Sunday, July 24, 2011

Final Week of GUTGAA Blogfest! First 200 Words Critique!

Hi, writer friends! Last week of Deana Barnhart's blogfest! I am not officially participating in the contest because my novel is for adults, but I wanted to put up my pages for critique nonetheless. Also, if you missed me and fellow blogfester Michelle Fayard's post on using Amazon to boost your book sales, check it out now!

Okay, so here's the scoop with my first 200. My novel, Countless, starts with sort of a prologue. And further, the prologue is written from the perspective of my villain, not my MC. I know agents typically don't like prologues, however, this opening event really and truly is the catalyst for the whole book. And, my MC is not aware that it's happened, which is also vital to the whole book. So, what I decided to do was post the first 200 from this prologue, and also the first 200 from the next chapter, which is written from my MC's perspective. Please pick which one you'd like to take a stab at and critique away! And if you have any thoughts on the whole 'to prologue or not to prologue', please share!

Here goes:

Prologue - First 200

He had found his prey at last. From across the room he took in every detail of her face, though he knew it well. The full lips, thin nose, and most of all the deep green eyes. Green like a highland meadow or a piece of lustrous sea glass. His eyes traced the moon-pale curve of her calves, down to her stilettos. She had raven hair this time.

One hundred and ninety-four years had passed since he’d last seen her. That time when he’d killed her was different than the times before. He’d made it so when she came back, she wouldn’t remember a thing. Their times together, the power they’d shared, the life they’d almost had. She’d chosen another path. Taken pity on humanity, and decided she wouldn’t go through with their plan. And worse, she’d fallen in love with one of them.

So now, as he watched her, he took a moment to appreciate the beauty of it. She stood before him, waiting for the elevator, completely oblivious to the fact that she was being hunted. Totally unaware that though she may look human, as he did, she was not. And this time, there would be no temporary death.
Chapter One - First 200
The day wasn’t going as planned.

First, her alarm hadn’t gone off and she’d nearly been late for work. Then the copy shop screwed up the prints for her big presentation. And now, the cabbie had dropped her off at the wrong address, except of course she didn’t realize it until he’d already pulled away from the curb.

Eva tried to chase him down, but her only reward was a cloud of exhaust and a close encounter with the sidewalk as her Gucci heels wobbled beneath her. She let out a groan as her gaze traveled up and down Lexington Avenue, searching addresses. She’d been told the gallery was near Gramercy Park, just south of East 22nd. Flipping black curls behind her shoulder, her eyes scanned the buildings around her again. Shit. Where is this place?

After a quick glance at her phone confirmed how late she was running, she decided to stop and ask for directions. To her right she saw a bar named The Lunar Landing. As she reached for the door, her eyes moved over the windows spanning the front, curtains covering the lower half so she couldn’t quite see in. This better not be some sort of strip joint.

 And there it is! It will probably take me a few days to hop around to everyone. Good luck to everyone entering the contest!


  1. I love that you are telling this from the villain's perspective--ver ver high-concept! I also read this and didn't mind the 3rd person at all (to tell the truth, I hardly noticed it...and I'm way into 1st person right now...great job!)

    There's nothing jumping out at me right now (though I'm not a fan of prologues at all, but if you need it then you do!).

    Great job!

  2. Since I'm a big fan of a well-written prologue (and yours rocks!), I'm probably too biased a person to ask. :)

    What I love about your prologue, is with the first seven words I know so much already--a glimpse of the problem and a tantalizing tease of the antagonist's personality. It's creepy enough to be someone's prey but even worse when they've been stalking you for who knows how long. You also let us see something of the MC's personality with the stilettos heels. And of course "she had raven hair this time" totally hooks me. And if that didn't, the 194 years would have! OK, I know I'm loving every sentence, but to learn that the protagonist not only knew her then but was her murderer as well? Oh, wow.

    You've upped the volume with the amnesia. And now I have to know what dark things she might have done--or have been tempted to do--in a previous lifetime. And what is she if not human? Oh, yes, I must read on!

    The opening of Chapter 1 is excellent as well, but please don't ever think about losing the prologue, as it puts everything else into context and sets the scene perfectly.

    I can't imagine this book not being published. Again, wow!

  3. I've heard agents say NO prologues. I've heard editors say YES prologues. I kind of think you do it if it makes sense for your story. I thought about doing one until I heard that lots of people skip them. If your story will make sense to the readers who don't read it keep it, if not maybe make it chapter one.

    I was intrigued by the story. The Antag know her and she won't remember him. So cool. I would read on.

    I liked the voice of Eva, she sounds fun--I like to root for the underdog.

