Welcome to day two 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 …
B-3 Issy B
This morning turned out to be perfect for a run. B’s notes: This first sentence doesn’t hook. If you want to hook your reader, make this first sentence zing. The air was just cool enough that I was not sweating too badly, even though my lungs were killing me by mile three. My sneakers pounded along the familiar paths, kicking up a small cloud of dust. I dodged rocks and ruts in the dirt path and pushed up a steep incline with one last burst of speed. As I neared the top, a flash of blond hit the corner of my eye and I stumbled, whipping my head around to try and find its source. B’s notes: This sentence is written well, but the action seems odd to me. She’s whipping her head around as she’s stumbling? Except for a few little brown birds, the woods were empty with no gold or yellow in sight. Breathlessly shaking off the adrenaline, I slowed to a walk and then dropped my hands to my knees. I had to stop being so jumpy. B’s Notes: Why is she so jumpy? It’s not like the Star Mountains were some back alley in Camden or something B’s notes: I’m not connected to this reference. I’ve never been in Camden and I wouldn’t know if the back alleys are dangerous. Make sure your readers can connect to your comparisons. Nothing ever happens here. B’s notes: Explain ‘nothing’. It could be a lot of things.
Heart rate nearing normal, I straightened up and felt the breath catch in my throat for a completely different reason. I was standing at the top of the hill, looking out over acres of fields on one side and forest on the other. Vale da Castanheira,“valley of the chestnut tree”, my grandparents’ land, was pretty B’s note: What makes it pretty? This is a ho-hum verb. and deserted, the forest still waking up around me. Exhaustion or no, being up here, staring out over the world so early in the morning, was definitely a rush.
B’s notes: I might start sounding like a broken record. The writing is good here, but I’m not hooked. There’s nothing interesting happening here. Your reader won’t be pulled into your story until something interesting happens. There is a hint of it with the flash of blond she sees, but that’s it. There are many ways to open your novel, not just mid-action, but however way you decide to open it, make sure to make it unique and use stronger verbs. And ask yourself, “Is this where my story truly starts?” Your first 250 words is prime real estate, use it to draw in your readers (agents).
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.