First Page Feedback – Ink Slapped

Another HQN first page! @Authoramjones (A.M. Jones) has sent in a page with a very intriguing title…. 


It’s only the first day of searching, and I find him. Shock courses through me as I pause in the door. My character has unique coloring and a large build with shoulderswept, chestnut hair. It feels like my brain sent a hologram of him right in front of me in a rundown, honky-tonk bar in downtown Nashville. Naturally, the rest of Jimmy’s Bar grows distant as I take him in. He’s currently setting up to play live music with a band and sing the blues or country or whatever Nashville is famous for.

Propping himself on a stool, he grabs his guitar and starts tuning it. The rough fingers turning the tuners grab my attention as I walk closer to get a better look at him. This is an added bonus since my character plays a guitar. Hair falls forward like a curtain around his face and he runs a hand through it. The gesture is unfamiliar. My character doesn’t have this mannerism. I don’t realize how close I am until he glances at me from the corner of his eye and turns his head my way.

Tired eyes turn curious as he searches my face, “Have a request?”

Straightening my glasses and squaring my shoulders, I shake my head and turn away toward the bar. How the hell am I going to do this? Slowing my steps, I throw over my shoulder, “Wish You Were Here. Acoustic style.” Take that you good-looking, country-singing hunk of man. His band mates groan at my request. I shrug at him, figuring it’s not their style, but he only gives me a tight smile. Unease worms its way up my spine for a moment.

Flagging the bartender, I order a Black and Tan—something stout to calm my nerves quicker. The patrons are nothing but tourists. Anyone paying attention can always tell the difference between the locals and tourists. Most of the men wear cowboy hats. This isn’t Texas. The women sport cowgirl boots with tight jeans. My phone buzzes in my back pocket, and I answer without looking, “Yo.”

“Tay, Tay! Find one?” Savannah’s voice sounds excited and slurred.

“Actually, I have and I’m currently drowning myself in Guinness to work up the nerve.”

“Will he look good posing next to me? Not too good, I don’t need him making me look like a frump. What’s he like?”

Savannah’s the heroine to my hero. Although, she doesn’t know I just want him on the cover. I do want to take some pictures of them together for promotional items. I start with the basics. “He’s getting ready to play with the band. A microphone insures there’s singing involved.”

A gasp and then, “A musician?” This is what I’d describe as a faraway or wistful voice in my novels.

“An exact replica of Jaxon, but he’s not your type.” I glance at his work boots and a wrinkled T-shirt as if he just rolled out of bed.

First page feedback from Allison Carroll!

This first page has a ton of potential, and I think a little polishing will really have it hooking readers. It certainly seems to be setting up one of the most interesting meet-cutes I’ve encountered! That said, I think the scene could benefit from putting a little more of the narrator’s personality on the page.

 One of the first impressions she makes is her remark about Nashville being famous for “whatever.” As a reader, I haven’t spent enough time with this narrator to understand what emotion might drive a comment like this and it feels dismissive, almost as though she has this bad attitude about having to come to such a place to scout for her model—not a great first impression. Then, later, she’s disparaging about the tourists, intimating that she’s a local. This feels contradictory—a local who doesn’t know what type of music Nashville’s famous for.

 Her excitement at the prospect of finding a cover model and her nervousness about approaching him are more inviting sentiments for the reader, but not quite enough to build a strong sense of her, and with first-person narration, I really want to feel that connection right away.

 Additionally, her phone call with Savannah is a prime opportunity to infuse some personality and a few more clues about plot. Is she alarmed, concerned, unsurprised that her friend’s words are slurred? The line “she doesn’t know I just want him for the cover” implies Savannah thinks the narrator might be looking for more, but what? A hook-up? A rebound? A muse? A date? And why is Savannah under this impression? Consider hinting at what the narrator’s hang-ups are when it comes to men.

 The last paragraph is a great tease, but give us more! He’s not Savannah’s type, but is he our narrator’s? Does she feel something surprising for him outside of her almost clinical evaluation of his physical traits? This could be a great place to start tipping the scales on this mystery narrator and her plan!