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Michelle Hauck is hosting a blog hop! Click the link to sign up. Once signed up, you post the first 250-ish words of your novel and then critique others first pages. Feel free to give me the good, the bad, and the ugly here. This has been revised and revised and revised some more!!

Rescue Me
Commercial Fiction (it’s a genre bender…)

(note: was I too obvious in the first paragraph to why Jacoby’s trying not to think the worst? It’s an important aspect to what comes after, but I don’t want to be too obvious, either.)

Based on feedback, here is a revised opening page:

I nearly spilled my coffee when the back door slammed open and my husband came barreling through the kitchen.

“It’s legal, Jacoby! Iowa finally came to its senses and made it all legal!!”

His shoulders heaved, his hands trembled and his pupils were so dilated, the blue was nothing more than a thin strip. He’s a former drug addict and these were usually warning signs. I didn’t want to think the worst, so I chalked things up to excitement. I put my mug on the counter and snatched his phone, wondering what was so damn exciting. Then, the one headline I thought I’d never see filled the small screen: Gay Marriage Legal in Iowa.
I sucked in a breath, reading the headline again to make sure I’d read correctly. The phone skidded across the floor as I grabbed Jimmy in a hug, smashing my lips against his. Breathless, I leaned back. Jimmy grinned.

“When are we going to get our license?” Jimmy settled at the table, finally drawing in a calming breath.

I smiled as I read the article. “I don’t know. If we wait ’til our anniversary, maybe we can have Pastor do a renewing of the vows for us.”

Jimmy yanked me down into his lap, attaching his lips to mine. I pulled back and smiled at him, his curly, black, shoulder-length hair brushing my hand.

“I can’t believe it. Finally, our marriage is going to be legal,” I said, blubbering. I leaned over and picked up Jimmy’s phone, the headline still filling the tiny screen. “It’s legal. It’s finally legal.” I stood, pulling his hand. “Let’s go upstairs and celebrate.”


  1. Hi there,

    I think I would start this with:

    “It’s legal!”

    because that’s where it starts. I don’t mind the coffee scene, it’s well written but perhaps save it for somewhere else and let us get into the scene with Jimmy and your MC.

    I read this 3 times to be sure, but I have now idea what your MC’s name is. If you start with “It’s legal!” then you can add something like:

    “It’s legal! Shannon babe, It’s legal! we’re gonna be legal too!” (or whatever the MC’s name is and whatever his voice is)

    Then you have a lot more 100-real estate to expand on the relationship, or the location or even the period (is it set in the now or in the near past or the near future for example?)

    Hope this helps

  2. Please take the following comments with a grain of salts since this is not usually my genre (I’m into horror, paranormal, fantasy)

    The not so good: Since you start in first POV, I had no idea who I was imagining nearly spilling their coffee – I know that right off the bat, it’s hard to give description right at the beginning and while something else is happening, but I just really had no idea who I was picturing here until much later. It also feels a little strange that he puts his mug down “gently”, but then his following dialogue feels just as excited as his husband’s – so it feels like his action of putting the mug down doesn’t match up with what he says (if that makes sense?)

    The good: I love how much I can really feel the emotions going through both characters – I don’t need to wonder, the feelings are perfectly written to make me share in their joy! The descriptions are always just enough to give me images inside my head without rambling on and on, and making me skip through them as I sometimes do. I also think the start of the manuscript is a perfect place to start – action, I’m curious about why the husband is so intense right now, but you give subtle background as you go, and again, making me feel connected to both characters instantly.

    Hope this helps a little!
    Good luck! ^_^

  3. Your imagery is great. I can see the scene clearly. I connected with the characters easily. I personally like the coffee scene first, but I can also see why the previous poster suggested starting with the “It’s legal” line. I think either could be a solid start, so go with your gut 🙂

    Good luck!

  4. I know this is an adult novel but what is your genre?

    That aside I did enjoy your first page and it has me wondering where this is going. What sort of obstacles will pop up as they make their way to the altar? Good start.

    I have no structural suggestions as it all flows very well for me personally. I like starting with the dorm slamming because it immediately pulls you in and grabs your attention. The reader sits up a bit and wonders what the cause of such ruckus.

  5. It would help a bit if you had the category and genre in the post somewhere. I’m going to presume this is Adult Literary, and if it’s something else, please let me know!

