Monday, January 7, 2008

Monday Mania: First Page

One of our readers submitted the first page of a novel. Feel free to make comments, but please keep them constructive.

Critique Archive 0015:

Chapter 1

Wind slapped my face. With sealed lips, I tapped my camera impatiently. From my early childhood, I somehow found all my ideas were always scrutinized. It led me to avenues which required minimal social interaction and hence most of my thoughts remained unspoken. Photographs offered me a treasured means of expression and an outlet for the passions pent up inside my twenty year old body.

The sun had nearly set over the Photography Hobby Institute of Kolkata, India. The rare absence of my parents, who had gone to visit my sick Auntie, provided an opportunity to stay out later than usual. Students letting out from the football practice I had skipped hung around in groups near the boundary of the dimly lit playground where I sat. A blade of newly cut grass stuck through my pants making me itch. Sharp edges of a stone beneath me bit hard into my thighs. I lowered my body to the ground hoping for a better angle and pointed the lens towards the horizon.

"Look at the geek lying on the field with his digital camera." Someone said behind me.

"Eh, we could use him for a goalpost." A football whistled past nearly grazing my ear. I heard ridicules and hoots of laughter coming from my classmates.

"Look at him. He's not even moving." Another round of howls echoed as the lingering light faded into dusk.

"Yeah, He acts like he's dead." I felt the tip of a shoe poke me.

"What does he think he's going to take pictures of in the dark anyway?" I recognized the voice of the class bully. "Hey DC what are you doing, shooting stars? Haaa haa." I drew a breath, burrowing deeper into the shell of my solitary lifeand ignored their bullying. The commotion quickly subsided as they drifted off in the directions of their homes. I didn't realize I had been holding my breath until I let it go. I badly wanted to get this shot right. For once I wanted to be good at something. I yearned to be able to share the way the world looked to me with others. Maybe then they would understand me better and not tease me as much.

The crescent of the new moon had just begun to rise. In another moment the balance of dark and light would be ideal. I held my breath, my finger poised. My photography instructor's words echoed in my mind. "Debraj, with a little more effort you could enter the institute level photography contest."

Waiting six long months for my turn I had borrowed the only camera available to students which had the capability to capture the images I sought. Perhaps I'd be able to win a prize and have a photograph of mine posted on the display board.

"Ouchhh." The legs of an insect prickled as it crept down the back of my neck reminding me presence of other unknown nocturnal creatures that might be awakening. I felt a prickly heat rash break out. I didn't dare move and risk missing just the right instant. A meteor shot across the sky into the frame of the D30 digital camera, Click. "Perfect." I whispered and quickly made a wish, "I want to become a professional photographer."


Suzanne Lieurance said...


Interesting first chapter.

I'd simply start with the dialogue, then weave in some of that other information from the first couple of paragraphs to let us know where the POV character is, etc.

You'd pull me in right away as a reader with that dialogue. Read that out loud as your opening and see what I mean.

Good start. Will we get to read more of this? Thanks for sharing.

Suzanne Lieurance
The Working Writer's Coach

Annette Lyon said...

I agree. The first sentence or so might work to keep, but most of the first and second paragraphs is what I call "info dump." Work that information in later, preferably in a *showing* manner.

You have some great sensory details here, but be careful about putting too many in a row--that can be overwhelming to a reader, making their eyes glaze over. One page doesn't need this many back to back to create the right ambience.

Good luck!

Julie Wright said...

I agree about the beginning. The info dump is too much. Starting with direct action or dialogue is the best way to pull a reader in.
The part where he says "the football practice I had skipped" leads me to believe he's on the football team, yet the other players treat him as an anomaly. I'd imagine there would be more respect if he was a teammate. If he isn't a teammate then why is he mentioning "skipping" football practice? Good beginning. I want to be a photographer just thinking about getting the shot of the meteor.