Wrapping up my series on the first page of my manuscript, today I’m posting the current state of my first page. Per my agent’s brilliant editorial suggestion, this version starts a half-step further back in time than the last did.
My commentary will follow, as usual.
“Jonas? You’re up.” Matthew’s voice was just as curt over the phone as it was in person.
Five years of working evenings in the office, weekend afternoons spent huddled over spreadsheets at the makeshift desk in her one-bedroom apartment, so many missed runs that she’d had to let out her favorite pair of pants . . . twice . . . had all led up to this moment. Her moment.
Anna strode to the conference room with the confidence she’d built on year after year of reviews that had “exceeded expectations.” Just before the door, she checked that her starched lavender blouse was neatly tucked in all the way around her waist, spun her pinstriped pencil skirt to its proper orientation, and attempted to tug her unruly not-quite-straight brown hair into submission. She took a deep breath and pushed her shoulders back to stand tall when she entered the spare, almost sterile room.
“Anna,” Matthew said, using her first name for perhaps the second time in their career together. “Take a seat, please.”
Matthew had been her only boss in her five years at the bank; she could predict most of the moves he made. She knew he’d be wearing his best suit, the one reserved for hiring, firing, and meetings with the much-higher-ups—flawless white shirt, navy tie, dark gray trousers and jacket, the cut of which made him look ten years younger than he was. Some of the junior associates in the office found him attractive, his hair still naturally a rich brown, his skin bronzed but never overly tanned in the summer. Anna couldn’t see it—to her, he was simply Matthew, always her boss, her mentor, her Yoda.
I get a lot of information here, without it being doled out in exposition (finally!). There’s lots of physical description, both of Anna and Matthew and of the place. Those physical descriptors give information about who the characters are as people; likewise, the second paragraph about how Anna’s spent her time over the last five years gives insight into her physical appearance (she’s not the skinniest girl on the planet). I have a sense of what the story is about, and it’s told in an interesting and intriguing way.
There’s also some tension to start. The reader is probably (hopefully) thinking, “No way is this going to go as well as she hopes” or “Big moment . . . but what will it mean for her?” There’s not much dialogue, but some, and a good deal of action that moves the story forward.
I’m not sure what else I’d critique—with this version, I’ve fixed everything I can find that needs help. I’d love your perspective, readers!
Stay tuned for another exciting post next week! (Spoiler: A real, live, published author!)