of Miami shone brightly, though no illumination came from within."

    I'd start the last paragraph in some such manner as above. This really doesn't seem like standard women's fiction (not that I read too much of it), with this strike-force-retreating-from-a-failed-op opening. The names, though, the names! They definitely scream "soap opera". I like this unconventional women's fic setting and character occupation. Nice start. Good luck and keep writing! - Tom H.

  9. This is a good setup for a suspense novel. Agree with earlier comments about language. I think if you tighten the language, especially by getting rid of as many adverbs as possible and some of the adjectives, your writing will be much more immediate and pull readers in. Also, it threw me a bit that she would endanger her fiance and herself by wearing the ring-a deft word or two about why she let herself do that could say volumes about her inner conflict and who she is.

    p.s. Love Scooter! I have his mom, Raz, at my house. She's 22 and barely getting around any more. what a life!

  10. Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions thus far, much appreciated. Will tweak it a bit more with these in mind.