Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gorgon-zola!: The First 250 Words

Here's the first exciting couple of pages from Gorgon-zola!, my commercial women's fiction manuscript with a dose of magical realism now seeking an agent. It's complete at 100,000 words. Enjoy, and thanks for reading and your comments!


I poked the man in the chest.

No flinching, no moving, no blinking. No blinking? I poked him again to make sure. Definitely no blinking. He was one of those creepy wax statues, a sick grin on his face like a clown who broke loose from the circus.

I glared at him. All I needed was an aspirin for my headache, not some lewd pick up line and a practical joke.

With a sigh, I turned on my heel and made for the door.

I walked by the cosmetic aisle and spared a quick look at my face. My eyes had always been green, but never chartreuse, and never so swollen. A face appeared in the mirror behind me and I shrieked, stumbling backwards into a display of nail polish. Bottles skittered everywhere and I clenched my teeth as my headache kicked up a notch.

I turned to blame the jerk who surprised me, but there was no one there.

Muttering under my breath and vowing to get some more rest, I went outside, hit the auto unlocker on my keychain, opened the door to my red Ferrari Spider, and climbed inside. The Spider flaunted wealth that I knew I didn't have or put into any other aspect of my life. But I loved fast cars and it was a testament to my new American life, with an Italian spin of course. It had taken me years to save up for this beast.


  1. Hey!

    You have a really nice beginning here, but I feel as though you kind of lose it by not setting the scene a little more. All I know is that she sees a guy lying there, still as stone. I don't know where he is, where she is, or why she leaves him lying there. If he's got a sick grin on his face, are his eyes opened or closed? What makes her think he's playing a practical joke, and why mention a pick-up line if we've never heard him speak?

    You also have a typo in the fifth paragraph, where I think you mean to say that her eyes "had always been green."

    The face in the mirror thing confused me. I'm pretty sure it belongs to the guy she'd left lying there, but I don't know. If she saw a face, wouldn't she be a little more startled, especially if she turns around and there's nobody there. Your story description says magical realism. Does she know about magic, or not?

    One final thing. Your last paragraph feels kind of unnecessary to me. There's too much description about the car, when I'd like to know more about the mysterious man. If you need to mention her leaving, I'd do it in about a sentence. You don't need to spell out everything she does to get her car ready.

    Hope my comments have been helpful! Good luck!


  2. Heh, Ellen pretty much wrote everything I was going to write. It's interesting, but the first few paragraphs are confusing. Why is a guy just lying frozen, and why isn't she more worried about it? Why is she poking him?

    I like the voice. There's a nice tone to it.

  3. Hey, just wanted to say I really like the first few lines. Engaging opening. The wax figure left me confused with the pick up line? I didn't get that.

    Also if I like that she jumps when a face appears from behind, but I don't know that she would really shriek if she's in a public place. That felt off. Assuming she is in a public place. :)

    I liked the end too. Having a nice car that she doesn't have the matching life style for shows part of her character. Good job!

    Melinda #93 -

  4. Sorry about the *if* AND I forgot to say the wording with her eyes threw me off. Should one word be changed?

  5. Is she in a mall? Why is there a wax figure there? Why does she look as though she's been beaten up? Is that a ghost in the mirror behind her? If it's a mall why does she just walk outside and straight into her car? Is there no parking lot there?

    There are questions here that I'm interested in getting the answers to... but I've read this four times and still have no clear sense of setting. Which is fine; all may be made clear in the next 250 words. But remember: there is a fine, fine line between the enticing readers by withholding information, and confusing them.

    Really vivid used of words and description, though. Lots of neat descriptive language. Just remember, while you build mood to still establish surroundings, especially in commercial lit where clarity is a little bit more appreciated.

    Good luck, and keep writing!

  6. I agree with all of the above, although I was intrigued by the first few paragraphs. But -- sorry -- I was distracted and startled by your hometown. I live thirty miles south, in Three Rivers!

  7. I LOVE the last paragraph. It grabbed me with detail about her personality and gives great insight about her.

    The opening paragraphs, while intriguing, are a bit confusing. Wax figure, pick-up line? How does that work? I'm ready to believe there's magic here, but need more grounding in where she is and what she's doing. Excellent concepts, just needs some tweaking!

  8. Ferrari=WIN!
    Liked the mysterious face.
    Couple nits.
    Didn't know the gender of the narrator. Guessing female.
    I didn't understand what "not some lewd pick up line and a practical joke" had to do with anything.
    How do eyes swell? I think you mean either lids or cheeks. The whites of eyes can be reddened.
    Is this meant to imply fatigue or injury? It's ambiguous.
    Would like to know what the face looked like and why it was frightening. Gender? People are shopping, so it shouldn't be surprising if someone else is at the counter.
    Logistically, not seeing how she jumps into a bunch of nail polish. If the face was behind her, why did she jump back?
    "Auto unlocker" is technically called a "keyless remote"
    So the car is right outside the door?
    I feel everything happens too fast. Consider expanding what's before the car and cut the last bit.
    Interesting start, I want to know what the face was!

  9. Thank you so much for reading and all of your comments! I had no idea that he looked like he was lying down (he's supposed to be standing!) so I will have to change that, as well as add some clarity. It's so clear if you know the story is about Medusa, but if not, it's obviously very confusing. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  10. There were some aspects of this that I loved, the first paragraph especially, but you totally lost me here: "I glared at him. All I needed was an aspirin for my headache, not some lewd pick up line and a practical joke." I'm a huge mythology buff, so the Medusa story is certainly familiar, but to make this work for someone picking it up in a bookstore, I think we may need to start a beat or two earlier. If this is a guy who hit on her then turned to stone, I think we need to actually see her meet him and turn him for the sake of both clarity and intrigue.