By John Ramsey Miller
Here’s the first page of an anonymous author’s submission entitled, JOBE’S PRIDE. The first question is: Would you read more if this went beyond the first page? How do you think it could be made better?
Chapter 1: Dumpster Diving
Wed., April 21, 2:39 a.m.
They had conducted rescue missions in seedier areas. Ellie was sure of it. She just couldn’t place any of them at the moment.
The GPS in her aging minivan confirmed this as the address she’d received. This was it: this dumpster-lined alleyway in a part of L.A. that had never been trendy.
Ellie jumped down from one trash container and climbed to the rim of another. Across the alley, she could just make out Zoe’s slim, black-clad form raking through the debris from a construction site.What if they were too late? Ellie’s instructions had been frighteningly specific: be at 2675 East Winston Rd. between 2 and 2:15 Wednesday morning. But traffic on the 5 had been worse than she’d expected and they had arrived late.
She nearly fell in the dumpster when an engine roared to life on a nearby street. Everything about this rescue made her jumpy. She reached her rake into the garbage. If she had her way, they’d just go home and forget this ever happened. But she couldn’t. And that disturbed her most of all. She reached and raked. Reached and—
She almost missed the foot when she uncovered it, but the small lamp on her headband brought it into relief against the chicken carcasses and other restaurant refuse. It wasn’t a dog. Or a lion. It was human. What had she gotten them into?
Her heart stopped long enough to hurt, then began pounding with fervor to make up for lost time. She must have yelled out, though she didn’t remember doing so. Then she plunged into the dumpster and began pawing through the slop in a frenzy to uncover the owner of the foot.
Okay, I think this opening is very well done. I know where I am, I’m there with Ellie and her (animal-rescue) partner, Zoe, and that she was expecting to find an animal in distress, not a human being in the garbage. The first thing that I stumbled on was the line about the GPS puts me in the van, but right after that I realize she’s already been through one dumpster, and is headed for another. I’d solve that by adding “had” in front of “confirmed.” The other point (and I’m being picky because there’s so little here to criticize) is that Ellie should almost fall “into” the dumpster, not “in” it. I might also add an exclamation mark after “It was human.” And instead of, “What had she gotten them into?” , I would go with something more along the lines of “What had she stumbled into?” How can she know this is even what the caller had sent them to rescue. There could still be a starving cat pinned under the human, or a lion in another container. And I’d go with “the message had said, ‘Be at 2675 East Winston Rd.in one hour.’ ” The way it is written, the message might have come in hours or days before she went there.
Problems require light editing. I have to say, I’d keep right on reading. I can’t tell if this is the opening of a thriller, mystery, supernatural, horror, or a cozy, since it would work with any of those genres. I say, “Good job on Jobe.” Jump right in, guys n’ gals.