How is this beginning for my new mystery novel



I would like your opinion on the beginning of my new e-novel. I would reveal the title, but I love it too much to share until it is released next month. This is a preview if you wish, the first five paragraphs of chapter one.  Does it hook you into the story?


I have never killed anyone. I’m a writer for God’s sake. I have killed off fictional characters, but never a real person. But events beyond my control would change that.

If you have gone to work and discovered a dead man sitting in your chair, his head lying on your oak desk, blood pooling up with thick red droplets spilling slowly over the desk’s edge to splatter on the tile floor, his arms hanging limply towards the floor, one eye closed, the other vacantly staring at me, then you have an idea how my day started. I am not being insensitive. His day was worse than mine. But why was he at my desk? He was no stranger as I met him once, but at that time I knew little about him and when I discovered who he was, well, it was both a surprise and a mystery. Funny he never said anything about it when we met.

This was my second encounter with murder, having five years earlier solved the murder of film director William Desmond Taylor. I say solved as if I am a detective, but the truth of the matter, for I will only tell you the truth, is that the killer confessed to me, and did so at my office at then Famous Players-Lasky, now called Paramount, where I wrote scenarios and title cards for movies. I use the word ‘wrote’ in past tense, for I will no longer write title cards, but scenarios with dialogue. But that is my problem.

Anyway, only the killer of Taylor and I know the truth. Well, we two, along with the killer’s mother, possibly the sister and grandmother, maybe a policeman or two, assorted studio heads, and certainly the former District Attorney. As you can guess the case is solved only unofficially. Perhaps the case is still open, but I doubt if anyone is seriously trying to find the killer, and if so, they will never find him-or her. I have not even told my dear wife Eveleen, which I feel guilty about because she was with me at each stage of my so called investigation, though adventure is more like it. She is more adventurous than I am, and though I will not tell her this, she is also smarter. The killer swore me to silence and I honor my word, even to killers. I could have been a priest, except I am not Catholic, and not really religious, but people for some reason confide in me. Besides, the killer told me what happened, that it was an accident, and the explanation had the ring of truth. Eveleen, however, may not agree, and I want to put all that behind me; nothing to be gained now. For the record I am not convinced it was an accident.

But I am guessing you are more interested in the murder of Hans Bachmann. That is the man sitting in my chair; his head on my oak desk, blood flowing from a gaping slit across his throat. He had not been dead long.

Comments welcome



Filed under dalies, e-book publishing, fiction, fiction writing, Uncategorized, writers, writing

2 responses to “How is this beginning for my new mystery novel

  1. msugar13

    I like the voice, it is fresh and definitely different. I’m an avid reader and writer of mystery, suspense, thrillers and all crime fiction. Your first few paragraphs are catchy and I am eager to learn about the dead man in the office and I am also as eager to find out what happened in the past. Who confessed to the MC? Why did your MC believe him or her and how will that earlier crime tie into this one. The narrative is catchy and you have a good hook. You’ve foreshadowed a suspenseful novel. I barely know your MC and already I like him. He is punchy and cocky and I like that.

    Now for a little constructive criticism. You did ask for it, right? I am always uncomfortable giving any critique, even when asked, because you just never know how a person will react. Not that I have a lot of criticism to offer you — I don’t.

    But, the sentence:
    ” If you have gone to work and discovered a dead man sitting in your chair, his head lying on your oak desk, blood pooling up with thick red droplets spilling slowly over the desk’s edge to splatter on the tile floor, his arms hanging limply towards the floor, one eye closed, the other vacantly staring at me, then you have an idea how my day started.”

    That sentence tossed me out of the story because I had to re-read it and even then it felt choppy and hard to follow. It has some amazing qualities like the description of the dead body and powerful action verbs, but it just doesn’t flow for me. I also think you could punch it up by using some of the other senses that your MC experiences when he discovers a dead body in his office. Add more of a reaction using body language and internalization. When a person stumbles on a dead person, regardless of his occupation, if the dead body comes as a shock or surprise, there has to be some reaction to it. It doesn’t feel authentic here because your MC has no real reaction to the dead body. That second sentence has so much potential. If you reworked it so that you aren’t telling us about it, but rather show us the MC finding the dead body and whoa … wtf … his reactions — you have the ability to captivate us here, but you don’t take advantage of it.

    To borrow from writing guru, Dwight Swain, where is the MRU – motivation reaction unit?
    1. Feeling and/or thought.

    2. Action (can include involuntary physical response such as sweating or breathing hard).

    3. Speech.

    Without it, the excitement and suspense of finding a dead body just sort of falls flat. Since your character doesn’t feel anything or express any emotions or have a reaction, the reader doesn’t either and it’s a waste of a compelling opening.

    The reason I am bringing this up is because I truly like what I read, but this long, choppy sentence with an odd present tense verb usage is the second sentence in your story. I don’t want to be pulled out of a compelling suspenseful story with a cheeky, charismatic protagonist. I want to be pulled in deeper. I kept reading because you offered a few paragraphs and I wanted to see if I could get back in with the original flow. Fortunately, I did jump back in and liked the rest of what I read. I liked it enough that when it is released next month I will purchase it. You have teased my curiosity and that’s what good suspenseful stories do.

    On the other hand, I purchase a lot of Kindle and hardback books and I am becoming more and more selective with my time. Granted, I’ve never given up on a book on the second sentence, I have shortened my attention span from about twenty pages to five pages. If I am not mesmerized within five pages I move on to a different book. That may sound harsh and I may sound like a bitch, but life is short and my free time is even shorter. I’ve become very picky and choosy about how I spend my reading time.

    I can tell that I would like your book. I can tell from the voice and the MC’s attitude. I just can’t get past that second sentence. It threw me all over the place and when your character doesn’t have a reaction to something as big and major as a dead body, your readers don’t have a reaction either. You want your readers to have an emotional reaction. You have good material to make that happen and I wish you would.

    So, that’s my honest, humble opinion for whatever it’s worth. Best of luck with your release. I am eager to read ——- the book whose title shall not be revealed. That adds another aura or mystery to your book.

    Melissa Sugar
    Twitter @msugar13


    • Thank you. I truly appreciate your time and thoughtful analysis. I will consider what you said and see if I can improve that sentence. It is always good to have fresh eyes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s