Monday, February 4, 2013

Legacy of The Eye

Our second submission for February comes from Patricia (click on the pic to check out her blog). This is the first page of her adult sci-fi, LEGACY OF THE EYE. My comments will be in purple and italics at the end. My partner in crime, Dianne Salerni, will be critting this same page at her blog so do go see what she had to say and I hope you'll add your comments :)
Catrine blinked as her eyes adjusted to the brightness outside the school building. She should have worn a hat. (why? because of the sun or the temperature or wind or...?) She glanced at David, who had closed the heavy wood door behind them. Her best friend’s smile shined as bright as the afternoon light. This was the first time either of them had left the school since their enrollment at the age of two. (If that's true, I would think they'd be stopping to have a long look around at the world outside the walls. Even if there were windows, if it was me, I might want to just relish in being outside finally.)  They were both eighteen now, but and David looked ready to conquer the galaxy. 
“Maybe we should go over your speech one more time," she said.
His smile dimmed. “We went over it five times on the way here.”
“Four. And you’re still forgetting to mention that the tutors will be traveling to the pupil’s home planet. That’s the whole point of the proposal.”
“Do you want to give the speech?”
Her inside twisted in knots. “No.”
“Then stop fretting. If the council hadn’t liked our idea, they wouldn’t have requested an audience.”
“They probably read the proposal once. You’ve read it a dozen times and you still forget some of the details. I should have made you write it.”
David's smile returned, brighter than ever. “Then it wouldn’t have been perfect.”
Or written at all, she thought.

The one thing I would like to see a little more of in this first page is setting and sensory details. I want to know what it looks like (smells like, sounds like, feels like, tastes like) outside the school. How is it different from inside? If this an adult novel you could easily weave it in as they walk. Have Catrine and David seen what it looks like outside or is it all new? Have they been inside all their lives or was there an inner courtyard where they could feel the air and weather - assuming there is any! They don't seem very excited and if I was eighteen and had just stepped foot outside a school I'd been in since I was two, I'd be hugely excited, even if my excitement was tinged with nervousness at giving a proposal. Showing the setting will also give you the opportunity to show the characters' reactions to being outside for the first time since they can remember, which will in turn give the reader an opportunity to connect with David and Catrine and therefore be more invested in the story.  Does that make sense? 

Now, how about you guys, what do you think would make this first page better?


  1. I think the second sentence about wearing a hat breaks the flow of thought and feel. If I were you, Patricia, I'd remove it. However, I think I'd put it in (or a similar sentence that gives a humorous feel, if that's what you were going for), after you mention that it's the first time they've been outside since they were two. Now that is interesting. :)

  2. is that your Maine house under snow in the banner pic, Marcy? :)

    1. Sadly no, that was a house my son was house-sitting at, a gorgeous old house with lovely period details and a sunroom for cold winters. My entire house is smaller than that barn, lol.

  3. I thought the dialogue was excellent. Maybe a few more sensory details as you said, though.

  4. Yes, a little more in the beginning, because I would stand and gawk at the world as well.

  5. Interesting to see the two different critiques. I totally agree. That was my main thought too. What a momentous occasion walking out of the school for the first time in 16 years! I wanted reactions. :)

    And fun idea, Marcy (and Dianne)!

  6. I too would like to feel a little more connection to the characters. Right now, I really don't care about them, I'm more interested in this proposal. It seems better to have me invested in the characters first.

    Love that old house. That fence leaning in at the side is perfect and drew my eye immediately. I bet this place has some stories to tell.

  7. Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the feedback.

    It's the first time David and Catrine are leaving the school grounds, not the building. I definitely need to make that clear and add a bit more setting to ground the characters.

  8. Well done with the feedback, and on the first page~ Patricia has gotten me interested in David and Catrine's story!

    And I like the barn in your blog banner as well :)

  9. I agree 100% with your assessment. I will say that the dialogue was quite good!

  10. It is good feedback, but you may have been a little harsh on why she should have worn a hat. I mean in the prior sentence she said it was too bright and a hat keeps the glare out of your eyes. That's something my mother always did to keep the sun out of her eyes.

  11. I already commented on Dianne's blog, but stopped by to see the critique and comments here.

    Good to know that the characters haven't actually been imprisoned inside for the past sixteen years like I thought. Still, even if they HAVE been outdoors, but haven't left the campus, they'd still be all kinds of excited. Nervous about the mysterious proposal, but reeeeeally excited, and filled with youthful exuberance.

  12. I think I've read this before, and it's much improved now. I agree with Marcy about the sensory details, and I'd also like a line or two of description (anything weird like two suns or blue grass? Or are they in a city?). The two things I'm missing most are reactions and tension. They must be thrilled/excited/scared to be outside for the first time. And where's the tension? What's so important about the proposal? What are the stakes? Will something bad happen if this doesn't go well?
    Good luck! :-)

  13. I agree with most of what was said, and I see that has already been noted by the author above. Definitely more sensory and personality/emotion. I think the hat thing is clear enough. Would it be that his smile shined or that it shone? I'm honestly not sure.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  14. The dialoge was the strongest part, I would've started with that and then gone on to the backstory

  15. I agree about the setting. I think it would really set the tone. I also think that the dialogue makes everything seem normal *except* for the proposal, when in fact being stuck inside a school since the age of 2 and this being the first day let out would be a VERY big deal. After reading your comment, Patchi, I'm now wondering if perhaps they're nervous about leaving the grounds? I like the mention of how David wouldn't have gotten the proposal done at all and Catrine is too chicken to give the proposal. That gives me valuable insight into their characters. I am interested in what the proposal is, which would keep me reading.


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