First Page Critique/Workshop: THE FAITHFUL (Fantasy)



Critiquer: Sharon M. Johnston


Raine Morgan, tired of waiting, pulled a crushed pack from his front pocket, fished a twisted cigarette from it. Flame flickered then vanished. He took a drag, stared at the line of bars, the neon flashing above, calling the shuffling drunkards and wannabes out into the dead of night for some faintly promised tail. He scoffed, leaving a fresh trail of smoke diving from his open mouth.
Not the type to hide while the bigwigs fumbled around to find their assholes, he didn’t need to worry – Keir knew exactly how and where to shit.
Grasping the watch chain with one hand, he tugged on it, checked the time, and shoved the piece back in his pocket with a sigh, letting the jacket fall over the olive vest.
“Mr. Morgan,” said a soft, earnest, nervous voice.
Raine didn’t turn. Leaning into the brick, he let his hand drop, replied, “Where to tonight?”
“The Deserted Temple.”
“The target?”
“Manal Ratula.”
He nodded, flicked his cigarette into a mound of trash as he walked forward, bathed in pinks, oranges, and flashing blues. The heat of the bodies struck him as the night’s bitter cold came to a head. He pushed away the needling sensation at his limbs, turning round a corner, coming to a stop at a rundown dive. Its shattered windows glittered with candlelight, a whisper creeping through the winking panes.
He slipped in the door, letting the hot air waft over him like a decomposing lover.

I really wanted more umph out the first sentence. The multiple commas and the subject matter doesn’t grab me. The best advice I’ve seen from agents/editor is don’t open you story with mundane activities, and someone having a cigarette is definitely doing that. However the voice in the opening is fantastic, very fresh and original so I wouldn’t lose it, just rework it. You need to open with a strong hook that draws the reader in and makes them want to read more. Be bold. He’s got targets, maybe something around that would be stronger.

The second par introducing the name Keir without giving the reader any context. It’s possible that this occurs later on, but I’m not a fan of this tactic. I prefer to understand snippets of characters as they’re introduced, at a minimum in context to the MC.

He was a chain watch! Very cool. Love the imagery that creates for me with the character.

Again there’s another character introduced with no context. We don’t even know the gender of the person. I’m left to wonder what Raine thinks of the person. Some reaction from the MC would help the reader in the situation. What does Raine think of the person’s voice? Is he disgusted by the person? Does he think the person is a pawn or a vital link I’m the chain? I also felt three descriptions of the voice was getting too many. 

In the dialogue there’s mention of a deserted temple, but I have no idea where this is located yet? You can easily slip in a location in the sentence that talks about the bars.

I love the description in the next paragraph, it’s so raw. The only thing that struck me was the heat from the bodies bit, would you really feel them unless people were jam packed together? I live in a warm climate so haven’t experienced that level of cold much, but the science of it makes me wonder. I’m also intrigued here on how someone who starts off so confident is suddenly gripped by anxiety. Loving the complexity of the character. But I did feel this could be expanded into two pars. I wanted to know more about the impact of the assignment on him, what happens with the voice (were there footsteps receding, or no noise, how did he know there wasn’t more – he needs to share this with the reader).

While I love the poeticness of the last line at the same time ewww! Who know what a decomposing lover is like?! But it does fit the sinister theme of the story thus far so if you see it as an important part of your voice in the story then leave it in.

I like the tension that’s starting. You’ve done well to create a seedy underground feel. I just want a bit more to help me connect with the plot and MC. Well done. 


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

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