If you want your material critiqued, send it to firstimpactAE@gmail.com. Details here.
Big thanks to long-time reader Victoria Dixon for submitting the first page of her Chinese historical fantasy. Keep in mind all this is just my opinion. If it doesn't feel right to you, ignore it.
My in-line comments are to the right, overall thoughts at the end.
|I like the gestures here, but I'm not|
sure whose POV this is. Also, as an
opening, I'm hoping for some small
hint of conflict or mystery to make
it more compelling.
|Every eye? Really ;-)|
|I'm not sure we need their full names|
both here AND at the start.
I think this would be clearer if Jie
were more direct, like "Emperor
Xien has charged us to protect the
capital from rebels [etc]."
A murmur rose
Jie raised his hand for silence and the room quieted in an instant. "Make your mark on the sign up sheet. We'll take recruits for the next three days." Jie nodded to the crowd and stepped off the landing as men rushed forward to give their names to Zhang.
|I'm not sure who is marveling here.|
|At first, I confused the "starving|
farmers" here with the men he was
enlisting. Could that be clarified?
I love this last line. It implies the
sadistic choice I'm always talking
I love Asian history and historical fantasy. I, personally, would keep reading based on genre alone. I also like the gestures and the descriptions here. I feel drawn into the scene.
One problem I had was figuring out whose point of view we're in. The opening image of them standing, framed by pillars, implies omniscient or a third character. The last sentence of the first paragraph implies Zhang's POV, but later we get deeply into Jie's thoughts.
Another way I think you can improve this is to bring up Jie's internal conflict about the civil war sooner, even in the first paragraph. I don't mean mean move the whole last paragraph to the front, but just provide some kind of hint in the first paragraph that Jie is conflicted about what he has to do (maybe something about enlisting poor farmers to fight poor farmers, for example). I think that might help engage the reader from the very start.
But that's just my opinion. What do the rest of you guys think?