Slowing Down for Feedback

I am one of the most impatient people I know. I want everything to happen now! And this is most true when it comes to sending out my work: articles to magazines, letters to potential clients, fiction manuscript to agents and publishers. I am always excited about my project and want to send it off as soon as I’ve finished it. And in the past, I have—only to discover later a typo or inconsistency. Or to come up with a better idea that it’s too late to include.

I am learning—the hard way—to slow down. Let the piece chill for a day, or a week, or a month. Look at it again. Show it others first. Rethink the whole thing. This is not easy for me.

Recently, Helen posted a question about the reader hook. Does the book have to grab you in the first line, the first paragraph, the first page, or the first chapter? I responded: First line is best, but by the end of the first page is essential. So now I need to know if I can pass my own litmus test. This is the first paragraph of my new novel, Secrets to Die For. Is it good enough to make you keep reading?

Sierra shut off the motor and glanced up at the puke-green doublewide with a chunk of plywood over the front window. The near dusk couldn’t hide the broken dreams of the trailer’s occupants, Bruce and Cindy Gorman. But Sierra wasn’t here to see them. She was here for Josh, their eight-year-old son.

  1. Yikes. It grabs me! I’m ready for a first-read.

    On another note, did you have a blog book tour for The Sex Club? You could do some very creative promotion with the issues involved. Even set up a chat online…. all kinds of possibilities.


  2. Yeah, that would interest me. I would want to know who she was — kidnapper? child protective services? relative?

    And it sets up that we, the readers, will learn about the broken dreams and why the protagonist is at the trailer. (Or the antagonist since some books start from that POV.)

  3. Works for me! I don’t necessarily need to know what the main hook is (I’ve had some people say they want to know what the book is about FIRST PAGE and I think they watch too much quick cut MTV style stuff and have lost their attention span) I just need to see good writing. Which you have, as WELL as an intriguing hook.

  4. Thanks, everyone. I was nervous about posting that. Now if I just had time to actually finish the story.

  5. Hmm…I’d read further to see if it did capture my interest, but I’m not sure I’d buy the book based on this. It doesn’t grab hold tightly for me. I would, however, read more–it did whisper possibilities :-)

  6. It has me intrigued. But then again, after reading The Sex Club, I oretty much would read anything you wrote next-especailly if Det.Jackson is in it! Oh, how will I ever wsit till next year!?

  7. I’m intrigued, wondering who Josh is and why this person is interested. Hmm, thanks as this could be a post possiblity. thank you! (I’m tired of thinking.ha!)

  8. I’d read on, but have you seen the blog
    She ran a contest last month on the first 250 words. All of the contestants commented but the real judge was an agent who commented on all the work. I did it and found it helpful . She’s about to re-run the contest.

  9. Just wanted to say the part about impatience had me chuckling. I am right there with you with an unharnessed eagerness to get the ball rolling and see my completed project come to life. The point I want to make is impatient may be one word, but passionate about their work is another thing. It’s finding the good in a fault, and while you deal with the struggle of writer versus patience, never lose grasp of the passion that makes the lack of patience exist.

    As for the first paragraph, it asks questions and questions need answers, so it’s off to a good start.

    Always nice to take a look through your blog and it’s an enjoyable experience.

    Corey McKenzie

  10. Very intriguing paragraph! And I am right there with you on the impatience! Speaking of which, when will the book be out?

  11. I’d keep reading! Thisa has a great hook, and is well-written.

    Most true readers are looking for both when they start a book.

    Karen Syed

  12. Definitely an attention grabber. I would read on to find out all the questions that popped into my head reading those few sentences.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The characters were compelling, the procedural work was dead-on, and the story was enthralling. Definitely recommended.”
~Michelle Gagnon, author of Boneyard
The author expertly intertwines multiple story lines, presents readers with fully realized characters that readers will feel they know, and keeps the action and suspense levels high. That’s a lot to expect from an author but L. J. Sellers delivers.” ~OverMyDeadBody
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