If you’re a writer who’s been in the trenches for awhile, you know the importance of the first page of your manuscript. It’s supposed to do a myriad of things like establish voice, create character presence, and give an inkling of the premise. It’s a lot of pressure for one page. Recently, I received a critique back from one of my CP’s (critique partners) and she provided insight into the first page, but more importantly she reacted to my first paragraph. She pointed out what she’d learned about the story and character just from reading the first six lines.
I thought it’d be fun to do First Paragraph Friday’s, where I critique the first paragraph of either an unpublished manuscript or a recently published novel. If you want to participate, send me the first paragraph of your first page to writedahl (at) yahoo (dot) com and I’ll give you feedback about what I learned from it. Then you can decide if that’s what you wanted your reader to learn.
I picked INKED by Eric Smith. Here’s what I determined to be the first paragraph.
“Three days. 1
My thin leather shoes 2 slapped softly against the dirt leading away from grandmother’s cottage 2 as I made my way across our stretch of farmland located at the edge of Frosthaven 4. With a gentle breeze tickling my skin, I passed through brambles and bushes full of berries, then to the wide array of fruit bearing trees in the orchards at the edge of the land. 2 I couldn’t help but be aware of the plumes of hazy brown dust 3 as they floated about my feet, wisps circling my ankles 3 as my weight shifted the soil, leaving a trail of dusty clouds in my wake.”
1. The whole story is going to be about whatever is going to occur at the end of three days.
2. The person is a farmer without parents in the picture and the farm seems to be big, but they aren’t rich.
3. The character seems to be a guy because there’s no physical emotion, but more of a physical impression of the earth, his earth, which speaks volumes about how he feels about it. He’s worked the farm, has intimate knowledge of it.
4. I think it must fit in the one of the fantasy sub genres, which I’m not a big reader of, so I won’t even guess.
*Remember I haven’t read the back cover blurb or anything about it.*
The four observations are all I gleaned from the paragraph, but I’m going to read it and update you on whether I was right or not when I finish. If you think I missed something or if you want to leave your own observations, please feel free to leave a comment.