First page of THE FOLLOWING (psychological thriller)

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D.T.Roberts
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First page of THE FOLLOWING (psychological thriller)

Post by D.T.Roberts » September 23rd, 2011, 7:01 pm

First page of my new novel,The Following. This goes with the query post of the same name.Any input is appreciated.

Four minutes seemed like an eternity. Twice as long as it should've taken. He’d allowed for two, maybe two and a half at the most. He had planned meticulously, right down to the second hand padlock he bought at a garage sale. He knew he would have to cut the old one to gain entry. It was the perfect replacement. After the fire it would be too damaged for anyone to tell the difference. But, there was no fire. Something was wrong.

He walked cautiously back through the dark alley that had just served as his egress. He slowly approached the window. Pulling his sleeve over the heel of his hand to wipe away the years of dirt, he peered inside. Nothing, only darkness. The orange glow he expected wasn't there. He would have to try again. He retrieved the small key from his pocket and nervously looked up and down the alley as he inserted it into the lock. As he turned the key, his already pounding heart quickened. He felt the terrifying yet exhilarating low rumble of a sudden combustion as the orange glow filled the window next to him. Finally, he thought. He looked once again through the window to see the blaze travel quickly across the stack of blank newspaper stock that was piled against the wall. Satisfied his mission was accomplished, he reached for the lock giving it a squeeze until he felt the click. He ran down the alley toward the street, slowing to a walk as he neared the sidewalk. The fire was spreading quickly now, faster than he'd anticipated, but he should still have time to walk to his car only a block away before anyone noticed the blaze.

The street was deserted. He began to relax as he approached his car. As he reached in his pocket for his keys, a wave of apprehension and nausea washed over him. Where was the key to the padlock? He must've dropped it somewhere, but it was too late to look for it. He cursed himself as he started his car and drove away from the scene. Two blocks up, he turned right to circle back around for a drive-by. As he approached the alley he slowed to assess his work. The glow from the fire was now bright enough to reveal debris in the alley that was concealed in darkness only moments ago. He thought about making a quick search for the key, but quickly dismissed it when he saw the black and white police cruiser. It was still two blocks away when he noticed it pass under a street light as it approached from the opposite direction.
His grip on the wheel tightened. “Just keep driving,” he said aloud. He was a block past the alley when he met the cruiser. He watched his rearview mirror as the officer approached the alley. “Keep driving,” he said again. He breathed a sigh of relief when the officer drove past the alley, but then, brake lights. He watched the red and blue overhead strobes begin to flash as the officer backed his car to the alley. His heart pounding wildly, he accelerated gently, as to not attract attention, to the next intersection and turned right, disappearing into the night.
It has been said that writing comes more easily if you have something to say.

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SBMartin
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Re: First page of THE FOLLOWING (psychological thriller)

Post by SBMartin » September 26th, 2011, 3:41 am

Hi D.T.,

Honestly, I didn't find any problems with it. The opening drew me right in wondering what was going on and what he was waiting for. The rest flows really well. No structure problems that I could see. It really held my interest and I like the character. I would definitely want to read on. Great job!

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GingerWrite
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Re: First page of THE FOLLOWING (psychological thriller)

Post by GingerWrite » September 27th, 2011, 1:03 am

Four minutes seemed like an eternity. Twice as long as it should've taken. He’d allowed for two, maybe two and a half at the most. He had planned meticulously, right down to the second hand padlock he bought at a garage sale Not necessary. He knew he would have to cut the old one to gain entry. It was the perfect replacement. After the fire it would be too damaged for anyone to tell the difference Why would a lock on the outside be damaged by a fire on the inside?. But, there was no fire. Something was wrong.

