To recap, here's the initial draft of the first page and the feedback from Greene & Heaton:
|Beverly woke up as if arriving from another world. The image from her dream came with her, and for a moment, before moving, she imagined her bed was in a playground. It was a memory, that she had been reliving in her sleep, of being on a roundabout and trying to say stop to the children pushing it – lightly tapping the bars that whizzed around – but only being able to say the ‘S’ and the ‘T’, while the rest of the word was snapped away by the wind. The spinning settled and Beverly shifted to let air in under the covers. Her lungs billowed and a headache began. She was properly awake now and the childhood memory was replaced with memories from the night before. Singing in the taxi – taxi drivers had a hard job – they opened a bottle of wine when they got back – who came home with them? She jerked, reaching a hand out to the cold side of the bed. There was no one there. She retracted her arm with relief.
Other things came into existence: coffee, a clean tracksuit. She dressed herself with a heavy, detached feeling and then opened her bedroom door. No noise. The T.V. wasn’t on so Ella wasn’t up yet. And no voices from Ella’s bedroom. Beverly moved to the bathroom and then the office. She sat at her desk and shook the mouse to waken her computer. The fan started humming. Beverly checked her email, which was already open on the screen, and then clicked over to Facebook – a shoe ad; a baby picture from Dave; A cat with a human expression from Lucy.
She knocked on Ella’s bedroom door. The voice was muffled but strong: ‘It’s your turn to go.’
‘Shit.’ Beverly whispered, shrinking slightly.
- The waking up beginning is a cliche.
- The dream doesn't seem to link to the subsequent action.
- Who is Ella? A friend, a daughter?
- Where are they? At home? Why is there an office?
- The hook, which is "what does Beverly not want to do?" comes in too late.
Now here's the new first page which attempts to address the above issues, and the related feedback:
|Beverly opened the door of her bedroom but instead of stepping out, creating the usual creak underfoot in the hallway, she listened. A bitten fingernail went to her mouth. No sound was coming from the living room – the TV wasn’t on. That meant her flatmate hadn’t surfaced yet. Probably Ella’s new friend had stayed over. Beverly couldn’t remember his name. It was 10.30. She couldn’t wait any longer. |
She dressed as fragments of a dream returned to mind. It wasn’t a dream really, more a memory that sometimes visited her sleep, of being on a roundabout and trying to say stop to the children pushing it, but only being able to say the ‘S’ and the ‘T’, while the rest of the word was snapped away by the wind.
Now the childhood memory was replaced with memories from the night before. Laughing in the taxi, opening another bottle of wine when they got back. Beverly just had half a glass before leaving the pair alone – she could see Ella was putting on her moves. She crossed the hallway, letting the wooden floor announce her presence. Hopefully the noise would wake Ella.
In their office, she sat at her desk and shook the mouse, watching her computer screen come to life. The fan started humming. She checked her email, which was already open, and then clicked over to Facebook – a baby picture from Dave; an endangered monkey from Lucy; a suggested post about local gigs. She didn’t mind Facebook intruding on her timeline – it knew her well. She was stalling but a hangover was kicking in.
She raised herself out of the leather seat and knocked on Ella’s bedroom door.
No sound. ‘Shit,’ Beverly whispered, shrinking slightly. She would have to go by herself.
- One scene is focused on, opening up slowly, which is the right thing for a first page. We don't want a sense of information being crammed in quickly.
- No cliche's. For example: a character waking up!
- Segue from recollection of dream to memory of the night before is relatable.
- Understanding immediate - Beverly is trying to wake up her flatmate.
- Tension is built in a subtle way through Beverly's actions and the fact that she doesn't want to go somewhere.