I’m giving you all the last two first page critiques. I hope they’ve been useful. If so, I’ll see about doing again. Maybe I can get some more slots. What do you think?
The next volunteer-victim is Dave Carlile. He tells me this is the first page of a 5000 word story, the title of which is “The Song in her Soul.” Without further ado, let’s get to business.
I have wandered these woods for many generations of men, without purpose, numb against the misery of loneliness. The pieces of my mind that could give rise to despair lie disused and hidden away, buried beneath the scars that protect my sanity from the wounds of too long a life. Although I have lived long, my life did not begin until a spring day five years past.
I watched her from the shadows, hiding even though I hadn’t taken a visible form. She stood in a small clearing by the brook that ran through my domain, tossing acorns into the water and watching them sink or float downstream. She was young, maybe nine or ten if my understanding of time was correct. I would have thought her long hair pretty if appreciation for such things had not been buried away. Her silver-blue eyes served as a portal deep into her soul and revealed a mind full of curiosity and wonder, peace and joy, and hope like a song.
Her eyes held me for what felt like hours. When she left, my mind followed until she reached the edge of the trees where I could go no further. But I allowed my perception to linger and watch until she disappeared into a nearby house.
I don’t remember what I am or where I came from, but I am part of these trees and can only leave at great cost. Men don’t often enter my domain, and when they do I drive them away with fear, so I don’t know why I allowed this child stay. Maybe it was her eyes, or something in her mind.
I’m critiquing this differently this time. Instead of the in between paragraph method, I’m going with the end of document method. The reason for this is because it’s very cohesive with the paragraphs flowing together and it doesn’t benefit from a more broken down approach.
That said, I’m seeing some problems here. There’s a lot of telling/editorializing about who he is—she? I’m not terribly clear. The title could be about the narrator or the child, though obviously it applies to the child given the end of the second paragraph. Anyhow, you have the beginning paragraph that sets the stage for five years ago—which I find a little bit pointless. The language is lovely. LOVELY. But it doesn’t serve the story much in that it doesn’t hook and it doesn’t create tension or urgency.
The narrator watches the girl, and again the description is lovely, but it seems pointless still. There’s nothing in the telling or the description that hints at urgency or hook. Sure, everything changed and the long life got less boring. That points to me instantly to a vampire, mostly because they tend to have long lives and there’s always a sense of getting bored or having ennui. How does this child change all that? Nothing gets at that. Maybe it’s in her eyes or her mind. But what? Why did she get to stay?
I think you need to turn this around with more specificity and more of a hook. Your language is wonderful and that makes me want to read more, but it feels a little generic. There’s nothing about the character that seems unique and nothing about the situation that is unique. I say that, but I feel like it’s there, in your head, but it hasn’t made it to the page. So get it onto the page.
On thing I will add, in the first paragraph he says he would have appreciated that if appreciation hadn’t been buried away. That’s odd. Would he notice that he used to appreciate things? And if so, what other things has he noticed about himself and been dissatisfied with? It just seems strange that he’d noticed that he didn’t notice.
What do the rest of you think?