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

Post by Soulfire » September 11th, 2010, 9:46 pm

Title: Red Sky at Knight
Genre: YA Fantasy
(236 words)

A group of squires spilled into the narrow passage ahead of Zayne, their voices echoing off the low stone ceiling. Most of them were engaged in an argument about whether or not a dragon had been spotted along the northern borders and if it had, how much damage it had caused. One of the smallest boys was insisting he heard it had swallowed three knights whole.

Zayne considered slipping back into the passageway he had emerged from and waiting for them to pass, however it was too late. They spotted him.

“Hey, it's the hero!” called out a tall, thin boy with a jagged scar along his cheek. “Hey, hero - I saw a strange man this morning with a crown on his head, sitting on the throne upstairs. Really suspicious." The boy elbowed one of his friends with a grin. "I think he's waiting there to assassinate the king. Maybe you should go check. Hurry up and you could save the king's life. Might get a medal or something for saving both the king's life and Princess Adina's in the same day.”

Several of the other boys laughed; the others just peered at him curiously. Zayne grit his teeth and pushed through the crowd. The boy with the scar called out to him again, but Zayne ignored him and focused on climbing the small flight of stairs that they had just come down.

John Milner
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Prologue to Benson's House

Post by John Milner » September 12th, 2010, 7:36 pm

Every attempt I ever made to interview Christopher Benson resulted in rejection. So it came as a shock, that summer evening in 1996, when I was summoned to meet with him the next morning in Washington Square. He was to be found seated by the center fountain near the Washington Arch. It seemed appropriate that the meeting was to take place a few blocks from where his family reigned for several generations- affectionately referred to by most New Yorkers as Benson’s House.

It was a muggy mid-August morning. The temperature had already reached the mid 70’s as I arrived in Greenwich Village for the long awaited interview. A peculiar solitude prevailed as I ascended the steps from the Bleecker Street subway station, and began strolling through the familiar surroundings of the west village. The whining of public busses, accelerating from their routine stops along 6th Avenue, mixed with the clamoring traffic noises and the “barbaric yawps” of distant sirens. The smell of exhaust fumes culminated with that of the warming street tar, and the stench of the restaurant refuse from trashcans lining the curbs along the sidewalks. Then, as I entered the park and moved towards the heart of Washington Square, the air took on a more favorable distinction, and the abrupt measure of the melodic street sounds conceded to a gentler resonance.

No one sat at the chess tables; no radios sounded. Only a few pedestrians were found on the pathways walking their dogs or jogging. It was easy to spot the man sitting on the edge of the fountain with his legs crossed and his arms bracing his slanted pose. He was staring towards the archway at the north entrance of the park as I approached.

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

Post by ryanznock » September 13th, 2010, 1:33 am

Title: Meeting of the Waters
Genre: Urban Fantasy
(248 words)

I awake to the opening notes of my leitmotif playing on Chelsea’s TV. I peel open one eye to see what episode she’s watching. The title – Fleet of the Broken Cross – hovers over a treasure map, and then the parchment burns away to reveal a scene I played a week ago.

There I am, or at least my character: Captain Jonathan Bluff, clinging to the bottom of a leopard shark. In my teeth I clench a little shark-shaped voodoo doll with which I aim my ride, cocking my head back and forth to swing us between the caravels and galleons of the Royal Fleet of Caribbea. Their moon-silhouetted hulls ripple the sea overhead, casting bottomless shadows to either side of my stealthy approach. I nudge the black magic carnivore I’m riding up to the surface so I can gulp air and get my bearings, then dive again.

In the real world, I, Jaime Adricks, glance over my shoulder at Chel. She sits on the couch amid torn wrapping paper, excessive amounts of linen, and various other presents she and her fiancé received at last night’s rehearsal dinner. Her toes wiggle atop a gift box inches away from me and my sleeping bag.

“Good mor-” I mumble.

She shushes me. “Just watch.”

I know she won’t let me get back to sleep, so I lock my bleary eyes on the screen. It takes a moment for my half-conscious brain to register what event from my character’s history I’m watching.

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

Post by Christine Macdonald » September 13th, 2010, 4:29 pm

TITLE: Pour Some Sugar on Me: Tales from an Ex-Stripper
GENRE: Memoir
(250 words)

I started walking before realizing my legs were moving. I was close. The damp asphalt tickled my feet and the rhythm of the atrium base line under my chest felt familiar and scary. Like the feeling you had back in high school, sneaking home past curfew. I inhaled the salty air as if sipping through a straw, exhaling slowly with deliberation. My feet kept walking and I knew. This was going to be badass.

