Roger. Transmission received, West Texas.
Below we have the first paragraph of a YA Paranormal 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:
From the Prologue:
Ann Marie stood at the edge of the room as she watched her children sleeping peacefully in their beds. She fought the overwhelming urges coursing through her body and the motherly instinct that told her to grab them and run for her life. No doubt she could make it to the edge of the woods that surrounded her house before they caught up to her, but then what would she do? She was only one person; she would not be able to fight them on her own. She wasn’t strong enough to do any real damage to Braedon, the man who had spent the last couple of years searching for her.
This paragraph does a great job of presenting the fear and anxiety Ann Marie is going through. We know several things about her right away: She’s a mother. People are chasing her and she doubts her ability to defend herself against them. Kudos on calling out what may be the main antagonist already.
There are a few suggestions that I think would help to ratchet up the tension even more.
Let’s examine this section by section
Ann Marie stood at the edge of the room as she watched her children sleeping peacefully in their beds. She fought the overwhelming urges coursing through her body and the motherly instinct that told her to grab them and run for her life.
I’d love to see these sentences reversed or even merged into one. The first line establishes a sense of place (although I think “threshold of the room” is a better word choice and would take out one of the “edge” words in this paragraph), but it doesn’t grip the reader like the second one. The second line says “Hey! *smack* Something serious is happening here, pay attention!” Move that one to the front.
I’d also recommend replacing the word “motherly” with “primal”. The first sentence already states these are her children so “motherly” feels repetitive. And consider revising the wording of that last fragment, “run for her life”, as she can’t be a singular subject if she includes her kids in the running. Maybe, “run like hell”?
No doubt she could make it to the edge of the woods that surrounded her house before they caught up to her, but then what would she do?
Again, good sense of place. She’s alone with her children in a house by the woods. The kids are sleeping so it’s likely nighttime. All good elements to elicit fear. Cutting away “No doubt” would make the line cleaner, more declarative.
She was only one person; she would not be able to fight them on her own. She wasn’t strong enough to do any real damage to Braedon, the man who had spent the last couple of years searching for her.
“She was only one person” reads a bit awkward. How many people would she be? And kill that semi-colon!
I’d pare this down to one sentence. It’s essentially saying the same thing in those first two lines.
The last line mentioning the antagonist is a touch expository and feels more like the author “telling” the reader information. Keep things zoomed in to Ann Marie’s perspective. Would she say that to herself? Doubtful since it’s information she already knows. The reader will still want to know who Braedon is even with little to no details. It just needs to infer “bad guy” and we’ll wait a long time to know more.
Flight Director’s proposed adjustment to the flight path
They were coming. It was only a matter of time. Ann Marie watched her children sleep, battling the primal urge to gather them up and run like hell. Instead she went to the window and peered between the curtains at the surrounding woods veiled in shadow. Their concealing thickets tempted her for the briefest of moments. Even if they made it, what then? Fight them all on her own? And Braedon was sure to be among them. She let the curtain fall closed with a shiver. At her best, she never did any real damage to him. Their encounters over the last two years made that as clear as the fact that he’d never stop hunting her.
Amaranthine (Willow Shadows Book 1) by Lanie Jacobs
This book went on sale for $0.99 today through October 24th. Check out the book trailer!
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