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Elsey2
July 30th, 2014, 12:49 AM
If anyone could possibly give me pointers on this opening and if you find it at all effective/hooking that would be great. I am looking for any and all critical reviews on this piece. I've written 15 chapters so far, but this is the opener. Thanks in advance. I am loving the site so far! :)




Prelude
June20

The sound of sirens was the lastthing the residents of Harbor Bay expected to hear just weeks into the summer. Likeevery year, the beach community had been preparing for another fun, eventfulsummer. Times were supposed to be happy and carefree; though no one felt thatway; not at that instant. Delilah couldn’t take her eyes offof the hysterical woman, whose arms reached past the grasp of the policeofficer who was holding her back. She was a mother; her teenage daughter hadbeen missing for more than a week and cast off as a runaway. From the look inher eyes, even for that brief, heartbreaking moment, Delilah could see that thedevoted parent hadn’t believed it for a second. Shemust have been sitting up nights waiting for this day, Delilah thought toherself, dreading this day. Mason’s arm rested snugly around hershoulders, as it always did. He, too, looked as if he was in shock. There wasnothing any of them could do or say to profess their undying sadness andcondolences to the stranger before them. “I need to see her!” the womanshrieked. Her voice was shrill, and high-pitched and desperate. “Is that him?Is that the one who… who did this to her?” Delilah’s eyes fell upon the ghastlyscene. She knew she would never get the woman’s voice out of her mind. Theincident at hand was something that had the ability to change a person. Shefelt it, and from the tight grip of Mason’s fingers around her shoulder, sheknew he felt it too. Police lights decorated the faces ofeveryone in the immediate area, though seemed to highlight hysterical motherand the perpetrator. A chaotic mix of reds and bluesdanced menacingly across the middle-aged woman’s face. The lights seemed tohighlight the nightmare that had come true for the hardworking mother of three.They were relentless and wouldn’t let her be. The devil; that’s what passedthrough Delilah’s mind next as her eyes focused on the young man being pusheddown by the top of his head into the police car. The tranquil nature of hisface and certain look in his bloodshot eyes as the red lights crashed over hisbody made her want to squirm. The icing on the cake was his smirk; anexpression so subtle that it was quite possible that no one else had picked upon it. He’sthinks he’s going to walk, Delilah thought, unable to keep herself fromshaking her head. He thinks he has analibi. He thinks his parents and all of their money will get him off the hook.He doesn’t even care. She searched his face in the final second before thecruiser door slammed shut. There was not even a trace ofhumility.

oggmeister
July 31st, 2014, 03:30 AM
First off, there's something wrong with how you posted this entry as there are a number of words that are smashed together, making it challenging to read. Also, spacing this into separate paragraphs would help us read through the story. I know these are nits but visually, the piece is difficult to read.

As I read through this I got a good idea of the scene but I felt like you missed a real opportunity to hook me. In general, I would reduce the exposition and put the reader more in the scene. As I visualized this scene, I felt there are a number of dramatic moments that could have pulled me in but didn't really hook me. For instance, when the woman is screaming at the suspect, you give us a lot of good information. But I felt like it was in the wrong order - we first learn that she's a mother and her teenage daughter has been missing. After that, we then hear her scream and ask the question of the suspect. I would suggest flipping that around, bringing us into the hysterical nature of the woman first and then letting us know that this is about her missing teenage daughter.

Another suggestion I'd propose since this is the opening section is possibly writing the scene from different perspectives. Specifically, writing from the suspect's perspective may prove to be very useful here. I feel like you have a good idea of this character but it didn't come out quite right for me. I felt it was a bit clunky to project his thoughts from Delilah. But as I've read over it, I think there's a good image there, I just didn't get all of that on the first read.

All in all, I think you have a good start here. I hope this helps.

-Og

ranjit23das
August 8th, 2014, 06:32 PM
Hi there

I agree with oggmeister, the whole passage is merged into one single para. You may want to reformat and repost.

For me this was too microscopic - I could not see the wood for the trees. Help the reader with some more background information. Its summer in Harbor Bay - got that. But where exactly is this scene being played out? Is it morning, noon or night? At the beach was my assumption since you mention Harbor Bay and 'beach community'. At night was my assumption as the police lights play on people's faces. But it could be outside a forest, a hospital, a school in the middle of the day for all the reader knows.

"her teenage daughter hadbeen missing for more than a week and cast off as a runaway"
"Shemust have been sitting up nights waiting for this day"
- A parent who has been waiting for news of their missing child for over a week may be emotionally spent; mentally exhausted from the worry and physically exhausted from the sleepless nights. Just as you describe. Thus, the mother may not have an emotional outburst when the perp is caught - maybe break down in tears and sob alot as her worst fears are confirmed?

Questions running in my mind are:
- Where is the daughter's body? No information on this provided. Was the body found already for the police to be searching for a killer?
- Why did the perp get caught in the middle of town? Surely he would have run away or been in hiding?

"certain look in his bloodshot eyes"
- not sure that if it was night the writer could see if a person's eyes were bloodshot. Even if it was daylight, the writer would need to be standing very close to see the whites of a person's eyes.

