Opening Paragraph #21

Susan gripped the sides of the porcelain vanity sink and tried to control the terror raging inside her. She slowly counted as she breathed in through her nose, out through her mouth. After five counts, she slowly (slowly/slowly–lose one) looked forward to see herself in the mirror. She saw despair. Despair is something I can work with, she thought, but not terror. She gazed into her own hazel eyes, wanting to see something there to give her hope. (New paragraph) Finally, she put her cooled hands on her cheeks to leech the warmth that had blossomed there. (This part is strong. From here out, it gets weaker.)

She tried to remember what had brought the panic attack on. She had just stepped out of the shower, toweled dry and started to take care of her sandy blonde hair when she saw herself in the steamed mirror. She realized at that moment that she wasn’t getting ready for work, but for a date. (delete all this) This was her first one (date) since she had moved to this town six months ago. Then she downed a cocktail of self-doubt, self-pity and insecurity, which left her in a state ripe for panic. (needs transition) Had she known how the night would end, the horror would have utterly consumed her. (strong ending to this, but it needs a smoother transition)

Critique: The first description of her looking in the mirror is one of the few instances where that convention works. The rule is: never have your character look in a mirror as an excuse to describe their physical appearance. But this works–until you start actually describing her normal physical appearance.

Would I ask for more? Depends on the strength of query and synopsis. Based on this, probably not until after rewrites. But then I’d be willing to look at it again.

Author: LDS Publisher

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3 thoughts on “Opening Paragraph #21”

  1. Okay, I just have to say I love this line: “Then she downed a cocktail of self-doubt, self-pity and insecurity, which left her in a state ripe for panic.” The first time I read it I thought she downed a real cocktail, then I read it a second time and saw that it wasn’t alcohol but a powerful metaphor…a cocktail of self-doubt. Wow. How many of us do that?

    I vote for this one.

  2. Susan peered into the vanity mirror, took a deep breath and primped her hair. She was out of practice, but she could go on her first date since moving to New York City without giving away her farm girl upbringing, couldn’t she? She set down her comb and pushed the masacara across the table. It was no use. She wasn’t in the same league as Steve. He was an international lawyer. She was a cook at Moogie’s in midtown. He was from the middle east. She was from Iowa. His parents owned controlling stock in petroleum company. Her parents owned livestock. Steve was simply…Stop that. Susan pulled her hair back over her ear and adjusted her blouse. No more doubt. She was homecoming queen at Keokuk High School, freshman honor student at Northern Iowa and she could cook up a New York Steak with onions faster than any of the cooks on the day shift. If that wasn’t good enough for Steve then she didn’t want to get to know him any more than the guy who sat at table number three every Tuesday and ordered a grilled salomi sandwich with a side of fries. What she didn’t know was that Steve’s real name was Mohammud Kotammi. She was having dinner with a terrorist.

  3. This one was mine. Feel free to critique it if you’d like. You should see the next couple of paragraphs – Geeky to the max!

    The re-write above takes things in a bit of a different direction than I had planned. Sounds interesting, though. =)

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