Page One: Looking For Some Honest Feedback (Rewrite)

A dense fog had rolled in from the river. Amstel Blake ran along 8th street, barefoot, his right hand wrapped tightly around the grips of a .40 caliber Taurus. Not far away, someone was frying bacon.

At the corner of 8th and Jefferson, a Toyota Corolla waited to turn left. Amstel trotted to the passenger’s side, tried the handle first, tapped on the window and shouted, “Open the door. Now.”

The driver, a woman in her mid twenties, didn’t scream for help. She didn’t floor the accelerator, and she didn’t go for her cell phone. She didn’t produce a weapon of her own and blast Amstel’s skull to smithereens. The driver, a petite woman with long blonde hair, froze.

Amstel felt a pulse in his teeth. “I swear to God, lady, I will kill you.”

The lock popped.

Amstel climbed in, aimed the gun at her head. “Drive. Make a U-turn, back toward the interstate. Speed limit.”

The woman missed second gear, finally grinded it home.

“What do you want? Why are you doing this?” Black rivers of mascara trickled down her freckled cheeks. The badge clipped to her scrub top said Sally, the last name blacked out with a strip of surgical tape.

“We’re going to save the world, Sally,” Amstel said. “Just you and me.”

* * *

Well, critters?

A) Better
B) Worse
C) Stop obsessing over the opening and write the damn book
D) Don't quit your day job, you friggin' hack

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Thanks, John! Another great critique.

Now that I've put it in past tense, the scene goes on for another ten pages. So, the characters are natuarally developed further as the chapter progresses.

You aced the quiz, btw. C is the correct answer (at least I hope it's not D!). ;)
I did. I like it better that way.
Overall, much better. It feels less like an outline of the scene and more fleshed out.

I agree that the third paragraph would probably work better if it was just the last sentence. And about the black rivers of mascara (sorry, that's probably a part you were particularly proud of, wasn't it?). You might have Amstel notice both that there's mascara mixed into the tears trickling down her freckled cheeks, and that he guesses her age to be in her twenties in that paragraph. He's sitting and holding a gun on her, and has a little more time to take in personal details about her.

I'm also curious about what time of day it is. If it's dark, you've got the interesting shadows that the dash lights would cast on them. But it would also make it harder for him to guess her age or make out specific details.

Anyway, yes, this has a greater pull to it. I'd be more likely to read on after that.
Thanks, Pepper! Yeah, it's six A.M. and still dark. I'll have to add those dash lights. Great idea!

I have no problem with "killing my darlings." I think you and John are spot on about those black rivers, so deleted they will be. Along with most of the cutesy third paragraph. ;)
I agree with most of John's critique, but 'grinded'? That jars with me more than 'ground it home' would.

Also, some of the adjectives in paragraph two lessen whatever drama Amstel's caught up in. He starts off running, but after seeing the car, he 'trotted to the passenger's side' and then 'tapped on the window', before going all dramatic again by shouting at the driver. Someone who trots and taps doesn't sound at the end of his leash. To me it suggests someone who's a bit effete and doesn't like raising their voice.

Combining some of the other comments, how about something like: Thick fog and the pool of light from the streetlamp at the corner of 8th and Jefferson shrank the world to an idling Toyota Corolla, waiting at the traffic lights, and Amstel Blake, barefoot, breathing hard and hammering on the passenger side window with the butt of a .40 caliber Taurus.

In both drafts I really like the final line, which promises so much and means overall I have to respond with a c).
Thanks, Vincent! I think you're right about those verbs. I'll give them a closer look on the second draft.
Fortunately I've never written a story that has required me to use the words verb or adjective in context, so it doesn't matter too much that I get them mixed up.
As I'm currently struggling on chapter six of my novel, I'd go for C. My mantra at the moment is "Don't get it right, get it written". My opening pages, no matter how beautifully constructed, usually end up in the bin. You have plenty of time to change your opening. As you get further into the novel, characters will take over, plot twists will emerge and, hopefully, fresh ideas will come from who knows where. Forget the opening and write the damn book!
I don't like "Black rivers of mascara trickled down her freckled cheeks". I'm not sure about the pulse in his teeth either.
So my advice is stop obsessing and get the thing written!
Thanks, Shirley! Good advice. Okay if I steal your mantra? ;)
It's all yours, Jude.
c) I like this. You do not know me from Adam, and that's good cuz you know you can trust my opinion. It's good. Get on with the rest and let us have more. :) *said whilst smiling of course, nothing but love on this side of the screen *
Thanks, Kaycee! C + Love = success, I think.

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