Our final submission for First Impressions this month comes from Blake Haysel. This is the first page of her YA Paranormal Romance, PARADOX.
Sleepy Hollow, Say It Proudly!
My high school’s slogan was printed at the top of the bulletin board I found myself examining in the empty hallway. It was the middle of July. The summertime and I was in school. Voluntarily.
Sleepy Hollow High School is located near the East bank of the Hudson River, with a total of eight-hundred fifty students. The entrance of the school is right along Route 9, like most other important places in town. The large brick and granite sign that reads Sleepy Hollow High School Home of the Horsemen makes sure you can’t miss it. Once you enter the front parking lot you can see and appreciate the high school’s structure. The outside, with its deep warm brown shaded bricks, makes the school appear as if it was erected only a few years ago. The inside is brightly lit, the walls are painted a soft gray – which I guess was in effort to keep rowdy teenagers as calm as possible -- and the floors are freshly buffed and waxed industrial tiles.
I was waiting for my mother, Bianca, to finish her discussion with the assistant principal. It was about allowing me to enter the summer bridge program to earn extra credits for college; I was determined to graduate a year early. My schedule this year was already going to be filled with more classes than any sane student would ask for. So naturally there was resistance from my mother along with my guidance counselor, Ms. Tolkin, but I didn’t budge. After realizing that they didn’t have a choice but to let me take the extra classes they surrendered. “Too stubborn for your own good,” my mother had said, as she always did when there was no changing my mind.
“Thanks again,” I heard a voice call out as the person attached to it exited the secretarial office.
That is when I first see Him. My eyes eat up the body that lies underneath His burgundy Nike T-shirt and beige shorts. I was acutely aware of the way His tight T-shirt showed off His tan and tall, athletic physique enhanced by his obscenely hot broad rounded shoulders. His black hair is cut short and His brown eyes are complimented by a long rounded nose and Orlando Bloom lips. The strength and long length of his fingers quickened my pulse as I pictured them running down my bare back. This guy had All-American quarterback down to a T.
I love the idea of Sleepy Hollow as the setting for a paranormal romance! Lots of potential there, and the school slogan is delightful.
The first thing that needs addressing is verb tense, since the paragraphs switch between present and past tense. The author should pick the one that best serves the story. Present tense is popular with first person POV these days, but if the writer is more comfortable with past tense, that works too.
Secondly, I suggest trimming the description of the school down to the best two sentences to keep it brief and move the focus to the MC faster. Also, if the narrator was eavesdropping on the meeting between her mother and the assistant principal, some of the MC's back story could be conveyed through their dialogue. Having the MC listen to them discuss her class schedule and the summer bridge program might be preferable to explaining it through exposition. Just be careful to avoid the “As you know, Bob …” scenario where the principal and the mother tell each other things they both already know. And keep it brief, too. If necessary, some explanations can wait for later.
Finally, I’m not sure if the boy gets a capital letter for He and Him because he’s divinely hot – or because he’s really divine! (This IS a paranormal romance, after all.) Just be careful not to overdo it, because it can distract the readers and pull them from the story. Maybe Blake could capitalize that first Him and leave the rest of the pronouns alone?
Thank you, Blake, for sharing your first page with us! Readers can find Blake at her blog, The Tattered Page, and don’t forget to visit Marcy at Mainewords for her critique of the same page.