First Page Critique/Workshop: THE SORCERER’S BLADE (YA Fantasy)



Critiquer: Francesca Zappia


The crescent moon hung in the cloudless sky, casting dim shadows on the palace lawn.

Kiral wished it were full.

If it were, the light would be enough to chase away the nightmare. I would be careful with these short, punchy paragraphs. One every so often is fine and good for effect, but not only are there three of them right here, later on there are three (almost four) more. They lose effectiveness very quickly, and immediately tell the reader that you’re trying to shock them. I don’t think it would hurt anything to combine these into one paragraph. Or, at least, combine sentences 2 and 3 with the paragraph after this.

It was utterly foolish and equally childish for the princess of Pailon—the princess who was very nearly seventeen years old—to be cowering at her window after a nightmare. Really, she ought to go back to bed.

Instead, she unlatched the window and shoved it open. The cool air poured in, chilling her. She pressed her hands against the rough stone ledge and leaned out. It was no use. Each time she closed her eyes, she fell back in the dream.

It was her mother, as it so often was, below the glass lid of the coffin, her red-gold hair spread on the pillow beneath her and her eyes closed. She clutched a single dawnblossom, the flower of her homeland in the far north of Pailon.

Then, her mother’s green eyes fluttered open.

Kiral tried to scream, but her voice refused to rise above a whisper. They shoved the coffin into the royal crypt and sealed her mother inside.

This time, though, it was not only her mother.

They grabbed her as well. Before she could scream, they locked her in the coffin and sealed her in the dark. These four sentences can also be combined. They really don’t accomplish much by being scattered like that, besides making the reader jerk to a halt every few seconds.

Fear engulfed her, and she lost herself in the panic. Kiral shrieked and clawed at the coffin lid, but her nails slid soundlessly across the glass. She was trapped. I think I’d prefer more description here to show me that she’s trapped, rather than just telling me. Have her pound at the lid and realize it won’t move, and the glass won’t break.

It’s an interesting dream, but I was left wanting more of Kiral. There isn’t much to keep me reading here, just because I don’t get much of a sense of who she is from these first 250. We know she thinks it’s childish to have nightmares, and we know she has some kind of psychological trauma over her mother, but that’s it, and I feel like, with the wide range of stories we already have, this one isn’t unique enough to catch an agent’s attention on the first 250 alone.

That being said, apart from the divided-up punchy paragraphs, the writing was quite nice and easy to read, and flowed well. I definitely would have kept reading on that count!

If you have any thoughts or questions, the comments are open, but please keep it constructive. No douchebaggery allowed.

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