Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

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

Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby Nathan Bransford » 03 Sep 2010, 08:52

Okay! You all remember how this works. Below is the page up for critique. Feel free to chime in with comments, create your own redline (please note the "font colour" button above the posting box), and otherwise offer feedback. When offering your feedback, please please remember the sandwich rule (Positive, very polite constructive feedback, positive). In order to leave a comment you will need to register an account in the Forums, which should be self-explanatory.

I'll be back later with my own comment, and I'll update this original post with a link to my comment in case anyone wants to click to it directly. There will not be a separate thread, just this one.

And if you'd like to enter a page for a future Page Critique, please do so here.

As of this posting there were 496 pages up for critique. The random number generator at random.org says.....

142!!

Thanks very much to Rebecca, whose page is below. I'll be back later with my critique, and please leave yours in this thread.


Title: Hunted
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 248

A loser? Jim was no loser, even though his brother was treating him like one. As soon as the media picked up the story, the rest of the sports world would assume Eddie had inside information, and Jim would end up on the has-been pile. He had to fix things.

Turning his back on the afternoon crowd milling about their parents' beach-side condo, he lowered his voice. "I don't get it, Eddie. I confirmed with the steering committee months ago."

"Back then you seemed like the perfect fit for a celebrity golf tournament." His older brother popped a stuffed mushroom into his mouth.

"And now I don't?"

"What can I say."

"I'll find another team."

"How many players get picked up midseason?" Eddie bit into a cracker slathered with cheese.

"Iverson did and Terry."

"But most aren't."

Jim set his plate of uneaten hors d'oeuvres on a nearby table. "If I'm scheduled to play in your tournament, people will know my knee is okay and—"

"But it's not."

"It will be."

Eddie swiped a napkin over his mouth. "I hope so, little brother, I really do. But the committee can't wait. They want a star they can promote now. You know, somebody who's actually playing."

Jim swallowed a trash-talk comeback about Eddie's failure to make the pros. "You could use your influence to convince them—"

His brother held up a hand. "Only high profile celebs bring in the kind of donations we need."

Jim crumpled his empty paper cup.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby hulbertsfriend » 03 Sep 2010, 10:25

I think this is very well done. Dialogue heavy is fine when it's handled well and I believe you have good transition, the speakers are clearly identified. I am not a fan of the "Jim said", "Eddie observed" add-ons after a portion of dialogue.

If this is your first page, you still have done enough to intrigue the reader to move onward. I assume Jim plays pro-basketball and has been released by his team mid-season for a yet to be divulged reason?

You hint at Jim's knee being the reason for the release from the team. Brother to brother tension. Falling popularity of Jim, a career on the way down. The parent's condo crowd - friends no doubt?

Keep up the excellent work! Very Good indeed.

DougM
Last edited by hulbertsfriend on 03 Sep 2010, 18:52, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby SSB » 03 Sep 2010, 10:49

I agree with the last poster. It needs something more to reel the reader in. Maybe you could start with Jim hurting his knee, or find the payoff in the novel and start with that and then go back to the beginning. (Sort of an instant replay)

Please take my comments with a grain of salt as I am not a published author.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby longknife » 03 Sep 2010, 11:17

A loser? Jim was no loser, even though his brother was treatingtreated him like one. As soon as the media picked up the story, the rest of the sports world would assume Eddie had inside information, and Jim would end up on the has-been pile. I see a lot of this lately and have been guilty of it myself, constructing sentences like this. My suggestion would be" The sports world would assume Edie had inside information when the mainstream media picked up the story. That would toss Jim onto the has-been pile. He who? had to fix things.

Turning his back on the afternoon crowd milling about their parents' beach-side condo, he lowered his voice. "I don't get it, Eddie. I confirmed with the steering committee months ago."

"Back then you seemed like the perfect fit for a celebrity golf tournament." His older brother popped a stuffed mushroom into his mouth.

"And now I don't?"

"What can I say."

"I'll find another team."

"How many players get picked up midseason?" Eddie bit into a cracker slathered with cheese.

"Iverson did. aAnd Terry."

"But most aren't."

Jim set his plate of uneaten hors d'oeuvres on a nearby table. "If I'm scheduled to play in your tournament, people will know my knee is okay and—"

"But it's not."

"It will be."

Eddie swiped a napkin over his mouth. "I hope so, little brother, I really do. But the committee can't wait. They want a star they can promote now. You know, somebody who's actually playing."

