Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
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Nathan Bransford
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Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Nathan Bransford » June 9th, 2010, 1:02 pm

If you'd like to have your page critiqued for the Page Critique events, please paste the 250 word excerpt in a post in this thread, along with the title and genre. Time permitting, I'll use a random number generator to pick the page up for critique. Please limit this thread only to page entries for critique on the blog.

Please also remember that there are separate forums for peer page, query, and synopsis critiques in case you'd like more instantaneous feedback. All non-page posts in this thread will be deleted.

Please only one entry per human.


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Posts: 98
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Josin » June 9th, 2010, 1:24 pm

Title: Arclight
Genre: dark YA fantasy
(241 words)

All I have to do is close my eyes.

I can sneak four... make that three... minutes before the bell signals next class. Mr. Pace won't care, he's in his own world of numbers and letters, and I lost track of what he was saying half an equation ago. A nap would be great. Four minutes where the pain stops.

But then that blue bulb starts blinking again.

Everyone sits straighter in their seats. There's a pause in the cadence of Mr. Pace's words, the chalk breaks under the pressure of his halt, and his eyes flick left to the silent alarm over the window. He takes a breath, erases his mistake, and starts over.

This time, everyone listens because the sound of his voice gives us something to think about other than the the light reflecting off our desks a half-beat out of time with our hearts. It doesn't matter that the words are artificially slow, or that his voice is higher than usual, or that Mr. Pace makes another mistake.

He never makes mistakes.

We don't look sideways, because no one wants to know that everyone else is as scared as they're trying not to be. Warnings aren't supposed to last this long.

Then the blue turns violet.

Chairs scrape across the floor as we move closer to our desks, then move our desks closer to each other. Someone in the back tries to cover a whimper with a cough.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by artzicarol » June 9th, 2010, 1:34 pm

Title: Safe Zone
Genre: YA Science Fiction
[removed since I got an agent, woo!]
Last edited by artzicarol on May 10th, 2011, 1:03 pm, edited 8 times in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 1:30 pm

Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by KathyH » June 9th, 2010, 1:34 pm

Title: Pop Culture Diva: Behind the scenes with an entertainment journalist and concert photographer
Genre: nonfiction, pop culture
(234 words)

Spread-eagle, feet in the stirrups and a little loopy from the sedative the gynecologist gave me, I was ready to get a plastic intrauterine device shoved up my muffin.

I don’t do well with pain and my doctor had just told me that women often liken the installation of these devices to the pain of childbirth.

I turned to my husband, who was nice enough to drive me and hold my hand during the 10-minute procedure. As I looked deep into his eyes for comfort, I was overcome with pain and shouted: “Ryan Seacrest!”

At times of great difficulty, I often rely on my obsession with pop culture to get me through. This time, it came out in the form of a four-minute soliloquy about whether Ryan Seacrest was gay, like some rumors have implied, and why I love watching “American Idol.”

The procedure was done before I knew it, all thanks to Ryan Seacrest. I knew he has like a million jobs, but I didn’t know he could help with birth control.

It was just another episode in the pop culture odyssey that is my life.

My first celebrity meet and greet was with Grimace, the round, purple character from McDonalds.

I must have been 4 years old when I stood in line with my mom and brother to get my photo taken with him. Grimace was no Hamburglar, but he would do.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by JTB » June 9th, 2010, 1:37 pm

Last edited by JTB on January 19th, 2011, 6:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 1:35 pm

Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by rmabry » June 9th, 2010, 1:38 pm

Title: Strong Medicine
Genre: Medical suspense
Word count: 242

The woman’s imploring look pierced the heart of Dr. Sara Miles. “Do you know yet what’s wrong with Chelsea?”

Chelsea Ferguson lay still and pale as a mannequin in the hospital bed. IV’s carried their precious cargo of fluids and medications into veins in both her arms. A plastic tube delivered a constant supply of oxygen to her nostrils. Above the girl’s head, monitors beeped and flashed. And all around was the antiseptic smell of the ICU.

Sara put her hand on the teen-ager’s forehead and smoothed the matted brown curls. The hot flesh underscored the urgency of the situation. Since Chelsea’s admission three days ago, her fever hadn’t responded to any of the treatments Sara ordered. If anything, the girl was growing worse.

