Here is my first 13 for my current work in progress:
"Molly Wake up, you've got to get the kids up we've got to go!" Dennis said shaking her wake. "What? What are you talking about?" Molly said rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. "Go where?" "Never mind where, we just need to go and now." Dennis said, as heran around the room stuffing things in a bag. "Come on we've gotta." "Dennis, you're not making any sense. What's going on?" "Look Molly, we have to go! Get the kids up and ready to go or we are all going to die. Now come on!" Molly stood up and walked into the other room and roused her kids. Dennis had never acted so odd, but he was not one to panic so something must be really wrong. She got the kids up and dressed them in their traveling clothes, in a matter of minutes.
[This message has been edited by jeffrey.hite (edited May 09, 2011).]
I'm not saying this story is anything like it, but this opening reminds me quite a lot of 'The Stand'.
Anyway, I like the hook here and I'm a fan of openings with dialogue. My main problem with the opening is that I think you need to vary the tone and structure more: how many sentences here start with "She"? And then look at the first two paragraphs, both open with dialogue and are then followed by "Dennis said" and "She said".
That third paragraph could do with some reworking I think. There is no tag on the dialogue, but it has to be Dennis speaking but the "She watched" part could lead to confusion for the reader as to who is speaking. Maybe change that a little to something like: "Never mind........." Dennis crammed some mismatched socks and knickers into the bag. "Come on......" I think that just simplifies the flow of the dialogue and clears up any possible confusion.
I think you could make the dialogue more naturalistic, too. Here we have a scene with a woman who has just awoken and a man who fears for his families life. Would they be saying "you are" and "we are"? I'd think "you're" and "we're" might sound more natural in such a situation.
I like it and would read more. Perhaps use crazy instead of odd. Because he just said they were all going to die which is more than just odd -- and his wife is just told that she's going to die but then walks into the next room. You'd think she would haul ass and knock over a lamp or something. Also get the kids ready -- more like get the kids and get in the fu*&ing car!
But yeah I just read it again and the guy is scrambling around stuffing stuff into a bag -- perhaps the wife only walks because she's groggy still. Maybe that could be more clear.
Good stuff. I want to know why everybody is going to die.
Having one character abruptly waking up another character just prior to or during an emergency is a workable enough hook, but I exited the first 13 knowing the same about of nothing about what that emergency is as I did when I started. Dennis’ attempts to wake up Molly do contain a sense of urgency, but he used variations of “Come on” and/or “We have to go” in three separate lines. Bringing the “we are all going to die” line (which is the most potent hook you’ve got so far) closer to the beginning might alleviate the need for so many “Come on” and/or “We have to go” lines (which don’t nearly carry the same punch as the mention of death), which would give you enough room to mention why they’re going to die within the first 13.
When I read this, I like the jump up and go sound of Dennis. I really felt like I was coming into this story at the moment is really started.
However, I felt Molly's reaction wasn't realistic IMO. I know if I told my wife to wake up and go, she sure as hell would expect a better answer then to repeat myself. I think this ties into what another said about not really knowing anymore about the crisis at the end.
You could almost cut it and make it both more believable while allowing you to get more info in your hook:
quote: "Molly Wake up, you've got to get the kids up we've got to go!" Dennis said shaking her wake. "What? What are you talking about?" Molly said rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. "Go where?" "Look Molly, we have to go! Get the kids up and ready to go or we are all going to die. Now come on!" Molly stood up and walked into the other room and roused her kids. Dennis had never acted so odd, but he was not one to panic so something must be really wrong. She got the kids up and dressed them in their traveling clothes, in a matter of minutes.