First Page Critiques

Thank you all for participating!!! If you spread the word, I’d be happy to add links here up until Wednesday, Feb. 22nd. So far there’s 22 peoplez, so you still have a pretty good chance of getting a special critique from Heather. Until the drawing, please hop around and help each other out. And pleeeeeeaaaase mention Heather Burch and her debut novel, Halflings (now available in stores & she’s already signed a shopping agreement with an awesome producer in Hollywood who is looking to build a team) , on your blog, twitter, facebook, Goodreads . . . anything to spread the love for this awesome author! http://halflings.ning.com/ is a great site to link to or her USA Today review: http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/post/2012-02-11/review-halflings-by-heather-burch/625138/1

1)  Sharon Bayliss http://sharonbayliss.blogspot.com/

2) Anna Mormack http://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com/

3) Nicole Zoltack http://nicolezoltack.blogspot.com/

4) Dana Edwards http://momslifeponderings.wordpress.com/

5) Alice Beesley http://alicelbeesley.blogspot.com/2012/02/first-page-contest-and-critique.html

6) Jennifer Kamptner http://jenniferloweryauthor.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/first-page-contest

7) Tania Walsh http://tfwalsh.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/first-page-critique-contest/

8) Cheeryl Yeko http://www.cherylyeko.com/

9) Aine P Massie http://apmassie.com/

10) Kirsten http://ascenicroute.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/novels-first-page-blog-hop/

11) Hope Roberson http://hoperoberson.blogspot.com/

12) D’Ann Linscott-Dunham http://dlindunauthor.blogspot.com/

13) Lindsey Loucks http://jessesaidyes.blogspot.com/

14) Stephanie Diaz http://steph-diaz.blogspot.com/2012/02/first-page-critique.html

15) Shell Philhower http://tangentshell.blogspot.com/2012/02/first-page-contest.html

16) Angela Quarles http://angelaquarles.com/

17) Jennifer M. Eaton http://jennifermeaton.com/first-page-critique/

18) J. Keller Ford http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com/

19) Anita Exley http://mutteringsfromtheoubliette.blogspot.co.nz/

20) Kaylee Ayres (yep, she’s my 11-yr-old daughter, so please go easy on her:) http://peaceloveandponcho.wordpress.com/

I might as well get some input on my first page, too:) I’m attending our Southwest Florida Romance Writers conference next weekend and pitching to an editor so critiques are much needed. The following is from my YA contemporary love story, 18 Things:

The fact I lack any type of wheels while Conner owns a thirty-thousand dollar SUV is an injustice making Communism look good. The school parking lot is deserted aside from a few cars while I wait for him by his Hybrid. One of them, a Lexus, I recognize as belonging to Toe-touch Tammy. As if on cue, she parades like a peacock around the side of the building with two fellow cheerleaders.

“Hey, Olga!” Tammy puts out her cigarette on asphalt and blows smoke in my face. I cough but manage to fight off potential asthma attack number two for the day. Waving a geekazoid prop like an inhaler in front of Tammy would be like pulling Star Wars figurines out of my pocket and playing with them. “So, um, like, how was your day? You look so cute waiting here for Conner like a lost puppy.” Her cronies scoff.         

Ugh, I hate her even more than Mondays. “I don’t really speak cheerleader, but let me see if I can put this in terms you’ll understand.OMG, my day was like soooooo totally fabulous, girlfriend! Ew, I think I just broke a nail! Gotta go!”

As I bolt past her, she snags my sweater and jerks me backwards. “Listen, go ahead and have your mercy sailing date with Conner-”

“I don’t need your permission.” I imagine my face matches the color of my red hair right now.

She holds up her palm in a talk-to-the-hand way. “I’m still the one he’s taking to Prom.” She flicks my hair. “In one week, I’ll make all his dreams come true and beat you like the red-headed ugly stepchild you are.”

A million insults flash through my mind. Somehow, Mom’s annoying lesson of teaching me how to always be the better person sticks with me and I try to respond appropriately. “Yeah, I get it. You’re prettier than I am.” She draws back her body, her perky chest sticking out even more. “Now that I’ve admitted it, why don’t you get over yourself and get a life instead of messing with mine.”

