First page by G.Watts, one writer who dared send work to Mommacrit.
A Thawed Mind (498words)
He’s running. He keeps close to the wall, fingernails dragging across the worn dry brickwork. Moonlight chases his footsteps
and silvers the nearby oak trees. It illuminates his thin white face, his
hollowed eyes. Wild thoughts circle inside his head. His pounding heart swells and fills his hollow chest.
David woke early and watched the sun
slanting through the bedroom window. He stretched feeling good. Swinging his
feet onto the carpet, he strode to the bathroom. The face that stared back from
the mirror bemused him. He lifted a trembling hand to his cheek and traced bloodied
scratches. Fear flickered. Hazy thoughts struggled to surface. Ignoring the unease
in the pit of his stomach, he turned on the radio. When music blared, he recognised the tune and started to hum. Once dressed, he sipped hot coffee, his two hands holding the cup tight.
Shocked, he found police outside
the Library. They stopped him at the main door.
A burly policeman asked for his name and position before letting him into the building. Once inside he waited with
other library staff in the lobby.
Sweat covers his hands, gleams on
his brow and his head starts to ache. The low muttering of his colleagues, their concerned faces, start to irritate and the
heavy pounding in his head grows stronger. The headaches, now occurring more frequently, and with increasing severity; leave
him fighting hazy thoughts he can’t quite grasp.
Silence settled when Julia Masters,
the Chief Librarian, walked into the lobby followed by a short stout man with greying hair. She spoke with a deliberately
‘I’m sorry…but a
body was found in the basement storeroom early this morning.’ The body
now identified, is that of Mandy Roberts. She was killed sometime yesterday.’
Voices low at first, grew louder;
a clamour that filled the lobby. Julia raised her hands.
‘Mandy is…was our youngest
colleague. I know we will all miss her.’ Julia’s voice faltered.
‘This is Chief Inspector, Don Bradman who is leading the investigation. Everyone
will be interviewed this morning. I ask you all, please be patient and wait in
the staff-room until called.’ Julia’s voice broke, her low sobs hitting the silence as uncomprehending faces with
bleak eyes stared back at her.
The staff-room felt cooler after
the heat of the lobby and the pounding in David’s head eased. He lay back on the worn sofa; its sagginess a familiar
comfort. He closed his eyes, tried to drown out Joe’s voice.
’What was she doing in
the basement?’ Joe’s question echoed in their heads, but got no reply. ‘I left same time as you, do you remember Alisa?’
‘I was rushing, not sure I remember
you leaving.’ Alisa smiled apologetically.
we remember Alisa, try to think back.’
Alisa’s cheeks took on a rosy
glow. She fastened mild grey eyes on Joe. Once she’d been grateful for
Joe’s attention, now dislike settled on her thin face, and she stayed mute. Someone suggested coffee.
Reaction from Mommacrit
As well as the
first email from G. Watts, Mommacrit received another, printed below for your edification:
I did sub a piece to you some time ago, but have forgotten which piece - now wondering if you received it. Name
is G Watts.”
message is this writer sending to the Momma?
You, Momma, sexy black underwear notwithstanding, are not important enough for me to remember if I’ve sent you a sub.
You, Momma, are so trivial in my scheme of things that I spell your name incorrectly.
You, Momma, have plenty of time to waste so please keep track of my submissions and when I lose your confirmation email, send
for G. Watts, Mommacrit is a saint as well as a sex goddess. From the kindness of her heart, she replied in this way:
to keep up, G. Watts. Start a Submission folder where you keep your subs and include the email contact, date, and all other
text. Mommacrit sent you an acknowledgement of your submission. Mommacrit keeps records. See below. Don't ask again.”
many editors, agents and publishers are, in fact, pedantic, anal-retentive jerks, that it’s easy to prejudice them against
a writer. Publishing professionals admit to trashing manuscripts because of an incorrect salutation, the font being identical
to the one that scared Aunt Mabel in the woodshed or, (gasp!) a colored envelope. Even someone as saintly as the Momma could
easily push a sub to the end of the queue, just because she can. So don’t take the risk.
you quaking in your boots, G. Watts? First off, has the writer followed the guidelines? Apart from the aberration mentioned
above, G. Watts’ submission was professional and guidelines were followed to the letter.
this first page a hook, carefully crafted to grab a reader’s attention?
first paragraph intrigued the Momma. Apart from the guy having hollowed eyes and a hollow chest - some kinda genetic abnormality?
– it’s tight, active and engaging writing.
the rest of the hook let Mommacrit down. Tension built in the first paragraph
dissipates under the following deluge of detail. Does the reader need to know that David’s coffee was hot and he held
the cup tight with two hands? How does this contribute to the reader’s understanding of David’s character or the
situation? Later we read that the sofa’s sagginess “…is a familiar comfort…” Two words from
the Momma: “Who cares?”
tense works in the first paragraph. It is physically separated from the rest of the text and gives the impression of a dream
or nightmare memory. The switch to present tense again, after past tense in the second and third paragraphs, doesn’t
shifts don’t work either. What seems to be David’s POV, morphs into Julia’s POV, “She spoke with a
deliberately slow voice.” and flirts briefly with Alisa, too “Alisa smiled apologetically.” and “Once
she’d been grateful for Joe’s attention…” Head hopping confuses readers.
decided not to mention the misplaced speech mark after “morning” or the missing commas after “Bradman”
and “remember”. The Momma has mellowed.
seemed to be implying that Hollow David with his bloody scratches did something naughty in the nighttime. Perhaps even murdered
Mandy? But the latter part of the hook implies that Joe is under suspicion for the crime. Mommacrit might turn the page and
skim to sort this out. Or not.