Monday, May 2, 2011

first impressions #1

Our first submission of the month is from Becca at A Page and a Half at a Time. This the first page of her novel Echo, a YA suspense. My comments/suggestions are in purple. If you want to know what Dianne thinks, go to her blog, In High Spirits.

"Sitting in one of the hard plastic chairs in the office was a surreal experience (this is telling. I'd like to hear the deails of how it’s a surreal experience, show us what makes it surreal, give us a little peek inside Olivia's head. It doesn't have to be long, just enough for us to bond with Olivia a little - assuming she's our main character) for Olivia. On either side of her were other students involved in the incident in one way or another. On one side was somebody who had witnessed it firsthand. On the other side was the brother of the victim. (This  is good. Your mention of 'the incident' makes us curious about what happened and begs the question, how is Olivia involved?)

Olivia did not want to think of Chase as a victim. She did not want to think about the situation at all, but as she sat there waiting for her parents, listening to the ongoing click-clack of a keyboard behind the receptionist’s desk, the thoughts pushed their way through, invading Olivia’s mind and filling it with unpleasantness. (This is a weak word. I'd love to know what makes it unpleasant. You don't have to launch into a huge discription, but a few words might help. Like, are there any bad smells associated with the unpleasantness? any images? Just a thought.)

The girl to her right had her arms and her legs crossed, her right foot shaking to some muted beat that only she could seem to hear. (Extra words, I think) Her gaze never found its way towards Olivia. Chase’s brother, who as far as she knew went by the name of Hunter, (I think these extra words here slow things down without giving us any more insight.) was seated to her left, his arms residing over both armrests. His eyes were set on the receptionist’s desk, unmoving, fixed as though he could see through the panel of wood, directly at the secretary who continued to type away at some problem of her own. (I like this last bit here. Altho the pace has slowed slightly it's filled with information, which pulls us deeper into the story.)

Every now and then, Olivia felt his gaze shift, and through the corner of his eyes Hunter staring ed Olivia her down, examining her from head to toe, a fury building inside him with each glance of the girl beside him. (I'm not sure you want these last few words; they seem to be from someone else's point of view rather than Olivia's, which is where we were) .

Olivia sat motionless in the center, her hands kept to herself, folded in her lap. If she could have coiled herself into a ball, she would've may very well have done that. A chill that may not have even existed tiptoed its way up and down Olivia’s spine, threatening to make her shiver in the uncomfortable situation. (These last two sentences are a little confusing to me. If the chill didn't exist then Olivia wouldn't have felt it unless it was a magical chill. I'm not sure yet how grounded in reality this tale is so it's hard for me to be sure whether this should stay or go. I almost want this to end after would've).

Overall, this is an intriguing first page. I am very curious about 'the incident' and Olivia. I think the only thing needed is a little more connection to her so that the reader will identify with her. But remember, this is just my opinion. Dianne may have something entirely different to say (she often does!). I hope this has been helpful - to everyone.  


  1. First, a big award to Becca for her bravery. I'm always in awe of those who step forward. But I enjoyed what she wrote, wanted to know more and thought your suggestions were spot-on and nicely presented(like going to the doc and learning one has a slight cold and not pneumonia!)

  2. A very good story begining and a very good analysis. For me though the telling in the first line didn't bother me. "Surreal" is really Olivia's feelings on the situation. The quickest way to "show" that feeling is to describe the situation, which Becca did immediatly after.

    Than you both for puting this up!

  3. Excellent feedback for a tempting first page!

  4. Yep, I like what you did with it. I'm gonna check out Becca's blog - I like the name!


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