Friday, June 15, 2012

First Page Friday and Winning the Prize!

It is Friday!  The day we check in to see who made their goal and who gets their name in the drawing for Jordan's Incredible Writing Guides.  So, if you met the goal you wrote on Monday, just let me know in the comments, and I'll announce the winner on Monday.  You can check in any time today before 9 p.m. MST

I read this amazing book last night that I'm so excited to tell you about on Monday.  I know you are ALL going to want this one.  Well, if you love humorous, romantic books that make you stay up until all hours of the night and then wake up and read all your favorite parts again because it was so good and you want to relive it all.  *le sigh*

All right, on to First Page Friday.  I am so grateful for the time and effort our editors put in and for all of you for submitting.  If you would like your first page critiqued by a national editor, the instructions are in the sidebar.

The Entry
No Title
by C. Michelle Jeffries

Elias Porter didn’t like being covered in demon blood. It had a particularly nasty stench that stuck around for days, even after you scrubbed it from your skin. And, seeing that he dealt with demon gore for a living—he pretty much stunk like that all the time.

At least the humans can’t smell it.

His eyes scanned the people walking down the sidewalk. Most of them seemed to not even notice he was there. A few saw him, giving him a wide berth, as if they could almost sense what he’d been messing with all night. Still fewer covered their noses scrunching their faces like they’d encountered something putrid. Thank the Guardian Angles they were few and far between.

He could make himself invisible, but that used a lot of energy especially after tonight’s experience. It was easier to pull his hood over his face, shove his hands in his shredded sweatshirt, and walk the tension of the evening off, as he headed home. Just the thought of a hot shower and leftovers quickened his step.

 “Quiet night?” he asked as the slightest sound of feet hit the sidewalk behind him. Katia had been trying to sneak up on him the entire time they’d worked together. Her black tactical clothing hardly had a splotch of demon or other “things” on it.

“No, I am just better at killing them than you are.” She shrugged off her disappointment with a cat like roll of her shoulders and fell into step with him. “Looks like all my usual business decided to have a party in your sector.”

“Yeah it was a lot of fun. Especially the Celestine demon in the subway.”

She sucked in her breath. “You messed with a Celestine and you didn’t call me?”

“She was just a baby, didn’t see any trace of her parents tho’ which means we need to be on guard.”  Elias looked at the sky. The moon was almost full, the weekend would be busy.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

This has been a difficult critique to write because, honestly, I can’t find much to pick apart here. The first sentence ropes the reader right in, and the story gains momentum from there. Aside from some syntax-level issues and mechanical errors, I can’t find fault with much.

I enjoy the element of insinuation on this first page. The second paragraph, “At least the humans can’t smell it,” hints that perhaps Elias himself isn’t human. This is a skillful method of introducing important character details. I also love Katia’s entrance into the story—the sound of her feet on the sidewalk, the way she falls into step with him. These subtle details establish immediate intimacy between the two characters. They tell us how close the two are without resorting to something rote like, “They were very close.”

My one criticism is that there are some punctuation and spelling errors (e.g., Guardian “Angles”) in this piece. I would recommend having someone proof it before submitting. I would also change “tho’” to “though” in the last paragraph, as I don’t see any real need to shorten a one-syllable word in a way that doesn’t change the pronunciation.

The most important elements, however, are in place here. As I’ve said in the past, I can’t control what happens to a book baby once the author sends it out into the world. As I’m sure many of you know, if you send a manuscript to three different beta readers, you’ll get three very different critiques. The same is true of acquiring editors and agents; you never know what is going to pique their interest. But this first page feels “ready” to me.

Thank you again to everyone.  We'll see you next week!


Melanie Goldmund said...

Well, I did not achieve my goal of thinking up a new story idea. I will not pass Go, I will not collect two hundred writing tips ...

Just one or two comments on the First Page Friday story. First, avoid autonomous body parts. "His eyes scanned the people." It makes it sound like his eyes are separate from his body, perhaps getting ready to report back to him should they see something suspicious. It's better to simply write "he scanned the people."

Also, the sentence "At least the humans can't smell it." is in present tense, while the rest of the story is told in past tense. It sticks out in an unpleasant way, at least to me. I'd suggest writing "At least the humans couldn't smell it." instead.