He walked cautiously back through the dark alley that had just served as his egress. He slowly approached the window. Pulling his sleeve over the heel of his hand to wipe away the years of dirt, he peered inside. Nothing, only darkness. The orange glow he expected wasn't there Repetitive. He would have to try again. He retrieved the small key from his pocket and nervously looked up and down the alley as he inserted it into the lock. As he turned the key, his already pounding heart quickened. You could probably shorten this paragraph by having him just about to reach for the key when he sees the orange glow. By lengthening it, you split the action and reduce the tension. He felt the terrifying yet exhilarating low rumble of a sudden combustion as the orange glow filled the window next to him. Finally, he thought. He looked once again through the window to see the blaze travel quickly across the stack of blank newspaper stock that was piled against the wall. Satisfied his mission was accomplished, he reached for the lock insert comma giving it a squeeze until he felt the click I'm a little confused as to where he is. When I picture the scene, I see him in an alley looking into a warehouse. But this gives the impression that he was inside going out. Also, what happened to that second lock? He ran down the alley toward the street, slowing to a walk as he neared the sidewalk. The fire was spreading quickly now repetitive, faster than he'd anticipated, but he should still have time to walk to his car only a block away before anyone noticed the blaze.

The street was deserted. He began to relax as he approached his car. As he reached in his pocket for his keys, a wave of apprehension and nausea washed over him. Where was the key to the padlock? A little clunky He must've dropped it somewhere, but it was too late to look for it. He cursed himself as he started his car and drove away from the scene. Two blocks up, he turned right to circle back delete around for a drive-by. As he approached the alley he slowed to assess his work. The glow from the fire was now bright enough to reveal debris in the alley that was concealed in darkness only moments ago unnecessary. He thought about making a quick search for the key, but quickly dismissed it when he saw the black and white could probably delete police cruiser. It was still two blocks away when he noticed it pass under a street light as it approached from the opposite direction different word needed.

His grip on the wheel tightened. “Just keep driving,” he said aloud delete. He was a block past the alley when he met the cruiser. He watched in his rearview mirror as the officer approached the alley. “Keep driving,” he said again. He breathed a sigh of relief when the officer drove past the alley, but then, brake lights. He watched need different verb the red and blue overhead delete strobes begin began to flash as the officer backed his car to in to the alley. His heart pounding wildly, he accelerated gently, so as to not attract attention, to the next intersection and turned right, disappearing into the night.
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Emily J
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Re: First page of THE FOLLOWING (psychological thriller)

Post by Emily J » September 27th, 2011, 11:22 pm

D.T.Roberts wrote:First page of my new novel,The Following. This goes with the query post of the same name.Any input is appreciated.

Four minutes seemed like an eternity. Twice as long as it should've taken. He’d allowed for two, maybe two and a half at the most. He had planned meticulously, right down to the second hand padlock he had bought at a garage sale. He had known? knew he would have to cut the old one to gain entry. It was the perfect replacement. After the fire it would be too damaged for anyone to tell the difference. But, there was no fire. Something was wrong. Be careful of tense in this paragraph, you seem to be switching between past perfect and simple past and it doesn't sound quite right

He walked cautiously back through the dark alley that had just served as his egress. He slowly approached the window. Pulling his sleeve over the heel of his hand to wipe away the years of dirt, he peered inside. Nothing, only darkness. The orange glow he expected wasn't there. He would have to try again. He retrieved the small key from his pocket and nervously looked up and down the alley as he inserted it into the lock. the flow of this sentence feels a bit awkward, the pronoun "it" is a bit far from the noun it replaces, namely the key As he turned the key, his already pounding heart quickened. He felt the terrifying yet exhilarating low rumble of a sudden combustion as the orange glow you have already used this exact phrase before, maybe something else here? filled the window next to him. Finally, he thought. He looked once again "once again" feels a bit weak through the window to see the blaze travel quickly across the stack of blank newspaper stock that was piled against the wall. Satisfied his mission was accomplished, he reached for the lock comma giving it a squeeze until he felt the click. He ran down the alley toward the street, slowing to a walk as he neared the sidewalk. The fire was spreading quickly now, faster than he'd anticipated, but he should still have time to walk to his car only a block away before anyone noticed the blaze. your syntax is getting a bit repetitive

