Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Mania--First Page

One of our readers submitted a first page for critique. A first page of a manuscript must hook an agent or editor. Feel free to make comments, but please keep them constructive.

Critique Archive: 0040

A fistful of mayonnaise makes a decent projectile in a pinch. If I'd been thinking more clearly, I would have grabbed a handful of jalapenos instead, but my vision did this red blurry anger thing and when I ran after Brandon Willardson's black Jeep, what I threw was . . . mayo. It's probably harder to clean up and it's better that way, really. I owe him twice that for the garbage he pulled in my store. I only wish I didn't mean that literally.

I trudged back inside, satisfied with the nasty splat the mayo made before it oozed down Brandon's pristine paint job. It was only fair considering the disaster he left behind him in the sandwich shop. I pushed the door open and it swept aside approximately fourteen thousand of the napkins Brandon and his lame friends had strewn all over the floor. Katie and Tara huddled behind the sandwich bar like the sneeze guard was their last line of defense against me. Which it was.

I said nothing, just stared. Katie cracked first, like I knew she would.

“I'm so sorry,” she said, verging on a blubber. “I don't know what happened!”

I lifted one eyebrow slowly, the way my mom does when we're in trouble and you know the longer it takes to reach its full arch, the more trouble you're in. Even mouthy Tara shifted nervously now. I slowly scanned the wreckage inside Handy's Dandy Sandwiches and then eyeballed them again. “How do you not see this coming?”

A high pitched seal bark escaped Katie. It was her nervous laugh, an involuntary reflex that I hoped for the sake of her future social life, she outgrew soon. Her laugh had summoned me from the back office to catch Brandon Willardson's Band of Merry Idiots wreaking their usual havoc in the dining area. Like his older brothers before him, Brandon had no regard for rules, common sense, or (it could be argued) common decency. Just ask his numerous mooning victims.


Susan said...

Love your hook line. But then you mention the thing Brandon did too many times before telling us what it was that he'd done.

I'd definitely keep reading if you trimmed this down though.

Lana said...

I love the way you jump into this story with a strong emotion and a great visual image. That really draws me in right away. I like the voice and the humor.

A couple of things were confusing to me. First, I don't know what it means to literally pull garbage in a store. When you say literally, I think of dragging rubbish into the store, which points me in the wrong direction. My suggestion is to move a phrase from the subsequent paragraph in place of the confusing one: "I owe him twice that for the disaster he left in my sandwich shop." Then end the paragraph there and take out the "It was only fair..." sentence in the second paragraph. (Did that make sense?)

Second, I'm unsure if this main character is an adult or a teenage worker in a supervisory job. This makes a big difference in how I, as a reader, process this scene. Somethings have more of an adult perspective ("her future social life," "like his older brothers before him") and other phrases have a teen perspective ("the way my mom does when we're in trouble"). I don't think it would take very much to make that clear--just a well-placed phrase somewhere.

Great beginning! I would definitely keep reading.

Rebecca said...

I agree with the other commenters, especially with being confused if the main character is a teen or adult. When I read "I owe him twice that for the garbage he pulled in my store" I thought the character was an adult, but the other phrasing made me flip-flop back and forth a couple of times.

I wanted to keep reading, though!