Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.

Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby charlotte49ers » 27 Aug 2010, 18:07

Nathan Bransford wrote:
TITLE: 'APOSTLE'
GENRE: CRIME
WORDCOUNT: 250

A white Transit van pulls into a long straight road by the town park, slows for the speed bumps, then indicates right. Pulls into a small car park in front of the two-story honeystone building that is Oakham Police Station. The sentence fragment threw me off.

For a minute, no one gets out. No hyphen.

Rain falls on the van’s windscreen. Andy Webb sits in the driver’s seat, one hand still on the wheel, the other holding a phone to his right ear. An exhausted man in his late thirties, he’s staring fixedly ahead. Doesn't read right and info dumpy - show me. He’s listening. I'm a little confused here and had to read it twice - I couldn't tell if Andy is in the white van or in something else because in my head, I'm an outsider to the van and then am thrust inside of it with Andy - I'd pick a perspective with the opening and stick with it. Start with what Andy is doing as opposed to the can as an separate object.

From the passenger seat, Jean Webb looks out at the grey morning. Across the road, towards the park bandstand, at the green swathes of grass falling away to the children’s swing and the play area. Again, sentence fragments not flowing well for me. In the background, the huge church spire reaches to the sky. Leopard gargoyles strain high up on leashes, stone eyes blinded.

Her son, on the phone, is doing some kind of deal on a set of second hand radiators. Even now, in the car park of the bloody police station – even under these circumstances - he can’t let the job go. Although there’s no enthusiasm in his voice, even today he’s promising to drive up to Melton to pick up parts for plumbing.

Andy, aware of his mother’s disapproval, agrees to pay over the odds for the gear, and cuts the call. He throws the phone onto the van’s dashboard, it disappears into a mess of paperwork and empty takeaway wrappers. Closes his eyes, rubs them.


Ok, I'm giving it a go. I feel a little *safer* here than out in the open on the blog. I'm weird.

Anyway, thanks for being brave and putting yours up for crits! Over all, I feel I stumbled over the description and couldn't connect with the characters. I'd rather you give me more of the emotion of the moment and characters as opposed to the external stimuli. If that makes sense. Anyway, hope that helps some! :-)
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby Beethovenfan » 27 Aug 2010, 18:35

I really liked all the imagery. I got a good feel for the setting and had a good laugh at the trash on the dashboard as I can relate to that! I think it would be a good move to make most of your sentances full and complete. Sometimes you can get away with sentance fragments, especially if it helps emphasize a point. But they should be used sparingly or they lose their effectiveness.
I am left wanting to know what's going to happen next, so that's a good sign! Give it a few revisions and you will really have something!
Thanks, Porthmeor Beach, for allowing the rest of us to learn from you! :)
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby Leonidas » 27 Aug 2010, 19:12

Nathan Bransford wrote:A white Transit van pulls into a long straight road by the town park, slows for the speed bumps, then indicates right. Pulls into I don't think the repetition works here. a small car park This is the second time you've used the word park in two sentences, you might want to substitute this one with "parking lot" in front of the two-story honeystone I like this description because I haven't read it before. building that is Oakham Police Station.

For a minute, no-one gets out.

Rain falls on the van’s windscreen. Andy Webb sits in the driver’s seat, one hand still on the wheel, the other holding a phone to his right ear. An exhausted man in his late thirties, he’s staring fixedly ahead. He’s Replace the period with a comma so that you combine these two sentences.listening.

From the passenger seat, Jean Webb looks out at the grey morning. Across the road, towards the park Park again bandstand, at the green swathes of grass falling away to the children’s swing and the play area. Fragment. I don't mind fragments (I probably use them too much) when they add something to the sentence or fit the style, but here this fragment just pulls me out of the story In the background, the huge church spire reaches to the sky .I think you could find a better verb than 'reaches' here. Leopard gargoyles strain high up on leashes, stone eyes blinded. I think you should reword this sentence so that we're not wanting to know what the gargoyles are blinded by. Also, I'm not sure about the straining on their leashes part; I've never seen a gargoyle on a leash, but I do like this description.

