14 thoughts on “Fall 1st Page Critique Blog Hop

  1. I love the way your first three sentences set the scene. But after that, there’s some telling that could probably be reworked or changed.

    “Abigal rushed across the orca exhibit” gives me an image of her actually inside the exhibit. “rushed past” might be more accurate. Try to avoid staring words with prepositions – I tend to do it, to, in early drafts, but agents don’t really like it. Don’t tell us that she’s stunned -show her reaction. The first half of the last paragraph is also telling. Think of other ways to give the same information.

    Too many “to be” verbs can weaken your writing. When you have things like “were playing”, that can usually be changed to “played.” A lot other to be verbs are indicators of passive voice or telling. I’d go through and look for ways to remove as many as possible. There is usually a more descriptive word to get the point across (like zigzagged and scoured, which I love). You’ve got a good set-up, though. I like dolphins. I think everyone should have a dolphin, and I absolutely support saving dolphins. 🙂

  2. I noticed a typo or two of the type that spellcheckers don’t usually pick up, like “in” instead of “it” and “seals” instead of seals’. I find it helpful when editing to read aloud as I go, as the ear sometimes picks this sort of error up faster than the eye. I also noticed quite a bit of passive voice.

    I also think you need more of a hook, and to hear more of Abigail’s voice as your story opens.

    Best of luck to you.

  3. I found the first paragraph confusing. Because you go from the Seal’s POV to Abagail, I wasn’t sure at first if Abagail WAS the seal (this is MG, so it seemed a reasonable assumption). I also don’t understand how a ball skips from rock to rock… That was confusing too.

    Dolphins are finicky and too expensive, but orcas are just fine??? Orcas need much more space and a ton more food, plus (as the acquarium owner and Abagail should know (if she can spot a blottlenose dolphin from any of the other hundreds (thousands?) of breeds) orcas ARE dolphins, not whales, though it is a common misconception.

    Not a bad start, but it’s not really very engaging either.

    One last note, I looked you up on Amazon and I see you’ve published with Publish America. Before doing business with them again, I highly recommend you read some of the following stories from the thousands of authors who feel very strongly about that organization. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=115

    They have a reputation, and it’s not a good one.

  4. Hi there,
    I wasn’t 100% convinced with the first paragraph, words like “gobbled” had me thinking this must be a very young MG but, when I started reading Para-2 I got a better feel for where I was and what was happening.

    I’d suggest making Para-2 your first paragraph. Its more active. Its more alive and its got tension and voice. The first paragraph seems to bee a “set-up” and I don’t think it actually does that. Trust your reader to get it, have them running with your MC to get to the story.

    Also, be careful of repeating the same word too soon.
    HER DAD is repeated within a few words of each other. You could put in HE for the second one as its clear who the HE would be 🙂

  5. Hi Sharon! I love the scene–I’m a huge fan of all things aquatic, especially dolphins. : )

    I think the story would launch better with us meeting (and getting to know) Abigail right away. : ) Paragraph two starts with Abigail rushing across the exhibit, a compelling action that drew me right in. Then as the story progresses, you could work in some of the descriptive elements from paragraph one.

    One idea would be to open with her riding her bike up to the aquarium and stashing it in the animals’ food prep room (smelly!) or somewhere equally off limits to the public, and saying Hi to a staff member, showing she knows everyone and knows her way around. Maybe she asks where her dad is–which will let us know he works there–then she hears the sounds and rushes across the orca exhibit. Just brainstorming. : )

    Be careful of telling: She was puzzled. She was stunned. You already imply that she is puzzled because it was a different noise, and she might show she is stunned by a physical beat, such as a sharp intake of breath, her eyes widening, etc.

    I love the title. : ) This promises to be a great story!

  6. I noticed a couple of things. First, the POV in the first paragraph is confusing is it the seals or Abigail’s? The last paragraph implies that Abigail had been at the aquarium all of her life so saying it seems a little repetitive. It is a good start to a good premise though, keep it up!

  7. I feel like there’s just not a whole lot going on in this scene. Abigail is checking out her surroundings and that’s it. No conflict. Really nothing but some description of the aquarium. I wonder if you could start with her actively iteracting with some of the animals. Really put in scene in a real way. We don’t get a sense of her motivations. To really engage the reader you need to pose questions right away on page one. Even little ones. A dolphin splashes her dress and she’d just gotten all gussied up to go to some special place with her dad. Just an example. And then she’s sad and angry because instead of being all nicely dressed she’s all wet and her Dad is going to be mad b/c she wasn’t supposed to be messing with the dolphins in the first place. Something like that. I hope this helps.

  8. It’s interesting and probably age appropriate (I don’t read or write middle grade). The first paragraph could be tightened and look at the flow as the sentences are choppy. The misspellings or wrong words (verses instead of versus) can be fixed easily. It sounds like a sweet tale.

  9. Not much to add from what the others have already said. I agree with Sarah’s ideas above. Let your readers know how much Abigail is a part of this scene through your description, rather than just telling us. When you’re done rewriting, get someone else to edit it; they’ll catch things that your spell-check won’t, like “verses,” which should be “versus.”

  10. I think you’ve got a lot of great feedback here and you’ve made some good changes in your revised version, but I was confused about who Mr. Chow is. I didn’t see any mention of him in the original version, and he’s only mentioned by name a couple times in the revision – first she’s going to see him, then her dad. Is Mr. Chow her dad? And if so, why would she think about him as “Mr. Chow” and not “Dad?”

  11. Hi Sharon! So glad to see you on here! I only read the most recent revision and I really like it! I feel like the reader gets to know a lot about Abigail in the first 250. Great job! I also love the marina setting. I’m wondering what age this is since they seem to be at the beach alone and she has to work/volunteer. They can’t be younger than 13 I’m guessing–which might be pushing it for MG? Is it upper MG? A totally nitpicky thing is that the two girls’ last names are really similar. I don’t know if their last names come up in the book at all, but Morris and Harris could easily get confused. Your writing is very clear, smooth, and trouble-free! Nice voice and you’ve got a great start! Good luck!

    Shari

    • Thanks Shari! Great point on the last names! I can change that pretty easily. As far as their age and them being alone at the beach. They live in a super island small town and they are 12 years old. I think in a lot of small towns kids around 12 can go out alone, limited of course but some. Sort of like Bridge to Terabithia where the kids are 10 years old, yet live in a place where they wander off on their own some. Make sense? Oh boy I hope so. B/c this is MG not upper MG and I hope it’s not a problem…yikes!

      • Hmmm…I doubt kids will have a hard time with 12 year old kids being allowed to go to the beach alone. I don’t live near an ocean so I don’t know if that is what kids are allowed to do?? I’d ask some moms who do have experience with that since adults are still gatekeepers of many MG books. I’ve dealt with this–some readers not okay with two very capable teenagers going to the mountains alone–in my book, The Ledge, and have now added the Grandpa on their adventure to make it more palatable for the ‘gatekeepers’. I’m not sure how I feel about it though. I’m writing for kids who want an adventure. Not their moms who are nervous to let them have an adventure. LOL. 🙂

  12. I love MG, so I was really excited to see one on the list here.

    Basically, I agree with what everyone else was saying: I couldn’t really feel it–the salt in the air, the wind in her hair. I felt a lot of it was just telling me what was happening.

    Your voice is pretty on point–I could definitely tell it was regular MG, not upper, but I *was* a little bit confused on the ages of the characters. Since they could text and stuff it seemed like they were older, but their sentences were pretty simple, so I wasn’t sure.

    Anyway, I liked this! It seems like something my younger sister would read 🙂

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