“Let’s slip out into the hall,” Sara said. She tiptoed from the bedside and waited outside the room until Mrs. Ferguson kissed her sleeping daughter and shuffled through the door. Sara pointed. “Let’s go into the family room for a minute.”

“Will she be—?”

“The nurses will check on her, and they’ll call me if anything changes.” Sara led the way into the room and eased the door closed. This was a room where families received bad news: the biopsy was positive, the medication wasn’t working, the doctors hadn’t been able to save their loved one. The room brought back terrible memories for Sara, but she shoved her emotions aside and gestured Mrs. Ferguson to a seat.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by cameron_chapman » June 9th, 2010, 1:39 pm

TITLE: Something in the End
GENRE: Women's Fiction
248 words

Cass walked closer to the rocky Newfoundland shoreline to take more photos. Everything around her was worth shooting. Even the rusted boats had a certain rough charm; every mark on their hulls told stories in some language Cass couldn’t understand.

She walked out onto a deserted pier and continued snapping photos. Gulls circled overhead as fishermen started unloading lobster and crab from crates stored on their decks or below. Cass was thankful for her telephoto lens, allowing her to take photos from a safe distance. She wasn’t sure if the locals would see her presence there as an imposition.

“This is private property.”

The gruff voice behind her caused Cass to jump. She turned and saw a man strolling down the pier toward her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” she called back, struggling to keep her voice even. As he neared she could see he wasn’t very old, maybe ten years older than she was, with dark hair and a few days worth of beard.

“No harm. Just letting you know.”

“I’ll go,” she said as he came closer. He was tall, broad-shouldered, with a square jaw, visible despite his short beard.

“Stay and keep shooting if you’d like. Makes no difference to me.” He walked past her and climbed down a short ladder to a boat below. Cass watched, intrigued. She had the urge to take his picture but wasn’t sure if he’d mind. Something she couldn’t quite put her finger on stopped her from asking.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Jessica Peter » June 9th, 2010, 1:41 pm

Title: Hunt
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Word Count: 250 on the dot

“You owe me big time,” Abby Connolly muttered to her friend as they slogged through the thick mud. Viv Cresswell, with her smaller, sturdier figure, wasn’t having a problem navigating the trail’s obstacles despite the darkness. She didn’t bother to respond to Abby and flounced along in her own private dreamland.

A burst of laughter from up ahead startled Abby and she could feel her resolve crumbling. Viv was desperate to be a part of ‘the popular group,’ but Abby? Not so much. She’d rather be doing anything else. In fact, she might enjoy this walk – even knowing where they were going – if it was just the two of them.

Cheer up, Abby, she told herself, it’s not all bad. Her rubber boot got stuck in deep mud. As she struggled to pull out her foot without losing the boot, everyone in the group passed her by. She was left with her back to the empty forest; eyes were appearing all around her. Her flashlight began to seem like the only light in the world.

“What are you doing?” Viv pulled Abby’s arm and the offending boot sucked out of the mud with a pop. “Come on, come on, come on! We’ll lose them!”

“My boot. . .”

Abby saw that her explanation would be useless. Though Viv had asked what Abby was doing, it was clear that she didn’t care to hear the answer. She wanted to be a part of things, even if they hadn’t actually been invited.
Currently querying HUNT, YA Urban Fantasy & writing a post-apocalyptic romance

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by NHWriter » June 9th, 2010, 1:45 pm

[Swapping out the below with a more recent story]

Genre: Alternate-History Science Fiction

Chapter 1

All but for the want of shoes. Jehovah looked at the street ahead of him, trash strewn from either gutter and up the walls to his knees. One broken bottle, one bent needle, and he would have to crawl back to Missouri Avenue before the jackals found him. The soles of his feet were stained black from walking barefoot half-way across the Nation, all the way to Wyoming Avenue. He would have skipped this drop all together if his last pair of shoes hadn't fallen apart.

He looked up at the sky. The daylight array buzzed, clunked, and moved to third position, full light just after dawn. The stages moved in half-hour increments. It was eight in the morning. The center lamp, the sun lamp, shone so brightly as to color the sky yellow, but if Jehovah squinted just so, he could see the silver glint of the lamps in twenty-sixth position. That was how he knew where to go. That was why his family didn't starve.

