And for August, we have a special prize: a 10-page critique from my agent, Tricia Lawrence! To be eligible, all you have to do is share your thoughts in the comments of any First Impact post this month. Your critique doesn't have to be long, just useful!
If you want your material critiqued, send it to firstimpactAE@gmail.com. Details here.
Thank you to Kaitlin for submitting the first page of her YA fantasy. Keep in mind all this is just my opinion. If it doesn't feel right to you, ignore it.
Any in-line comments are to the right, overall thoughts at the end.
|Right from the start, I'm interested|
in this strange relationship she has
with her parents. Nice.
My talent was about the only thing that made my parents happy.
And But in my sixteen
years of experience, I had learned their happiness usually ended in my
suffering. So when they called my name for dinner, their voices high and
excited, a hard knot formed in the pit of my stomach. I walked into the kitchen
where they sat at the table, holding hands and smiling. The knot in my stomach
“Lori,” Mom said, “sit down.”
I stayed where I was. Our best silver platters were piled high with fish, chicken, and rice. Fruit and rolls topped our porcelain bowls. And our crystal pitchers were filled to the brim with tea. Eating well was not rare for us. Eating for a family of ten was. I had spent the past five hours outside, practicing my talent, unaware Mom was cooking such a feast.
“Your mother and I,” Dad said, “have decided-”
|This felt a little strange to me, since|
she had just called Lori down to talk
(presumably). Maybe if she just called
her for dinner at first, instead?
“Wait until after dinner,” Mom said.
“She’ll need a full stomach. It’ll be a lot to take in.”
Dad squeezed Mom’s hand and grinned. “Right. Sit down and eat up, Lori.”
|Not sure how I feel about this simile.|
I like that she's relating her value
to something in the scene, but then it
breaks when the fish's parents are
|Minor nitpick: In the last paragraph|
it sounds like she's not going to eat
at all. This almost feels like giving
in to me (even though I know it's not).
I pinched off a piece of my roll, about the size of my fingernail. I looked at it, turned it over, smelled it-
|This made me laugh out loud.|
“EAT!” Dad yelled.
There's a lot of interesting stuff here: a wry voice, a strange relationship between Lori and her parents, a mysterious talent, and an even more mysterious announcement.
The voice really drew me in. It's not just Lori's snark about her situation -- I've seen that before -- but also the almost comical actions of her parents that make me like them (even though they somehow make the protagonist suffer).
My only real complaint about this is that even after 370 words (yes, I do count -- if people start going overboard regularly, I'm going to have to cut them off ;-), I still don't know what any of the mysteries are. Not that I want everything explained up front, but I feel like we could get there sooner, or at least get some hints here and there, like a puzzle to solve.
But it's really hard to say, because this is only the first page, and for all I know everything is answered in the next line. But hey, the sooner you can hook the reader with your cool gimmick, the better, right?
Anyway, that's just my opinion. What do the rest of you think?
NOTE: Kaitlin has a revised version in the comments. You are welcome to critique either one.