View Full Version : First Scene in a New Adult Romance

May 30th, 2014, 02:03 AM
Moved to protected area: http://www.writingforums.com/threads/149048-Working-Title-Scarlet-Stephens-Prologue-amp-1st-Chapter-5000-words-Romance?highlight=

May 31st, 2014, 03:29 PM
I would specifically like to ask about the following paragraph. Is it okay to pop into present tense when describing someone like this? The sentence, 'his imagination truly 'knows' no bounds..." Is that okay? If I said 'knew' no bounds it would sound like he was dead. I've tried to find something specific online that tells me how to handle this but didn't really find anything. I did find something done this way in a published book, but maybe there is a better way to handle this altogether...?? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

With a slight shake of my head, I smiled at Jackson. True to his screen name, he was a strapping fresh faced South Georgia boy. To look at Jackson, you would never guess he was a science fiction writer. His imagination truly knows no boundsóalien beings, parallel universes, that sort of thing. Iím completely awed given that I have a hard enough time navigating this world to even consider thinking up new ones. I met Jackson almost two years ago when I transferred in from community college. We are both writing majors, and that first semester I was in three of his classes. I was really overwhelmed at the jump from small classes of twenty or so students to huge lecture halls of close to two hundred. It must have shown, because Jackson took me under his wing, always ready with advice on the quickest route to a class, the best places to study, or the cheapest places to eat. I was a bit suspicious of his motives at first, but he ultimately convinced me there was no hidden agenda. In my limited experience, guys didnít do nice things without expecting a payback. But turns out Jackson is one of the good guys, which was cool since Iíd always wanted to meet one.

May 31st, 2014, 05:12 PM
This is waaaaaaaaaay outside of my normal range of genres, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

I like your basic premise, and Scarlett is an engaging narrator. The prose is well executed, readable and fun. I wasn't put off by the "no bounds" phrasing you were worried about at all.

On the other hand, I felt there was more telling than showing here. I think that may be part and parcel to the genre, but I would rather learn about the characters through their actions and words in dialogue than narrative description. Descriptions can come off as Arbor Day speeches ("We planted 2,000 elms and 1,000 maples. The maples' leaves will turn red in the fall. They will be very pretty.") The thing is, you have the pieces on set to show us quite effectively -- the student flirting with the prof in class, a crazy online commenter, a world-wise protagonist, etc. I suggest letting them do the heavy lifting of character development themselves. That said, I think that this genre may typically start with more telling than showing, so I may be full of it.

May 31st, 2014, 05:44 PM
I just reread it and see what you mean. I read someplace to beware of 1st person POV because it so easy to fall into the trap of telling and not showing. So I am going to have to really pay closer attention to it. I will rework some of this. This is actually my most polished piece of all, and in scanning some of the subsequent writing, it is even more 'telling' so thanks a BUNCH for the feedback! It will really help :)

May 31st, 2014, 07:59 PM
I really enjoyed reading this! It had a great flow to it and it was easy to read. The only thing that really hung me was this sentence:

And statistically that’s how stories like hers generally end.

Putting statistically and generally made it sound a little redundant. Other than that, it was a really well written. I agree with InstituteMan about it being more showing than telling, but I think it fits fairly well since she's sitting in a classroom where she isn't talking to people and her mind is wandering.

I can't wait to see where this goes. I know the main character doesn't believe in happy endings and while I don't know your stance on them, the romantic in me hopes she falls madly in love. :) Either way you continue this, I have no doubt that it will be well worth the read.

May 31st, 2014, 08:22 PM
Thanks Taralin! I am going to get as many critiques as possible then do a rewrite on this. I really, really appreciate the feedback :)

June 1st, 2014, 12:29 AM
And I do believe in happily ever after!

June 1st, 2014, 02:30 AM
This has a lot of potential. You should be excited about it.

What if you start with "Settling in with this class assignment"? Then fill in back story as needed.

June 1st, 2014, 02:35 AM
When you don't know if you should use grammar, just don't use the sentence. Find another to replace it, it'll be easier.

June 1st, 2014, 04:54 AM
Hey Emma, Thanks! So do you mean start the scene at the part where she is settling in to write? My brain wants so badly to start everything at the beginning :) I actually initially had Scarlet walking into class on the first day of the semester. I was so bogged down in the details it was crazy. I will look at this again with your suggestion in mind!

