Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Sentences For Critique

Three wonderful, brave ladies have offered up their first sentences for critique. Since you peeps are so awesome I know I don't need to remind you that we want constructive criticism only. Honesty is a necessity of course, but sprinkling a bit of what you liked about it in there makes the advice go down better. Please leave comments on any one you wish but lets be sure to spread the helpfulness around if you see on that isn't getting comments. Here they are in no particular order:
Sentence #1
Short description: GEMMA-UP OVER YA about a girl who goes to Australia to hike after her dad dies and finds out the mom she thought was her mom isn't at all. Her mom is Australian and her dad was going to introduce them when they hiked. 
First sentence: Maybe if I was wearing something that said "My dad just died and all I got was this lousy T-shirt," people would know to let me bypass all the lines and just go on my merry way. 
Sentence #2
Author: Grechen
Short description: FOXTROT is a novel about a girl who's name is no longer her own. She must decide whether to give up her old identity in order to maintain her government mandated life or hold onto the shreds that are left of her old life.
First sentence: I shift uneasily on the old wooden bench, waiting for the sunrise to give me back a sense of color. 
Sentence #3
Author: Dora Dee 
Short description: The main protagonist is a nine year old girl. My novel takes place in Italy during the late 1950's. 
First sentence: (in italics)Why were her mother and sister doing laundry today of all days, the last day of St. Rocco's Feast? 
Sunday mornings were always loud and noisy at her house. She hadn't heard Grazia's high-pitched voice insistently asked her mother's opinion on what to where to church while desperately rummaging through their meager downstairs closet and her brothers were fighting over the bathroom like they usually did. 

Thank you in advance to everyone who helps out and leaves a comment. In the meantime, the critique sisters will work on these and we'll post our results next Wednesday. Let the comments commence!


  1. These are fantastic. Yes... I will chime in. But I'm heading overseas. I'll reply tomorrow. For now, all I can say is nice work ladies!!

  2. Great starts everyone!
    Sentence 1 is too long for the first in a book. It needs breaking up. And in effect, it's backstory. You're putting her dilemma upfront instead of getting a bit of tension by leaving it for later.

    Sentence 2 - A personal prejudice here. I hate books written in the present tense. This one would go right back on the shelf. But there's a nice sense of place, and a little hook that makes me wonder - why has she lost her sense of colour overnight? (because the night is full of colour, unless you're wearing night vision specs).

    Sentence 3 - I have no idea of the significance of St Rocco's feast, so I'm a bit lost from the get-go.

    However, if I pick up a book, I'll give it a page, not a sentence. Scads of backstory will make me put it back, overwriting will do so, and a cliche'd situation will, too. Most other things, I'll give it a try.
    Apart from present tense! And I'm not too happy with first person, either.

  3. I liked the content of sentence 1 but I agree it's a tad too long. I'm curious about what happened.

    I loved sentence 2. It was poetic and had lots of mood in it. I love present tense, so no problems there, and I love poetry, so this one really nabbed me.

    Sentence 3 and the following para has lots of mood and a good sensation of bustling business. It has a few grammar problems (where vs wear) and the last sentence was a bit run on.

  4. I REALLY liked Sentence #2. Like a LOT. I'd totally read more.

    I like the other two as well, but I'd have to read more to make a decision.

    Sentence #1 certainly has voice.
    Sentence #3 creates interest, however, I wonder if starting with the sound of clothes being dragged over a washboard (Italy, 1950's, IDK, seems like they'd have washboards, LOL!) would pique the MC's curiosity, you know? Then you're bringing in various senses and creating imminent action.

  5. Sentence #2 will be stuck in my head all day. I want the book. I'm already invested. I would still be reading if I could.

    Sentence #1 -- I've seen long sentences used very effectively to start a book, but not here. Words like maybe, something, and just, are soft, sleepy words, and weigh down the sentence.
    " just died...lousy T-shirt...just go on my merry way" all put together makes it kind of a mess. I wonder if the author's very young, and how this even found its way to an agent's desk.

    Sentence #3
    I would not continue reading. If I'm quickly looking for a book, I want that first sentence to grab my attention and hold it.

    I have already given you several opportunities. I saw the cover, liked the title, and picked up the book. I read the inside jacket, or the back cover, and opened to the first page. Where's the hook? Who is talking? What is the context, other than a religious holiday? Why is laundry important? Laundry is boring. Sorry.