I'm so glad someone else asked for a critique- I don't have a lot of time to do these, so I had talked myself out of just going through the comment thread on Nathan's blog and doing them wholesale, but if someone *asks* for a critique, well, then I feel obligated! And I like doing them, so this is a good thing.

17. David Wisehart, Red Wedding - I love the opening description of the storm. I would definitely keep reading this one- the humorous tone is very nice. Zoey seems a little nutty, but that's part of what makes it interesting. One thing I did notice- while I love the opening description, some of your similes are distracting. I think coming up with non-cliche similes is definitely one of your talents, but you should use it a little more sparingly. There were at least three in the first page- the storm in the beginning, then Zoey's underwear, and then the "skull cracking under an avalanche of boulders". That last one came out of left field, and really pulled me away from the story. I also might try to work in a little more of what Zoey's attitude toward Peter is; I couldn't tell if she was really in love with him or if the book was going to head in the opposite direction and she would find out she didn't want to marry him after all. But then again, I should have learned my lesson from Nathan's post about first pages (see my last post). I think that principle can apply to more than just action; this is a novel, you have an intriguing first page, and you don't have to show me how all the characters feel about all the others all at once.

18. Jordan, The Incredible Blanco Brothers - Jordan says she's been getting conflicted advice on her opening. Well, I haven't seen any of it, so I'm pretty unbiased. You'll have to let me know where I fall on the scale of responses.

I really liked this. The writing really pulled me in. No distracting tics or overwriting or anything, just solid, descriptive writing. It's in a very passive voice, and I bet you're getting some responses harping about that, but I thought it served as a very good introduction to a complex character. I liked his motives for dying his hair, I liked his father's reaction, I was interested in the home life he must have. I did get a little confused was when you switched from the backstory to the present - "The ridicule, however, continues to come." I thought the "one of them would say" was a little weak- who are "they"? Just the kids at school? This seems like it's build-up to the reveal of Ansel's full name, but I think that could be tightened up a little. Also, the "you see" was distracting- I got pulled back out of Ansel's head, and a narrator came between us. Maybe that's going to be part of the book's style, but if not, I think that could come out without weakening the sentence. You've made me like the main character, I can see what some of the conflict is going to be, and I want to know what happens next. I don't have any idea where the book is going to go from here- but I'd keep reading to find out.

As always, let me know what you think. If you've read Jordan's or David's work and agree or disagree, I'd be interested to know.


What a fantastic critique! Thank you so much!

You've addressed a lot of the things people keep pointing out--it is passive, it is clearly an introduction, it is a set-up to reveal Ansel's full name. This scene is the only part of the book in third person (the rest of it is a combination of first person from Ansel's POV and scenes in comic book form, pictures and everything), so I wanted to somehow set it apart as an introduction to the main character. The next scene is a fourteen-page comic book sequence taking place in the old west, of which Ansel doesn't show up until the end. He takes center stage in the next chapter, introducing us to him and his brothers and why he hates being a triplet, but I wanted to get all that stuff out in the open before Ansel had his say.

He's a very informal narrator, kind of wacky, and often switches from addressing the reader directly to speaking of himself in third person for a stretch. The brief "you see" is well in keeping with the rest of it, but if it's too much of a distraction I can easily cut it.

"One of them would say" used to read something along the lines of "Monty would say, or Reno if he condescended to speak with mortals that day." I cut it to get it under the 500 word mark...

The main problem some of the other critters pointed out, as well as my loyal crit partner after a second examination, was Ansel's motivation for dyeing his hair. Some say it's not revealed until the end (him feeling like he needs to be distinguished from his brothers), but I feel it's implied. He wouldn't admit to himself the reason anyway--that he wants to be different--just like many kids don't want to admit they do weird things to look different. They'll just say "Johnny Rotten does it and I will too.

A very good crit, and you've given me food for thought and the ability to look at it objectively again. So important to be able to do that! Thank you very much, and I'm glad I found your blog. I think I'll stick around. :)

February 4, 2008 at 12:14 PM  

Newer Post Older Post Home