Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Page Critique Thursday!

Here's how these thingamajigs work! If you would like to nominate your page for a future Page Critique Event, please enter it in this thread in the Forums. As with past page critiques, I'll first post the page (this post) so people can leave their initial thoughts without being swayed by mine, and then I'll weigh in later with my thoughts and a redline.

As you offer your thoughts, please be exceedingly polite and remember the sandwich rule: positive, constructive polite advice, positive.

Random numbers were generated, congrats to ARJules, whose page is below!

Title: (To be determined)
Genre: Popular fiction/paranormal
Word Count: 255

Being murdered once was bad enough. Three times in a row was pushing on the ridiculous.

Standing at the end of a long corridor, Nafrini just stood and stared at the massive wooden double doors, nearly ten feet in height and inscribed with glyphs. The path, or rather river, to the “afterlife” lay on the other side. She just stood there and glared at the doors, listening to nothing but the drip… drip… drip… of water leaking from the fabric of her clothes and the strands of her hair. She might have been there for what could have been five minutes or five hours before reaching out to the gold inlaid handle and jerked the wide, massive door aside.

That’s it! I have had it! The sound of her stomps across the warm colored polished stone floor might have had a sense of purpose to it, had it not been for the apparent squish that came with each step. She passed through was she had termed “the waiting room”, barely noticing that the men and women lounging in comfort seemed to have halted their conversations at her arrival. As her anger peaked, whether at their reluctance to greet her or by the situation in general, she pulled her heavy over-shirt over her head and threw it to the ground, which landed with a satisfying SPLAT! Without a backwards glance in the others’ direction, she passed through to the entrance to the river of the dead. It would take her to those who would choose her fate.

I'll be back at Noon Pacific with my thoughts.






23 comments:

lora96 said...

Great page! I really like the opening line.

Teensy pickiness.... when you start a sentence with "Standing", don't use "stood" as the verb.

Saying someone's "anger peaked" is much milder and less effective than giving sensory details.

Tommy Salami said...

Good first line, still might rework it. pushing or bordering? period break or semicolon?
Terminate with extreme prejudice: "just" "even" "seemed" "only"

Write with conviction. She might have been there for 5 mins or hours? Is it timelessness you are invoking, or her being fed up with the monotony of dying repeatedly?

The SPLAT line - reword it. The ground didn't splat, the bloody garment did. If that's blood or bodily fluid.

Would suggest a line describing the room beyond the doors, perhaps what the loungers array themselves upon.

Good ideas, good opening premise, but I'd rework it to remove the passive and evoke her frustrations and anger more vividly; even a jaded thrice-murdered heroine can portray this a bit more actively, even if it's as common as a high school locker-lined hallway to her by now.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm intrigued - I love the huge doors inscribed with "glyphs" - that line made me want to read on.

There were a few points where you seemed to lose the grammatical thread - "She might have been there for what could have been five minutes or five hours before reaching out to the gold inlaid handle and jerked the wide, massive door aside."
In this sentence you don't need "might have been" and "could have been", and "jerked" needs to be "jerking" in order to follow on from "reaching".

Similarly, "the ground, which landed with a satisfying SPLAT!" should be "the ground, where it landed".

You might also want to look at the number of tentative phrases in the page, there's a lot of "could have been" "might have been" "might have had" "seemed" etc.

A few are fine, but too many makes the piece feel a little tentative and second-guessing.

I also found it slightly strange that you state that she barely notices the men and women in the waiting room, yet she may be angry because they haven't greeted her. If she's so preoccupied, would she care about the greeting?

The ending is great - a real page-turner that instantly makes me want to read on.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

I loved it! In the second paragraph, the sentences get a little long. The situation is already so unusual that it's hard to stomach, so I'd like to be fed little morsels at a time.

Laura Campbell said...

Great page. I really enjoyed the onomatopoeias. Especially the "drip...drip...drip...of water leaking from the fabric of..." I could picture her standing in this room soaked to the bone.

The first paragraph is intriguing. The second sentence, "was pushing on the ridiculous" is a bit awkward. Different word choice perhaps? Somehow I'm having trouble connecting the first paragraph with Nafrini.

At the end of the third paragraph, I want to read more. I want to know why she's so angry, being killed three times would probably do it, but I want details. I'm ready to ride down the river of the dead to find out her fate.

mk_moore said...

First of all, great opening lines.! Very intriguing.
I like where this is going.

