Wednesday, August 03, 2011

First Impressions For August

It's time for the monthly First Impressions critique.  If you'd like the opportunity to have your first page receive feedback, be sure to follow the submission guidelines below.  Everyone should feel free to add their constructive thoughts in the comments section.

The Willow
Young Adult
Leah Burroughs


Before you die, there’s always some kind of to-do list. (See comment below on first sentence.) For some, that list might contain becoming rich or famous. For others, it might include having a family and growing old. But what if you died before you had time to even think about setting any lifetime goals? What if fate didn’t plan on letting you live past sixteen? 

I’d always been afraid of the water, and I couldn’t swim to save my life. But I tried...and I failed miserably.
I was drowning, I knew that much. The water was deepening, the coordinal directions muddled (What does this mean--her sense of direction was muddled?) and lost in a dark cave of blue. The muted anguish swashed through my eardrums, leaking into places it was never meant to go.(I'm not sure what this all means. How can anguish swash through eardums?) My body was weak now, my useless kicking slowing as I felt myself go limp.
There was only so much time left; only so much air my lungs could hold on to. The breath I was fighting to hold was getting tighter, and I wanted to ease that pain, even if the escape was death. (Nice.  Simply stated but very meaningful.)
There was one thing I regretted, and it might haunt me in any otherworldly place my soul was sent to. I regretted not finding true love, and conclusively decided that’s what would’ve topped my bucket list. I’d never even been kissed…
Fate is cruel. We all know this. But sometimes it decides to give up on you, and in the instant it does, a miracle can happen. (Not of fan of this heavy foreshadowing.  Simpler to say: I'd given up hope and then a miracle happened.) 
Just as my eyes fell heavy with defeat, my lungs about to cave under the pressure of constricted air collapse, a relentless grasp fastened around my waist to with a godlike strength I’d never dreamt of imagined… (Toning down the descriptives makes the paragraph easier to read.)

The first sentence is a bit unclear.  I know what you're trying to get across but it's worded in a way that made me read it several times.  Maybe something like: Everyone has a to-do list they want to complete before they die. 
I'm not a big fan of the narrarator speaking directly to the reader as done in the first paragraph (and again in the penultimate paragraph).  It's so important that the opening have a bang.  If you start with the second paragraph I believe it would hold more impact.
Also, pull back on the flowery language.  The use of some phrasing here was very confusing and felt like you were using words just for the sake of flow and not meaning. 
I was eager to see what happened next; if in fact we would find out who was rescuing her (I am guessing this is a female protagonist) or if we would then jump to chapter one and be presented with a different scene.  So my attention has been captured.

To enter First Impressions, email your first page (300 words or less) to Contests(AT) 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

**Disclaimers, Rules, Stipulations, What Not, and All That Jazz: By emailing your entry to Contests(AT), 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


Blogger Josefine said...

I read the first paragraph almost as if it would be the back of the book. Then the story started in the second. But I as well was captured and interested what would happen next.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 4:56:00 PM EDT  

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