June 1st, 2014, 08:17 PM
Hi. It's your book, so you can tell better than me where to start. The starting idea was interesting. But Scarlet was more interesting and she seemed to be hijacking the story. So I was just suggesting that you start at the point most interesting to me.

But if your book is about Baxter, then your start is probably right and the digression to Scarlet is too long.

June 2nd, 2014, 12:27 AM
Very interesting feedback. The story is about Scarlet so I will look at it with this in mind.. New perspectives are so helpful!

June 2nd, 2014, 06:57 PM
The description of Baxter might be a little too clinical sounding for me. Remove his height measurements, and give me a little more poetics and less specifics. You should be able to nail his description in one or two sentneces--then again, in romance, it might be more prudent to offer more about the character's looks. I'm not experienced in the genre, but those are my thoughts.

"Yes, I'd say..." I hate this type of almost-breaking-fourth-wall kinda thing. It just juts out from the prose so much that it acts like a speedbump to me as a reader.

"which was cool since I’d always wanted to meet one." Omit this.

"I’ve prayed often that 22 was indicative of her age and not the caliber gun she carries around in her purse. That would be one strong argument for gun control." There's a lot of comments in this story that look like this one--they're there, they're not quite a characterization of who we're talking about, but they take up a lot of space. While they have an ability to make the narrator sound clever, they do detract from the overall narrative and distract me. Trim them down or trim them out to avoid this issue.

"Since I was obviously not working on a class writing assignment," If something is obvious, it generally does not need to be in the narration--omit this.

I'm not sure if it was your intent, but both of these male characters seem... creepy to me. Baxter's whispered comments make them seem less like the overbearing teacher urging her to do her story and more like "your story better be good." Similarly, Jackson basically forces her to go to some party that she clearly would rather avoid. He's pushy and disrespectful and... well, you get the idea. My biggest issues are with the narration though. It really drags on. Some of these paragraphs can easily be snipped and trimmed, espeically in the redundancies. As an example: "Well that was weird. Surely he wasn't upset that I was surfing the net during class?" Only one of those sentences is necessary, or they can be combined into one very easily. The other problem is that there's a lot going on--the assignemnt, the book review (which stands out as odd, and does not add to any plot points), the Jackson forcing her to go to a party... it just seems to dump three major subplots/main plots into one small section, and as a result, this piece is really crowded. Choose one and flesh it out a little more, let the characters breathe a little within the narrative (so to speak). Honestly, the narration here could be two, or possibly three short chapters of a book, rather than one that seems to rush everything together. The biggest thing is wihtin the assignment we get a huge tell about the narrator's background. I like the hero's backstory to come out slowly, and it engages me to want to learn more about who I'm seeing this through the eyes of. By offering it all up, right there, I'm left with little mystery. It also tells rather than shows me what's happened to her--this can be one of the strongest parts of a backstory, especially if it keeps the pages turning.

As for your question about "knows no bounds," it should be "knew", because the story is in past tense. It doesn't make him sound dead, it's just the way it's written.

Lastly, as said by InstituteMan, there's too much telling and not enough showing in your narration, but I attribute some of this with the first person narration and her talking so much about her own perceptions of things around her. Still, I'd like to see more than hear about it.

EDIT: That all being said, it did make me want to read more, I especially like the personality you've got for Scarlett. (Sorry about the edit, I realized I forgot to mention this)

June 2nd, 2014, 07:06 PM
Thanks SO MUCH! I will review this closer when I get home tonight but looks like great stuff. I am dying to rewrite this scene now with all of the great feedback I've gotten! I've read several books on writing fiction in the last 6 months or so, and everything that has been said I've read in some form or another. There is so much to learn it is somewhat overwhelming initially. But now, with specific technique issues being pointed out, I can go back and review those areas, and I'm sure that they are going to make so much more sense to me now :) I love the learning process and appreciate the time everyone has taken to give me feedback.

June 13th, 2014, 05:38 AM
Thanks everyone for the feedback! I've done a lot of rework and re-posted into the initial post.

June 30th, 2014, 06:35 PM
Here is a link to scene 2 in case anyone has time for a critique: http://www.writingforums.com/threads/148595-Working-Title-I-am-Scarlet-Stephens-2nd-Scene-in-a-New-Adult-Romance-2800-words?p=1748950#post1748950