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Thursday, June 5, 2014

First page critique - Last Christmas

The lights went out at the same time Katrina’s phone vibrated on her desk. She grabbed it with shaky fingers, saw her mom’s picture on the screen and swiped to answer.
“Hey, I’m just now leaving.” Katrina took another deep breath to calm her racing heart while her mom fussed at her for being late. “I’m sorry, Mom. Really, I just got busy and didn’t watch the time. They just turned the lights off on me so I’m packing up. It should only take about fifteen minutes to get there.”
Purse, laptop—check. Katrina flipped off her desktop and switched on the flashlight she kept at her desk.
“Mom, I’ve got to hang up or I’ll never get out of here. See you in a few.” She hit end and stuffed the phone in her purse, but she didn’t get up. Instead, she soaked in the silence of the empty office for another minute. It was better than what waited for her at her mom’s famous Christmas Eve party. Loud music, more people than could comfortably fit in the small ranch style home and whatever meat head her mother thought would make a great father for her unborn grandchildren.
With a groan, Katrina grabbed her stuff and headed for the elevators. Time to face the holiday with as much grace as she could muster. She left the elevator and stepped into the cold parking deck pulling her coat closer. The shadows stretched from the pylons, reaching for her with greedy fingers, the sound of traffic on the street below calmed her nerves. There were only a few cars scattered up the incline. She should have been able to see her silver Accord, but a large black van blocked her view. It hadn’t been there this morning.
Katrina glanced behind her. No one was in sight. She stood still and listened, but all she could hear was that same traffic that moments before had made her feel safe. There was no movement, no tell-tale legs that she could see standing between the van and her hidden car. Still, she walked slowly taking a wide berth around the van, heart pounding. When she cleared the van and saw her car sitting there, she let out the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding.
A small laugh escaped as she dug in her purse for her keys. She unlocked the car and walked toward it. Is that eyes in the back window?
The eyes grew larger, accompanied by the swish of fabric and two strong arms wrapping around her waist and neck. Katrina screamed, but the tall man in black just smiled at their reflection in the glass. He didn’t try to stop her from screaming.

My first impression is that this read very smoothly for the most part and I got a lot of character from this first page. Katrina works late (a lot?), shown by the fact that the office lights have gone off (although many offices don't go completely dark, at least in larger towns and cities). She's also not looking forward to her mom's Christmas party and less so to "whatever meat head her mother thought would make a great father for her unborn grandchildren." Loved this btw. But she seems nervous or uneasy (shaky fingers, deep breath to calm herself) and there's no explanation why, although there may be one later. I'm also unsure why she's looking for a bad guy when she gets to the parking area. Is she expecting something to happen? If so mightn't she have some mace or pepper spray? Just a thought. Lastly, I might reword this sentence: "The shadows stretched from the pylons, reaching for her with greedy fingers, the sound of traffic on the street below calmed her nerves." "Shadows stretched from the pylons, the sound of traffic on the street below calming her nerves." The reason I'd cut the greedy fingers is because these words seem like they belong more to fantasy or dark horror rather than suspense, but that's just me. Other than that, I thought this was a pretty darn good first page and I would definitely have read on to see what happens to Katrina. Nice start Charity :)

Now, what do you think of Charity's first page? Any thoughts or comments you'd like to share?


Traci Kenworth said...

The last sentence regarding the reflection, that kind of didn't make sense. Reflection of what? Her eyes? Her face? Why doesn't the attacker care that she screamed? Is the parking lot deserted? Isn't there someone left behind, the ones who turned out the lights in the office?

Huntress said...

The phrase, "beating a dead horse" comes to mind.

You say the same thing over and over. "Shaky fingers, with a groan, racing heart, calm her nerves".

Break away from her emotional feelings. Let us know what she is experiencing then Drop It. The tension is lost when applied too freely.

IMHO, this is an example of Echoing.

*hope we're still friends?*