First Page Critique Contest

Jamie Ayres is hosting a first page critique contest to celebrate Heather Birch’s debut novel Halflings. Participants are to post their first 250 words on their blogs, then hop around to everyone else’s to read their entries. Jamie will randomly draw five names to receive a critique from Heather. Does that make sense?

So, here’s my entry:

********

Title: Must Love Breeches
Genre: Time Travel Romance
Word count: 97,000

Pitch: When a thoroughly modern girl finds herself stranded in 1834 London, she must find a way home while navigating the pitfalls of London society, resisting her attraction to a hunky lord, and ultimately having to decide when her true home lies.  

CHAPTER ONE

A reenactment ball was the perfect setting for romance. Or not.

Isabelle fidgeted in her oddly-shaped, but oh-so-accurate ball gown surrounded by women who’d sacrificed authenticity for sex appeal. It was as if she were a dorky kid again, participating in dress-up day at school when everyone else had magically decided it was lame.

At least her co-worker Anna was with her in this. Like Isabelle’s, her dress was circa 1834. “Hmmm. How about him?” Isabelle asked, eyeing the guy walking past in tight-fitting, buff-colored breeches.

Anna sucked on her olive and plopped the stir stick back into her cocktail. “Oh, yes. A breech-ripper for sure.”

Isabelle choked on her drink—they’d just been discussing their favorite “bodice ripper’ romances. They’d also discovered they shared a mutual obsession with guys in period clothes, which had helped propel her through the early stages of the party. Since this was the first time they’d hung out, she treated this moment delicately, afraid to puncture the mood. To have another friend in London would be wonderful.

A sharp elbow in her side caused her drink to flirt with the rim of her glass. “Look sharp,” Anna said, her voice low with just a dollop of teasing. “Here comes Andrew.”

Isabelle took a gulp of her drink, the champagne fizz tickling her throat and nose. She’d been cultivating a crush on him since she’d started working at the British Museum six months ago. She’d pictured him in period clothes looking resplendent.

He did.

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11 Comments

  1. Hi Angela, I am following the first page blog hop. I wanted to say great first page – I love the visual of a “breech ripper”!

    And nice to find a fellow browncoat :)

    Reply
  2. Who doesn’t love a Jane Austen inspired kind of book? I’m very interested to see the time travel aspect of it. I’ve wanted to write a time traveling novel myself . . . some day. We’ve stayed in Mobile before, quirky for sure. Anyways, I ramble. Your setting drew me in & I immediately LOVE Isabelle & Anna. Their dialogue was great and added to the atmosphere. Kudos on drawing me in:):) *Thanks for playing!

    Reply
  3. Jennifer Lowery~Author

     /  February 19, 2012

    Breech-ripper is awesome!! Great first page!

    Reply
  4. Are there genre restrictions on this blog-hop? If not, how can I participate?

    Reply
  5. What a fun first page. I love the rapport between the women. I really felt like I was at the party and I’m hoping Andrew is as hot as Mr. Darcy in his breeches. Great work.

    Reply
  6. I really liked this. The only suggestion I have is to maybe tighten the Isabelle choked on her drink paragraph. I really like that this is a time travel book.

    Reply
  7. Hey, Angela! This is an awesome first page. I can already identify with Isabelle. Your writing sucked me in, especially this line: ‘A sharp elbow in her side caused her drink to flirt with the rim of her glass.’ I had to reread that line again and again because I liked it so much!

    A few nitpicky things:
    1. I’m not sure about the word ‘magically’ in ‘magically decided it was lame’. Perhaps ‘suddenly’ instead, since magic has nothing to do with the decision?
    2. I agree with Nicole about scaling back the ‘choked on her drink’ paragraph. It kind of slowed the pace and felt a little like backstory. Maybe you could save some of it for later?

    But that’s it! I wish you the best of luck!

    Reply
  8. This is a great first page! Funny. I have a few nit picks with the third sentence. It might feel cleaner to start it with, She was the dorky kid again… (although I don’t know if that might confuse people about the age, I think it would work for me) and you can remove “magically”.

    Great work!

    Reply
  9. Nice! I was reading and smiling through this whole excerpt. The last line (‘He did.’) :) has me drooling to see what Andrew looks like–which means of course that I am dying to read on!

