Thanks so much to Rebecca for sharing this page. I like that the page doesn't try to do too much and eases us into the scene, and as a sports fan I'm definitely intrigued. That said, I worry a bit that this opening succumbs to very common foe: over-reliance on dialogue.
Dialogue is one of the trickiest elements of writing, and it's very easy to fall into a pattern where we set up two characters speaking to each other and they just explain everything the reader needs to know. And what's not to love about that, dialogue is fun to write! But the problem with relying too heavily on dialogue is twofold:
1) If you rely too much on dialogue you may not be taking enough time to establish key description, allowing characters to reflect, and using action to advance the plot.
2) It's really difficult to make dialogue sound realistic when the dialogue is weighed down with exposition.
The dialogue in this page is strong enough that it almost works, but the scene isn't really set before the page launches into the dialogue, and there are inevitably phrases that feel overly expository. For example, if two people were talking to each other, would they say "Back then you seemed like the perfect fit for a celebrity golf tournament." or would they say simply "You seemed like a perfect fit at the time," and the rest would be filled in with context? Since we
don't know they're talking about a celebrity golf tournament the dialogue has to carry that extra information even though in that context they would both know what they're talking about without having to say "a celebrity golf tournament." It ends up feeling a bit overstuffed and unnatural.
When the dialogue is carrying the exposition, rather than having things explained through background and descriptive details, the reader has to piece together what is happening from snippets of clues from the conversation (which is clipped by banter) as well as keep track of the backs and forths of who is saying what. It's a lot for the reader to keep in their head, especially when the action that is happening in the scene is mainly just serving to break up the dialogue.
Every novel is different, and there are some that are heavier on dialogue than others. Elmore Leonard is the absolute master of the dialogue-heavy novel. But in general, my feeling about dialogue is that people tend to talk around things and feel each other out rather than coming right out and saying exactly what they mean. So when the dialogue is carrying the novel, it's so hard to both make it sound natural as well as tell the story, and the non-dialogue descriptions and actions become so crucial.
This page comes close to pulling it off, but I just worry the dialogue is asked to do too much. With a little more grounding, a little more reflection from whomever perspective this is told from, and a little more meaningful action and description to give a sense of these characters beyond their words, I think the reader will be connecting that much more.
Lastly: poor, maligned, necessary dialogue tags. I fear they need defending in an era where there are misguided blog posts about how you should never use them. Use them! Use them! Please use them! Sure, use them judiciously, but if you don't use them at all it's really easy for the reader to lose track of who is saying what.
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 248
A loser? Jim was no loser, even though his brother was treating him like one. As soon as the media picked up the story, the rest of the sports world would assume Eddie had inside information, and Jim would end up on the has-been pile. He had to fix things. I came away from this sentence a little confused about whose perspective this is from. Or is it completely omniscient? Could it be grounded with one character or the other? It seems like it could be from either Jim's or Eddie's at this point.
Turning his back on the afternoon crowd milling about their parents' beach-side condo, he who is he? lowered his voice Using "Turning" makes this sentence a little Yoda-esque. Seems like it would read better as "Jim turned his back on the afternoon crowd etc..... and lowered his voice. "I don't get it, Eddie. I confirmed with the steering committee months ago."
"Back then you seemed like the perfect fit for a celebrity golf tournament too much exposition." His older brother I'm confused at this point who is whose older brother. Dialogue tags could help a lot here popped a stuffed mushroom into his mouth empty gesture.
"And now I don't?"
"What can I say."
"I'll find another team."
"How many players get picked up midseason?" Eddie bit into a cracker slathered with cheese.
"Iverson did and Terry."
"But most aren't."
Jim set his plate of uneaten hors d'oeuvres on a nearby table. "If I'm scheduled to play in your tournament, people will know my knee is okay and—"
"But it's not."
"It will be."
Eddie swiped a napkin over his mouth empty gesture. We're not getting enough of a hint of how the characters really think about the situation beyond the dialogue. Is Eddie hopeful for Jim, suspicious, dubious, does he think he's bonkers... reader not able to deduce because there aren't sufficient clues or non-dialogue thoughts. "I hope so, little brother, I really do. But the committee can't wait. They want a star they can promote now. You know, somebody who's actually playing."
Jim swallowed a trash-talk comeback about Eddie's failure to make the pros clear from context that it would be trash-talk. "You could use your influence to convince them—"
His brother held up a hand. "Only high profile celebs bring in the kind of donations we need." who's "we?"
Jim crumpled his empty paper cup.