First Impact: THE EYELET DOVE by Lindsay Kitson (First Page)

It's time for another First Impact Critique, where we take a look at your queries, first pages, back cover copy, and more. You want to make an impact right from the start. We're here to help you do that.

If you'd like to submit your first impact material, send it to Details here.

Remember, anyone who offers their comments this month is eligible for either $10 for Amazon or B&N OR a 20-page critique from me.

This week we have the first page for THE EYELET DOVE, a dieselpunk novel (yes, that's a thing) from Lindsay Kitson. You might remember we did the back cover copy of this book last year.

My overall thoughts are at the end. As always, this is all just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

First Page
Claire wanted to fly.

The last sentence here makes me
immediately think of LEVIATHAN.
I'm hoping this differentiates itself
from that soon.
It was an overcast day but the clouds were high up when she walked out onto the River City Base tarmac for pilot tryouts. Claire had tucked her shoulder-length hair up under her flight cap and drawn her goggles down over her face. With any luck, no one would guess her sex until after she’d proved herself in the sky.

She’d never felt so lucky to have a less than feminine jawline and small breasts.

That was why she’d joined the Ladies Division of the Avaline Air Guard in the first place, whatever she told
I'm confused. If there's a Ladies' Air
Guard, why does she have to hide?
people. She didn’t tell people the truth because she knew they would only laugh at her.

The truth was, working alongside the men who flew the machines that sailed among the clouds was the closest she might ever come to flying them herself.

But even that wasn’t enough for her any more.

The concrete airstrip stretched out to her left, bright white in the diffused sunlight. Some of the dreadnought crew had come out to watch the tryouts. Some of the hangar deck crew were out of their canvas coveralls, but the fly-boys wore their leather flight jackets like badges of pride.

Creepy. I hope the very next sentence
explains why she's still with him. I
guess because he teaches her?
Thomas wasn’t there though, thank Pete. Her boyfriend would have recognized her for sure, and he wouldn’t have hesitated to out her. It had taken no end of cajoling to convince him to teach her. He was a
creep—enough that the other girls wanted nothing to do with him. He made her skin crawl every time he laid his hands on her, and he bragged to the other pilots that she liked to do it in the sky, with no end of uncreative puns applied to the word cockpit.

Adam's Thoughts
I like the setting, but if you recall my comments from your back cover copy, you knew that.

I think I get the Ladies' Division thing, but it took me a couple of reads. I guess the Ladies' Division isn't allowed to actually fly, yes? That could be clarified.

I don't have a lot to add beyond my comments in the text. It does immediately bring LEVIATHAN to mind, perhaps too much for someone who has read that. So I personally want to know what makes this novel different as soon as possible. And the last paragraph creeps me out, so to keep Claire sympathetic, I want to know why he's still "her boyfriend," rather than her ex or something.

Other than that, I'm anxious to get to the action :-) What do the rest of you guys think?


Cap'n Heine said...

I was thinking the same thing about the boyfriend. If he creeps her out so much, why is she with him?

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm pretty well into this too. The issues are easily fixed, if they're not already cleared up in the next page or two.

Isn't it dreadnaught, though, with an A?

... actually, no. I looked it up, and I'm totally wrong about that. Sorry!

Steve MC said...

I didn't comment this morning 'cause I couldn't think of anything to add. I guess others felt the same.

Really, all I could think to offer was that "the clouds were high up" didn't sound like what a pilot would say, but then, she's not a pilot yet, so I kept my mouth shut. :p

KayC said...

I found the first sentence on it's own quite clunky. I'd prefer to see it roll into the second, and then show (rather than tell) Claire tucking in her hair and adjusting her goggle and clothes so she masks her chest. There are also places you can tighten your sentences to make them flow better. E.g. 'the clouds were high up' would be smoother as 'the clouds were high'

I agree with Adam - you need to clarify what the Ladies Division is.

I'm not quite sure why, if the boyfriend was prepared to teach her how to fly, he would then rat her out if he was there. I get that he's a creep, but it didn't flow to me. I'd also rather you 'showed me' how her skin crawls and how much of a slime bag he is, rather than just telling me.

Patchi said...

I really liked the setting. What I go was that she was dating the guy because he was willing to teach her to fly. Means to an end, I get that. The creep part is off-putting so I would leave it for later. I'd focus on what's really important to her about flying before letting the reader know what she put up with to get there. Show passion to build sympathy so we can be on her side.

Other than that, I think this is a great opening.

The Dieselpunkette said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. You're correct in guessing that Thomas was teaching her, and that's made clearer in the paragraph immediately following the end of the excerpt.

I haven't read Leviathan, but I guess I'll have to dig out the copy I picked up and never got around to to read the opening and make sure it's not too close. It is right at the opening that they're similar?

The ladies division bit will be easy to clarify - I've rewritten that line: "That was why she’d joined the Ladies Division of the Avaline Air Guard, to work on the hangar deck refueling and towing aeroplanes, and any other job thought suitable for a woman to do." I think that should take care of it without making it too clunky, no?