Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Revised First Page critique…

Revised First Page critique… thx to all the great points, I feel it has moved in the right direction. I thank each and every one of you for leaving a comment. If you haven’t read the post before this one (First page critic) plz read that one first before leaving a comment, and tell me if you agree, that this version is better and follows the subject or focus the reader attention better.

98,000 words

Valley of Swords

REMOVED... THX again to all those poeple that left a comment.


  1. Better, but still too much back and forth. Does he want to kill his father himself? Or have him die by any means necessary? Pick one and emphasize it. If it's the latter, worry less about "planning" the murder and more on anticipating his freedom from his father at last, especially since, if I recall correctly, the plan involves a simple ambush.

    Anticipating his father's death, however, means he doesn't care how his father dies as long as he's gone. It changes him from a psychopath (killing for pleasure) to a victim (freeing himself from oppression). If he's a psychopath, then he'll want to kill him himself, because that's where the pleasure is. Pick one.

    If he's leaving home, of course, as someone pointed out, the oppression is coming to an end anyway, right? But he wants to leave anyway to learn how to soldier. So, assuming he lives through the night, this gets resolved anyway. It makes the impetus to kill his father less powerful. Planning vengeance is all well and good after he's an adult, but then the impetus for fighting today (rather than just surviving the encounter) isn't so strong.

    This first page is an opportunity for you to introduce your character, painting him with broad strokes so we know who he is. YOU need to know unambiguously so we know and your word choices and decisions have to be in line with that character. Make him ambiguous or unclear, and your opportunity is wasted.

  2. I think it's better, for sure. But just some suggestions to tighten it up:

    1. Instead of "Tonight’s my last chance to kill him, he thought." I would suggest: "Tonight was his last chance to kill him." Lines like the former can read a little awkward. I'm guessing this is a close 3rd person, in which case it's a given that w/ something like "tonight was his last chance to kill him," that the mc thinks this (not the narrator). I would suggest cutting out as many of the "he thought" type tags as you can.

    2. Instead of having him crawl into his bed, I would suggest having him in the bed already. Plant the first image into the reader's mind immediately. The crawling movement delays it & might actually confuse the reader because we don't know where he is as he runs his finger down the blade. If he's already in bed, we see it immediately. A nice solid image.

    3. I would suggest cutting this: "He let his mind wander, playing out his plan over and over again." The line "He had to get it right this time because tomorrow he’ll leave home for good" tells us he's thinking/plotting (implied).

    4. I'm also a little concerned about this mc. I'm not sure who he is or what he wants exactly. Presumably his dad is vile, and thus he wants him dead--but is it because he wants revenge or because he wants freedom? I think the issue in question is his motivation. If he plans on coming back to seek revenge, why is it so urgent he kill him tonight? If it's all about freedom, he's about to get it anyway, right? I would suggest clarifying his motivation and urgency.

    Good luck! I think you're getting close.

  3. I love it… honest feedback from the reader’s point of view. As writers we fall in love with what we compose. I want a crisp first page, so I can learn to focus each page like it.

    I see your point about the MC motivation… I never consider this. The MC wants to see his father dead, it would be icing on top of the cake if he could be the one to do it.

    I must rethink what I want to emphasize, but in a way a thirteen year old, who has been abused throughout his child hood, would think about it.
    I see I have some more work to do… everything I am learning will need to be address throughout my book.

  4. How could I not know that you had a blog? I'm so sorry! Send me your email (mine is on my blog) as I am going to send you an edit of your first page. Take it or leave it, it's up to you. I like what you've written so far! :)

  5. I can see more clarity in this version, Jeff. One thing that still confuses me is Tristan's need to kill his father, but then hoping that he dies so he doesn't have to do it. I wonder if you dropped the werewolf bit if it would make the page stronger???

  6. I didn't read the last one, but what I notice here is you start with the hook of him planning his father's murder, but them later there is the uncertainty of whether his father will return at all, so it hurts the power of the hook a bit. Too the mention of the door as a barrier as higher stakes for your MC's safety is lessened when we learn his father is not in the house.

    It feels like you're trying to cram a bit too much into this opening, and there are too many things up in the air.

    I don't know what happens from here, but maybe your start is a bit too soon. Have the book start with the outer door banging open and your MC crouching with the knife, knowing he has to act once his father enters the room? Would something like this help? That way you don't start off with thinking, but action.

    Just a thought,m but as I said, I haven't read earlier versions so i don't know if this will help.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  7. H Jeff,

    I agree with a lot of the comments. This is better and getting there for sure. I really like Angela's suggestion for starting it off with action and where she suggested. By putting us into the scene for that moment that he's waiting for his father, and with that hook, we will be riveted and on the edge of our seats to see what happens.

    Great job!