Jim swallowed a trash-talk comeback about Eddie's failure to make the pros. "You could use your influence to convince them—"

His brother held up a hand. "Only high profile celebs bring in the kind of donations we need."

Jim crumpled his empty paper cup.

Just my suggestions/comments
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby LaylaF » 03 Sep 2010, 11:24

I think this page is very well written and intriquing. I liked the way Rebecca used dialog to move the story forward. And especially liked the phrasing she used i.e. "Jim set his plate of uneaten hors d'oeuvres on a nearby table." and "Eddie swiped a napkin over his mouth." to show physical movement.

One small thing I noticed is in the phrase... "What can I say." It should probably end with a question mark, although she may have intentionally wrote it as a statement to show attitude.

Also, for some reason, I felt I had to read it twice to completely "get it"...but that just may have been me, and/or if I could have read further into the novel, it would have all fallen into place.

But, all-in-all, I thought it was a great use of well written dialogue that showed: issue, sports theme, and brotherly conflict. Good job Rebecca!
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby Mike Peterson » 03 Sep 2010, 11:29

I'm no basketball expert nor do I golf, but as an overall sports fan, I'm going to assume here that there is an undisclosed reason that one brother putting another brother into a celebrity golf tourney would raise eyebrows. Unless this tournament is 1,000 miles from where this guy played college ball and his pro career was unspectacular, the "can't promote an inactive player" excuse seems bogus. Which I suspect is your point. Now, I don't think plot dissection on that level is the point here and it's unfair to assume that everything we see in 250 words is everything we're going to see. But if Eddie is going to be the bad guy in this book, I assume we will never have any doubt about it, because my Spidey sense is already tingling.

From a writing point of view, Eddie puts his hands in his mouth a lot, which would be okay if there were other things going on to set the scene -- descriptions of where they are, who's walking by, what the place sounds like, a mix of sounds and sights so that Eddie eating this and that and wiping his mouth doesn't become the sole visual image. Back when smoking was more socially acceptable, people lighted cigarettes, tapped their ashes and exhaled smoke as a device to break up what is essentially two people sitting around talking, and I think you're doing that here, only with canapes.

Instead, have them look around a little, and let us look around with them. I am intrigued that there's an afternoon crowd at their parents condo and that refreshments are served, but there's "Oh, tell me more!" intrigues and then there's "What? I don't get it" intrigues, and I'm on that latter end. I want to know more because I want this to work, and you sure can't count on editors, agents or readers being that eager to see your particular story succeed.

And a couple of specifics: I'm a little put off by the idea that they've put on this spread but are serving drinks in paper cups. And you can't have someone swallow a remark when the main action so far has been the other person literally swallowing things.

That's a lot of objections, I know, but they can all be solved in re-write.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby Beethovenfan » 03 Sep 2010, 11:59

I like the dialogue. It's difficult to pull off well and I think you did. Now, call me old school, but this doesn't really seem like a query to me. In a query we are supposed to know who the main charcter is, which we did get. We need to know what the problem is, what problem or choice does the person make and what terrible (or exciting, or wonderful - you fill in the adjective) thing will happen because of the choice they made.

Also, there is the standard name, type, and word count of the novel. But hey, like I said, maybe I am just too old school. The dialogue certainly did drive the reading forward, which is a VERY good thing when it comes to agents!

.......................................................................................................................................................................................

Sorry! My bad. It doesn't sound like a query because it isn't! I'm going to go blush now.
Thanks for setting me straight!
Last edited by Beethovenfan on 03 Sep 2010, 16:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby JuiceinLA » 03 Sep 2010, 12:29

I too liked the dialogue, it seemed very real. For me the first paragraph seems a little like you are trying to get an awful lot of information into a sentence or two...and that is hard. On the other hand, I did want earlier clarification as to whether Eddie was Jim's brother or not.

Someone earlier gave you a suggestion for editing the first couple sentences, and I think that you might take a look at being more concise, and deciding if you need to tell the reader, right then and there that they are at the beach side condo, with a crowd milling. Can you say that later? Maybe mention that as Jim is struggling with the bomb his brother has laid on him. Because if you can "hemingway" that first paragraph a bit, it will flow nicely with the rest of your work.

cheers!
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby SarahW » 03 Sep 2010, 12:37

Beethovenfan wrote: Now, call me old school, but this doesn't really seem like a query to me.


