Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Page Contest at Shelley Watters' Blog: My Entry

Hey, all, today's the day everyone participating in Shelley Watters' first page contest needs to post their entry. If you write YA, Middle Grade, memoir, pop-culture non-fiction, or women's commercial fiction you can participate. Post your first 250 words on your blog, hop around to other participants' blogs and offer critiques on their work today and tomorrow (25th and 26th), then post your final version of your first page on Shelley's blog on Monday, the 27th. Winner gets a full manuscript request from literary agent Victoria Marini. Check out Shelley's blog for all the rules and info.

Good luck to everyone.

Here's my entry:


GENRE: Commercial women's fiction/women's suspense

WORD COUNT: 83,000


A shadow breezed past my left elbow in the form of a dark suit. The way it moved was familiar. Blood-chilling. I'd seen it flicker behind me as I explored London the past three days. I was in a Mediterranean restaurant in Shepherd Market, shoes kicked off under the table, sipping a glass of sharp red wine and perusing a city map. The edge of the suit jacket brushed against my arm as the man wearing it strode fluidly toward an alcove seating area ahead, his back to me all the way.

Whatever that inner sensor of danger is that we have, mine started screaming. What seemed like subtle menace yesterday expanded into certainty in an instant. I fumbled for cash in my purse, thrust my feet into their shoes and slid out from behind the table. I tossed a ten pound note onto the white linen cloth, dropped the London map over it, and was out the door, gone before the man had a chance to sit down and miss me.

For a few seconds, standing there on the sidewalk, I couldn't think or get my bearings. Dusk was settling in and everything looked different. I prayed he'd think I'd gone to the Ladies as he gazed across the room at my map keeping a lonely vigil next to a half-empty wine glass. Then it clicked. A couple of blocks away was a main thoroughfare. The kind that the big red doubledeckers ran on. If I could get there and jump on a bus before he spotted me, he'd never find me.

p.s. just scroll down to find CSC's regular Friday blog post by Karlene


  1. This gave me chills Linda! It transported me and I loved it. Best of luck in the contest. I have a feeling you're going to do very well!

  2. Wow, Linda,

    You definitely tightened this up. I was intrigued from the first sentence. Very well done.

    Good luck!

  3. Ooh, scary. Love the sense of urgency this instills. Good luck!

  4. A very chilling opening, Linda. An enticingly set scene of threat to your main character. Would love to know what happens next!

  5. Great tension. Loved it and thought your use of the senses really transported the reader there to your scene. I think any reader would HAVE to turn the page.

  6. Linda, this is fantastic! And... I love the first new chapter. Excellent place to start. Wow! I can definitely feel the power here. Chilling. Gripping. Fantastic. I loved the tension and definitely want to keep reading!

  7. I love how fast-paced everything is. And your descriptions were wonderful. I really felt as though I was there.

    The only thing that bothered me was that the MC was so freaked out just because an inner gut feeling. I know I've had that feeling before too, but I wonder if maybe you should mention it again. Like that the MC is glad to have listened to her intuition. Otherwise, I kept asking myself, "What *exactly* is she so spooked by?"

    Aside from that, I thought it was great. The pace was absolutely perfect and the suspense was spot-on, as well.

  8. I love the setting and the MC being alone in a strange place makes this frightening. I loved the way you let me know she was in a strange place or on vacation by using the map instead of telling me.

    May I comment on the following line?: Whatever that inner sensor of danger is that we have, mine started screaming. I think the "started screaming" could be replaced with a physical reaction.

    Nice tension and overall nice start!

  9. I also love the fact that you set the location with the map and the double deckers. Though having been to London quite a few times, I wonder about the thoroughfare. Are you trying to refer to a spot where many of the routes converge(since the buses run on most roads)?
    I was confused by the position of the suit being familiar and blood chilling. After finishing your last paragraph, which I loved, I was able to go back and understand, but at the first read, it wasn't clear.
    Tension built and I would be turning the page!

  10. I enjoyed that! I had to read it a few times as well. Short sentences where the tension builds would have made more of an impact, I think. The intuition part with yesterday seemed a bit forced. I'm assuming something had to happen yesterday to put her on edge maybe?

  11. "as the man wearing it" instead of "as the man in it". Dunno. Just struck me. The rest is gold. Nicely done! - Tom H.

    Check out my first 250?:

  12. Gah. My internet stopped working when I posted and I lost my comment. I'll try again.

    Sorry I'm late making the rounds. Thanks for your help on mine. I appreciate your input!

    I'm glad you got good feedback on yours, which I love. (I love that the shadow 'flickers' and that the wine is 'sharp'!) Minor suggestions: Change "I was in..." to "I sat in..."

    And maybe switch the order of these two sentences: Whatever that inner sensor of danger is that we have, mine started screaming. What seemed like subtle menace yesterday expanded into certainty in an instant.

    That way the reason it chaged from subtle menace to certainty is explained by her screaming sensor. Just a thought! Good luck! christy

  13. Oooooh, LOVE this!!!! I wanna read more! Good luck! :D

  14. Very strong opening. You set up the intrigue right from the start.