Writing, promotion, tips, and opinion. Pour a cuppa your favorite poison and join in.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Jaunt in Jasper

Our last first page comes from Kristen Smith - Thank-you! - a contemporary romance tentatively called, JAUNT IN JASPER. My comments will be in purple and I hope you'll add yours :)

 Tara Stevens’ honey beige L’Oreal Paris foundation couldn’t hide the paleness (this suggests an omniscient narrator. If you are going for close third person, I wouldn't include details like this as people don't notice how pale they are unless they look in a mirror) that swept over her face when she realized the terminal to her plane was a staircase leading down to the tarmac. Thirty feet away was the smallest plane she had ever seen with two classic propellers on either wing screaming antique. Wasn’t there an advanced twenty-first century reason why every other plane she’d ever been on had jet engines? 
    As she climbed up the pull-down staircase and peered through the plane’s door, her jaw dropped. This plane was too small. Much too small. The tiny interior only large enough to house one row of seats, then an aisle, then two more rows of seats. Amazingly enough, she had an aisle AND a window seat. Which did not give her a good feeling.
    She hated to fly. As a local Richmond lawyer, she rarely flew for work, but each time she did, she hated it. She despised everything about it--taxiing down the runway, small talk with strangers, cramped quarters, nasty airline food she actually had to pay to eat.
     Then there was the one thing she hated the most about flying. The thing that set her nerves on edge and wrapped fear around her heart. Landing. Landing was the worst. She always pictured the plane spinning out of control as the wheels hit the tarmac. It’s giant belly sliding along the concrete until it burst into flames. It didn’t help her already delicate state when the brakes made a thunderous noise like the plane was about to explode at any second. No, that didn’t help her nerves at all.
    She sucked in air as she tried to calm those nerves. The pilot’s voice came on over the loudspeaker announcing their departure. Tara pictured him and his buddy hanging out in the front of the plane, sipping a latte, perfectly at ease, while she was about to have a coronary in the middle of the two-prop plane. She glanced out the window. Just her luck to be seated right beside the left propeller. As the blades started to move, picking up speed and slicing through the air, Tara’s hands gripped her arm rests until her knuckles turned white. (Here's another spot where you need to be clear about your pov. Do you want to say, Tara's hands gripped or Tara gripped? Do you see the difference?) She pictured tiny sparks flying off the propellers once they were four thousand feet in the sky. Why, oh why, did she have to get the seat next to the turbines?
    She thought back to the reason she was in this mess in the first place. Her husband Jack. Oh, he was a jack alright. A jack-off, jerk face, no good, good for nothin’, piece of shi-ite. There weren’t enough vile adjectives in the thesaurus to describe what he was. Detestable, abhorrent, disgusting, dishonorable, abominable, loathsome--those were a few that immediately came to mind. But the best one. Philandering snake.

My first question is, is Tara's fear of flying important? If so then this is all fine - although I might cut it shorter -  but if not then I'd just briefly show she doesn't like flying and move on to what's really happening, like where is she going? What sort of mess is she in? How did she get there? That's what I want to know. I don't care that she hates flying (unless there's going to be a plane crash...) but I do want to know what Tara's situation is and how she got there. What else is she feeling beneath the fear of flying? 

Those are my thoughts about this first page and I hope you' chime in with yours :)


Charity Bradford said...

Hm, this is where I show how strange I am. I actually like a page or two that's just getting to know the character, but I'm old-school like that.

Is it important how much she hates flying? If not, maybe the compromise is to cut all that part in half. I do like knowing that about her though. Helps me connect with her, even though I LOVE flying. I can get in the seat next to her.

I'm also wondering if she's going to see Jack. Is there going to be a reconciliation? If so, maybe you can add a little line after all her thoughts about what a no good guy he is that says something to the fact that she missing him anyway, or is still hot for him or something. That would be a nice touch of conflicted emotions.

Patchi said...

There is a lot to like in here, I really felt her fear. I think you could leave it all in if you brought up why she's flying earlier. So we know why she's facing her fear.

I would mention Jack when she sees the plane. Like: Only Jack would get me to fly in something like this. Then say who Jack is a paragraph later, in between her reactions to the plane. And hint to why she needs to see him in person. Listing his despicable characteristics is a great way to get her through takeoff.

But Marcy's right. An opening like this screams plane crash.

Good luck!

mshatch said...

Oh, good, I always like when someone disagrees with me :)

Kristin Smith said...

Thanks everyone for your thoughts! Thanks Marcy for pointing out the POV shift, I hadn't noticed it. I do want it to read as a close third person, so that was helpful to see where I needed to work on that.

So, as far as the airplane scene...No, there isn't going to be a plane crash. I wish I had added the next paragraph which tells why she's on the plane. After finding her husband in bed with another woman, Tara hastily decides to book a hiking tour deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, anything to get away from her lyin', cheatin' husband.

I wanted the airplane scene to show her fear of flying, which also translates into her fear of adventure. This trip incorporates everything Tara is not. She hates flying. She hates adventure, and she's about to get an eye-opening experience, especially with her ruggedly handsome tour guide...

Don't know if that helps clarify, but y'all have given me lots to think about.


Liza said...

I am curious about Tara, too, but would like to get there quicker. There is a lot of telling on this page (her fear of flying...you want to show us instead), and many extra details, such as the thesaurus part. I could see you, the writer, opening the book and jotting down the words. It was too much and took me out of the story. I'd end it at shi-ite. Still, I'm wondering about that nasty husband and what this is all about!