Today, we have an untitled first page submission by another brave writer. I’ll get the ball rolling with a few comments after the page, but then I’d like you to put on your reader’s cap and give us your first gut reaction in the Comments. After reading this opening, would you turn to page two? Why, or why not?
He lay still in a prone firing position looking through the scope of his rifle with his finger curled around the trigger. In the center of the crosshairs he watched the sinister eyes of his target. Even from a distance of eight hundred yards Max thought the man appeared to be smug. He was responsible for the planning of a terrorist attack in the United States that claimed the lives of thirteen innocent children. He was basking in the glory he was receiving from his fellow tribesmen. To them he was a king, a God among mortal men. He had attacked the great Satan in the name of Allah and they were all rejoicing. The man looked around, smiling and waving to those around him. Without warning the man suddenly buckled at the knees and collapsed in a heap. There was no sound, other than him hitting the ground violently. Blood spewed three hundred and sixty degrees, splattering the crowd with blood and brain matter. Max couldn’t hear the screams of the crowd and didn’t take the time to see the fear on their faces. But he knew by the way they quickly scattered they were fearful and screaming. He wished the families of the thirteen victims could see what he was seeing. Perhaps it would bring some closure to some of them.
Perhaps because terrorism is dominating the news this week, I was grabbed by this premise of taking revenge on an evil-doer. The writer opens the story with a promising action scene.
* I was distracted by the juxtaposition by the use of “sinister” and “smug” to describe the terrorist’s eyes, as seen by Max. I would suggest revising to convey “sinister” in a more specific way. Something like “flat, cold eyes,” perhaps?
* I was distracted in places by the point of view, by the middle of the paragraph in particular. The sentences beginning with “He was responsible…”; “He was basking in the glory…”; “To them he was a king…”; and “He had attacked…” seemed written in an omniscient point of view. Then we switch to the terrorist’s point of view, as he turns and waves. The next sentences, which begin with “Without warning…”; and “There was no sound…” seem to be from the crowd’s point of view. It would just take a little tweaking to show all of this action taking place from Max’s perspective.
* Later in the page, there is a repetition of “screams and fear.”
* There was a disconnect to me between “Max…didn’t take the time to see the fear on their faces,” and “He wished the families of the thirteen victims could see what he was seeing.” Again, a little tweaking could strengthen this section.
I think this page simply needs a bit of tweaking to address the issues I’ve mentioned. I would definitely turn to page two to see what happens next in this story. Thank you, Writer, for your submission!
What about you? Would you turn the page? Why or why not?