First Page Feedback – Murder Most Unusual

Ooh, a great title and compelling opening! 🙂 Thanks, Michelle Somers (@msomerswriter), for an exciting start to the day!

They make it look so easy in books. Murder the victim, move the body.

Stacey Holland adjusted her grip. Puffing the hair from her eyes, she squinted through the vast darkness. She could have been curled up on the couch right now, a good book in  one hand and hot triple chocolate and marshmallows in the other. Instead, she was freezing her buns off in the cold, making a name for herself.

Cold plastic dug into her palm. Damn, she hated when her mother was right. Fame wasn’t won from back row seats. You had to get out there and get dirty.

She scrunched her nose and felt the crack of dry mud on her skin. Yep, if nothing else, she ticked that box ten times over.

A cow mooed in one of the far paddocks and the chill night air sliced through her  wet clothes. Sweat covered her skin, a trickle running down her collarbone to fall between  her breasts.

She tightened her grasp, took a deep breath and heaved. Digging her heels into the rainsoaked grass, she leaned back, using all her weight. Every last kilo that normally made her despair, but now gave her leverage.


The ground slammed hard against her butt. If she’d lost those extra five kilos, the fall would’ve hurt a helluva lot more. As it was, the jar pierced at her coccyx and then juddered up her spine.

Mud soaked through her jeans.


She dropped her head into her hands. She wasn’t a ‘why me?’ kinda girl, but now was as  good a time as any to start.

On paper it would have moved by now.

Reality’s a killer. Her lips twitched.

So, why am I here, butt-deep in mud? The response was instantaneous. Because I love it.

Cold shivered through her body. She didn’t care. Her heart lightened, her lips curving upward. She shook herself off, slithered and squelched her way to her feet. Rubbing her still protesting backside with one hand, her other held the now dislocated arm of the body before her.

Her nose scrunched as she tugged at a loose blonde curl. Then she dropped to her haunches and stuck the ball back into its socket. The click echoed through the dark, not that it mattered.

It wasn’t as if she were doing anything wrong. Much.

All was fair in the name of love and research.


He drew on his cigarette, squinting through his night vision binoculars as the parody unfolded.

Not long now.

A light flickered. He tensed. The distant yellow bobbed slowly toward the barbed-wire boundary, then disappeared. A car door slammed. An engine growled, dulling to a  murmur as a double wide beam danced across the ankle-length grass.

He pressed back against the gnarly tree trunk. Ten minutes of darkness ensured she wouldn’t return.

Stacey Holland. Author extraordinaire. His nostrils flared. She thought she knew death. Pain, even. She didn’t know shit. But she’d learn soon enough. He was one hell of a teacher.

First Page Feedback from Patience Bloom

The opening to this entry is quite enticing with what we think is the heroine moving a dead body. I love the description of the atmosphere, her efforts, and overall frustration. I would only suggest expanding this opening a bit more, combining some of the paragraphs so that we’re more deeply hooked into the story. Maybe we could have more of her point of view, what she’s thinking about all of this, maybe additional information about her. This seems mainly like a teaser and not a full-fledged opening with a dynamic character. I love how it ends with the guy watching her (though isn’t smoking a bit passé?), but there might be a smoother way to do this. I would see this as a short paragraph after a longer opening. Overall, the energy of this entry is fabulous and I want to keep reading. Nicely done.


Too, remember the first page space is valuable–she scrunches her nose twice. Is this going to be a tic throughout the story? Or is there a way to use something else? And check with house style on points like blond/blonde. For Harlequin, for instance, blonde is a noun, and blond is an adjective. So “The blonde checked her daughter’s blond hair” would be correct for us! And is “parody” the right word for what you want to say? It could be–we don’t know the villain!–but it doesn’t seem that she’s playing this for laughs…

Thank you for sharing!