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Day Fourteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Sharon Johnston

Monday, 20 July 2015  |  Posted by Nikki Roberti

B 1st page workshop

Welcome to July’s First Page Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a first page for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the first page critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful.

Here are the next two mentors and their critiques …

DSCF0416Sharon Johnston

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Buy Her Book

Sharon is an author of weird fiction and soulful contemporaries from a sunny part of Australia, and recently started as an editor for Elderflower Press and Lakewater Press. She loves shoes, cats, guinea pigs and unicorns.

Sharon’s first page critique …

Rhea saw red as a fist careened into her jaw. I’m not overly a fan of using ‘as’ in an opening sentence as I feel like it lessens the impact. I love openings to really pop. This one is close, but not quite there for me.

“I don’t care if you’re a daughter of the gods,” Erro said, pushing his other hand harder against her throat. “I’ll kill you right now for talking to me that way.” Nice way to introduce some background information. I don’t feel like you need “other” in there.

The jeers of the crowd that had amassed in the alleyway behind the tavern grew louder by the minute, but all Rhea could hear was her heartbeat in her skull. I’m someone who is picky with descriptions. Her heart doesn’t pound in her skull, it pounds in her chest. I’d prefer the blood pounding through her skull, in time with her heartbeat, or something like that. As his clutch grew tighter, her airway became smaller and smaller—until she wheezed. Can you find a better way to describe this? For a life or death situation it doesn’t reflect it in the last two-thirds. She could either act now, or die here behind the biggest tavern in the Southlands. She would never see the rest of Remelaun, and her tenure as the Krimsal—a bringer of change the likes of which is only seen once every hundred years—would come to an untimely end. Here you introduced two concepts that are obviously closely linked to the world building, and I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’d get through the action first and then get into the more complex world building. All over a spilled mead. This is one of my favourite lines. I though it injected a really nice bit of humour and helped establish voice.

To be fair, the fight wasn’t really about losing the mead, or the mocking tone in his voice when he said, “Sorry, Red.” It was about what she called him after he knocked her glass over: something about having a whore for a mother. Again, nice voice and humour. She could hardly remember, but nothing she could have said at this level of intoxication was worth dying for.

She heard an unsettling crunch as she thrust the ball of her hand into Erro’s nose, sending him flying back onto his bottom. Bottom seems out of place. Too polite.

“You crazy bitch,” he said between yelps of pain, frantically trying to stop the blood that gushed from his nose. “What’s wrong with you?” I always find this odd when one character is trying to kill another and then blames them for defending themselves and calls them crazy.

Overall this was interesting. It comes across as a fresh new take on olden day gods. Even though the scene description was brief, I felt like I could envision the location. Make sure you touch on all the senses. I know the sounds, not really the smell of the place or things around her. It’d be easy to add in the smell of the Tavern or Erro’s breath seeing as they were up close and personal. Does she smell her own sweat? I also wanted to know more about how she feels about it. I felt a little bit like I was being held at a distance. Like her reactions were rather tame for the life-threatening situation she’s found herself in. Is she desperate to stay alive, does she feel she can take him easily? The humourous tone of the story is good. I’d love to see you play up on that more. Well done.

Thank you, Sharon, for your critique. Interested in more first page critiques? Come back tomorrow for our next two critiques by Pitch Wars mentors, and while you’re here, check out our June posts for our mentors’ query critiques.  And get ready! The Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop starts August 2 with the Pitch Wars submission window opening August 17.

Want a critique or books from our Pitch Wars mentors, some awesome authors, agents, and editors? We have an auction going on to help one of our mentors save her home. There’s critique, signed books, and other items to bid on. Go here to view all the donations and make a bid. 

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