The main complaint I have is that your sentences tend to ramble. They're long enough that I've almost forgotten the beginning by the time I get to the end. Some of those long sentences would work better as two, and some just need to be tightened up a bit.

Like this: "Standing at the end of a long corridor, Nafrini just stood" You say she's standing twice, and it's not necessary. Figure out what's essential to the sentence and ditch the rest.

Like the others have said, use assertive, direct language rather than "seems" and "should," and it will make your voice much stronger.

Terri Tiffany said...

I love the first line. You drew me in. I was a little put off by the use of the word just and a few typos in the middle. But I liked the voice and the unusual setting. You did well throwing her immediately into action.

Yoly said...

Where it has potential, the first graf lacks punch due to passive voice. You ask us to agree with you that being murdered three times is ridiculous, but we don't know that. There's just not enough information. The first sentence, though passive, works for interest, but the second one must punch.

"Being murdered once was bad enough, but after three times her 'ka' screamed for release from the stupidity that trapped her in the repeating pattern."

Something more along those lines.

I'll leave it to others to comment on the rest.

Lucinda Bilya said...

great first page, especially the first line. I want to read more...

The comments so far here are fantastic! I wanted to add my own critgue, but most of what I had to say has already been said...and then some.

So, thanks, for I have learned today.

Lucy

Josin L. McQuein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josin L. McQuein said...

The opening line sounds great for a tagline, but I'm not sure it works well for the opening of a book. You should probably whittle down the descriptors a bit, too.

And with this:

She passed through was she had termed “the waiting room”

: there's something wrong with the sentence. I think that "was" is meant to be a "what".

Maren said...

I loved your first line because it creates questions that make me want to continue reading. The transition to the third paragraph jarred me a bit. The italicized thought didnt flow after all the description of the second paragraph. I would definitely like to read more. Great job.

Kevin said...

I like the story!!

Steve Westover said...

Nice job on an intriguing page.

Being murdered once is bad enough. But three times in a row? Ridiculous. (Just an idea)

Standing at the corridore and she "stood" is a bit redundant and could be reworked into a more simple active sentence.

Watch out for passive "Just, might, could,seemed etc"

I like the line about her stomps having a sense of purpose, except for the squish from her wet shoes. Well done.

Chuck H. said...

Another dead narrator. Doesn't anyone survive the beginning of a story anymore? Writing is good but seems to be a first draft. Others have noted some minor problems but all in all not a bad start--if you enjoy stories about dead men, or women walking.

Michael Offutt said...

"She passed through was she had termed “the waiting room"..."

I stumbled over this line quite a bit and I think it could be reworded. Overall, the 'splats', the 'drip' etc. seemed too schlocky for me to enjoy but that is my personal taste. It just reminded me of Batman with Adam West (which I didn't like either).

puppy-sariel said...

//You need to catch the readers attention. This is too long and a tad cliche. I wouldn't be caught by it. We need something unique. Special. No. Being murdered three times isn't. This sounds more like a pitch anyway, so throw it out.//

//Start with her name, not 'standing'. It would make better impact. Lose one of the words. Either she stood or she stared. Also, break the description off from her staring or you risk run on blubbering.

Why do we need to "" afterlife?

And she's standing there again? Did she move? Don't do that. It's redundancy and it's ridiculous. It will kill word count and your readers.

No. Don't drip drip drip. Just one, please.

She could have been there for an eternity and not even known. Sounds better than going on and on, doesn't it? Don't get caught on your character running her head in circles. Shake them if you must. You're getting caught in the trap of blah-blah-blah I love to use a lot of words to sound like I'm saying a lot! No. A little dab will do.
Again, be careful with describing things. You will overuse them and it will bog you down and get boring.//

//Stomping is technically a sound in itself. Don't say 'Her smacking sounds' or her 'whistling noises'. Those ARE noises. You're taking up words and making things longer.

What color? It's warm, but what color? Look up crayola colors on Wikipedia. IT WILL SAVE YOU.

Wait. She was stomping. Not squishing. Now you have confused your reader.

No. You're doing that "" again. Don't. This is a knack you're building that you'll have to go through and edit out later and you'll hate yourself for. Nix it now. Stop before you want to burn the book!

Why is she stripping in the middle of a crowded waiting room?

And the rest of it has a bit of a flow problem. Smooth it out and make it read a little less choppily.

