Author Topic: Submitting my novel to a publisher today. Kindly review the opening pages (1164)  (Read 1448 times)

Offline deliriouswriter

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
GLORIA'S GOLDEN REVENGE

-CHAPTER ONE-

The little restaurant is crowded, because it is a holiday, and the food is good and reasonably priced. Like many popular little restaurants, it serves a variety of cuisines, all of which the ambience tries valiantly to reflect¬ red Oriental lanterns dangle heavily from the ceiling, throwing silhouettes of ornate Mandarin characters on the walls, which are adorned with photos of sumptuous Mediterranean food of the sort obviously not provided here. Waiters in shabby, threadbare tuxedos weave past the creaky tables, carrying dosas masquerading as crepes. An old black-and-white television set shows the news on mute from the counter, while a weepy shehnai plays softly from a pair of speakers at the back.

All the tables and booths have been taken by noisy families enjoying the day off, except the one under a pair of speakers in the back.

That one is occupied by a little girl called Gloria, who is swinging her legs under her chair and fiddling with a small, brown, hastily-wrapped package lying on the table before her.

Even though she is eight years old and quite alone, Gloria cuts an uncharismatic enough figure to not draw much attention to herself. Our heroine has pale skin that betrays a disdain for outdoors, wide eyes, a snub nose, and the stern, unadventurous mouth of an old lady. Her head is somewhat bigger than one would like, her hair fountains over her ears in two lush ponytails, and she sits with a slouch she is not quite tall enough to be entitled to. She is plainly dressed in an olive-green kurta and blue jeans.

A tinkle of bells at the door interrupts our examination of our redoubtable protagonist- a man and a woman have just entered the restaurant.

The newcomers are both dressed in police officer uniforms, although the woman looks a star or two more senior. She is a plump, jolly-looking lady with leaks of wiry grey hair beneath her cap, perhaps easier imagined sitting behind a mahjong table.

As for the man, however, his uniform could have come clotheslined to his umbilical cord. He is tall and well-built, with a straight arrowhead of a nose, and dark, fluffy hair that slides down his face into a beard of the same bounty and texture.

The lady officer makes some enquiry of the cashier, who rises slightly from his stool, surveys the restaurant and finally points at Gloria. The little girl waves at them, and they jostle and weave their way in her direction.

"Are you Gloria?" asks the lady officer, standing beside Gloria's table but not taking a seat as yet.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Berridge!" sings Gloria in reply.

"Good afternoon, good afternoon...I'm so sorry," says Mrs. Berridge, in apparent reference to the fact that she's twenty-five minutes late. "My deputy, Mr. Days-" she indicates the bearded man dawdling behind her, "-had some urgent business requiring my attention."

Mr. Days gives a polite, if slightly disinterested, nod.

"That's no problem, Mrs. Berridge," says Gloria genially.

"Though I still don't know why you wouldn't give me your address over the phone," huffs Mrs. Berridge. "It would have been so much more convenient for you..."

Gloria begins to babble something about it not having been an issue at all, and how, holiday or not, she didn't want to eat into such a busy officer's schedule. As she talks, Mrs. Berridge's eyes slide away from her face onto the little parcel on the table.

"Is that it, then?" Mrs. Berridge asks, reaching for it, but the little girl smacks her palm firmly over the package before the officer’s fleshy fingers can touch it.

"Wait. No," says Gloria importantly. "If only there was some way I could know it IS in fact Mrs. Berridge’s company I am enjoying the pleasure of, that would be great."

Mrs. Berridge bites a smile as she produces her driver's licence from her wallet for the girl’s benefit.

Satisfied, Gloria lets the package slide across the table.

"A terrible mix-up," she sighs theatrically, shaking her head. "You just can't trust the postal system anymore. It's not even the first time. Last year I had a trampoline addressed to a circus in Bangladesh turn up at my doorstep. I kept it, naturally."

