Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Critique of First Few Pages

Greater Fort Worth Writers recently contacted me about critiquing the opening pages of a fiction manuscript and posting it on their blog, As We Were Saying.

I use Track Changes for my editing, but I thought that might be confusing for the readers, so I used comments in brackets within the document for this.

Here's the beginning, and a link to the rest:

Jodie Renner Critiques First Five Pages

Editor Jodie Renner returns to critique another first five pages of a GFW Writer member's work-in-progress. Jodie is a freelance editor specializing in thrillers, mysteries, romantic suspense and other crime fiction, as well as YA and historical fiction. The author of the piece below has graciously allowed us to post the critique, but will remain anonymous.

“Who the hell does he think he is?!!” Charlotte Bellagio brooded as she considered the hurt that filled her heart. [A bit of a confusing beginning. Who is she mad at, and why? Also, can leave out “as she considered the hurt that filled her heart” and leave it at “brooded.”]
She willed a smile to her face as she nodded at her table companions [who is she sitting with?] where they who had all gathered for this much anticipated event. Most of her breakfast went untouched;, but if her tablemates noticed her mood they didn’t acknowledge it. She kept her heart hidden and the other guests didn’t pay much attention to her anyway. [Why not?]
Charlotte’s fellow convention guests were not aware of [We’re in Charlotte’s point of view here and she doesn’t really know if the others are aware of her feelings or not. Don’t jump into other people’s heads – that’s called head-hopping] the tumult inside her as they waited for the TV show host to make his appearance. Even so she made an effort to relax her shoulders and took a deep breath. [Too many “as” phrases above and below (highlighted). Best to vary sentence structure.]
“That’s good,” she thought as her muscles began to relax. [What’s good? And why are her muscles relaxing now? Best not to have her relax now as nothing has really happened to make her relax, and it’s good to maintain tension. Tension and conflict are what drive fiction forward and keep readers turning the pages.]
To read the rest of this critique, click HERE.

Jodie Renner is a freelance editor specializing in thrillers, romantic suspense, mysteries, and other crime fiction. Please check out Jodie’s website and blog, as well as her group blog, Crime Fiction Collective.
Jodie’s craft of fiction articles appear regularly on various blogs, and she has published two popular craft-of-fiction e-books in the series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Writing a Killer Thriller and Style that Sizzles and Pacing for Power.

Both are on sale at Amazon, and you don’t need to own a Kindle to buy and read Kindle e-books – you can download them to your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone. Style that Sizzles will be out in paperback soon.


  1. Wow Jodie, this is great stuff. I am a newbie editor with only four books under my belt (all non-fiction)and it's really great to see how other editors "do it." Any suggestions for breaking into fiction? It's my first love.

  2. Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Leslie. For breaking into fiction, I recommend to start, Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy's Writing Fiction for Dummies. It's a great resource - not for dummies at all! After that, try James Scott Bell's Revision & Self-Editing. There are many great books out on writing fiction, so just do a search on Amazon and read the reviews. Also, it's a good idea to attend writers' workshops and conferences. Good luck with your foray into fiction writing!

  3. Hi Jodie, great post. I am sure I am going to learn loads of editing stuff from you :)

  4. Thanks, Rachna! I think you'll enjoy my Style that Sizzles book! Keep on writing! :-)