"A chaotic mix of reds and blues danced menacingly across the middle-aged woman’s face."
- Lights are inane so cannot menace. A dog can growl and bark and thus be described as menacing. Police lights are simply flashing as they are meant to. If you mean the flashing lights created a menacing atmosphere, describe how.

hvysmker
September 27th, 2014, 08:48 PM
Prelude

June20

The sound of sirens was the lastthing the residents of Harbor Bay expected to hear just weeks into the summer. Likeevery year, the beach community had been preparing for another fun, eventfulsummer. Times were supposed to be happy and carefree; though no one felt thatway; not at that instant.
*** I've never seen two semi-colons so close together before. Maybe you should use a comma for one of them?

Delilah couldn’t take her eyes offof the hysterical woman, whose arms reached past the grasp of the policeofficer who was holding her back. She was a mother; her teenage daughter hadbeen missing for more than a week and cast off as a runaway.
*** I'd use a period rather than semi-colon here?

From the look inher eyes, even for that brief, heartbreaking moment, Delilah could see that thedevoted parent hadn’t believed it for a second.Shemust have been sitting up nights waiting for this day, Delilah thought toherself, dreading this day.
*** I'd take out one of those "this day"s, combining into a single, ".....waiting for AND DREADING this day."?

Mason’s arm rested snugly around hershoulders, as it always did. He, too, looked as if he was in shock. There wasnothing any of them could do or say to profess their undying sadness andcondolences to the stranger before them.
*** Confusing to me. Who was Mason holding, Delilah or the other woman? Since he "always did" it must be Delilah. The problem is that I had to read it twice to catch that fact. You don't want anything to hinder the flow of the reader.

“I need to see her!” the womanshrieked. Her voice was shrill, and high-pitched and desperate. “Is that him?Is that the one who… who did this to her?”Delilah’s eyes fell upon the ghastlyscene.
*** Wasn't Delilah already watching?

She knew she would never get the woman’s voice out of her mind. Theincident at hand was something that had the ability to change a person. Shefelt it, and from the tight grip of Mason’s fingers around her shoulder, sheknew he felt it too.Police lights decorated the faces ofeveryone in the immediate area, though seemed to highlight hysterical motherand the perpetrator.
*** Up close, those lights are distracting. I've been a cop, and it took a little while for me to learn to ignore them. It's difficult to use a notebook to write a report with them flashing onto the page. They can also be intimidating to someone not used to seeing through them, increasing an anxiety level.

A chaotic mix of reds and bluesdanced menacingly across the middle-aged woman’s face. The lights seemed tohighlight the nightmare that had come true for the hardworking mother of three.They were relentless and wouldn’t let her be.The devil; that’s what passedthrough Delilah’s mind next as her eyes focused on the young man being pusheddown by the top of his head into the police car. The tranquil nature of hisface and certain look in his bloodshot eyes as the red lights crashed over hisbody made her want to squirm. The icing on the cake was his smirk; anexpression so subtle that it was quite possible that no one else had picked upon it.He’sthinks he’s going to walk, Delilah thought, unable to keep herself fromshaking her head. He thinks he has analibi. He thinks his parents and all of their money will get him off the hook.He doesn’t even care. She searched his face in the final second before thecruiser door slammed shut. There was not even a trace ofhumility.

As the others mentioned, a lot of run-together words. I'll assume that might be a formatting error, Elsey2. The running together of paragraphs could be the same. You should have used the "Preview" button before the "Posting" one. Also, the way to avoid a lot of formatting errors is to first paste the story into an editor in unformatted form. Then paste from there onto these windows.

As for the story, I noticed a lot of unnecessary words. Too many to bother pointing out. An example would be: "The tranquil nature of hisface and certain look in his bloodshot eyes as the red lights crashed over hisbody made her want to squirm." I'd write it as: "The tranquil look on his face made her want to squirm." For one thing, you can't see bloodshot eyes with a red or blue flashing light. Also, lights don't "Crash". Maybe "Passed over"?

You can use more description in the body of a story, but, here, your purpose is to rein in the reader, throw a rope around his shoulders, and pull him into the story, itself. The shorter and simpler the better.

If it were me reading this prologue at the beginning of a paper novel, my eyes would be briefly flowing downward looking for key words that would pique my interest. The fewer the better.

I didn't notice any real grammar errors except maybe for the excessive semi-colons and what I imagine would be formatting errors.

Charlie

Elsey2
October 6th, 2014, 12:42 AM
Charlie thanks a lot... was looking for some in depth criticism! Thanks!

TKent
October 6th, 2014, 01:00 AM
Hey Elsey2,

I only have time for the overall impact tonight but I'll come back with something more in depth in a few days. I think the story idea is a good one. I'm not sure where you are going to take it but I've always personally been intrigued by this type of story. American Psycho was one of my favorites (which please don't associate that with me from now on just because I mentioned it). I'm quite safe and mostly normal. LOL!

I think the scene itself is one that has high drama and would make a great opening scene. It needs a little polish, tweaking here and there but it is a really great start. And I loved the face on the perp at the end.

Anyway, I liked it a lot and promise to be back in a day or two with specifics (because I like it so much...LOL)

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Forgot to say, that I wasn't planning on critiquing anything but your title snagged me. That says a lot about the title!

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