The weekly drop always came on Sunday. Charity was a Christian duty, after all. But never at the same time and never in the same place. The boxes dropped at random times and from random locations to avoid territorial buildup of gangs near a designated drop zone. It took the drop box five minutes from launch to parachute deployment to touchdown. No one could travel across the Nation in that amount of time. Whoever was the closest to the drop got the best pick of the charity: food, clothes, medicine, ammunition. More than he could carry alone, but today he just wanted shoes.
Last edited by NHWriter on October 29th, 2010, 11:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by darylsedore » June 9th, 2010, 1:50 pm

Title: The Precog
Genre: Thriller
Word Count: 250

Would someone die today? Would she be able to save whomever it is she’s supposed to save?
Sarah Roberts looked at her watch again.


Three minutes until the premonition came true.

This was the fifth one she chose to act on. She’d had seven in the last six months. The first two were neglected. She didn’t know was happening then. But now, she followed her notebook details exactly as they were written. Sarah didn’t question the cryptic words. Fear played a role, but confidence won.

She reached back and found a few stray hairs above the nape of her neck. She massaged them until they were firmly in the grip of her fingers. Then she tugged them out. She closed her eyes and leaned back on the dirty cement. The slight pain that oozed over her skin soothed her, calming the nerves.

Vehicles crossing the bridge above came to her. She made a mental note that the next time she had to hover under a bridge waiting for whatever was supposed to happen she would bring a pillow to sit on. The ground she inhabited angled toward a small river at forty-five degrees. It was hard cement. The grass on either side looked more comfortable, but the message was specific. If there was anything Sarah knew, it was to follow the messages with absolute precision.

Thinking of the message, she recited it in her head; Sit directly in the middle, under the St. Elizabeth Bridge. At 10:18am. Bring hammer.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by KellyMJSmith » June 9th, 2010, 1:56 pm

Title: Isy's Story
Genre: Historical
Word count: 250

Sunny reached for the suitcase in the pile of junk and almost dropped it from her sweat-slicked hand. It was small but heavy and the brown leather was worn and dusty. She sat on the floor of the attic, welcoming the break, and tried to open it, but the old thumb latches were rusted shut. She decided this was a sign to call it a day and carried the case down the tight spiral staircase with her, closing the door on the mess. The last room to clean and renovate – the attic could wait.

In the kitchen she tried to pry the case open with a butter knife and when that didn’t work she resorted to a claw hammer, prying the locks off with a satisfying crunch.

The case was packed full of papers -- old postcards, newspaper clippings and hand-written notebooks that looked like journals. She observed the childish scrawl on the covers and thought it was a little girl’s memory chest.

There was lumpy bundle of cloth to one side and Sunny picked it up to inspect it. It seemed to weigh only a couple of pounds. She unwrapped the bundle and gasped when she saw a little hand, a tiny arm. Then she laughed at herself.

"It’s just a doll, you idiot," she said aloud. Then she pulled the cloth away and saw the sunken eyes, the withered umbilical cord. She dropped the body into the suitcase and almost made it to the sink before she vomited.
I write non-fiction and fiction.
I am the author of Open Your Heart with Quilting (Dreamtime 2008), and the upcoming How to Build, Maintain and Use a Compost System (Atlantic, 2010).
To find out more, visit

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by RebeccaHamilton » June 9th, 2010, 1:59 pm

Working Title: The Life and Death of Lilith Whittard
Genre: Gothic Horror
Words: 241

During the darker years, Lilith never slept. She lay on her side at night, huddled beneath a woolen blanket, waiting for her father to descend upon her room. The hush of the wind in the trees outside urged her to keep quiet. Keep secrets. But Lilith was determined to stop his drunken hands from fumbling beneath her nightgown. She wanted to forget the way she suffocated beneath his body, wanted to forget the dig of his belt buckle on her bony hips.
Her fingers scraped over the memorized Braille of her mother’s cross-stitch. Her mother wasn’t coming home. Her mother would never come home again. Lilith tugged her pillow so that her cheek rested on a dry patch of fabric and the tears that wet her pillowcase now touched her lips. Her breath shivered over the moisture and she coughed on mold spores born from old tears.
A lantern with a cracked pane sat on the floor beside her mattress, the oil burning slow, methodical, as if it could somehow time the exact moment her father would arrive home. If she dared fall asleep, she’d miss the signs of his arrival. It would be too late, and she’d find herself shooting awake with only enough time to see the worn brass doorknob turning and then her father’s silhouette framed by the doorway.
Lilith watched. She waited. Though she knew he’d come, still she prayed: Kill him, Lord, please kill my father.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Avikar » June 9th, 2010, 2:03 pm