    I really like this, there’s a good sense of place and time and characters in your writing. I’m going to disagree with the others about the first paragraph, if only because I’m presuming it’s Literary and, thus, goes by different rules than us genre types.

    As a fellow Iowan I have an idea of where the story might be going, but that’s the one thing that isn’t really telegraphed. Should I have foreboding? Should I have excitement? How is their relationship? Strong? Is there going to be a challenge? Even a hint of that will help orient the book a little bit stronger.

    Again, if this is a genre story then that may change my feedback. I’d be happy to come back and improve my notes.

    Hope this helps! Best of luck!

  6. A very timely topic considering what’s going on in the court system across the US. I think there’s a lot of potential in a story like this that illustrates the “other” and can get people to put themselves in another’s shoes. So for that reason alone, I want to read more.

    That said, I feel like I wanted a lot more voice in this first page. You describe the husband’s tension really nicely–pupils dilated, shoulders heaving, hands trembling–all nice imagery, but I don’t get much of a sense of the main character. He squeals and jumps up and down then blubbers at the end of the scene, which I’m having a hard time picturing in a man old enough to be in a relationship for 10 years, even with news as big as this. If he’s this excited, what makes him want to wait until January instead of being one of the folks you see on the news who race straight to the courthouse because they’ve waited so danged long to be able to legally marry? I want to get a real sense of what’s at stake here and see some of the internal workings of this MC to keep me hooked in to this story.

    Best of luck!

  7. You do a good job giving the sense of the emotions going on here! I struggled to pair these (presumably) grown adults jumping up and down and squealing, though. It felt a little out of place to me. Their two kisses are both described as “smashed his lips against mine” (or vice versa), so probably switch one of those up to another description. Good luck!

  8. Love the joy and excitement of these two people who have obviously already been married for some time but now are able to make it legal in their hometown – that’s such a strong emotion, I’d almost like there to be more on that — however that doesn’t mean more adjectives. I think you have a nice sequence of actions — from Jimmy entering the kitchen and shouting his excitement — but I feel it’s wordy. I don’t think we need to have heaving shoulders and trembling hands — because the dilated pupils say it all. Also, I think you slow down the pace with the internal comment of chalking it up to excitement — why not just go straight to “I put my mug on the counter…..” but then also I’d collapse the end of that paragraph with the next — again, with the idea that less is more. He can grab the phone and see the headline quickly. As a reader, I care more about his reaction to the great news than how he finally gets the news (trying and failing to grab the phone, etc.)
    Good Luck!!!

  9. Wow, this is great!!! It looks like nit-picking is all that left for this one. I read a snarky column a few weeks back about dialogue tags that couldn’t physically happen, and I think blubbered was on their list. You could change to “I said, blubbering” or “I said, between sobs.” Great work!

  10. Hi there! I’ve seen this one a few times around the block, and I like your new opening. Just some nit-picking: I’d change the first line to read, “It’s legal, Jacoby! Iowa…” It flows better, I think. I also would condense the whole trying to grab the phone scene. It seems redundant and unimportant right at the start to say that he tried and failed and tried again and then got it.

    Because I’ve seen your premise/hook a few times, I know what you’re getting at with, “I didn’t want to think the worst…” but I wonder, for the first time reader, if they need something a bit more explicit here to hook them. “His smile splitting his face” seems almost violent to me. Could just be me, though. Apostrophe before til–’til and Pastor should be capitalized if you’re referring to him as Pastor, not ‘our pastor’ or ‘the pastor.’ Hope that makes sense.

    Great job! Happy writing and good luck!

  11. I read the revised version. I like the almost childish giddiness. I saw some other commenters might not have, but I found it infectious. I didn’t find your first paragraph too obvious.

    The first sentence, as a quote, threw me off a little because I wasn’t sure who was speaking. Maybe if you start with the sentence about Jimmy coming in / the coffee spilling, then jump to the dialog, and then go back to the paragraph describing Jimmy’s appearance, it will be clearer who is speaking.

    I think you used the word “pulled” or “pulling” a few times – might be good to replace a couple.

    What I stumbled on was the vernacular of gonna and dunno. It reminded me I was reading instead of making me feel immersed. I agree with csschwarz on til and pastor. Also, in the last line, I think “finally” would feel more natural after “is”. Good luck!

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