Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Artist teasers: "Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish" --Ovid

As I trudge through the submission process to find that perfect agent who will recognize my nurtured talent and my innate creativity and usher to fame and fortune, I find that I am often asked to submit the first ten pages of my  novel. 
And since I've been rejected about thirty times, clearly these prospective agents aren't reading past the first page.
So, I must ask for your opinion. Below are different potential beginnings of my novel, a serial killer thriller, The Artist.  The first excerpt is the first page as of now. The second excerpt is the beginning of a section that begins on page 3.  
Please comment: Should I stick with the beginning I have now, or should I try sending the second excerpt to agents I query in the future?
When he first tore her open, Janet Cooper didn’t understand what was happening.  
One minute she had been in her bedroom checking her email, trying to ignore the music thundering from Teresa’s room, and then the next minute, on her way to ask her roommate for a little quiet, a gorgeous man emerged from the bedroom. Gently closing the door behind him, he smiled warmly, and she stopped midway down the hall.  He wore a pair of loose-fitting blue jeans and a black V-neck sweater.  The hint of a solid strong body shifted beneath his clothes as he transferred his weight from one leg to another.  
 “Teresa mentioned that you’d be home soon,” he yelled over the music.  He took a step closer to her and when the light fell across his face, Janet’s lips parted, the tip of her tongue gliding across them. 
 Janet heard a rip, felt the fire burst between her legs, and saw the red stain spread through her white pants.  Her knees buckled and she began to sink to the floor, but the man seized her by the base of the neck and slammed her up against the wall, his palm pressing her airway. Her jaw dropped open, but swung as if hanging on overstretched joints while a gurgle swished around in her mouth.


The killer always phoned Detective Corey Malone on her land line after committing his crimes.
The first phone call came four months ago in October.  He had called at 2 a.m. waking Corey from a seldom-found deep sleep. Her archaic answering machine had caught the message, projecting his voice throughout her apartment.  At first it had lingered in her ear, intermingling with her dreams. A haunting ancient sound he made, like something trapped within the walls of her childhood fears.
 I’ve got something to show you.
She had gotten out of bed and staggered half asleep to the answering machine.  The message consisted of an address and ended the second her fingers touched the stop button. She stood, slightly confused and frightened. The abrupt completion of his message at the very instant Corey attempted to speak to him disturbed her. Coincidences always disturbed her. She reported the call and then searched her small apartment, white knuckling her 9mm. 
A murder victim had been found at the exact location mapped out on her answering machine.


  1. I definitely prefer the second beginning. The first sentence draws me right in.

  2. Oh, girl, the second one can't be beat. I dare any agent who reads that sentence about the phone call to put it down.

    You're right, few agents and editors read beyond the first 3 pages. They're so busy. So we have to compete for their attention. I tell writers to start with a hook that reaches up, grabs the reader by the throat and hisses, "Pay attention! You're gonna be in for a hellofa ride." This sentence screams it!!

    Check out my agent's website:
    She's aggressive and great to work with.

    Stop by my blog sometime.

  3. I agree with the previous comments, but for a different reason. Both intros are engaging, but the second intro is from (presumably) your main character's perspective, so it's more engaging for the reader. We have more invested in Corey and I want to keep reading, whereas Teresa is dead after page 1, I'm guessing, so there's not as much of an impetus to get me to page two.

  4. I wonder if you'd want to start your story with the last sentence of your second excerpt?

    The first excerpt starts off with a bang, certainly, but I agree with some of the other comments about wanting to continue the story if you believe the main character to already be dead.

  5. The 2nd one, definitely. it's much stronger and sinister. It gives me expectation of a psychological game between the 'artist' and the detective. The first one is just gruesome and doesn't give me that between-the-lines extra

  6. Yes I also agree the second one for all those reasons already mentioned. And one quick thought about all those rejections. What I have heard on the loops is that romantic suspense is a hard sell. So don't take it personal it may truly be the market.
    All the best.

  7. The second. I'm hooked after the first line! Definite page-turner.

  8. Also it could just be my sick brain, or maybe you intended the conflation - but I read the first as a sex scene. Well, until the last sentence. Sometimes a girl likes to be ripped open and feel the warmth of something gushing between her legs - you know?

  9. I think the first one is gripping but it might be too quick into the action for me - I like the second one better because it gives me a chance to get to know the character and to care about the people involved in the story.

    Just my .02

  10. Just stumbled upon your blog and happy to find a fellow writer. :)

    As a journalist, I have a different opinion than the others. For me, the first sentence of the story has to be SO ENTICING that it leaves the reader intrigued and desperate for more. The first sentence of the first excerpt did that for me. It really grabbed my attention. The rest took care of itself, because you are a great writer. So, in my opinion, I would go with the first one.

    Then again, I'm not a fiction writer,

    Good luck. ;)


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