Welcome to day six of After the Madness Workshop! Shelley Watters, Erica Chapman, the writers at YAtopia, and myself will critique the first 250 words of two brave writers’ manuscripts per day for the next seven to eight days. There are four blogs joining in to offer up suggestions. Click on my partners’ sites in my sidebar to view the other critiques.
And next up is …
You can’t always be a good person. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I rub the sleep from my eyes. Verla said it to me on multiple occasions. Like every time I brought up Governor King’s name, or cursed my step-brother Gavin’s. I know why her words speak to me, because it’s a significant day in the prison. It’s the day the signup sheet for the Headhunters Race is posted. The time I start planning revenge on the man who put me here.
B’s notes: The first sentence isn’t a good enough hook. The rest of the paragraph is interesting, but it’s not drawing me into the story. The last line is great. You might want to rework it and use it for the hook.
First I need to get through my push list. Or I risk falling into the endless pit of despair.
B’s notes: I’m confused here. What’s a push list?
My name is Avene. I’ve been here for three years but I’m not a bad person. First, I need to hunt for food. My goal is a bird or a rat. I’d settle for a lizard. Second, work out. Last but not least, submit my name as a candidate for the Headhunters Race.
B’s notes: I wouldn’t have the character tell the reader their name. Use a more creative way to get it out. The transition from the second sentence to the third isn’t smooth enough. She says she’s not a bad person and then randomly says she has to hunt for her food. Make sure to move smoother into a new thought.
I run through the day’s agenda again, burning every word and the exact order into my brain. My list is not easy. Hunting inside the prison walls is never an easy task. There isn’t much to hunt considering we’re on the inside and most animals are smart enough to stay on the out. Fighting for slop is worse. That’ll be on tomorrow’s list.
B’s notes: This paragraph is great — I’m intrigued by how she has to hunt in the prison. That said, the first sentence needs work. Is she burning every word in the exact order? Why not just say … ‘I run through the day’s agenda again, memorizing each task’. Or something like it, but better.
Now that I know what my day entails (comma) I stretch and yawn. I’m careful not to disturb Zita lying there so peaceful and pretty with her dark Greek hair swirling around her face and a smile on her lips.
B’s notes: This has possibilities, but it’s not quite there yet. I’d work in some sensory details and emotions to get us to connect to your main character. Tighten your sentences and make sure there’s clarity. Pep up the voice by choosing better, snappy verbs.
I hope this helps!
Remember this is subjective and others’ may feel differently. So I’ll now pass it on to the readers to critique. Please leave your comments, and remember the rules of critiquing … be nice, which I’m sure you all will be, but I have to say it … you know.