Her son, on the phone, is doing some kind of deal on a set of second hand Really nitpicky, but secondhand is one word. radiators. I thought that you were talking about another person, too, when I first read this. I know their last names are the same, but it's still confusing, because you don't automatically connect Jean and Andy as mother and son. As it's worded now, this sentence made me think that she was talking to her son, who was trying to work out a deal on secondhand radiators. Even now, in the car park Fourth time you've repeated park. of the bloody police station – even under these circumstances - he can’t let the job go. Although there’s no enthusiasm in his voice, even today he’s promising to drive up to Melton to pick up parts for plumbing. This sentence is awkward. Maybe join it to the previous one with a semi-colon to better the flow.

Andy, aware of his mother’s disapproval, how? show us her disapproval agrees to pay over the odds for the gear, and cuts the call. He throws the phone onto the van’s dashboard, either replace the comma with a semi-colon or add an 'and' hereit disappears into a mess of paperwork and empty takeaway wrappers. Closes his eyes, rubs them. Again with the stylistic fragments that aren't working in your favor. This would work better if it was a complete sentence, by adding 'He' in the beginning.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby J. T. SHEA » 27 Aug 2010, 21:20

This does work better here in the Forums, and in this one thread instead of two blog posts.

Crime is not my genre either as reader or writer, but APOSTLE's first page read well enough for me.

I had no difficulty figuring out who was who and what was what, but other commenters' confusion indicates a problem. Nathan's suggestion about consistently identifying the characters sounds good.

I took the reference to the gargoyles' 'stone eyes blinded' to mean either the sculptors did not articulate the eyes' pupils, or the pupils had worn away over time.

The transatlantic confusion over car park vs parking lot is interesting, but no one asked what a Transit van is, or how many passenger seats it has!

Thanks to Porthmeor Beach.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby zen » 27 Aug 2010, 21:45

Anyone who submits to the critique deserves credit for bravery. This page has the right tone for a crime story, and I like what reminds me of the dry, British crime films of the 60s and 70s. But I agree with everyone who spotted it as a screenplay. I would guess it was first written as a screenplay and then rewritten in novel format. The problem is, it hasn't been truly rewritten, but sort of transcribed. All of Nathan's criticisms why it isn't working as a novel were right.

To truly adapt a screenplay to a novel, you must re-invision it. Then embrace the new format.

BTW, I liked the "stone eyes blinded" reference, but it may have worked better as "blinded stone eyes."
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby dpwriter » 28 Aug 2010, 15:54

I like a lot of the comments here and the first redline comment is pretty thorough. I won't belabor the points they've already made.

First thing - I'm intrigued...the characters have potential and like the other reviewers said already, you just need to sharpen this to make it clearer.

Second thing - minor, but I think this will help the flow early on - move the sentence "Rain falls on the van’s windscreen" right before "No one gets out..." It seems to me this is related to that first paragraph more than the one you've put it in. And I would change "windscreen" to "windshield" because it's the more popularly used term.

I would like to see this again once you incorporate some of the suggestions given here.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby hyoussef » 29 Aug 2010, 18:37

Hi,
I like the writing style and tone it sets. Something is wrong for your characters, but I'm not sure what. I got a sense of danger, but then he's talking about plumbing. That's unexpected, and kind of interrupts the mood.
Usually, when you start on the outside (omniscient POV) describing a scene, I would expect you to either continue the entire scene in that POV, or zoom right into one character's POV. I agree there is too much head hopping. I don't know who your main character is. Is it Andy or his mother?
I like the description, I can definitely see where I am in the beginning of this story. I'd like to find out more about the characters and what the conflict is.
Good writing.
:) Heather
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby denisepetrey » 30 Aug 2010, 07:28

I like the tone of this page. As others have said, it does have the 'crime' and 'suspense' flavor about it. What's given away sets the reader up for a lot of questions. And while the reader wants to know more, I too was a little confused by the changing perspective. I think had the shift from son to mother happened a little further in, when I felt comfortable with the characters (or at least had a clear feeling about their identities) it might have been okay.

