First Page Critique/Workshop: THE BLOOD ORB (MG Fantasy)



Critiquer: Brenda Drake


A sniffling nose, a quick tug of covers, a soft plea.  This doesn’t hook. I have no idea who or what is sniffling.  

“They’re not real.” What’s not real? Parker Ward groaned and sat up. Is he the one sniffling and stuff? The bedsprings squeaked as his little sister curled beside him. Or is she the one sniffling and stuff?  “Let’s go look under your bed. There’s nothing there.” Maybe save this comment for when they discover there’s nothing there or modify it. “I’m certain there’s nothing there.” Or something like it.  


Bonny burrowed closer. Closer to what?  “Bonnie burrowed closer to my side.” 

Above the lacey edge of her nightshirt, shallow cuts and dried blood marred her pale throat. “Bonny, your neck. What happened?” This is great – love how you give the details of the shirt and then the condition of Bonny’s skin.

She answered with tears. Parker wiped her cheeks with the edge of his blanket. Love this! 

“You’re hurt. Tell me what happened.” Are they moving? Where are they going? Show us them moving to where ever they’re going. “We padded over the squeaky floor boards and I pulled her to a stop, listening to see if we woke anyone.” Something like that. 

She jerked away, shaking her head back and forthUsually shaking your head is back and forth, unless you’re nodding, and then it’s up and down. So basically, this is not needed. 

“Okay. Stop.” Parker sighed. He was thirteen. How was he supposed to know how to handle this? “You don’t have to tell me tonight. But you do need to tell me.” He tucked her head under his chin. Another moment looking into her teary eyes would break him. She seemed perfectly fine during the day. Perfectly fine, not perfectly normal. Love your writing but I’m missing emotion here. How does Parker feel about all this? About Bonnie being hurt all the time? Add some of the sense to this scene. Is it cold getting out bed? Do they make any noise?  

For three years, Parker had kept a spare blanket draped over his footboard, awaiting her nightly arrival. Over the last month, welts appeared on her arms and legs, deep scratches on her shoulder. Was this really the misadventures of an active girl? Had someone done this to her? It sure wasn’t their cat, as Mom insisted. Nor an ogre, werewolf, or any other flavor of creature his little sister might dream up. Were their father still alive, it’d be different. Dad would have gotten to the bottom of it. Since his death, Parker’s role had changed, taking up the slack, caring for his nine-year-old sister and the farm. As for their mother, Parker didn’t want to think about her. This just interrupts and pulls us out of the action. Maybe introduce it to us in smaller chunks throughout the story. 

Bonny crawled to the foot of the bed and curled up at his feet. So I thought she already burrowed close to him and they were walking to go check under her bed. Her sniffles softened, then stopped. He never understood why she didn’t just sleep beside him. But then, he’d learned a long time ago, to stop asking questions about her strange quirks. Parker closed his eyes and fell into a dreamless sleep. He falls asleep too fast here. Maybe have him think a few lines form the paragraph above here?

This is wonderfully written and you’re very talented. Several sentences evoke lovely images. This scene just didn’t hook me and make me want to read on. Are you sure that you’re starting the story in the right place? If her nightly visits are important to the story, maybe you can show us what happens before this scene. Him hearing his sister scream, and then she rushes in. Something before the sniffles? Or is there somewhere further in the story that would be a better hook to start with?  

By the title and the age of the character, I’m assuming this is middle grade. If so, the voice is sounding too old, even if it’s a historical something or other. I’d work on using verbs and attitude to get the right MG voice for this. Sort of like this … 

“Not again.” Parker Ward groaned and sat up, digging his fists into his eyes. “They’re not real, Bonnie. Go back to bed.” The bedsprings squeaked as his little sister curled beside him, sniffling. His shoulders sagged. “Oh, all right, let’s go look under your bed.”  

Of course something better in your voice, and with a deeper point of view, using action, decision, thought, and emotion.


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

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