First Page Critique/Workshop: ANGELS AND DEMONS (Fantasy/Steampunk)



Critiquer: K.T. Hanna


He stepped around the body of the wailing child’s dying father. (Can you make it clear that he’s not in the same room as the infant? EG: He stepped around the body of the child’s dying father, intent on finding the baby.) The infant’s lungs expelled distress, possibly fear, though he wasn’t sure if the baby was capable of such emotion. The noise climbed in pitch, feverish and unceasing. (You can combine these last two sentences. Cut them, make more impact. Distress and fear colored the infant’s feverish cry as the volume climbed.)

House creaking in disrepair, he walked through it, following the sound. (Which sound is this? The house creaking, the baby wailing?) Smoking candles barely lit the faded wallpaper and stained carpet of the once opulent brownstone. The doors cried for grease, demanding toll, as he passed through one room and then another. (This is a round about way to say the door’s hinges need oiling. Demanding toll sounds like a stretch. He ignored the state of disrepair as he passed through each room on his way to the back of the house.)

At the back of the house, In a windowless and low ceilinged sitting room, he found her. A nurse clutched her so tight he was surprised the child could force noise from her lungs. (In a windowless, low ceilinged sitting room, he found the nurse clutching the child so tight it was surprising it made any noise at all). The woman whimpered as the door creaked open.

Taking in the scene, he paused, uncertainty halting his progress. The woman’s nurse’s distress filled the space, a mix of sweat and panic, but no tears. She watched his feet, eyes rising slowly to take him in. A floppy lace cap slid from damp brown curls, plump frame shaking when she saw the blood.

“Do you know how to quiet her?”

The nurse retreated into a distant corner. (does she scramble? If her eyes rose, then wasn’t she sitting, so retreating would be better described as scrambling, or crawling).

“I didn’t  come here to kill her.” He hesitated. “Or you.”

Coming into the room he raised a hand, palm up. The nurse shook her head, mouth working but no words coming came out. She cradled the screaming child, sheltering protecting (I think in this case, protecting is the better choice) the baby with her body.

“Give her to me.” He edged closer, both arms extended. There were no weapons in his hands, though they were covered in blood. ( Depending on what this leads into, it might be better to end this section with impact. “Give her to me.” He edged closer and held out his blood drenched hands.)

Overall you’ve I can see you’re trying to provide sensory details, a nice setting for the story to start in. There are a few areas where the words are cumbersome and detract from the overall effect. One question I have is: Is the father dead or not? Does it make a difference later in the story. Because otherwise the corpse of the baby’s father would give that first line so much more impact. Still though, I’m not sure of the story’s direction, so it’s just a question.

Especially with the last line, I find the story premise intriguing. I’d just recommend going through and with every sentence asking yourself: Does this really contribute to the overall story. Good luck! It’s a promising start 🙂


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

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