Mrs. Berridge lifts up the parcel to her left ear and shakes it. A jingling of silverware. Everything seems to be in order.

"Well, that's that, ma'am," says Gloria, getting to her feet. "Have a good day!"

"Wait," says Mrs. Berridge, frowning. "Are you already leaving?"

"Yes'm. I just wanted to give you that thing."

"Where are you going?"

"Home, ma'am."

"How long have you been sitting here?"

"About an hour, I think."

"Have you had lunch yet?"

"I'll eat once I get home, Mrs. Berridge," Gloria tells her, with a bleak smile. "So I'd best be leaving now. I don't want my leek soup to get warm."

"Sit," instructs Mrs. Berridge, sliding into the booth opposite Gloria and beckoning a free waiter. "Sit, sit! Oh, Mr. Days, where are you off to?!"

Gloria slowly obeys. Mr. Days, evidently thinking the meeting was over and already halfway to the door, turns. Mrs. Berridge pats the seat beside her, and he returns, looking confused.

The summoned waiter arrives with three menus- Mr. Days refuses his; Mrs. Berridge and Gloria begin to peruse theirs.

"Honey lamb sticks, dry," states Mrs. Berridge, snapping her menu shut. "And a glass of water, please."

The waiter looks at Gloria.

"Chicken sweet-corn soup, pan-fried chicken garlic noodles, chilly chicken with gravy," says Gloria, her eyes rolling up and down the entire length of the menu. "And dumplings..."

She frowns, taking ages to make up her mind. Mr. Days drums his fingers on the tabletop.

"Soya bean," she decides at last, her stubby nose in the air.

The waiter writes that down and leaves for the kitchen.

"So, ahem, Gloria, tell us about yourself," says Mrs. Berridge, with an air of general, placid approval of the child. “What school do you go to?”

“I’ll be joining Ararat Convent Primary School tomorrow.”

“Oh, I know that one. It’s supposed to be very good. And your family?”

“They’re too old for school, ma’am.”

“Haha! I meant, tell us about them.”

“You want to know about my family?”

"Yes, why not?" says Mrs. Berridge, taking a leisurely sip of the water that a second waiter has just placed before her.

"Ma'am, I am the daughter of Rupert and Edith Bell. Perhaps you've heard of them?"

As Gloria perfectly anticipated, Mrs. Berridge chokes on her drink- she gives a great cough, water sprays across the table; Mr. Days's elbow slips off the table.

"What did you say?" says Mr. Days weakly, his eyes watering as he massages his bruised chin.

"You heard me, sir,” says Gloria, calmly reaching for a set of tissues to mop up. “I am their daughter."

Mr. Days begins to look extremely uncomfortable, but Mrs. Berridge steeples her fingers over the tabletop thoughtfully.

Offline hillwalker3000

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6018
  • Now officially a 'dude'
    • View Profile
Quote
Submitting my novel to a publisher today. Kindly review the opening pages.

So far so good. It's well-written, apart from an over-abundance of adjectives and adverbs. There's also the issue of authorial intrusion in the way you confide in the reader.

Our heroine has pale skin that betrays a disdain for outdoors. . . A tinkle of bells at the door interrupts our examination of our redoubtable protagonist- a man and a woman have just entered the restaurant.

I find this style of narrative hopelessly old-fashioned, but if you have chosen carefully your prospective publisher might not. Good luck, anyway.

H3K

Offline deliriouswriter

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Thanks for your feedback :)

I won't attempt to justify the overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, because they are integral to the natural flow of my prose. Flawed or not, I wouldn't have it any other way. However, I do believe (hope?) they become less noticeable after a while.

The narrative intrusion definitely fades once the story begins to unfold, only to pop up again briefly as the story concludes.

Thanks once again for reading, and for your wishes. Cheers!


Lin

  • Guest
To me this feels so detached in this tense.  All I can see is the narrator sitting there, telling me the story.  I am a reader who loves to be in there with the characters and with this, I am just not there.  It's written as I would write a synopsis. I found it a bit old fashioned.  What is right for you isn't always right for the reader.   

