Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana Flegal

Welcome to our Wednesday edition of Would You Read On?. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to stop by our blog. Kindly comment if you would read on or not. Last week’s contributing author is revealed below this first page.

First Page:

Spaghetti legs, Daddy called them, spindly appendages that kinked when stressed—like now.

Samantha Knowles leaned against the table for support as Bailiff Don Hunter came to the front of the courtroom. “All rise.” Judge Normandy entered, his limp necessitating a much longer plod from his chamber to the bench. Soon, the wait would end—three years of sleepless nights, endless days of preparation, postponements, and courtroom theatrics by defense attorneys. After three interminable years, Justice would now show its face.

As the judge took his bench, the crowd silenced to await his summation. Sam glanced at the defendant’s table where a calm Harlan Styles sat, a wart on the cheek of humanity, an insulated icicle against the rising heat, tried and convicted—the rest up to Normandy’s guillotine.

She fingered her notes, though she didn’t need to see them—the image of Kiley’s tiny, battered body tattooed on Sam’s brain, a brazen scar, indelibly petrified.

Judge Normandy spewed his rhetoric—penal codes entwined with case facts, cold, distanced from the victim, yet succulent to Sam’s ears. In spite of their dry, unflavored essence, she feasted on his words—each pursuant finding heaped upon the other and topped with the last morsel, “The court can find no other just rendering than life imprisonment.”

Victory should taste better, like syrup over pancakes—not this metallic aftertaste.

Would You Read On?

Last week’s contributing author was David Stearman. David is a singer, songwriter and novelist. You can learn more about David at his ministry website or friend him on FB.


Timothy Fish said...

This one does well in displaying the workings of a courtroom for us. However, there’s something not quite right. My first thought was that it could be cleaned up some; referring to “spaghetti legs” and then mentioning the judge’s limp puts too much importance on legs. But it’s more than that. It occurs to me that this piece is very dry. I find myself more interested in hearing the judge talk about the law than in reading this. Worse, when we reach the end of the page, the sentence is life imprisonment. This page is backwards. The conflict and stakes should be rising, but they are falling. There is no need to keep reading because the story has already resolved.

Lisa M Buske said...

The character’s emotion is clear yet some of the word choices sounded similar and this distracted my reading on the first read through. I wonder if we will learn the horror of Kiley’s death. I’m left wondering if Samantha is the lawyer/DA or the parent waiting to hear the verdict.

The language was colorful yet some of the multi-syllabic words caused me to pause and sometimes reread. I’m guilty of the big words myself, one I get dinged on often if I’m not careful.

As the reader, I was in the courtroom with the author yet some of the wording seemed to copy that of previous sentences. I understood the differences yet is paused my reading. I was going to note the same area as Timothy Fish.

Overall I like the storyline yet the bigger words would keep me from reading on at this point in my life. There are times I’m up to the challenge of reading and thinking yet this opening sounds like a good story I would want to read for enjoyment and all the syllables would cause me to set the book down. On my headier days though, I would read.

Lisa M. Buske

Jeanette Levellie said...

I would read on. This is a compelling story and piques my curisosity, even if a few of the sentences are not as tight as they could be. But that's easy to fix. It's a spell-binder, imho.

I'd just want to know before I got too far into it that it wasn't full of gore, since it's obviously the murder of a child. You can't tell that from the first few paragraphs, but I'd look on the back cover for more info.

Great job, whomever you are!

Kimberly Rae said...

I would. Loved the first sentence. Needs a hint of editing, but don't we all! Good job giving readers a taste of the plot and upcoming suspense--my only thought would be that if the imprisonment sentence was the point of the plot, it may want to wait till later, leaving the reader hanging as to what the verdict will be. But I would definitely read on. Good job!

Linda Glaz said...

Lisa said it best, the author kept us wondering what happened? Anytime an author came make me wonder, I want to read on. And I like the order. The only change I might make, would be to end with imprisonment.
"No!" Leaving us wondering who shouted "No!" instead of the last line, but that wouldn't stop me reading on anyway, so maybe it's a moot point. I liked it!!!

Cheryl said...

I'm on the fence over this one. At first, by the mention of Daddy I thought this was a young person, but it quickly became obvious it's not. The long sentences slow the pace of what should be a suspenseful scene. I would probably continue for a bit to see what happens.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

I didn't see how the first sentence fit. It threw me off.

Sandra Ardoin said...

Yes, I would read on. I want to know who that smug defendent is and how he reacts to his sentencing.

However, I think it should begin with the paragraph "She fingered her notes..." (that talks about the child), and also be expanded to show more of the the courtroom proceeding and the judge's words, etc., before the verdict is read.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Yes, I would read on. Personally, I don't think spaghetti "kinks" -- it does something softer (unless it's uncooked and then it snaps). But that's an easy fix. I'm curious and would definitely turn the page.

Katherine Hyde said...

The situation certainly has plenty of drama. I like some of the language—"a wart on the cheek of humanity"—but in other places it feels forced, overdone, as if the author is trying too hard for literary prose. She needs to be ruthless in killing her darlings and just write simple, powerful prose, and the drama will come through more effectively. But it's a good opening overall.

Lisa M. Buske said...

I'm back. :) I must admit I thought about this piece a couple times today while at work. So I would most likely read more. Have you thought about adding some more dialogue? This would add to the story and engage the reader more. This came to mind a couple times today. Hope this helps. :)

Lisa M. Buske

jill said...

I definitely would, if this was a genre I liked to read. She creates sympathy right away with the comment about her legs, making the character vulnerable. She sets a scenes well. (Actually, I didn't look to see if it was a he or a she writing.) S/he lets you know there is a backstory, and you assume it is about to unfold. I want to know how these peoples' lives will intertwine and change. I don't really think there are big words going on, but maybe I just like to read that.

Heather Marsten said...

Yes, I would read on - the author pulls the reader into the MC thoughts and gives enough information to make the reader have questions. I love the descriptions of the characters and their actions.