The second half of the PitchSlam contest has concluded. I got good feedback on my first 250 words, and it addressed something I was worried about: people not understanding that the MCs were employees of the hospital, not patients. I’ll post my first 250 with the feedback I received. Feel free to leave a comment (good, bad, or ugly!). I’ll be heading into revisions over the weekend, no doubt, but want to let the feedback simmer for a little bit so I come at things with fresh eyes.
First 250 Words of Rescue Me (LGBT Contemp. Romance):
Glancing across the emergency room, I watched my husband’s right arm twitch. He’d been an abuser of anything he could get his hands on back in the day, and suffered nerve damage in his right arm as a result. When he first started here as a basic level EMT, no one thought he’d last a month. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic; Creighton took a chance on him because he needed a job to meet the requirements of probation.
“Earth to Jacoby.”
I glanced up at Hollister, my fellow EMT, friend and co-worker, as she settled into a chair beside me. Frowning, I returned my attention to Jimmy. He was dressed in his blue flight suit, ready to hop into Creighton One at any time. Creighton One was our flagship medical chopper and Jimmy’s pride and joy. He was animated, talking about something or another with fellow paramedic Anthony. Growling when Hollister tapped my shoulder, I shot her a dark look. “What?”
“Back off, Captain Grumpy Pants. We’ve gotta get our rig cleaned out before the next call. Stop ogling your man and let’s go.”
“I’m not ogling him, I’m watching him. He’s not acting right.”
“Whatever, Mortensen. Let’s get this over with.”
I reluctantly followed her out into the cold ambulance garage. Being an EMT was fun until it was time to clean the rigs. Besides, it took me away from Jimmy and I needed to keep an eye on him.
There are too many characters introduced in the first 250. It’s jarring and difficult to follow. Is there a way to work the backstory into action/dialogue as opposed to exposition? Doing so will make the narrative stronger and help it to stand out from the pack. Also, a lot of dialogue at the very beginning doesn’t give the reader a chance to immerse themselves in what you’ve built, they have to immediately try and keep up with who’s talking, what they’re talking about, and why. The lack of dialogue tags only adds to that problem. Focus on the here and now. We imagine someone sitting in the ER watching their ill loved one wouldn’t be thinking about coworkers, living arrangements, how everyone knows one another, and jumpsuits.
Glancing across the emergency room, I watched my husband’s right arm twitch. He’d been an abuser of anything he could get his hands on back in the day and suffered nerve damage as a result. When he first started at Creighton University Hospital, no one thought he’d last a month. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic; Creighton took a chance on him because he needed a job to meet probation requirements.
In retrospect, I wasn’t sure why they took a chance on him. He wasn’t stable and he was at risk of losing the job more times than I can count. Still, he once he got clean and sober for the fourth time five years ago, he’d managed to stay that way. Granted, it took a cocktail of psych meds, but stability was stability in my mind.
Watching him, I was starting to think that cocktail had failed him. He’d been argumentative lately, paranoid, all signs that he’s off his meds again. Shaking my head, I dismissed the thought. We just had his meds evaluated and his doctor made no changes.
Then again, his right arm trembling like the San Andreas fault didn’t bode well for him being on his meds. Maybe he missed his tremor medication this morning. And his anxiety meds. I’d have to check when we got home tonight.
“Earth to Jacoby.”
I glanced at Hollister Macintosh, my friend and co-worker as she settled into a chair beside me. Frowning, I returned my attention to Jimmy.