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Copy. AOS confirmed, Calabasas.

Below we have the first paragraph of a Paranormal/Urban Fantasy novel. As always, to remain unbiased no cover will be shown and the title is found at the end of this post. My comments on the flip side:

Hani reached for the bar’s door handle. He made two unsuccessful attempts to turn the knob as it slid in his sweaty hand. Finally, he hitched the strap for his guitar case up higher on his shoulder, wiped his hand on his jeans, and got a good grip on the thing.

Relax. You’ve practiced hard, and it’s just an open-mic. The world’s not ending.

Great job here at starting things off with a disturbance. The main character is about to perform in front of an audience and he’s nervous about it, something we can all identify with I think (not that I’d do anything musical in front of a crowd without at least three drink in me). This paragraph also establishes who the main character is, where he is and what he’s about to do. There are a few suggestions that may improve this introduction.

Let’s examine this section by section

Hani reached for the bar’s door handle. 

I’d recommend naming the bar. Perhaps this comes later but since it is introduced right in the first sentence, it’d give an even stronger sense of place. The name of the bar can convey the type of place it is, the atmosphere the reader can expect, etc. all by inserting its name here.

He made two unsuccessful attempts to turn the knob as it slid in his sweaty hand. Finally, he hitched the strap for his guitar case up higher on his shoulder, wiped his hand on his jeans, and got a good grip on the thing.

Interestingly, a lot of novels I’ve read have characters fumbling with door handles. I’m guessing it’s considered a handy writing device to convey emotion before putting the character into what’s behind the door, but it always takes me out of the story. Does anyone ever have that much trouble opening a door? I never have.

I like the mention of the guitar on his back. Immediately I thought, “Ah, musician. I like this guy.” Guitars and men are just a sexy combination, but maybe that’s me. Hands so sweaty they’re literally sliding off a door handle was a little gross though. Also, come on, it’s just a door handle. Can he not treat it like some kind of new fangled technology?

Relax. You’ve practiced hard, and it’s just an open-mic. The world’s not ending.

A one-liner of internal dialogue works well. It offers the chance to directly portray the main character’s voice to readers. Here I can see that he’s probably a little shy, even if he does believe he has some talent. I only take issue in him saying that it’s not the end of the world. Keep that tension high. Let us know how important this open mic is to Hani and why a screw up would be a huge setback to his dreams. Make me worry!

Flight Director’s proposed adjustment to the flight path

The following is to give example of ways to embellish the sense of place right off the bat while avoiding the “fumbling with doorknob” cliche and keeping the stakes high.

The drunken argument between two men outside McDougal’s bar quickly became a scuffle of fists and elbows that forced Hani off the sidewalk. Muddy gutter water splashed across his shoes and onto his new jeans. So much for a clean-cut first impression with the crowd. He hesitated by the smokers loitering beside the door and clasped the guitar strap about his shoulder for reassurance. An open mic at a dive bar wasn’t what he’d envisioned for his debut, but with a record producer rumored to frequent the place, who was he to question fate? Setting his jaw he pushed through the door and tried to squelch the gnawing fear that he wasn’t good enough.

I Know How You Feel, The Sensate by Nicole Minsk

What do you think of this first paragraph? Would you keep reading? Other suggestions or tips?

Want to test out your hook? Email your first paragraph to me at FineFablesPress@gmail.com

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