First Page Critique -#2

Welcome to another first page submission!  A round of applause for our volunteer. 🙂

All comments will be moderated, so don’t panic if they don’t appear immediately, please remember to be constructive in what comments you leave for the author.(please excuse formatting issues- that is me- not the author!)


Fantasy submission-

Chapter One


Clouds, dark as pewter, blocked the sunlight that only an hour ago warmed the tiny flat. Defiant rays struggled through the mass to touch those rushing through their errands to make it home before the inevitable summer storm released a torrent of rain. After a year in perpetually sun-soaked California, Taryn had forgotten how finicky London’s weather could be.

She leaned against the window sill, feeling the old wood cut into her thin T-shirt. Some said the pub, and the flat above it, were as ancient as their neighbor the Tower, but Taryn knew the building was even older. It’s stone fireplace, where a blaze crackled against the chill, gave away many of the building’s secrets. She’d spent too many hours in the past few months studying it and every inch of the flat, putting her archeological skills to use to stave off boredom. The flat wasn’t home in the traditional sense, more of a stopping place between their travels, but since Brandt’s unexpected retirement, it had become more of a prison than anything else.

No personal effects littered the rooms, nor were there any photos of her and her grandfather on the walls. Just a few odds and ends collected from the far reaches of the world. Even the kitchen lacked any sort of homey warmth and the dishes, Taryn shook her head as she tracked a raindrop down the length of the thick window pane, well they were almost as old as the beams that stretched across the ceiling. Chipped pieces of porcelain that she’d often thought of replacing, but could never bring herself to actually do. It was the one tangible part of her childhood she could recall. Sunday mornings sitting by the fireplace enjoying a cuppa with Brandt.



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The Romance Writers of America's San Diego chapter promotes excellence in romantic fiction, helps writers become published and establish careers in their writing field, and provides continuing support for writers within the romance publishing industry. Contact us for more information about RWASD.

6 thoughts on “First Page Critique -#2

  1. Thank you, brave writer, for sharing your work with us! I really enjoyed reading this. First, let me say that you’ve painted a vivid picture of the setting of your story. Great use of words and attention to detail. BUT I have a small piece of advice for you and a big one that might make your manuscript even stronger:

    Small piece of advice: Make the last sentence of your first paragraph the first sentence. Lead with characterization instead of weather because the weather is an important detail because of the character’s reaction to it.

    Big piece of advice: move your action forward in the scene, above description of weather and place. Read through your chapter until you find the first real action or piece of dialogue for Taryn and experiment with moving that right up to the first paragraph of the chapter. See if that helps speed your pacing and creates intrigue for the reader. Being able to vividly describe weather and place are great technical writing craft accomplishments, but if those descriptions aren’t woven around action, then they tend to fall flat and disengage your reader.

    I hope that helps. Best of luck to you!

  2. What beautiful, vivid descriptions! I would keep reading if I had picked this up, but I do agree with the last comment that it might be even stronger if you jumped into the action or dialogue. Also, in paragraph two, line three, there is a small typo. You might want to replace “it’s” with “its.”

    Well, I’m super impressed by the quality of this writing! I hope I get to find out who wrote this great first page! 🙂

  3. I agree with Melissa. Your writing is good, descriptions excellent. However, as Melissa said, you need action. Readers want to see something happening, not scenery and weather, Weave your good descriptions around action. As it is, the first page is lifeless backstory. Sorry to be blunt, but I learned this years ago through countless rejections.

  4. I think I’ll echo Cassi and Melissa’s critiques on this one. It needs some action, something to draw the reader into the story and make it come alive. I’ve read this a few times now and agree that the weather is kind of cool, but it’s also a bit distancing. Also, I think windowsill is one word.

  5. I loved the feel of this piece. I was ready to snuggle under a blankie by the fire and keep reading. I must echo the sentiments of Cassi and Melissa in terms of action.

    My only other comment is that I am a little unclear on the relationships. At first I thought Brandt & Taryn were a couple. There isn’t a mention of age for Taryn, but I assumed if she has architectural skills, she is an adult. But then there is mention of pictures of her and her grandfather on the walls and her memories of sitting by the fire with Brandt. So is he actually her grandfather? If so, my understanding that she lives with him and follows him from city to city is confusing.

    I would definitely read more and really enjoyed this piece. Thank you for submitting.

  6. I agree, beautiful writing! I’d say it does give a sense of emotion, and while perhaps starting with action or dialogue could give it more “oomph” you do get a certain feel for the type of book here. I was a bit confused as to who Brandt was, and if he was the grandfather? But aside from that, nothing near to add- just really lovely!

    Marie Andreas

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