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Debbie Moorhouse
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Colin getting stuck in the tunnel and barely being able to move has always stayed with me. *shudder*
I voted No, but I was teetering on the fence. I like the voice in this and the fact that not everything is instantly explained. Getting the reader to wonder and ask questions is the way to keep them reading. Good character interactions and some nice observations. So why No? Well, ultimately, I didn't care what happened next. I just needed a little more.
Okay, so you've written an opening page that conforms admirably with the general view of how people think, feel, and act when they are attempting suicide. Now go do some research.
There are tantalising hints of an interesting story here, with the fact she's lost everything, and is running as far away as she can but still fears pursuit. It's a solid, powerful setup. However, aside from the improbability of the protagonist dying in Ch1, anyone with experience of suicidal thoughts knows this woman is not going to jump. If you want to convince those people that she might, then her thoughts need to be different in subtle ways. If we're intended to know she won't jump, that's okay, but then the scene teases for too long as it stands. Voices don't beckon :). I think there's an element of trying too hard here. I'd prefer to see Cate in interaction with someone who's bothering her--for whatever reason--while she's trying to be moody by the rail. Don't assume readers will automatically feel sorry for her because she's miserable. They're just as likely to go, oh, buck up woman!
I like the setup here because there's intimacy--the closeness of the operation of fitting the hood--without intimacy, ie the two characters don't know each other. That was coming across so well that the mention of perfume actually jarred; that note felt intrusive. On the other hands, as others have mentioned, there's too much exposition-as-dialogue here. That slows down the story and the reader's mind starts to wander and that's the last thing you want on page one. I would pare this down to get rid of the exposition, especially as so much of it is stuff the POV would already know. Keep the details of the alien goo and the curiously intimate/not intimate interactions though. They're definitely strong.
Okay, you got my attention with dragons. I think dragons are my vampires, so to speak. Yes, waking from dreams is a tad old hat, but as you go on to have the character think and feel, I can pass over the dream. Also, dragons. Then you lost me. "On Valnora, the old ones believed a red moon meant someone was going to die." Now my brain wanders off. Well, of course someone's going to die. Someone's always going to die. People die all the time. I could probably use google to find how many people die every day in the world, regardless of the moon's colour. See what happened? My thoughts went off in a direction that has nothing to do with your story. Why did that happen? First, I think, because you threw in 'on Valnora'. If I'm going to repeat an old saying, like for example red sky at night, shepherds' delight, I don't think, 'in the UK, we say...'. You're not inside the character's head relaying the thoughts she'd actually have. You're trying to slide in some world-building in a place it doesn't belong. You have the whole novel ahead of you to tell us this place is Valnora. It doesn't have to be rammed into the first page. Also, I think there has to be more to the saying, because, after all, people die all the time. A red moon means a death in the family, maybe. Then she looks at her brother, and we know she's wondering if it'll be him. Lots of potential here. Keep working on it.
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Jul 27, 2011