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24 comments on “First Page Critiques

  1. I wanted to participate, but I didn’t know about it until today so I was too late to enter. Let me know if you extend it and I’ll do it! It’s a fabulous opportunity :)
    Thanks!

  2. Great job on your first page! I love “I don’t really speak cheerleader…!”

    These are only minor suggestions – “other cheerleaders” instead of “fellow cheerleaders” and leave out “red” in “I imagine my face matches the color of my hair right now.” You let us know that she has red hair later.

    Teen girls will love this! Good luck at your conference!

  3. So many great lines in this! I love being in Olga’s head. (a geekazoid prop like an inhaler! Love it. :) )
    Is the contest just for YA novels? (I would LOVE a chance for a critique, but I’m not writing YA.)

  4. Gosh, I’ll see if I can do some hopping around. I’m going to be swamped the next few days!

    Anyhow, I love your excerpt. It’s a little funny, a little relatable, and a little je ne sais quoi.

  5. Olga is one sassy girl… I didn’t expect the smart-mouth response from her, but I loved it. She can hold her own… even if on the inside she’s not that confident.

    For this line, I felt it could be stronger, and less wordy: ‘I imagine my face matches the color of my red hair right now.’ Even as simple as her cheeks burning, but on the inside she reveals how she’s not going to let Tammy get to her.

    Who is saying this, “Yeah, I get it. You’re prettier than I am.” If it’s Olga it seems odd she would say such a thing… I kind of expected another smart response, trying to show how brave she is on the inside, but maybe on the inside she thinks this. Just a thought.

    Great opening, and you’ve got me hooked. I want to know how her date goes and if she can take the boy away from Tammy…:)

  6. Pingback: Novel’s First Page Blog Hop « A Scenic Route

  7. Hi Jamie,

    Great first page! Lots of great lines and great voice! I laughed out loud at the first line. It’s funny and clever, although I worry a little that it might make her seem petty if she really thinks not having a car is worse is Communism. I think she’s being facetious, but we don’t know her personality yet. It’s probably not a big deal though.

    I loved this line too, “Waving a geekazoid prop like an inhaler in front of Tammy would be like pulling Star Wars figurines out of my pocket and playing with them.”

    My only concern is that the mean cheerleader character is overdone. Does she have to be a cheerleader? It can work, but be careful to make sure she’s a well-rounded character and not a caricature. Can we get some kind of detail about her that makes her different and compelling?

    With respects to T.F., I have to disagree with her about the “Yeah, I get it. You’re prettier than I am,” line. I thought it sounded like something a teen really would say. Realistic but unexpected at once. And it’s evokes empathy for Olga.

    Fantastic work!!! I really hope an agent falls in love.

    Sharon

  8. Hi, Jamie!

    I liked the concept a lot! Just a few suggestions in brackets below:

    The fact I lack any type of wheels while Conner owns a thirty-thousand dollar SUV is an injustice making Communism look good. (This is a wonderful line; just one thing – maybe Olga should refer to Tammy’s Lexus here, not to Conner’s SUV)
    The school parking lot is deserted aside from a few cars while (you used “while” in the previous sentence) I wait for him by (maybe “in?”) his Hybrid. (I think if you want to begin the next sentence with “one of them”, this one should be rephrased so that “a few cars” would end this sentence. But if you use Tammy’s Lexus in the 1st paragraph- you could drop this “one of them” portion) One of them, a Lexus, I recognize as belonging to Toe-touch Tammy. As if on cue, she parades like a peacock around the side of the building with two fellow cheerleaders.
    “Hey, Olga!” Tammy puts out her cigarette on asphalt (I know from her nickname that she can literally touch her toes, but I can’t really picture her do that. People who think they are better than others don’t usually bend in front of them. They look down at them – or at least this is what I think) and blows smoke in my face. I cough but manage to fight off potential asthma attack number two for the day. Waving a geekazoid prop like an inhaler in front of Tammy would be like pulling Star Wars figurines out of my pocket and playing with them (I think you should find something else to compare an inhaler with. Now you compare a safety tool with something silly, like those figurines. May be something like… “like doing a Y-stand leaning on a walker”)
    “So, um, like, how was your day? You look so cute waiting here for Conner like a lost puppy.” (suggestion: “You look so cute, like a lost puppy, waiting here for Conner.”)
    Her cronies (m.b. “one of her cronies?”) scoff. I think it should be Tammy saying that. If it’s the other girl saying, shy would Olga’s thought be in reference to Tammy?
    Ugh, I hate her even more than Mondays. “I don’t really speak cheerleader, but let me see if I can put this in terms you’ll understand. OMG, my day was like soooooo totally fabulous, girlfriend! Ew, I think I just broke a nail! Gotta go!”
    As I bolt past her, she snags my sweater and jerks me backwards (I can’t picture jerking someone backwards just by snagging a sweater. In my opinion, it implies grabbing by the shoulders…) “Listen, go ahead and have your mercy sailing date with Conner-”
    “I don’t need your permission.” (I think you need to show some movement here) I imagine my face matches the color of my red hair right now.
    She holds up her palm in a talk-to-the-hand way. “I’m still the one he’s taking to Prom.” She flicks my hair. “In one week, I’ll make all his dreams come true and beat you like the red-headed ugly stepchild you are.”
    A million insults flash through my mind. Somehow, Mom’s annoying lesson of teaching (“lesson of teaching” sound redundant; I think you can eliminate “of teaching”) me how to always be the better person sticks with me (m.b. “pops in my head”?) and I try to respond appropriately. “Yeah, I get it. You’re prettier than I am.” She draws back her body, her perky chest sticking out even more. “Now that I’ve admitted it, why don’t you get over yourself and get a life instead of messing with mine.” (question mark at the end)

  9. Hi, Jaime! Overall, I like this opening page, and I enjoy Olga’s voice. The Communinist line didn’t quite work for me because it makes Olga sound whiny right off the bat. Also, I can’t see why Tammy would ask how Olga’s day was. Why would she care? That seemed like a bizarre question for someone who obviously doesn’t like Olga.

    I really liked the part about the Star Wars figurines and Olga’s mom’s lessons running through her head. Those two points paint a very clear picture of Olga’s personality. We already know a lot about her on the very first page, so well done!

    • Olga is awesome. I really connect with her. She is funny and realistic, but doesn’t take crap. That’s awesome. The “I don’t speak cheerleader” line was great, too. You are funny! So far this is a classic teen scenario that I think will hook a YA audience.

      I agree with the comment about how Tammy probably wouldn’t ask how her day was. She would probably ask something bitchy about why she is hanging out around the nice cars and not waiting for a school bus or something. You could (and should) still keep the “I don’t speak cheerleader” line, but just have it be a retort to something snottier from Tammy. .I also had trouble believing a cheerleader would smoke in the school parking lot. These days you have to be 18 to smoke and cheerleaders (and any sports) have serious rules about getting caught smoking. She might smoke at a party or elsewhere, but I doubt she would right there at the school.

      Great beginning, though, and awesome voice. Olga is super cool. I want to read more about her already. Thanks again for the contest, too.

  10. Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions, buddies:) The cheerleader is actually gonna become Olga’s bff & Olga will even become a cheerleader herself as part of her 18 Things list, so there’s more than just a stereotype for sure! I just wanted her to seem like a real bitch at first (well, she is a bitch, for gOOd reasons, lol) . . . in my mind she was asking how Olga’s day was not b/c she cared, but just to mock her. There’s something that happened that day that was a real bummer for Olga & it was all b/c of Tammy, but Olga doesn’t know that . . . she will soon! Ah, it’s so hARd to KNow WHat shOUld go on THe fIRst page!!

  11. Is it too late to enter? I hope you were talking about next Wednesday. If not, I’ll withdraw my post,

    I, too, interviewed Heather on my blog. I’ve completed her book, and am working up my review. Pretty darn good, huh?

    This is a great contest. Thank you for hosting.