Shadowed Land of Blood and Sunlight
Young Adult

The mice were not moving, but I could hear their hearts beat through their glass cage. My fingers itched with energy, and I stared at the white tiled floor as I moved. Five steps one way, five back, over and over.
“Relax.” Regan leaned against the blackboard. “Everything will be fine.”
“It's not your life on the line.”
“It's not yours either.” She pushed away from the blackboard. “If it doesn't work we'll try again and keep trying until you're human.”
Regan swept her hair behind her ear. I caught a glimpse of a beautiful, blue vein beneath her pale skin. I licked my lips, and the hole in my stomach throbbed. I swallowed and took a deep breath, but I was too aware of everything in the room: the ticking of the analog clock, the heater clicking on, the smell of old chalk and dirt and the ingredients we used to make the potion. I was aware of the scrape of Regan's slayer aura against mine but, worst of all, I was aware of the strong, healthy blood coursing through Regan's veins, perfuming the air.
“When's the last time you fed?”
“A few days.”
“Days? Why--? That can't be good for the baby.”
“I don't know. Maybe.” I touched my stomach. I did not look pregnant, despite being far enough along to occasionally feel the baby kick. I wasn't sure if normal rules applied to my pregnancy. Being pregnant three hundred years certainly isn't standard.
Last edited by Avikar on April 3rd, 2014, 12:00 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by D.C.Manouchou » June 9th, 2010, 2:08 pm

Title: The Three Sunsets (still working on finding a title I like more, but this one will do for now)
Genre: Fantasy
247 words

Lyulf’s presence was rarely required at the harbour. As the Rex, he had more pressing matters to attend to; taking a stroll around the docks was not a common occurrence. This was why, when the traders and sailors saw him amongst them that morning, waiting with the royal guard and Orator Fiona, they considered its import. It didn’t take them long to realise that it was only a few days after Imbolc, which could only mean one thing; new pupils would be arriving soon.
The Academia only accepted new pupils once a year. Soon after Imbolc, with the promise of change still fresh in the air, it was the time for new beginnings. Lyulf would greet the newcomers and Orator Fiona would document it all, like she always did. “Eerie, that one,” an old man whispered to a sailor. “She can chill your heart with a glance.”
As if to punctuate his point, she turned towards them. They scurried away quickly.
“Fiona…” Lyulf started. He was looking at the ship in the distance, just entering the bay, yet he also seemed aware of every movement around him.
“I didn’t intend to do anything,” she said defensively, “unlike you. Do you really plan to go through with it? Essentially attack them?”
“No one will get hurt. Most of the Orators are watching and you are right here to intervene if it is needed.”
“I don’t agree with this; there is surely another way to test a pupil’s competence.”

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by MelissaA » June 9th, 2010, 2:25 pm

Genre: Mainstream
Word count: 240

Thwap, thwap, thwap, thwap. Lucas’s footsteps pounded a staccato rhythm along the trail: you’re late, you’re late. “I’m going as fast as I can,” he muttered, but he pushed his legs faster, hurdling fallen branches and zigzagging through close-packed trees. When the scrub cedar opened up to overgrown pasture, he twisted around and whistled. After much rustling of underbrush and one loud crash, a black head popped out from under a low branch.

The boy whistled again. “Come on, River. Let’s go!”

Ears perked and tongue lolling, the dog paused just a moment before launching himself into the field. The smooth fur of his Lab-like face morphed into slight waves on his forehead then into crisp curls, small and delicate on his ears, larger but still tight on his neck and powerful body. Lucas turned and broke into an all-out sprint. River loped beside him for a few strides, weaving through thatches of Johnson grass beaten nearly flat by late-season storms and winter cold, then shifted into a gallop and disappeared into thicker weeds. When the boy reached the far side of the field, the retriever had his head buried in a rabbit warren near a fork in the trail.

Lucas bent over and sucked in deep breaths of cold air. “Show-off,” he grumbled. “If I could run that fast, we’d be there by now.” River sniffed the air, then plopped his butt on the ground and scratched his ear.


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