Good luck with your submissions.  There will be plenty of them no doubt.  I don't mean that as a criticism of your work, but I am being realistic, that's the way of things. I suggest you send out a batch of them and see what happens.

Good luck

Lin

Offline Oceaxe

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 524
    • View Profile
Hi DW. Welcome to the Circle. If you've already submitted this then anything I say will be irrelevant but here goes.

Way, way, way too much description. Too slow and rambling. Unless your putative publisher is getting paid to read it I doubt s/he will read past the first page. You won't want to hear this but you're going have have to look at your writing style if you really want people to read your work. If you are writing simply for your own pleasure then carry on writing any way you like, most of us want to be read by others so we are obliged to take the reader into account. Sorry to be so negative but taking advice now might save you a lot of rejections in the future. Having said all that, this is only my opinion and you are free to take it or leave it.

Nit picks

Quote
Mrs. Berridge bites a smile as she produces her driver's licence from her wallet for the girl’s benefit.
- why a drivers’ licence? Surely a police officer would carry a warrant card (or its US equivalent).

Quote
"Sit," instructs Mrs. Berridge, sliding into the booth opposite Gloria and beckoning a free waiter. "Sit, sit! Oh, Mr. Days, where are you off to?!"

Gloria slowly obeys. Mr. Days, evidently thinking the meeting was over and already halfway to the door, turns. Mrs. Berridge pats the seat beside her, and he returns, looking confused.

The summoned waiter arrives with three menus- Mr. Days refuses his; Mrs. Berridge and Gloria begin to peruse theirs.

"Honey lamb sticks, dry," states Mrs. Berridge, snapping her menu shut. "And a glass of water, please."

The waiter looks at Gloria.

"Chicken sweet-corn soup, pan-fried chicken garlic noodles, chilly chicken with gravy," says Gloria, her eyes rolling up and down the entire length of the menu. "And dumplings..."

She frowns, taking ages to make up her mind. Mr. Days drums his fingers on the tabletop.

"Soya bean," she decides at last, her stubby nose in the air.

The waiter writes that down and leaves for the kitchen.
- this just isn’t going to work! You arrive at an important point in your plot development and then start talking about menus!

Good luck. I hope you stay with us and prove me wrong.



Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Offline hillwalker3000

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6018
  • Now officially a 'dude'
    • View Profile
I won't attempt to justify the overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, because they are integral to the natural flow of my prose. Flawed or not, I wouldn't have it any other way.

In that case, you're going to find it difficult if and when you find a publisher. There are two reasons for this.

1) The publisher is in the business of promoting books that will hopefully sell in enough quantities to make them a profit. If the writing needs changing to make it palatable, so be it. But they will factor this into their budget. If it needs a great deal of editing, they'll probably decline as the cost up-front will be economically prohibitive.
If you wouldn't have it any other way, then I suggest you self-publish because no editor in their right mind is going to sanction a style of writing they know is intrinsically flawed. Self-publishing means you get to see your book exactly as you imagined it.

2) More words = more pages = more cost to the publisher of physically printing the book.

Personally, I don't see how over-describing can contribute to the 'natural flow' of your story other than slowing it down to a crawl.

H3K

Offline deliriouswriter

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Thank you all for your views.

I realise I may have been indulging in whats called throat clearing here.

I will clean it up before sending it. Also, I'll get rid of the narrative intrusion, if so many people find it jarring.

Thanks!

Lin

  • Guest
I really dont think this novel of yours is finished enough to send it out.  How many drafts have you done?  Only when you get at least five positive reviews here, will your book be ready to roll, that's the way I look at it.  Everything Hillwalker has said about it, I would say the same things too.  You only see your book as you want to see it and to hell with your readers.  This is not the right attitude for any author.

Adverbs slow down the action of the text.  You should make sure that your dialogue reflects the mood of the character without putting in SLOWLY, CALMLY, etc. The occasional adverb is fine, but try and find an alternative where possible.  

