1st Page: Memoirs of Daniel

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Jessi Heinrich
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1st Page: Memoirs of Daniel

Post by Jessi Heinrich » December 3rd, 2010, 9:13 pm

This is the first page of my manuscript. I'm cool with brutal crit - I don't take anything personally. Thanks in advance for your help!




Victor's death was no surprise. The man was a smoker, a drug abuser and an alcoholic. His peace had been made over the years, but never as strong as the day that he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Like most humans faced with death, he prayed for forgiveness. Perhaps for the first time in his pitiful existence, Victor had done the right thing.

Kneeling by the hospital bed, Daniel stroked the man’s greying hair. His clear blue eyes were strictly focused on a space just shy of Victor's face. His lips were pressed together, forming an unbendable line. He held no feelings for the man. No sympathy for his sickness nor his death. Apathy came with his duty just as easily as compassion.

Daniel hesitated before taking Victor's life, but his reluctance was not to cause the man further suffering. It was the sharp, bursting pain near his abdomen that had shocked him. Daniel hunched over and grabbed at his side, closing his eyes. In the moment that Victor's pain engulfed him, silence enveloped the hospital room.

In an attempt to ignore the overwhelming pain, Daniel used his shaky hand to seize Victor's soul. He tried to focus on the good that he was doing for the man, but a wave of absolute need washed over him. His hand slipped. His control on the soul wavered. He tightened his fist and pushed away from the hospital cot, his face not reflecting the explosion of agony that he felt.

Krista G.
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Re: 1st Page: Memoirs of Daniel

Post by Krista G. » December 4th, 2010, 2:05 am

Jessi Heinrich wrote:Victor's death was no surprise. The man was a smoker, a drug abuser and an alcoholic. His peace had been made He'd made his peace over the years, but never as strong as the day that he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Like most humans faced with death, he prayed for forgiveness. Perhaps for the first time in his pitiful existence, Victor had done the right thing. The tense shifts in this paragraph are a little dodgy. It sounds like Victor prayed for forgiveness in the past, so that sentence should be in past perfect tense like the ones before and after it: "Like most humans faced with death, HE'D prayed for forgiveness."

Kneeling by the hospital bed, Daniel stroked the man’s greying hair. His clear blue eyes were strictly focused on a space just shy of Victor's face. His lips were pressed together, forming an unbendable line. He held no feelings for the man. No sympathy for his sickness nor his death. Apathy came with his duty just as easily as compassion. I don't really get the last line. Also, I feel like we're hovering above the scene, watching Daniel instead of being inside his head. (Daniel wouldn't see his own clear blue eyes, for instance, or his own lips pressed into a line.) If you're going for a more third-person omniscient feel, then that's okay, but omniscient always feels like a slip out of the character's perspective for me, since so many things are written from a tighter third-person limited perspective these days (at least in YA fiction, which this obviously isn't, so maybe I'm just out of touch with adult literature).

Daniel hesitated before taking Victor's life, but his reluctance was not to cause the man further suffering. It was the sharp, bursting pain near his abdomen that had shocked him. Daniel hunched over and grabbed at his side, closing his eyes. In the moment that Victor's pain engulfed him, silence enveloped the hospital room. For me, the first sentence of this paragraph was where the story really started, what made me sit up and take notice. The first two paragraphs didn't grab me at all, but this one and the next definitely did.

In an attempt to ignore the overwhelming pain, Daniel used his shaky hand to seize Victor's soul. He tried to focus on the good that he was doing for the man, but a wave of absolute need washed over him. His hand slipped. His control on the soul wavered. He tightened his fist and pushed away from the hospital cot, his face not reflecting the explosion of agony that he felt inside him. Just a thought.
I liked the last half of this excerpt, but it didn't match the first half. The first two paragraphs made me think I was getting one thing, and then the last two turned that expectation on its head. I think you can do without the first two paragraphs, especially since the first one opens with a character that isn't our MC. Also, you might want to watch your adjectives, since I noticed you used a lot of them ("clear blue [eyes]," "pitiful [existence]," "overwhelming [pain]"). They're not bad necessarily, of course, but I thought some of them slowed down the pace of their respective sentences.

Best of luck.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

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sarahdee
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Re: 1st Page: Memoirs of Daniel

Post by sarahdee » December 6th, 2010, 8:12 am

I liked the opening. Death may not be the happiest subject but jumping right in there with Victor's death suggests a good story.
His peace had been made over the years, but never as strong as the day that he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.
Are you trying to say that on his day of diagnosis he made peace strongly and then carried on trying every day after? I was a bit confused here...
Apathy came with his duty just as easily as compassion.
I think get what you mean by reading on but at first this made no sense. Also, my reading of the first para - I thought Victor was already dead but now he's alive and just in the process of dying?
His lips were pressed together, forming an unbendable line.
Victor's or Daniels?
Daniel hesitated before taking Victor's life, but hisnot from reluctance was not to cause the man further suffering. It was the sharp, bursting pain near his abdomen that had shocked him.
This didn't read well either, does that make more sense?

Hope that helps. I think its a strong start. Does Daniel get described more later as if he's the main character then it would be nice to know a little more about him - his age and physical appearance at least? Also, perhaps some description of the surroundings - is it a ward or a private room? Are they alone? Is it even a hospital as hospital beds can be moved into private houses in some cases?

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