    Good luck. I hope to see this in print one day :)

  4. I like this. I'm on the fence with prologues, but I think yours works. I like her voice, and even though it's written in third person, I think it read well. I'm a first person gal, but when I read yours I didn't mind third person.
    Nothing jumped out at me so great job!

  5. Ooh! The prologue really sets up the story. I think you should keep it, it feels like it belongs.

    The story opening was good as well, introducing me to Eva and giving me a reason to keep reading. The one tiny thing that jumped out at me was the line:

    "She let out a groan as her gaze traveled up and down Lexington Avenue"

    The whole groan and gaze sounded a little cliched to me.

    But really, this is a tiny detail. It reads smoothly and I'd keep going to find out more.

  6. Both work for me! Maybe just leave the prologue out for the agents that are open about hating them? Very well written. Have you ever read My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares? Kinda reminded me of that if you need a market analysis.

  7. I loved how you took a cliche prologue (killer stalking prey) and made it feel new. He knows her, they have a very lengthy past together, she's died before. VERY interesting.

  8. His voice is very old -- ancient, and I like that we know that right away. The words, "moon pale curve of her calves" are poetry.

    Her voice is now. You wrote both so well.

  9. So...yes please! That's all I've got. :) I want to read more. I love the prologue but, then again, I'm not against them either. I don't mind the 3rd person. I say you write in the point of view that goes best with each book and this one sounds right. Have you read The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller? You might like it based off of what I just read. I hope I get to read Countless in it's entirety some day!

  10. I'm not normally a fan of prologues but yours captivated me. One small think, I would change the sentence From across the room he took in every detail of her face, though he knew it well. to From across the room, he took in every detail of her face. The reader learns that he knew it well from the rest of the prologue, it doesn't need to be spelled out for the reader.

    She let out a groan as her gaze traveled up and down Lexington Avenue, searching addresses. I read literally so this reads that Lexington Avenue is searching addresses.

    Flipping black curls behind her shoulder, her eyes scanned the buildings around her again. After a phrase like flipping..., the subject of the sentence has to be the person doing the flipping, it can't be her eyes.

    I would read more. :)

  11. I agree with Jamie. Include the prologue if the agent isn't renowned for being anti-prologue. I've done it both ways myself. (Absolutely love yours, btw)

  12. You had me hooked with the line 'She had raven hair this time.' Nice choice of words :) The normalness of the first chapter with the comparatively paranormal prologue made me really intrigued. I think the two really worked together nicely :) This one line, thought -- 'After a quick glance at her phone confirmed how late she was running, she decided to stop and ask for directions.' -- needs some love. how about 'A quick glance at her phone confirmed she was running very late, and she decided to stop and ask for directions.'

    Hope this helps :)

  13. I'm not a huge fan of prologues as a rule, but this one didn't bother me. Although there were a lot of cliched phrases in it that really stood out.
    Raven hair for example and green eyes being compared with sea glass.

    In the fist chapter, I really liked the character and her reactions. She seemed very human.

  14. Alexia,
    So, I just read through your prologue and first 200, then read through the comments already posted and I have absolutely nothing to add *grins sheepishly* ADORED this.

    I'll just ditto Amber. Unfortunately, she had the exact same fix idea as I did, so I can't even add anything there.

    Great job!!

  15. I like the prologue being from the perspective of the villain. The prologue is short and different enough from the 'current day' feel of the story, that it's necessary. It seems that agents don't like a prologue when it's something that delays the action of the story - but this actually paves the way for the action, so keep it, I say.

    I agree with nicole -that one line 'though he knew it well' was a bit awkward, and immediately after, you learn why, so it becomes redundant.
    Great job, and good luck!

  16. DEFINATELY keep the prologue! Love that it's written from the villian POV. I also love the start of the next chapter. Very well done!

    ~K.V. Briar

  17. Hi Alexia!! You know - I've never minded prologues. In fact, I've written one or two myself. I like yours - it's interesting and it hints at the genre better than the start of your first chapter, which reads very contemporary. So, I definitely think it adds to the story!

    And I agree - the word choices between the two pieces show a great dichotomy between the 2 characters - great job!

  18. Great story and you have definitely caught my attention.

  19. I LOVE the prologue and the villain. The change in voice and mood in the first chapter is refreshing. Great job!

  20. Well done! The prologue totally hooked me... and now I'm dying to know where she is. Great job, Alexia.

  21. Oh, this is wonderful. I'm pulled right in and so want to read more.

  22. I love prologues (and can't understand the backlash against them) and I love yours, because it adds the element of danger.

  23. You have me completely hooked, Alexia. I am waiting to read your book. Loved the excerpts.

  24. Love the prologue! I especially love the way that he notices things about her appearance, like there is some depth (and almost affection?) to the horrible stalking and killing he is doing. Verrrrrrry creepy. Excellent job!


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