"Without glancing back, she strode fluidly through the entrance to the river of the dead (this has a name, research is your friend)."//

All in all, it isn't a total loss, but you have too many words, redundancy issues, and you need to do some research on colors and names. :3

cvwriter said...

I loved the first two sentences, which show voice and what the story’s about. So, right away, I’m intrigued and want to know more.

But, I expected to land in a ridiculous-induced fury because that’s the tone you set. Instead, you yank readers out of the MC’s head and give us an observing narrator who shows the MC in a stupor. What happened to that tone, the voice, the character’s frustration? They went POOF.

Just showing her staring at doors doesn’t quite convey it, so the glorious first sentences seem way out of place, more like a hook for a query. But you just need some congruence and POV grounding to gel it all.

It would help if you wrote this in First person and then translated it back. Tap into her head and spill that scene instead of us having us watch her. Let us feel everything she does.

I do love the details you provided with the doors and the river to the afterlife, and the third paragraph has a lot of solid, descriptive guts.

I’m not sure about the onomatopoeias. They're very Batman. And you have two in the first 200 words, so that has me concerned.

You have a great concept and a good imagination, so I know you can make it work. I'd definitely want to read it. Keep at it!

celticflicka said...

There are some awkward wording and sentence structure issues that have already been addressed a few times over, so I won't repeat them. Instead, I'll give you my overall impression: A great start! It's an intriguing premise, and we get a good idea of the heroine's personality in just a few words. I would definitely keep turning pages to find out more.

DCS said...

Being murdered once was bad enough. Three times in a row was pushing on the ridiculous.
[Good opening. I am hooked]

Standing at the end of a long corridor [drop this prepositional phrase or move it. I like reading what the character is doing], Nafrini just stood and stared at the massive wooden double doors, nearly ten feet in height and inscribed with glyphs. The path, or rather river, to the “afterlife” [why the quotes?] lay on the other side. She just stood there and glared at the doors, listening to nothing [I like a transitive verb like hearing] but the drip… drip… drip… of water leaking from the fabric of her clothes and the strands of her hair. She might have been there for what could [you already used might so could is redundant] have been five minutes or five hours before reaching out to the gold inlaid handle and jerked [got to keep the tense consistent] the wide, massive door aside.

That’s it! I have had it! The sound of her stomps across the warm colored polished stone floor might have had a sense of purpose to it, had it not been for the apparent [it is or it isn't] squish that came with each step. She passed through was[what] she had termed “the waiting room”, barely noticing that the men and women lounging in comfort seemed [did they actually halt or just "seem" to?]to have halted their conversations at her arrival. As her anger peaked, whether at their reluctance to greet her or by the situation in general [the POV belongs to the main character, so I think you can skip this by just showing what she did], she pulled her heavy over-shirt over her head and threw it to the ground, which landed with a satisfying SPLAT![This is a good job of showing!] Without a backwards glance in the others’ direction,[here again I think the sentence would be stronger if you moved the prepositonal phrase to the end] she passed through to the entrance to the river of the dead. It would take her to those who would choose her fate.[I've got nothing against foreshadowing, but using a pair of subjunctive phrases is weak]

shelldolb said...

I really loved the opening line, captured my attention and made me want to read more. I do agree with some of the other comments on the sentence structure though. I think you might want to look into it a little more.

Marlene Nash-McKay said...

At the risk of saying what has already been said I thought the opening line was good except my mind snagged uncomfortably on the word 'pushing'.

Interesting concept but perhaps the grammar needs some re-working. It just doesn't flow as well as it could.

Well done though for putting yourself out there!

collectonian said...

Others have already commented on the grammatical and passivity issues, so I won't beat you on the head with that :-)

I thought it was a very intriguing opening and I'm dying (no pun intended) to know who she ticked off to get murdered three times in a row. I'd look at ways to tighten it up some so that by the end of the first page we have her confronting someone about her anger or at least venting to someone.

The second paragraph, for example, could convey the same info with less words while keeping the momentum going:

"Nafrini glared at the massive wooden glyph-inscribed double doors that marked the entrance to the "afterlife". The dripping of the water falling from her clothes and limp hair echoed down the long hall as she grabbed the gold-inlaid handle and jerked the door open." (you don't need to restate the door is massive as you said it in the first sentence - though if it is that big and heavy, could she physically jerk it open?)

All in all, an interesting premise that would have me turning to the next page.

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