The street was deserted. He began to relax as he approached his car. As he reached in his pocket for his keys, a wave of apprehension and nausea washed over him. Where was the key to the padlock? He must've dropped it somewhere, but it was too late to look for it. He cursed himself as he started his car and drove away from the scene. Two blocks up, he turned right to circle back around for a drive-by. As he "as he" is over used approached the alley he slowed to assess his work. The glow well it's not orange, but still slightly repetitive word choice from the fire was now bright enough to reveal debris in the alley that was concealed in darkness only moments ago. He thought about making a quick search for the key, but quickly dismissed it when he saw the black and white police cruiser. It was still two blocks away when he noticed you have a lot of passive moments of the man noticing, seeing, looking, can we drop and just have the description of what he is witnessing? it pass under a street light as it approached from the opposite direction.
His grip on the wheel tightened. <-- this is good, you are portraying his emotions, his anxiety through a physical action “Just keep driving,” he said aloud. He was a block past the alley when he met the cruiser. He watched his rearview mirror as the officer approached the alley. “Keep driving,” he said again. He breathed a sigh of relief when the officer drove past the alley, but then, brake lights. He watched the red and blue overhead strobes begin to flash as the officer backed his car to the alley. His heart pounding his heart did pound already wildly, he accelerated gently, as to not attract attention, to the next intersection and turned right, disappearing into the night.
Arson is definitely an attention grabber! You already got some great feedback from GingerWrite and I made few notations above.
Overall, I would just say be careful of being repetitive whether it be a word or phrase used one too many times or too many sentences with the same structure. Otherwise I thought this was pretty well done.

D.T.Roberts
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Re: First page of THE FOLLOWING (psychological thriller)

Post by D.T.Roberts » September 28th, 2011, 2:29 pm

Thanks guys, I'll do a little polishing and try again.

Dale
It has been said that writing comes more easily if you have something to say.

TiPerihelion
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Re: First page of THE FOLLOWING (psychological thriller)

Post by TiPerihelion » October 1st, 2011, 6:21 am

I'm not going to go over it with a fine-toothed comb like others have done, but merely make two observations. One, it seems like you're setting the missing key up to be a major piece of evidence that will ultimately be the protagonist's downfall. I really hope that's not the case. In fact, I never want to hear about that key again. When I read a thriller, I don't want to read about mediocre criminals getting caught in their own clumsiness. In fact, even the bit about the fire not starting on time makes me wonder about this guy's criminal prowess. So please don't turn the key into some reverse deus ex machina.

Observation two is...once the cop discovers the fire, won't he radio a fellow cop to pull over the car he just passed (the arsonist) in case the fire is the result of arson and the driver is A) the arsonist, or B) a witness? Seems plausible, though I don't really know standard police protocol. Maybe you've already accounted for this on page 2. Just something that occurred to me while reading. I always search for cracks in the "perfect plan."

So, please understand that I'm not making any assumptions about what's to come. Just trying to give a first-time, big-picture reaction. The writing is strong and has great clarity. Just want to make sure the story is equally strong. (I.e. this is great. If every other page is as strong as the first, you're set.)

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Re: First page of THE FOLLOWING (psychological thriller)

Post by crescentstar » November 7th, 2011, 6:54 pm

Hi

I am going focus my comments to the first paragraph. I really like the continued use of numbers this , it sort of works to a nice little countdown that builds tension. Secondly i would echo previous comments and urge you to remove some of the smaller words in your piece. Below is an example of what i mean. First is your original, and next is the same with just a few deletes. I also highlighted that countdown I like so much.

Four minutes seemed like an eternity. Twice as long as it should've taken. He’d allowed for two, maybe two and a half at the most. He had planned meticulously, right down to the second hand padlock he bought at a garage sale. He knew he would have to cut the old one to gain entry. It was the perfect replacement. After the fire it would be too damaged for anyone to tell the difference. But, there was no fire. Something was wrong.


Four minutes seemed an eternity; twice as long as it should take. He’d allowed for two, maybe two and a half. He had planned meticulously, the second hand padlock bought at a garage sale. He would have to cut the old one to gain entry. It was the perfect replacement. After the fire it would be too damaged to tell the difference. But, there was no fire.

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