Original First 250 Words: I never knew what it felt like to be hunted. Not until today.
I swept my gaze around the supposedly safe confines of the Temple of Athena. As far as I could tell, I stood alone in the inner sanctuary, and yet I knew I wasn’t. A predator watched my every move, far enough away never to be seen, but close enough to always be felt.
I picked up a lily resting on a stone bench, the bloom as pale as the marble it sat upon, and studied it with a scowl. The temple’s garden didn’t have lilies like this. I had no idea where it had come from.
My hunter had started stalking me in the morning. Half asleep, my senses still dulled, I had felt a presence by my bedside. I woke up screaming, the senior priestesses rushing to my room.
I begged them to search my quarters. They had found nothing, assured me it was merely a nightmare. But you couldn’t hear the inhale and exhale of a nightmare’s breath, nor could a nightmare run its fingers through your hair.
Suppressing a shudder, I tossed the lily to the ground, as if it were made of poison.
Wherever I went, whatever I did, my predator followed, leaving small tokens for me to find. I could almost catch the broad-shouldered figure of a man out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned around, he was gone.
And none of the other priestesses believed me.
PitchSlam Feedback: After reading your entry, we've found you could strengthen your opening page by addressing the following issues:
- We feel this lacks voice. Play with really getting into your MC's head. What does she sound like? What words would she use? Even though this isn't dialogue, we should get a sense of that personality. As-is, it feels flat. Be brave & infuse it with a voice that will stand out.
- This may start in the wrong place. Is there another moment of higher tension? Interaction with another person/being? Maybe give it a shot?
New First 250 Words: I never knew what it felt like to be hunted. Not until today.
And when a girl was standing in the hallowed halls of the Temple of Athena, she should never have felt that way. Maybe in the slums of Delphi or the untamed wilderness, but not here.
I peered up at the statue of Athena. My Lady towered over me, three stories tall, a spear gripped in one marble hand, her golden helm glittering in the afternoon light. Flowers and late-summer fruits were piled at her feet. I left my own offerings, praying for guidance.
“Blessed Athena, wise and serene. Protectress of us all.” Today, more than ever, I took comfort in the truth of those words.
No one could hurt me, even if they had somehow gotten past the temple’s four mighty walls. My Lady would keep me safe.
“Alessia, come on.”
I jumped at Naima’s voice. My fellow priestess stepped into the sanctuary, tugging at my sleeve and shooing me toward the courtyard. Then she took a closer look at me and her face fell.
“You’re still upset about this morning, aren’t you?” I considered every priestess here to be family, and I had two older sisters back home, but Naima was the little sister I had always wanted. A year younger than me, her family originally hailed from the far away city of Thebes, on the river Nile.
“Of course, I’m upset. Someone was in my room last night, and I know that’s not even possible.”
Once again, feedback is welcome. This was a tough one, because I've always had trouble with 'voice.' Is this more voicey? Is it voicelicious? I can't tell.
What I ended up doing was taking my first 500 and flipping it around. I pulled the dialogue closer to the top and will intersperse information about what's going on while my MC, Alessia, talks to her best friend. Hopefully that makes the opening stronger.
Influx by Daniel Suarez
5 weeks ago