Monday, July 2, 2012

First Impressions: CROSSING THE CULTURE

Our First Impressions for July begins with Honey Rose who is sharing the first page of her contemporary suspense story set in the rainforests of South America, where she once lived for a year. It’s titled CROSSING THE CULTURE.


As Ellie and Kate flew over the Gulf of Mexico, the sun set and the sky grew black around them. After dinner was served, the cabin was darkened for the passengers to sleep during the remainder of the four hour flight from Miami, but the two young friends were restless. It was the first time since starting college that Ellie would be reunited with her large family again, and Kate, her coworker from the restaurant had never been to Ecuador before. The flight attendant announced the impending arrival and Kate leaned forward to catch sight of the lights of the city. Ellie had explained that the city was nestled in a valley in the Andes mountain range, but the mountains were invisible in the darkness.

The plane came around in a steep turn and the lights down below came into view. It looked like a chaotic mess of stars, concentrated in the middle like a galaxy and then spreading out up the sides of the mountains. The wheels hit the runway and bounced twice, braking hard on the short runway to bring the plane to a stop.

The flight attendant opened the door and prepared for the passengers to exit. Kate made her way to the top of the stairs and a blast of cold air hit her. She was wearing a sweatshirt but realized that this would not be enough.

“Brr, Ellie! You were right, it’s freezing here,” Kate complained as she made her way down the stairs.

“I tried to tell you. Did you bring a coat?”


What stands out most for me in this passage is the description of the city lights in the invisible mountains: It looked like a chaotic mess of stars, concentrated in the middle like a galaxy and then spreading out up the sides of the mountains.  I’d like to see that description expanded, and I think the page should start with it – followed by (or possibly preceded by) conversation between the two girls as the city comes into view. (And let’s get the name of the city.)

The first paragraph as it stands is a summary of their trip and their back story, which is not a great way to open.  I think Honey should pull her readers into the story by putting us in that plane with Kate and Ellie.  Who they are and why they’re headed to Ecuador is background information we can pick up through dialogue or bits of narrative shared in later pages.

Why not let us experience the girls’ excitement through their dialogue?  Ellie can point out what her friend is missing in the darkness, and Kate can bemoan the fact that she’s missing it, until that beautiful galaxy of lights comes into view.  Show us the camaraderie between the girls, so that we’ll start out liking them from the very first page and want to join them on this adventure!

Thanks, Honey, for sharing your first page with us! Readers, please share your thoughts and also check out Marcy’s comments on the same page at Mainewords. You can find Honey at her blog Stories to Share.

I’ll be skipping Wednesday, since it’s the Fourth of July and returning on Friday with our second First Impression post.

Picture: Image: 'IMG_1812' 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/94109405@N00/3886673946

13 comments:

  1. Love the description of the city, but I agree with Dianne. The book doesn't start in the right place. The beginning is telling of the backstory. We need to feel the character's excitement. I didn't get that from the beginning, but that's an easy fix. :D

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  2. Great suggestions, Dianne. I completely agree. The opening paragraph doesn't hook the reader. Your suggestion for beginning with that description and expanding on it would really help.

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  3. Great suggestions, Dianne!

    I would add that having a conversation would help clarify which character is the main/POV character. I was confused about that. At first it seemed like it was Ellie, but then we were in Kate's POV.

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  4. I like your suggestions Dianne. Didn't really get pulled in like you would hope, and those changes could achieve that goal. :)

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  5. I left more details at Marcy's but I agree this might not be starting in quite the right place. I too loved the description of the city at night, even though I hate flying!

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  6. Nice work, Honey! I do agree with Dianne's suggestions, though. :)

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  7. Yes, I feel like I need some more dialogue or something to suck me in and engage me more. That being said there are some very nice descriptive passages.

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  8. I, too, like the image of the lights of the city emerging from the darkness, and agree that using this image as an opener to hook your readers is a great idea. Capture the breathtaking beauty of it, and the sense of excitement and adventure it invokes, and your readers will be interested in knowing exactly what kind of adventure lies ahead.

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  9. I also felt the beginning was a little clunky but I liked the imagery of the city lights. Good luck revising this piece, Honey. :-)

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  10. Dialogue is a great idea. I sense the their anticipation so with dialogue it give it a pow! Nice job. :)

    Happy 4th Dianne! Enjoy!

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  11. Before I forget, I saw this pix on pinterest and thought of book The Caged Graves. Check it out.
    http://media-cache-ec8.pinterest.com/upload/94716398383348935_WG09RrLL_f.jpg

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  12. You picked out my favorite sentence! Those were my exact thoughts when I saw the city for the first time. You and Marcy have both given me some great suggestions and a new direction- so back to the drawing board I go! Thanks again.

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  13. You picked out my favorite sentence! Those were my exact thoughts when I saw the city for the first time. You and Marcy have both given me some great suggestions and a new direction- so back to the drawing board I go! Thanks again.

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