    My post is scheduled for midnight tonight, but I can take it down if I’m coming in too late.

    http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/first-page-contest-judged-by-author-of-halflings-heather-burch/

    • Here you go, Jamie. I am not a big fan of present tense, so some of this does not sound right to me, but it might be absolutely fine. Here are some suggestiong, though.

      The fact I lack any type of wheels while Conner owns a thirty-thousand dollar SUV is an injustice making Communism look good.
      [I REALLY LIKE THE OPENING SENTANCE. SETS A GOOD MOOD. I’M NOT CRAZY ABOUT “THE FACT” BUT I’M NOT SURE HOW TO SUGGEST A CHANGE]

      The school parking lot is [NEARLY] deserted aside from a few cars while I wait for him by his Hybrid. One of them, a Lexus, I recognize as belonging [BELONGS] to Toe-touch Tammy. As if on cue [ FIND ANOTHER WAY TO SAY THIS], she parades like a peacock around the side of the building with two fellow cheerleaders.

      “Hey, Olga!” Tammy puts out her cigarette on asphalt and blows smoke in my face. I cough but manage to fight off potential asthma attack number two for the day. Waving a geekazoid prop like an inhaler in front of Tammy would be like pulling [WORSE THAN PULLING]Star Wars figurines out of my pocket and playing with them. “So, um, like, how was your day? You look so cute waiting here for Conner like a lost puppy.” Her cronies scoff.

      Ugh, I hate her even more than Mondays. “I don’t really speak cheerleader, but let me see if I can put this in terms you’ll understand. OMG, my day was like soooooo totally fabulous, girlfriend! Ew, I think I just broke a nail! Gotta go!”

      As I bolt past her, she snags my sweater and jerks me backwards. “Listen, go ahead and have your mercy sailing date with Conner-”

      “I don’t need your permission.” I imagine my face matches the color of my red hair right now.

      She holds up her palm in a talk-to-the-hand way. “I’m still the one he’s taking to Prom.” She flicks my hair. “In one week, I’ll make all his dreams come true and beat you like the red-headed ugly stepchild you are.”

      A million insults flash through my mind. Somehow, Mom’s annoying lesson of teaching me how to always be the better person sticks with me and I try to respond appropriately. “Yeah, I get it. You’re prettier than I am.” She draws back her body, her perky chest sticking out even more. “Now that I’ve admitted it, why don’t you get over yourself and get a life instead of messing with mine.” [ HA! I LIKE THE LAST SENTANCE]

  12. Pingback: First Page Critique Contest « Angela Quarles

    • I really liked Olga’s voice and I loved the Star Wars reference, I think it fits right in and shows how superficial kids can be that they’d equate something she needs health-wise as being as geeky as playing with the figurines… I also thought the end was good too, and the fact that most teenagers aren’t usually mature enough to say it only makes her more intriguing to me… I wasn’t bothered by the Communism line either– I’m sure when someone is experiencing that much disparity of wealth they would sometimes wish that everyone had access to things. I’d make it a small “c” though, since you’re talking about the philosophy….

  13. Love the voice! There isn’t anything I could find to fix :) I love how strong the mc is and how she stands up to the cheerleader and I want to know what’s going on with her and SUV boy :) I would definitely to keep reading!

  14. I agree… the Cheerleader line is a CRACK UP. Great voice. Clean. You even manage to get our sympathy right off the bat which is a hard thing to do. The red-headed stepchild line made me laugh too ;) No harsh critiques. You know your stuff! Sounds like a fab story ;)

  15. Hi- I enjoyed reading your excerpt. I would suggest dropping the communist part and leaving off at injustice. It feels punchier and the extra comparison isn’t needed – it’s an injustice!

    I also agree with the commenter about the cheerleader smoking; even if she’s doing the bad girl thing by smoking on school grounds, I don’t know if it works simply b/c the overall attitude from today’s teens toward smoking has changed, especially with sports kids. The teens I know all think smoking is disgusting. Maybe they’ll change their mind in college. Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there :) But the inhaler line is good, hate to lose that.

    Lastly, it might help to break up the last paragraph; have the internal thoughts, t hen next paragraph the dialogue. Visually, it looks a little lost and you want the dialogue to have emphasis.

  16. Pingback: February Recap « A Scenic Route

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