First Page Critique/Workshop: CHRONICLES OF CHRISTIAN DERLING (MG High Fantasy)



Critiquer: Elizabeth Prats


Thirteen-year-old Christian Derling hugged his mother goodbye and left his home for the last time. (I love the fact that he leaves his home for the “last time” but feel that this first sentence could hold even more punch. What is going through his head? Does he step in the doorway and try to memorize his mother’s features–afraid he won’t be able to remember them?)

He hurried through the streets of Oberhof making sure to nod hello to his neighbors as he did most summer mornings. He was confident that they would assume he was going to visit his father’s workshop. (Why?–Is that where he normally went?) He crossed through the town and into the surrounding hills and forests of Thuringia where he found several of his friends playing in a clearing. When they waved, asking him to join them, he pointed to an empty bag tied around his waist. They nodded back as if they understood. Christian’s mother often sent him into the forest on errands. (Little details like the one I mentioned above about forgetting his mother’s face would be helpful in this sentence above and the one below. When he sees his friends is he hit with a feeling that he will miss them–or is he more nervous that someone will notice what he’s up to–He’s about to do something that most people wouldn’t dare. Sure, on the outside he can seem confident but what is the tension like on the inside?)

Far outside town, Christian’s pace slowed. He couldn’t stop his hands from trembling as his pulse quickened. He was both exhilarated and afraid, knowing he was about to do something that nobody in Oberhof would have expected, something nobody in Oberhof would have dared. After a quick look around to make sure he was alone, Christian turned south and disappeared down a path overgrown with creeping thistle and daggerweed. There were no signs or markers, and the pebble-covered trail leading south was narrower than it once had been. Still, Christian, like everyone else, knew where it led. It was the path that led to The Citadel. (What is Christian thinking? We’re shown that he seems nervous, but why should the reader care? The first 250 have the potential to be very intriguing, but we need a tad more.)

Not far down the trail, Christian kicked through the underbrush and ducked beneath a half-fallen tree. He looked behind him. He was not being followed. Christian remembered his mother’s words. You don’t have to do this(Why is Christian doing this? At least hint at it in the paragraphs above or sometime soon after these initial paragraphs. There is definitely potential to make this truly intriguing but we need a few more details to do so.)


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

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