Wednesday, December 01, 2010

First Impressions by Melissa Jeglinski: December Edition

Hello, everyone!  Welcome to December's First Impressions blog. This blog, featuring a first page critique by yours truly, will occur the first Wednesday of every month.  Rules on how to enter YOUR first page are listed below.  Now let's get critiquing.




Novel title: The Occupied
Genre: Dark fantasy 
Author: T.D. Grubbs
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Evening settled over her bare skin with a shiver. (Perhaps would read better: ...bare skin, causing her to shiver.) Other than this slight spasm she didn’t move. She hadn’t moved in days. Her arms, tied and twisted above her head where she lay against hard earth, had long gone numb.  (Compelling opening paragraph.  We get a definite sense that this protagonist is in quite the serious predicament.)
She lay on one side.  Shackles weighted her wrists to the ground. All of her limbs were useless. (If only her wrists are bound, why are her legs useless?) They weren’t broken,  they simply didn’t hold any strength. Against her captors she was a rag doll, a sack of skin and bones and pliant connective tissue. (Overwritten; rag doll is sufficient.)  Nothing more. 
Fingers of a fading sun pierced the basement ceiling above. They stretched into a languid fade, (Again, a bit overwritten, using "fade" twice in two connected sentences) making a final grasp across hand-packed earth. Then, too quickly, dusk faded to shadow. Darkness stretched its oily (strange adjective) wings, awakening all that was unseen, calling to life what should long be dead.
The air crystallized with a sudden frost. She shivered again, this time a spasm that rattled against her cold bones. It was the chill that preceded them. The icy breath of animated death.
Fully awake, she listened for their approach.
The cold drew back, lessening without breaking. A soft fog, like an exhale of a hundred breaths, drifted against the edges of the room.
Then a scent tickled her nose. It was followed by a whisper of sound. She sensed movement above, outside of the house. Steady steps. Twenty yards away. Moving closer.
She continued to listen, to taste the cool air that drifted through the crags of old wood. It was not them that she sensed, but something else. Neither demon nor animal. Something that in the three years of her imprisonment she’d never encountered.  (This is compelling and leaves me wondering what is about to appear. I want to turn the page.)
The writer did a good job of setting up a desperate situation for the story's protagonist.  From the first line we get a sense of her being in danger and about to be drawn into something dark and sinister.   It's immediately apparent that there is some type of paranormal element involved; so even if I wasn't aware this was a Dark Fantasy novel, I would sense that otherworldly issues were at hand.

While the author does have an atmospheric writing style, they may want to watch the use of flowery language.  The text comes off a bit overwritten at times. And while it is good to explore multiple senses (the author had visual, sensory and even auditory descriptions) sometimes it can overload the page.
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To enter First Impressions, email your first page (300 words or less) to Contests(AT)KnightAgency.net with “First Impressions” in the subject line. Include the title and genre in the email, as well as the name you wish us to use when referring to you publicly. All genres are welcome. Do not send your entry as an attachment; it must be within the body of the email. Winners are randomly selected using www.random.org.

**Disclaimers, Rules, Stipulations, What Not, and All That Jazz: By emailing your entry to Contests(AT)KnightAgency.net, you agree to have your first page posted on our blog for critique. Entrants will remain in the selection queue indefinitely, so your number could come up tomorrow or two years from now. Such is life. We will drop you a line if your email is pulled out of the hat. Maybe. It’s best to just swing by our blog often and check things out, no? Winning a first page critique does not in any way indicate an interest or offer of representation by The Knight Agency, and we reserve the right to delete any material that we find improper or offensive. Though we encourage blog readers to offer positive, thoughtful feedback, we cannot control their opinions with Imperius Curses. However, we will promptly banish nasty, mean-spirited comments to the outer limits of cyberspace. Dontcha wish you could do that with people in real life? Addendum (11/03/2010): In order to give everyone a fair chance, only one entry is allowed per person. If you've submitted more than one first page, your initial email will be added to the queue; however, subsequent emails have been deleted.**

First Impressions Schedule: January 5th, February 2nd, March 2nd, April 6th

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6 Comments:

Blogger Brenda Drake said...

This first impression entry is very intriguing. It leaves me curious as to what will happen next. Thanks for doing this, Melissa. It's like a mini-class. :D

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 9:53:00 AM EST  
Blogger Gina Leigh Maxwell said...

I agree with Brenda. Seeing how you would change even a section as small as a first page definitely helps. I really enjoyed this first page and would absolutely turn it to get to page 2. :)

Thanks Melissa!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 2:28:00 PM EST  
Blogger Vicki said...

I really liked this beginning. I feel like I have a sense of world building and although the heroine is not in control, she isn't someone who's going to give up.

It's really great to see your thoughts on what you'd leave out or what seemed strange to you. Thanks so much for doing these and giving us a glimpse into what an agent sees.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 4:48:00 PM EST  
Blogger Peg Brantley said...

Kudos not only to the writer for allowing this critique, but to you for sharing your take.

(Personally, I kind of like the oily wings of darkness.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 7:54:00 PM EST  
Anonymous TD Grubbs said...

Thanks so much, Melissa, for the critique. I appreciate your insight - and I guess there is a fine line that I need to watch between writing "original" descriptions and being overly wordy, or flowery. :-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 8:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger F.D. Caldwell said...

This "Blog" is a great idea, Ms. Jeglinski...It clearly shows that The Knight Agency and yourself are willing to think "out of the box." So congrats to all of you! (Signed) F.D. Caldwell

Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 10:34:00 AM EDT  

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