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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Moonbound [Paranormal Romance Serial Novella Opening]

   
Author Topic: Moonbound [Paranormal Romance Serial Novella Opening]
Sylvia Frost
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Hello, all. My name is Sylvia Frost, and I'm planning on self-publishing a paranormal romance novella come September 30th. I know that this isn't the typical genre here at Hatrack and that most of you guys are sci-fi/fantasy nuts and quite male, but I thought I'd post it anyway for feedback. :-)

Here are the first thirteen:

_____

I swore I'd never buy a gun.

Yet here I am at the counter of Edward’s Arms and Ammo, mustering the courage to ring their customer service bell. Its curved surface warps my reflection so my face flickers between Marilyn Monroe look-a-like to chubby twenty-something and back again as I shift from foot to foot. When I was in high school I used to agonize over my dress size, but I’ve got bigger demons now.

Ding.

I ring the bell, but two minutes lurch by, then three, and my only company remains the stuffed wolf’s head snarling at me from above the cash register. I worry the bandage on my right wrist before trying again.

Ding. Ding. Ding

________

Here is the blurb, for context:

When werebeasts emerged from extinction to attack her parents, Artemis Williams ran. From the Federal Bureau of Supernatural Investigations, her nightmares, and most of all her future as the mate of a werewolf. But after seven years of false alarms, Artemis has decided to return home.

Unfortunately, that’s when destiny invades her dreams in the form of a dangerously sexy arctic werewolf. Her mate. He can set her curvy body on fire with a single look, claim her soul with a touch and Artemis knows it’s only a matter of time until he hunts her down in reality, too.

But he’s not the only monster lurking in the darkness…

Moonbound is 86 pages and the first installment in the Moonfate serial. It contains graphic language, sexually explicit scenes and is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18 or those uncomfortable with issues of consent.

[ August 23, 2014, 05:49 PM: Message edited by: Sylvia Frost ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Are most of us male? I've never taken the time to determine that.

And paranormal romance can be argued to belong to the umbrella term of speculative fiction, right alongside science fiction and fantasy.

So, please, feel welcome here.

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Sylvia Frost
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My stereotypes are showing, Kathleen, you got me! :-) I guess I was just thinking Enders Game etc and this is about as far from that as you can get.
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extrinsic
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Mechanically sound style--grammar and rhetoric.

My willing suspension of disbelief is immediately violated by this opening. Buying a handgun is an intimidating experience, buying any firearm is: background check, waiting period, and a firearm store is an intimidating gauntlet of overt security layers. Buying a firearm isn't like walking into any old boutique store. Many have entrance barriers; a shopper has to be buzzed in at the front, is constantly CCTV monitored, and clerks are at the counter and on the sales floor. Firearms are kept in locked cases at the sales counter during sales times and locked in safes when the store is closed. That's the law. A service bell on the counter to summon a clerk is unrealistic.

Also, Artemis Williams' want is given, though declared directly rather than implied or portrayed in reality imitation (scene); in other words, told. Her problem I feel needs to be given, the reason why she wants a firearm. That feature would naturally be foremost on her mind more so than a counter bell, what she looks like in its reflection, a mounted wolf above the register, or the bandage on her wrist.

Perhaps the opening scene starts later than is ideal; why Williams wants a firearm as a best practice should be portrayed beforehand. That is an event of consequence and natural that introduces a problem that then wanting a firearm completes. The problem, the why, the motivation for purchasing a firearm is the first cause; wanting the firearm is the effect.

Both could be portrayed simultaneously, if Williams thinks--recollects--why she wants a firearm while she enters the gun store and navigates the security layers and red tape. However, I feel the causal scene needs to be established first. I am potentially more curious and potentially more empathetic or sympathetic from why Williams wants a firearm than that she wants a firearm.

I understand an intent to delay revealing fully why Williams wants a firearm. A reason why, though, is essentail.

Openings are for introductions, foremost dramatic complication introductions. A dramatic complication is antagonizing want and problem wanting satisfaction. An antagonizing event is more critical for enagaging readers and developing plot, setting, and characters than a setting or a character introduction, though all the while events take place in antagonizing settings and to antagonizable characters.

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Sylvia Frost
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Gun restrictions have been significantly relaxed since the re-emergence of Werebeasts. The government had to make concessions to right-wingers after they refused to kill all the Werebeasts on site, segregate them, or take other preventative measures. The relaxing of gun legislation was part of that trade-off.

But the reader finds that out later.

I think though, Extrinsic, you're right. My editor read it through and removed some of that backstory as bogging down the pace, but I think we need it in there to ground the reader.

Thank you so much for your feedback!

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Sylvia Frost
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Here it is before my editor got a hold of it and started removing things:

I swore I’d never buy a gun.

My parents hated them, my roommate, Lawrence, lost his first boyfriend to a gang drive-by and me? I can’t even imagine pulling a trigger. But I'm tired of running, and I know that I have to be ready in case my mate finds me. So here I am waiting at the counter of Edward’s & Arms and Ammo, mustering the courage to ring their customer service bell.

Its curved surface warps my reflection so my face flickers between Marilyn Monroe look-a-like to chubby twenty-something and back again as I shift from foot to foot. Looking at makes me yearn to be one of those girls whose biggest demon is her dress size.

[ August 23, 2014, 11:22 PM: Message edited by: Sylvia Frost ]

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MattLeo
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Hmm. Did your editor explain why s/he removed things? I'm guessing there was some concern that Lawrence was an attempt to slip some backstory into the opening, thus reducing the immediacy you're going for with present tense narration (which I don't happen to believe in). That'd explain why Lawrence got the heave-ho and was replaced by a DING DING. Personally I'd have left Lawrence intact.

The edits I'd make in your second paragraph are minor and have to do with flow, rhythm and punctuation:

quote:
My parents hated them. My roommate Lawrence lost his first boyfriend to a gang drive-by. And me? I can’t even imagine pulling a trigger. But I'm tired of running. I know that I have to be ready in case my mate finds me. So here I am waiting at the counter of Edward’s & Arms and Ammo, mustering the courage to ring their customer service bell.
I don't care what your high school English teacher said, sentence fragments are OK in fiction, especially if you are trying to capture the rhythms of thought and speech. Same goes for losing the commas around the appositive phrase "my rooommate, Lawrence," which is technically required but doesn't fit a natural speech rhythm in this case.

This paragraph has a problem:
quote:
Its curved surface warps my reflection so my face flickers between Marilyn Monroe look-a-like to chubby twenty-something and back again as I shift from foot to foot. Looking at makes me yearn to be one of those girls whose biggest demon is her dress size.
Having the heroine catch a glimpse of her comely reflection is a dreadful cliche. Or maybe not. One genre's cliche is another's convention. So while this wouldn't fly in sci-fi or horror it might pass muster in romance.

Let's take this bit at it word, which is always a good starting place. What does it say about the protagonist that in this situation she's thinking about her appearance? Would you? Or is this just literary artifice? It feels like artifice to me. Artifice isn't bad, but it's not supposed to show.

[ September 12, 2014, 07:59 PM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

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wetwilly
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I love the opening line. Very grabby hook. I second the opinion that this is stronger with the explanatory paragraph left in. Gives us a better feel for who the MC is and gives just a taste of world exposition, which also makes an interesting hook in this case.

I think there is a lot of very pretty detail (the bell reflection foremost) that seems extraneous. If buying a gun is such a big deal, why is she thinking about all this other stuff?

Overall, I find this a good opening that could be great with some minor tweaking.

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Sylvia Frost
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Thanks so much guys for the thought! The book is out, and I've had tons of compliments on the hook! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
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