It's not a query. It's the first 500 words of her WIP. Query feedback is a few threads up! :)

I think this works really well. I can feel Jim's desperation---Eddie's nonchalant replies are a perfect foil---and hear his voice. The hors d'œuvres gave me a good idea of the setting and provided more character insight: Jim is too upset\nervous to eat, and Eddie isn't. I know what Jim wants and some of the reasons why Eddie won't help (though probably not all of them).

In my opinion, this is a nicely packed 500 words!
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby RandiS » 03 Sep 2010, 12:52

I loved the use of food to show your characters' state of mind, and the dialogue was well done. I always think it's preferable to write dialogue using as few tags as possible, which you did beautifully. I did get a little lost in the middle, particularly where Eddie said "But most aren't." I think that would be fixed if you changed that line to "But most don't" (in response to "Iverson did").
While I don't believe a lot of description is necessary (the readers can paint their own picture based on the beachside condo), I think it might add to the scene to break the dialogue somewhere in the middle and describe something about the setting. A distracted look at the beach, or the sound of the waves breaking into a pause in their conversation.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the page, and it's not easy to pull me into a sports-themed book!
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby ria » 03 Sep 2010, 13:03

This piece read quite well, but I was confused as to what sport Jim plays. I thought it was horse racing (steering committee - i know nothing about sport), then golf...

----

A loser? Jim was no loser, even though his brother was treating him like one. As soon as the media picked up the story, the rest of the sports world would assume Eddie had inside information, and Jim would end up on the has-been pile [I liked this. It shows his feelings about the situation well]. He had to fix things.

Turning his back on the afternoon crowd milling about their parents' beach-side condo, he lowered his voice. "I don't get it, Eddie. I confirmed with the steering committee months ago."

"Back then you seemed like the perfect fit for a celebrity golf tournament." His older brother popped a stuffed mushroom into his mouth.

"And now I don't?"

"What can I say."

"I'll find another team."

"How many players get picked up midseason?" Eddie bit into a cracker slathered with cheese.

"Iverson did and Terry."

"But most aren't."[Is this supposed to read, "But most don't."]

Jim set his plate of uneaten hors d'oeuvres on a nearby table. "If I'm scheduled to play in your tournament, people will know my knee is okay and—"

"But it's not."

"It will be." [I like this line too. It seems kind of desperate to me.]

Eddie swiped [not sure about this word. you swipe a credit card.] a napkin over his mouth. "I hope so, little brother, I really do. But the committee can't wait. They want a star they can promote now. You know, somebody who's actually playing."

Jim swallowed a trash-talk comeback [this doesn't read well. It doesn't sound good.] about Eddie's failure to make the pros. "You could use your influence to convince them—"

His brother held up a hand. "Only high profile celebs bring in the kind of donations we need."

Jim crumpled his empty paper cup.

----

I'd definitely read more. Especially because the genre is fantasy. I'm curious to see how you will weave that in.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby suja12 » 03 Sep 2010, 15:21

Dialogue's hard to do, and you did it well enough to convey the main idea and the tension of the MC (though I have to admit I did wonder what Eddie was going to eat next). You gave the essential information without telling. My only suggestion, help us picture the scene and the two people a bit better (maybe show Jim's tension by having him run his fingers through his blond/black/whatever hair etc,). Your first page was easy to read though, no crowding.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby wilderness » 03 Sep 2010, 16:20

Good conflict, nice dialogue. I was interested. The only part I wasn't so sure about was the very first paragraph.

A loser? Jim was no loser, even though his brother was treating him like one.


Seems a little childish I guess. His career is on the line, isn't that more important than the label loser?

That might just be my opinion. Good luck and thanks for sharing!
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby lizhollar » 03 Sep 2010, 17:55

I am not a big sports reader either, but I got really interested in the dialogue by the end. The first two lines seemed to cover a little two much information for me, and I had to read them 2 or 3 times to catch on. Although I don't like overuse of dialogue tags, I think they are useful, especially at the beginning of a scene. I could have used a couple more tags up at the top. As the dialogue progressed, I really liked the characters showing expression by how they were eating and also the crushing of the cup. Overall, I liked it. Thanks for sharing your writing.
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Re: Page Critique Friday 9/3/10

Postby dpwriter » 03 Sep 2010, 17:58

Good job Rebecca! I agree with everyone that you are very good at dialogue. Also that you need to give us a bit more background on where they are. But aside from that, I was only confused about what sport we were talking about. I think you can slow it down in an actual book to give us a bit more information at the front end before getting into all the dialogue. It was a bit jarring as is. Oh, and I'm not fond of the first sentence. Starting a book with a question doesn't work for me.

Good luck with this!!
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