First Page Critique/Workshop: TO SAVE MY LIFE (YA Science Fiction)



Critiquer: Molly Lee

If I failed this test they’d deem me as faulty, malfunctioned.


You’d think after six-hundred and fifty-seven days of existence, This is a great line, very intriguing I’d be used to the tests by now. But there was no getting used to tests These are slightly repetitive and slow the pace down. An easy fix would be to go straight into “I couldn’t study for them, let alone understand them. They were…” I couldn’t study for, let alone understand. They were just a series of ominous assessments and all I knew was this: I had to pass.

I stood outside door three-fifty-eight. There wasn’t anything special about it.  I only say strike this because if there isn’t anything special about it there is no need to point it out. It doesn’t add anything to the paragraph except precious word count space and you always need places to cut from during edits. Lines like these are easiest because by cutting them you make your paragraph and the pace stronger. The silver, shiny surface looked like all the rest. It was what lay behind the door that mattered. And when it opened and I stepped inside, all the resolve I’d been grasping slid away from me.

The man moving forward was nearly the same height as me. His face was square and he wore small-framed glasses. I spared a second to wonder why he hadn’t corrected his imperfect vision with surgery. But then he smiled, reached out his hand, and I stopped thinking about everything else.

“Hello, Aiden. I’m Chief Carter.” He shook my hand firmly. “I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you.”

“I certainly hope I don’t disappoint you, sir.”

He chuckled like what I said was funny and his smile widened. There was something wrong about his smile though. These get slightly repetitive as well. Easy fix is to replace this last one (or whichever one you’d like) with “it.”  It was stretched too thin, the ends too crooked. “As do I. Please, you can call me Carter.”

I nodded. I’d heard his name before but I’d never heard anyone refer to him as Carter. It seemed too friendly for him, with his off-centered grin and narrowed eyes.

Not a bad opening! I’m instantly intrigued by the line about how many days he’s been in “existence” and I like the word choices to illustrate the ScFi aspect: “Malfunctioned, Broken,” etc. I also appreciate that there are stakes right away–the MC has a test he must pass or he’ll be deemed as broken.

 Now the key is to making the reader care about the MC and if he passes or not, which should be established pretty quickly within the following pages I assume. We get a little bit of sympathy for him out of his line about not wanting to disappoint the Chief, but I’m sure more endearing qualities crop up soon to really get us connected to Aiden. 🙂 Good job!


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

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