Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mixed Reviews

I entered Nathan Bransford's Surprisingly Essential First Page Challenge, which marks the first time that anyone other than my wife, SFF, has seen anything of my Secret Project.  As I write this Mr. Bransford has not announced the finalists or winners, and I'm not expecting to find my entry in either category, but I have received critiques from voluntary 3rd party commentators.  The reviews are best described as mixed.  

"I read the whole thing, but the voice irks me.  How old is the narrator?  He sounds like he's at least in his 20's.  I mean, who uses the word 'bestir'?  For  that matter, why would he pinch his own sister's behind?  That's like kissing your sister, but worse.  Maybe it's just a very unique character, but all of his actions and mannerisms seemed 'off' to me."

What I'm taking away from critique:  Silas, the first-person protagonist, is 19.  Perhaps I need to work on his voice to more accurately reflect his age.  'Bestir' will likely stay, the setting is 1848 and I like the sound of the word in that context.  'Pinch his own sister's behind' - that was something that had been nagging me without being able to put a finger on it.  He now pinches her arm.  Lastly, I hope he's a unique character, we'll see how he strikes others.

From OxyJen:
"This is engaging and likeable, although the conversation with Angeline reads as an 'As you know, Bob' conversation.  I would want to see something resembling a plot open up soon, but I would read on..."

What I'm taking away from the critique:  First, encouragement because it was positive.  Second, I see the point about the dialogue and it has been (hopefully) improved.  With regard to the plot, well it starts to show up after the first page.

"I'm always a sucker for a story set in any sort of small town/farm/otherwise rural area.  So this caught my eye.  Trying to be objective here, I think the writing is good but not great.  Interesting but not interesting enough.  Would I keep reading?  Maybe.

What I'm taking away from the critique:  Encouragement.  'Good but not great' I can live with for now.  'Interesting but not interesting enough' causes me to look at that first page again, but I may rely on the following pages to develop more interest from the reader.  We'll see.

I'm hoping for more critiques and may well post the first page here in hopes of more feedback.

2nd Draft Stats:

Today's goal:  55.1
Today's complete:  56.4

Still ahead of schedule!


Jordyn said...

Of course I have no problem with your quoting my critique here. I'm glad you found it encouraging.

jjdebenedictis said...

Hi! I just wanted to let you know that it's fine by me if you quote my critique on your blog. Thank you for asking, and good luck with your rewrites!