Walking the streets of Waikiki alone at five o’clock in the morning may seem odd to some. For me, it was Tuesday.

There were only three taxis circling the block. Four wheeled vacancy signs wiggling the toes of the otherwise empty streets. The sparseness was a vast contrast to the four-wheeled cattle that would blanket the roadways in the hours waiting to unfold. I imagined restaurant and shop merchants still hiding from snooze alarms while sunburnt tourists were tucked in their hotel beds.

With every step I took, my mind wrapped around the amplified sounds in my skull; a street symphony in the making. Waking birds hovering in the trees, the swooshing roll of tires from lonely taxis, and my own internal heart-pounding sounds were the perfect soundtrack to carry me to the water’s edge.

When my toes sunk through the tiny grains of sand, I closed my eyes to hear the melody of the tide weave its way through the sounds of the dawn. No doubt about it. This was Grammy award winning acid.

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

Post by TessB » September 14th, 2010, 10:10 am

Title - Timesurfers
Genre - YA Urban Fantasy
Last edited by TessB on July 13th, 2015, 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Netti » September 14th, 2010, 12:47 pm

Title: Religious Intolerance
Genre: Dystopia

The air had turned gray. When had that happened? Markyi wasn’t sure. The color was still faint against drab city buildings so early in the morning. Perhaps it had camouflaged itself in the fog. When she breathed it in, it made her cough and her lungs felt singed. What was this?

Rather than being sensible and turning around, Markyi continued walking. The gray stuff had become thicker and now she could hear shouting. Once she got the end of the block she saw the source. Something yellow and orange was eating a building and jumping to others around it. People were running around frantically, unsure of what to do while the police desperately tried to keep them back.


Markyi squinted at the sky and in the rising sunlight, saw a helicopter flying toward the now black and crumbling building. There was something hanging from it and once it was over the building the something opened and water poured out. This happened several more times before people on the ground got the idea and ran into other buildings to find water. Somehow they created a line of people and passed water in whatever they could find- buckets, cups even- one to the other until the orange thing had abated and half the block was charred and falling apart.

With considerable trouble, the police sent the spectators on their way. Markyi needed no encouragement. She was already late for work.

As she walked through the doors of Anamesis and clocked in for the day she realized the building that had been destroyed was the Harisham church. The first. Markyi’s insides knotted up at the prospect of what that meant. That kind of destruction could only have been on purpose. The question was, was it an outside or inside enemy?
"It's kind of shocking to hear Toby called a babe; sort of like calling God a studmuffin."
- Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood

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

Post by Robin » September 14th, 2010, 4:48 pm

Title: MYTH
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Thriller

I pump my arms to run faster. My ponytail bobs behind me slapping my neck and back, the rushing wind wicks the beaded sweat from my forehead.

It feels so good to run my route again—seven miles: one mile to the high school, five miles around the worn track and one back. I should probably take it slowly, but running like this invigorates me, it awakens my cells. I feel alive again. More alive than I’ve felt in three months.

I get to the track and run through the rusty gate, brushing past cobwebs. It looks like I’ve been the only one keeping the weeds at bay, in my absence they’ve pushed through the broken red clay, looking like possible life on Mars. The ground is firm; the Georgia sun has been unforgiving this summer, baking the clay into rocks.

But this is my track, my sanctuary.

I push myself to go faster, pump harder this lap. My heels hit the rigid ground, fiercely, rolling onto the balls, propelling me forward, powerfully. My ponytail no longer bounces on my back. Although I am moving rapidly, everything around me slows, becomes still almost. I think about her: My mom, my Mama.

I was here three months ago when several police cars screeched past leading a fire truck and an ambulance. Three helicopters followed the caravan flying overhead, their spinning blades a raucous chorus. My stomach tightened, not because of a cramp, but because I sensed that something had gone wrong. Very wrong.
"A glass slipper is only a shoe. Dreamers who only dream never have their dreams come true."

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

Post by NickB » September 14th, 2010, 11:16 pm

Dark Romantic Comedy Adventure
259 words

Deep within a non-descript patch of Florida Pine Flatwoods, somewhere mid-state…

A young man stumbled from the passenger-side cab of a large, green-camo’d pick-up truck.

The man: Sweaty dark hair stuck to his forehead. Gritty, wrinkled dress shirt and pants. And a dairy farmer lineage that identified him in some circles as Gus.

The truck: Loaded gun rack. Pack of hunting dogs. Various artistic representations of confederate flags lining the outer edges of the cab’s rear window. Gus overlooked all this due to: 1. Desperation and 2. A distaste for—to the point of utter denial—stereotyping i.e. profiling.

