Help please – Which book would you rather read?

As part of the ‘May – You Write Your Novel’ #mywyn 80,000 words in 80 day writing challenge, I am re-writing and finishing a novel I started for the M&B New Voices competition way back last September.

I have re-written the opening paragraphs and my good friend Ellie Swoop is very clear about which version she likes best.

Below I give the two versions. Please comment to tell me which you like best?

Version 1

Rosie watched in horror as the stain spread across her dress. The red seemed to consume the fine white wool. As the initial shock wore off she turned flashing eyes to the cause of her disfigurement.

‘Do you realise how much this dress cost?’

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you, but you did throw the wine over yourself.’

Rosie dabbed at the puddle on her chest with her napkin, whilst juggling her empty wine glass and handbag. She glared at the man in front of her. The dabbing was having little effect. The saying “if looks could kill” came to her mind. He might only have made her jump by speaking to her, but she was furious. If she hadn’t been miles away trying to work out the relationship of the couple across the lawn from her, the accident would never have happened. She remembered the countless hours of trudging around shops it had taken to find her dress.

‘I was going to introduce myself. You must be Rosie Phillips.’

Version 2

His body looked tantalising. Rosie’s mind somersaulted through different thoughts as her sapphire eyes widened. She couldn’t wait to see him naked and see him she would, she was determined. He had cyclist’s legs. They were tanned right up to the edge of his shorts. She wanted to know how far up the tan extended, to slide her fingers underneath the fabric to find out and then to caress the soft inside skin of his thighs, making him beg, plead for her fingers to go higher and higher.

Shivering in anticipation despite the heat of the afternoon, Rosie brazenly turned her attention to the triangle of flesh at the neck of his shirt. His chest was tanned too. Was he brown all over? Had some lucky girl been delighted by the sight of his unclothed torso this summer? Maybe she had slathered suntan lotion onto his back, his chest, his legs, his…

Rosie licked her lips and tried to regain some composure. She closed her eyes. He hadn’t even spoken to her, but she had singled him out as someone she wanted to spend time with even if only in her mind. Her thoughts strayed back to suntan oil, baby oil, olive oil…

‘Hello, you must be Rosie Phillips.’

She jumped, spilling red wine down the front of her pristine white dress. Muttering an oath and blushing to the roots of her blonde hair, Rosie frantically dabbed at the spreading red stain with a napkin. The object of her desire was right in front of her watching her efforts with a slight grin on his face. She couldn’t decide what was worse, having naughty fantasies about his body, swearing in front of him or appearing a clumsy idiot.

Which novel would you want to read and why did you choose that version? Thank you.

By Morton S. Gray

Author of romantic suspense novels.


  1. Straight away i enjoyed version 1 but as i read version 2 I realised the set-up to it made the 'startle' oh so much better. My vote is v2! Good luck with the mywyn 🙂 x


  2. Hmmm… is this the first paragraphs of the first chapter?

    The first one brings us in quicker, but the second one is 'hotter'.

    Now I'm no expert but could you not start on

    “Hello you must be Rosie Phillips” and the paragraph after… (maybe Rosie jumped rather than she) then to version 1 bit, missing out the 'I was going to…' and make then the hot bit fit afterwards?

    You might have to make it fit a bit… but although the hot stuff is good, maybe it needs some setting up first?

    Again… I am no expert.


  3. Ooh LOVE both, so evocative – but I am going to be controversial and go for number 1. I think it's slightly darker and hints at something slightly sinister afoot – all is not what it seems. However number two suggests a shaggathon! Nothing wrong with that either! x


  4. I'd go for number two. I like the humour and the sizzle factor. If this is the opening chapter, Morton, I'll be expecting lots of shagging – don't let me down! X


  5. Hello! Well I like both in very different ways. The first is darker, more suspenseful promises something intriguing, secrets to be revealed, maybe some deep emotional conflict maybe. The 2nd is fun, flirty and promises to be a sexy read. I would read either so I suppose I would turn it back on you and ask which book you want to write?


  6. Diankaniko said :- I was enjoying version one…
    then I read version two…wow!
    I personally did prefer version one!
    I will read you book whichever version yiou choose.


  7. Thank you everyone for your comments. I gather some people had difficulty posting yesterday – must have been a blogger blip. Pity I din't get as many comments as viewings though. Welcome to new followers.

    Just shows my writing isn't quite as bad as I think! Version 1 was written when the story took a more serious turn and Version 2 was the original Mills and Boon entry. This change in mood appears to have been picked up by the commentors. Now I just have to decide which version to write, or maybe both! Lol. Version 2 definitely seems most popular and yes it was Ellie's favourite too. Thank you for your help. Additional comments still welcome. Mx


  8. I think you should combine the two. I didn't realise you were thinking of them as 'different' stories. Just different ways of starting a story.

    V2 just feels a little thrown in the middle with no real set up prior, so I'm not so well in the picture, if that makes sense. Although I'm thinking Phoar! I'm wondering where it came from.

    Also, starting with dialogue can jump us right in there, and still give us the surprise etc.


  9. Thanks Teresa. It is of course unfair only showing the first paragraph as version one contains elements of version two in the next bit. I debated whether on not to do this survey, but it has been extrememly helpful in deciding the tone and direction of this book. There will no doubt be a version three. Thank you all. Mx


  10. Hi Morton! They were both great. Number 2 jumped off the page for me too! Very sexy – can't wait to get my hands on the book – and the hero!


  11. Flowerpot and Serenity – thank you for your comments. this has been such an interesting exercise that I am preparing a blog post on what I have learned from it. This post has been my most viewed blog post ever! Pity all of those people didn't leave a comment. The Rosie and Tanner rewrite is going well. I am taking it steady as if I complete my 80 day challenge, the book will be finished too.


  12. Ooh, I'm going to throw a spanner in the works and go for number one, for two reasons: firstly, as other folks have said, I like the hint of darkness about number 1 and secondly, 2, for me, could do with a bit of a setup first. As you can see though, I'm in the minority! My advice is to write the book YOU want to write! Hope this helps.


  13. I agree with Chris, I just didn't put it so well in my comments lol! Version 2 does need some sort of set up prior.

    But it is important that you write the book you want to write, too.


  14. Hi Chris and Teresa – Thank you for the comments. I was struggling with the manuscript yesterday and nearly binned the lot! I will review the comments in detail when I get to the editing and additing stage. I too have come to the conclusion I have to write what I want and you never know there may be two separate novels here!!! Mx


  15. Hmm…well, I don't really read sexy novels much, but if you're writing a sexy one, it should be number 2. Personally, although I think it needs a little work (eek!), I would prefer to read a novel that started with number 1…but it all depends on the sort of novel *you* want to write and for whom you are wanting to write it!

    Both well written, though! 🙂


  16. Hi Morton! I just discovered your blog through MYWYN. I'm late to the game and have just started on the challenge. I admire you for sharing these paragraphs, I have been trying to work up the nerve to do that on my blog.

    To answer your post though, I really loved both entries. #2 is obviously very hot (oh my!) but I think if I had to choose I'd pick #1. I agree with an earlier poster who said it hinted at something that could be sinister, and that intrigued me. But I definitely wouldn't stop reading #2! 😀

    Great to meet you, and best of luck with the Challenge!


  17. Hi Chris and Teresa – thank you for commenting. I have moved quite a way from version 2 and I think the eventual paragraph (if I don't bin the lot) will be more like version 1. I shall, however, bear in mind the appeal of version 2 if I write anything racier! I have now blogged about what I have learned from this exercise. I have found it very interesting. Mx


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