I really don't like the tense you are using.  In fact, I hate it.  I can only see the author writing a synopsis. It takes away the mood of the story.  Try writing this in first person or third person past tense. That is the norm these days.  

The summoned waiter arrives with three menus- If you wrote it thus:  He summoned the waiter who arrived with three menus.   I can feel the story so much better.  

So please have another think about your attitudes toward your writing and the way it is written. In my opinion, this work is unfinished. Sorry to sound so negative, but I only want to be truthful about it how it feels to me.  

Lin
« Last Edit: June 03, 2017, 10:12:17 AM by Lin Treadgold - Author »

Offline Claudia_Witter

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 61
    • View Profile
My own openings often end up failing, but as a reader I feel I have better judgement. So I'll tell you how I saw things as a reader.

Now, I know this is going to sound mean, but I have to agree that I'm not sure this story is ready to submit yet. First off, the opening paragraph is all description with no clear protagonist, which immediately lost my attention. From what I've heard, if the agent isn't interested in the first few paragraphs, they're likely to just stop reading, as I did after a few. In fact, when I'm searching for books to buy, if the first page doesn't capture my attention in some way, I'll put it down and move on to another. I suppose it's like this: there are so many books I can buy, and I know I can't afford them all. So if one doesn't "hook" me, why not look for something else? With how many submissions agents get, it's probably a bit like looking through a whole bookstore and knowing you can't buy every single book. If that makes any sense.

There was also the way it felt so distant from the protagonist. I'll read stories where I don't like the MC that much if the plot is good, but my favorite stories all have characters I really love, and with how distant this feels, I don't get to see what your MC is like. Even with the protagonists I like and don't "love," I still know who they are/what they feel.

Maybe consider opening from Gloria's POV and weaving in little bits of description, so the reader isn't overwhelmed.

Offline deliriouswriter

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Thanks for the comments, people! I didn't come here to fish for compliments and I'm genuinely grateful some of the problems which escaped my doting eye could be caught beforehand.

I haven't submitted it yet, but I did in fact change the tense and give the book another clean edit, eliminating what I thought could be eliminated while preserving the essence of the scene/story. I got it down to 256 pages, down from 296. I'm having a couple of friends take a look at it before sending it out for real this time.

Don't want to sit on it too long waiting for perfection to strike.

I got what I wanted out of this forum. Thanks once again and best of luck.

Lin

  • Guest
Well... I have to say that as near to perfection is what you need.  Don't just send it out when you know in your own heart that something isn't quite right.  Fix it.  Make your work the best it could ever be.  I prefer to be slow and wait rather than 'marry in haste- repent at leisure'

Good luck though. 

Lin

Offline Oceaxe

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 524
    • View Profile
Quote
I got what I wanted out of this forum. Thanks once again and best of luck.

You could always hang around and try your hand at criticising the work of others. You never know, you might learn something!
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Lin

  • Guest
Good idea OC.  x

Offline hillwalker3000

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6018
  • Now officially a 'dude'
    • View Profile
I got what I wanted out of this forum. Thanks once again and best of luck.

Rather damning. It would have been nice if you reciprocated in the spirit of MWC. You'll get more by sticking around and giving feedback on other posters' work than asking for it then disappearing because you believe your own writing skills have peaked.

H3K

Lin

  • Guest
Quote: I'm having a couple of friends take a look at it before sending it out for real this time.

I wouldn't advise anyone to do this.  Friends never tell you the truth, they are scared to lose you. 

Beta readers are best - these are people who write in the same genre as you and know what is required. They are people that will tell you ' I'm sorry I couldn't read this book past the first chapter because ...  Or they might say, I loved reading this until I got to Chapter 15 and it all seemed to fade away. Perhaps you ought to try ... 

Be prepared for the reality check.

Friends, however, will rarely tell the truth. 

Just saying, that's all.

Lin