As fortune would have it, the flags hid what would have been at least a head’s-up only an hour ago: The bottom lines of two bumper stickers. As was, they read: Why experiment on animals…; and: 50,000 battered women…. Leading Gus to believe that, despite appearances, the truck’s operator had grave concerns about animal testing and spousal abuse.

The reality: Mr. Bartholomew Hicks, said operator, had been under the influence of a pilfered twelve-pack of Bud Light when affixing the statements, which read in full: Why experiment on animals…when there are so many democrats? And: 50,000 battered women…and I’m still eating mine plain?!

The hounds jumped at Gus’s thighs and scattered brittle, desiccated leaves over his dark Italian shoes. Twigs cracked with every step. His hands shook. His nose ran. He angled his head to get a look at the man behind him. More importantly, to get a look at the gun in the hands of the man behind him.

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Joined: September 15th, 2010, 3:49 pm

But You Don't See Me

Post by alixers505 » September 15th, 2010, 3:57 pm

But You Don't See Me
241 words

She could feel the concrete crunching underneath her high heels as she walked down the pitted sidewalk. The hem of her dark purple silk dress rubbed against her knees, and the straps dug into the flesh of her shoulders. Cars sped by on the left, stirring up dust and shreds of old tires as they passed. The view on her right remained still and she walked past it as quickly as the cars drove by her—the deserted buildings with their overgrown weed lawns stood so immobile she thought even the wind could not disturb their stillness. The chain length fence which separated her from them seemed appropriate, as did the ever present wall of wind, dust, and rubber between the sidewalk and the road.

These walls could be found within her as well. She had surrounded her heart with a fence filled with holes, and her mind felt bogged down, foggy with numbness. For now, there were only thoughts of the cars, the gravel, and the neglected buildings on the clear edges of her mind.

The view remained seemingly unchanged as she continued to trek. She could feel blisters forming from the constant impact of her sole against the surface of her high heels. She didn’t know how long she had been walking down the cracked sidewalk. Time really didn’t matter, she would continue until she felt the need to stop, until something broke through the fog in her mind.

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Joined: September 13th, 2010, 10:15 pm

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

Post by sgf » September 17th, 2010, 1:58 am

Title: Madhavan
Genre: Fantasy
251 words

Ravenel ran, and it seemed as if the land itself was trying to stop her. Vines hidden in the ankle-length grass snagged her black robes, grasping like fingers. Thorns needled into the flesh of her bare feet. She didn’t slow. Behind her, hounds barked and soldiers shouted and the shrill blare of their drake-steeds rang out in the air. If they caught her, they would kill her, and they would take her heart.

The pouch tied to her waist, heavy and wet, slapped against her leg. “Fool, fool, fool!” she told herself, wiping the tears from her eyes. She would have been safer hiding in the dark alleys of Harkelo Hall. Why did she think she could safely flee from the city?

Then came the thrum of crossbows.

Steel bolts whistled by her, towards the looming woods. Nestled in the jagged line of elder pines, the blood-red sun shined its light over her and cast a serrated line of shadows on the field ahead of her.

Ravenel’s legs threatened to collapse under her, but she gritted her teeth and pushed herself forward, determined to reach the darkness now less than a hundred paces away. In the light, she was vulnerable—if only she could reach the shadows—

Something jolted her shoulder. Ravenel gasped at the sudden pain. She stumbled but quickly recovered her footing. A razor-tipped shaft, glistening with blood, poked from her shoulder. Shivers coursed her spine as she imagined the next bolt punching through the back of her head.
Last edited by sgf on October 29th, 2010, 6:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Post by Christine Macdonald » September 17th, 2010, 12:49 pm

TITLE: Pour Some Sugar On Me: Tales from an Ex-Stripper
GENRE: Memoir
PAGES: 235

“I don’t want to live any more."

One, one thousand

Two, one thousand

Three seconds of silence filled the line before Ben spoke.

“You’re talking crazy.” He was searching for my smile.

“I have a knife. It’s in my hand.” Hearing the words whispered from my quivering lips still didn’t convince me it was real.

“You really have a knife? I’m coming over. Promise me you aren’t going to do anything."

“No. Don’t.”

Please hurry

“I’m fine.”

I’m not

“Christine, shut the f*ck up. I am on my way. I’m hanging up now so be ready to buzz me up in five minutes.”

Four, one thousand

“Say something Christine.” I knew he was serious because he was calling me by my first name. Stephanie was somewhere lost inside me and he knew it.


Please hurry

After Ben talked me off the ledge he made me laugh. Through my shame of dramatic disposition I leaned over and opened my arms. He was always my Platonic Party Friend. But after this episode, he was a brother.