This criticism has been brought to you by Goldmund's Grammar Hotline, where correct grammar is only a query away. :-)

Janice Sperry said...

Sadly, I didn't reach my goal either. I had to make jam. (That doesn't sound super pressing, but the strawberries were from my garden. They are precious.) I also had to go grocery shopping and volunteered in my daughter's class (we're on a year round schedule. we don't get summer.)

Melanie - I have way too many story ideas. Want some? You can even pick your genre. :)

Jon Spell said...

(So far) I have achieved my stated goal, but would like to exempt myself from the prize offering, not that it isn't a lovely prize, but because I feel like I made the bar really low for myself. More like a pole vaulter approaching a Limbo pole.

Sort of wrote myself into a corner last night, though. That's what I get for not sticking to the plan. (Or at least having a plan when I start writing.) It's possible I can use some of this later when I'm actually ready to introduce this new character, but he just doesn't make sense in the story right now. Oh well.

Jon Spell said...

Janice, I think your penance should be to send me some of that jam. =)

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Melanie, it's more than 200 writing tips. Have you downloaded her free writing guides? I think you would be surprised.

Honestly I think we should enter everyone who made a goal in the drawing now. Because hey, WE TRIED, right? And right now, Jon is the only one who accomplished his goal. What do you think?

Janice, I wouldn't mind some jam, too.

Debra Erfert said...

Melanie found the two places in the story that stuck out to me. That change in tense was startling, but is an easy fix. Otherwise, I liked this first page.

I still have today to put in at least that one hour of writing, but I achieved my goals for this week. But, like Jon, I set it pretty low. I would feel guilty winning anything. Your idea of everybody being entered is fab.

C. Michelle Jefferies said...

Aw thanks for the critique! I will for sure send it out for punctuation and spelling next time.

I made my goal I actually wrote 11 chapters and my goal was five BUT two of those chapters were only two pages a piece. Still needs alot of fleshing out.

I think EVERYONE that made a goal and tried should be in the drawing. It's hard to write every day. Especially if you are making Jam watching the kids working out or in the home. Congrats to everyone for trying!

C. Michelle Jefferies said...

BTW, in the word document the "humans smelling" sentence is in Italics. It's internal thought.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Oooh, Janice, your cup runneth over with ideas? What do you have in the genres of sci fi or fantasy?

Homemade strawberry jam, yum! My mother grows her own Concorde grapes and makes grape jelly out of them. That's yummy, too. And as for me ... uh ... I can type.

Julie, no, I haven't downloaded Jordan's writing guides, though I have looked at some of them. Guess I was too busy rubbing my two brain cells together in a vain attempt to spark an idea. :D

Janice Sperry said...

Sorry guys. Freezer jam doesn't ship well. lol But it does taste lovely. One batch is strawberry/blueberry.

Melanie - I would love to share. They were such lovely ideas that went nowhere. You are welcome to play with them. Maybe they can help light your own fire. :)

Rebecca H. Jamison said...

I met my goal (write an hour a day.) There was no amazing word count or anything like that, but I got a lot done.

Go, Michelle. I always strive to get a critique like that. It hardly ever happens for me.

Rachelle said...

I'm late because I've been cleaning up throw-up all evening, so if I can't be entered it's understood--but kind of pukey. :) I wanted to at least post that I made my goal--exceeded it in the word count area with 7,973 words! I'm excited. Thanks so much for this challenge to keep me pushing myself.

Anonymous said...

I love that first page; it sucked me right in. Good job! I did meet my goal of writing 2 hours a day, and narrowed my cover choice down and am working on getting photos to finish it. Yea!

Jon Spell said...

So, just to be clear, Rachelle, you wrote nearly 8,000 words this week?

I have almost 7,000 words total so far, and I've been (not steadily) working on it for a couple of years.

Long ways to go, I guess.

Rachelle said...

Yes, Jon and I'd really like to hit another 10K this week. It took me quite a while to write my first few books, but then I gained more confidence--kind of like trying to run a 5K for the first time and then realizing you really can do it, that 3.1 miles is not that much. When I shifted my perspective, my word count pretty much took flight. Now, I'm trying to figure out how I can do that all the time and still revise another novel. :)