    But since I’m supposed to be critiquing here, my comment would be to mix in a bit more showing in the form of dialogue. ‘Showing’ Isabella’s and Anna’s mutual affection for guys in period clothes through dialogue, instead of telling, might be an opportunity to make this pop off the page even more, and could be lot of fun as well.

    I just love the pitch, and am of the opinion there are simply not enough time travel romances out there! Sounds like a fantastic story, and I’m excited to see where you take it next.

    Reply
  10. This was a really fun beginning! I love the ‘breech-ripper’ part! Great voice! I agree, taking out magically would be a good choice. Secretly might work better or leave it off all together. The part that threw me a tiny bit, only cause I must have been reading too fast, was that she was drinking champagne when her friend had a stir stick and an olive. I just had to re read that part, cause I thought, “Why is there an olive in her champagne? That would be gross!” :) This is an awesome premise and sounds like a lot of fun! Good luck :)

    Reply
  11. Hi Angela! Sorry I’m running a little late. Here are my thoughts

    A reenactment ball was the perfect setting for romance. Or not. [YOU MAY BE GOING FOR A TINE HERE BUT i'M NOT RAZY ABOUT THE OPENING]

    Isabelle fidgeted in her oddly-shaped, but oh-so-accurate ball gown surrounded by women who’d sacrificed authenticity for sex appeal. It was as if she were [THIS IS TELLY. GET INTO HER EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO SHOW US RATHER THAN TELL US -- THE DORKY KID IN HER SCREAMER FROM WITHIN - SOMETHING LIKE THAT--ONLY MUCH BETTER] a dorky kid again, participating in dress-up day at school when everyone else had magically [DELETED MAGICALLY. DOESN'T WORK] decided it was lame.

    At least her co-worker Anna was with her in this. Like Isabelle’s, her dress was circa 1834.[ SHOW US, SEE HER WALK ACROSS THE FLOOW, THE GOWN TRAILING OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT] “Hmmm. How about him?” Isabelle asked, eyeing the guy walking past in tight-fitting, buff-colored breeches.

    Anna sucked on her olive and plopped the stir stick back into her cocktail. “Oh, yes. A breech-ripper for sure.”

    Isabelle choked on her drink—they’d just been discussing their favorite [THIS IS EXTREMELY TELLY. IF IT IS NOT IMPORTANT THAT THEY WERE DISCUSSING ROMANCE NOVELS, I'D CUT THIS, AND THE COMENT OUT COMPLETELY. IT IS FUNNY, BUT IT WOULD NEED EXPLAINATION] “bodice ripper’ romances. They’d also discovered they shared a mutual obsession with guys in period clothes, which had helped propel her through the early stages of the party. [ THIS IS TELL, TOO. MAYBE THEY CAN TALK ABOUT GUYS IN PERIOD CLOTHES TO SHOW US INSTEAD?]Since this was the first time they’d hung out [ THAN HOW DO THEY KNOW THEY BOTH LIKE ROMANCE NOVELS AND GUYS IN OLD CLOTHES?], she treated this moment delicately, afraid to puncture the mood. To have another friend in London would be wonderful.

    A sharp elbow in her side caused her drink to flirt with the rim of her glass. [VERY NICE IMAGERY, AND A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF SHOWING RATHER THAN TELLING] “Look sharp,” Anna said, her voice low with just a dollop of teasing. “Here comes Andrew.”

    Isabelle took a gulp of her drink, the champagne fizz tickling her throat and nose. [TRANSPOSE THIS SENTANCE TO MAKE IT MORE SHOWY] She’d been cultivating a crush on him since she’d started working at the British Museum six months ago. She’d pictured him in period clothes looking resplendent.

    He did.
    [I'M NOT SURE IF I'M CRAZY ABOUT THE TELLY LINE BEOFRE THIS, BUT I'M NOT SURE HOW TO FIX IT EASILY. I LIKE THIS ENDING THOUGH.

    MY MAIN SUGGESTION IS TO TRY TO WORK ON REALLY BRINGING THE READER INTO THE SCENE BY SHOWING US WHAT IS HAPPENING, RATHER THAN TELLING US WHAT IS GOING ON. GOOD LUCK!]

    Reply

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