I used to hide from the world in my apartment, unplug the phone and ingest massive amounts of drugs. I envisioned who would attend my funeral. What music would they play at the wake, and more importantly, what would they be wearing?

Looking back I realize I never really wanted to die. I just didn't know how to really live.

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

Post by mrrria » September 19th, 2010, 6:05 am

Title: Montgomery's
Genre: YA fiction
(247 words)

Miss Coldham marched into the auditorium leading two bunheaded women in identical, burgundy suits and carrying their noses high in the air. They filed past many rows of young, straight-backed ballerinas, and took their seats at a long table at the front of the room. Someone poured each woman a glass of water. Not one dancer lifted a finger toward the ballet barre. They stood in silence, eyes on the panel of judges.

Miss Coldham removed some papers from her bag, adjusted her sharp black glasses, and returned a nod to each of her partners.

It was now time for Miss Coldham to speak.

"Good afternoon, class."

"Good afternoon, Miss Coldham," the class echoed, courtesaying. She delighted in their shaky voices.

"To my left is Miss Nevard. To my right is Miss Smith."

The class nervously repeated their chant, courtesaying twice and fumbling over the names. It was now time for Miss Coldham to deliver her speech.

"As representatives of the Montgomery Academy of Ballet," said Miss Coldham, her eyes darting from face to face, "we will be your auditioners for today. You all understand what is at stake. We expect a first-rate performance from each of you."

The tension was delicious. Miss Coldham touched the frames of her glasses, itching to continue.

"Remember: this is your only chance--" she paused on a round-faced girl who dared to wear her hair in braids "--to be admitted into Montgomery's. There are no redos. And we will only take one."

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

Post by Bartle001 » September 20th, 2010, 3:52 pm

Genre: YA fiction
(254 words)

At fourteen years of age, Adyna Crowley was accused of being a witch. Her trial was a mere formality; the Tribunal had already determined to hang her. High Judge Bainburgh had yet to find a defendant innocent.

This was the twenty-fifth witchcraft trial he had presided over.

Who knew there were that many witches in Scotland? Either that or the neck-snapping of two dozen women had been all for naught. To suppose that any of those daughters, mothers, sisters, and wives had not been guilty as charged was too terrible a thought to contemplate. The mind was repelled by it. Would God have allowed such a travesty? No, He would have sent an angel down to severe the ropes. As this had never happened, the work of the Tribunal was surely holy, just, and true.

“Your Honors. Right Reverend,” said Adyna. “Have you ever seen an angel come down to earth and stop any wrongdoing whatsoever? What you posit altogether denies even the possibility of injustice. Does that describe the world you see before you?”

The judges of the Tribunal sat silent and stony-faced. They were not about to abandon their crusade simply because a fourteen-year-old girl could simulate logical argument. Their authority came from the king himself. It was His Royal Majesty who had issued Bainburgh a Writ of Proprius Quesitio, which granted him full legal authority to investigate, try, and sentence crimes of witchcraft. Bainburgh considered himself an expert witch-hunter, and knew all the tricks of the trade, whether logical or practical.
Last edited by Bartle001 on September 24th, 2010, 11:28 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Beyond Wunderman

Post by briandownie » September 21st, 2010, 5:36 pm

Author : Brian Downie
Genre : Urban / Noir

Is this a beginning? Treading lightly through the winter rain, tiptoeing behind the man as we climb, with no choice but to follow and no knowledge of what is to come? Surely it is, because for me, no memory is there of what came before. But let us be clear, I don’t want that fact to cloud any issues. This lack of memory is of no importance. It is, for me, logical to assume that there may not have been any ‘before’.

The man, Franklin Jaw, needless to say, has been here before. “This is it”, he says as we stop before a typical apartment block. He has the door code and is unhesitant as he climbs the stairs and strides with familiarity towards the unmarked door of an occupied apartment. It is not his apartment, he has no key. Nevertheless, he does not stop to knock.

“Girl, stay here,” he says to me without emphasis on any word. As he twists the handle I turn around and climb halfway up the next flight of stairs to sit myself down, just able to see the man and the entrance to the apartment but without being too obvious. I have no issue with his command, not at this moment. Yes, I want to go in there – don’t ask me why – but I don’t want to go in there just yet, even if this surely is not the season for any girl to be left alone on stone stairways.

(247 words)

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Joined: September 24th, 2010, 12:01 pm

2nd type of girl

Post by TheEndingUnplanned » September 24th, 2010, 12:14 pm

Last edited by TheEndingUnplanned on April 14th, 2011, 6:39 pm, edited 9 times in total.


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