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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Legacy of the Eye

 A big thank you to Patricia for submitting the first page of her scifi manuscript, The Legacy of the Eye. My comments will be in purple. I invite you to add yours and help Patricia make her first page the best it can be. 

"Cat, we are stepping into our future and you’re not even paying attention."
Catrine almost lost her balance when David grabbed onto her arm all of a sudden. She had been so engrossed with their conversation that she had not (do you want had not rather than hadn't? I'm only asking because 'had not' is more formal, 'hadn't' less so. What tone do you want to set?) noticed they reached the gates of the Academy. The wooden bars were wide open and seemed more decorative than a true barrier to their exit.
"Our future doesn’t start for another couple of weeks," she said.
Graduation was still two weeks away and they were only allowed to leave the Academy that day because the Academic Council had granted them an audience.
"You’re wrong. This is it. Today we make history."
She laughed. "We should wait until the council approves the Tutor Program before we celebrate."
"Why would they reject it? You wrote a great proposal. The argumentation is flawless."
"Just because you couldn’t find any faults, doesn’t mean the council won’t." 
Catrine had hardly eaten anything all day. Her insides were twisted in knots. But she was determined not to let her nervousness show -- not even to her best friend. Deep down, she knew they were as prepared as they could ever be. She had spent weeks writing the proposal and she had also prepared David’s speech with great care. They had discussed the potential program with many people, including instructors and students, and they had waited until all concerns had been addressed before submitting a proposal to the council. But it was such an ambitious project that she was not convinced they would succeed. Catrine was very glad David would be the one doing all the talking.

The first part with David and Cat talking is better because it's more active, them talking but this last paragraph is riddled with passivity as you can see from highlighting. I wonder if there's a way the conversation could continue to illustrate Cat's worries and explain about the program. Dialogue would be a much more interesting way of showing Cat's doubts. I also wondered why they were leaving the grounds to see the Academic Council, which I would guess would be located on Academy grounds. But there may be a reason for that which I would discover upon reading further...

Now it's your turn to tell Patricia what you thought of her first page.


Em-Musing said...

The story is great. I like how you Hi-lited the passive verbs.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Highlighting the "was" words is a great queue for someone to clue in that more powerful verbs are needed. I do like the story. But that's just it...when we all have these great stories in our heads, we can be in such a tumult to try and get them onto the page. It's in the editing where we can pull the sentences together better.

Patchi said...

Thanks for the critique! I really liked your suggestion to rework that passive paragraph a bit and add more conversation. I was trying not to fall into the trap of having David and Cat tell each other things they would obviously know, just for the sake of the reader to catch up. I think a bit of narration is important, but I can see how that paragraph might have been a bit much. Thanks!

Alicia C. said...

I agree with the passive paragraph at the end. Try and stick to the present at the beginning of a story. I also feel maybe we can be clued in a bit more to the characters...I know this is JUST the first page. But a lot can happen in that first page. They can already be striding away, quickly, from the university gates...They can be standing nervously in front of the head honcho's, getting dirty looks. TELL us everything!

Though yes...it did kind of make me do a double take, wondering why the head guys weren't on campus?

Huntress said...

Ditto what Marcy said.

Also, note your dialogue, very stiff and wooden. It needs punched up. Suggestion: "Cat, you’re spacing out again. Can’t you see the future is about to smack you upside the head."

On the first page, try cutting down on unnecessary words. Suggestion: "Catrine lost her balance when David grabbed her arm" (grabbed implies 'all of a sudden')

Be aware of echoes. Caps are mine:
"Our future doesn’t start for another COUPLE OF WEEKS," she said.
Graduation was still TWO WEEKS AWAY."

The passive or double verbs Marcy that mentioned, the 'to be' verbs - was, were, is, became, am, are, be, become - make all of us crazy.

Huntress said...


'The passive...verbs that Marcy mentioned, the 'to be' verbs...'

Hubby talking + typing comments = incoherence.

Lexa Cain said...

As usual, Marcy had great comments.

The prevalence of "to be" verbs doesn't just mean there are too many passive sentences, it also means there's too much thinking/explaining/backstory and not enough action. The first few pages of the novel are not the place to explain things. Get the reader hooked with action and tension, and then explain things in little bits later in the chapter.

Sam F. said...

I really like the first sentence, and I would definitely read on to learn about this Academy. But I agree with the previous comments -- that big last paragraph seems like a summary, and I think you could find a more gripping way of providing that same information to the reader.

Jadzia Brandli said...

I LOVE the first sentence. Really gets my attention. I also liked the dialogue and how it felt natural. I agree with maybe using contractions, depending on the tone you want to set. Also, that the last paragraph feels a little slow and the writing is passive. But I like it overall. :)

Liz said...

I love when stories start with dialog. I may be weird that way, but it's something that grabs me.

Aldrea Alien said...

I'm wondering if it'd be possible to show Cat's nerves a little earlier on (taking the last sentence of the last paragraph with it) and start that last paragraph at "Deep down ..."

This is how I ended up reading the last paragraph:

~~Deep down, she knew they were as prepared as they could ever be. She'd spent weeks writing the proposal and preparing David’s speech. They had discussed the potential program with many people, including instructors and students, waiting until they could address all concerns before submitting a proposal to the council. But it was such an ambitious project. One she was not convinced they could succeed at.~~

And I really want to know what Tutor Program is, so I'm hoping there's a little bit more of a tease about that on the next page.