There's a fine balance in there, deciding how much information to give away, when, where, and how. My feeling is that this story is probably interesting, but it could benefit from a little more clarity, especially issues with perspective.

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby Mira » 31 Aug 2010, 07:54

I thought Nathan's critique was terrific and captured the same concerns I had. It took me quite awhile to figure out who was who, who thought the police station was bloody, who was the son, who was the mother? It was interesting to think that was partly due to perspective shifts; I hadn't realized that.

I really don't have anything to add to the critiques. I think Nathan and others covered it. I did want to add something I liked, though, which was your descriptions. I really liked the following lines which I've highlighted below. (I especially like the gargoyle line - that's really good!) I think your descriptions add to your atmosphere, which I also agree, is building well.

Best of luck to you! I think this shows real promise, imho!

Nathan Bransford wrote:TITLE: 'APOSTLE'
GENRE: CRIME
WORDCOUNT: 250

A white Transit van pulls into a long straight road by the town park, slows for the speed bumps, then indicates right. Pulls into a small car park in front of the two-story honeystone building this is nice, and a nice contrast that a police station is honeystone. that is Oakham Police Station.

For a minute, no-one gets out.

Rain falls on the van’s windscreen. Andy Webb sits in the driver’s seat, one hand still on the wheel, the other holding a phone to his right ear. An exhausted man in his late thirties, he’s staring fixedly ahead. He’s listening.

From the passenger seat, Jean Webb looks out at the grey morning simple, but I like this. Across the road, towards the park bandstand, at the green swathes of grass falling away to the children’s swing and the play area. In the background, the huge church spire reaches to the sky. Leopard gargoyles strain high up on leashes, stone eyes blinded. I caught my breath at this. Excellent.

Her son, on the phone, is doing some kind of deal on a set of second hand radiators. Even now, in the car park of the bloody police station – even under these circumstances - he can’t let the job go. Although there’s no enthusiasm in his voice, even today he’s promising to drive up to Melton to pick up parts for plumbing.

Andy, aware of his mother’s disapproval, agrees to pay over the odds for the gear, and cuts the call. He throws the phone onto the van’s dashboard, it disappears into a mess of paperwork and empty takeaway wrappers again, simple but I like it.. Closes his eyes, rubs them.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby marilyn peake » 31 Aug 2010, 18:31

Hi, Nathan,

Thank you so much for taking time from your already very busy schedule to do critiques! I have a couple of questions about how Page (or Query) Critique Fridays work. I remember that, when you did Monday critiques on your Blog, queries and pages could only be posted at a certain time. Is there any particular time when queries or pages need to be submitted in the Forum in order to be considered for that Friday's critique? Also, once submitted, are all the submissions in a pool from which they could be randomly drawn every week, or do they need to be resubmitted here each week to be considered?
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby Mira » 01 Sep 2010, 12:16

Marilyn, do you mind if I answer this? Nathan changed his policy. He used to ask people to post at a certain time on Monday's but he changed it. There's a thread within this forum where you post your page for critique. He rolls a random number generator each week and that determines which piece he will post.

Your page will stay there until it's selected.

If you go to that thread, I think he gives instructions in the first post. The thread is two up from this one. Here's the link: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1539

Good luck! If you submit, it would be fun to see him critique one of yours. :)
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby marilyn peake » 01 Sep 2010, 19:33

Thank you so much, Mira! I searched and searched for the information as to how long the pages stay up for critique, but couldn't find it. Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it!
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 8/27/10

Postby Mira » 02 Sep 2010, 10:11

Glad to, Marilyn. I think this all went down when you were so busy and weren't at the blog much. So, I'm happy to fill you in.

Cross my fingers you're selected. :)
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