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First Page Critique #3

Hello! Welcome to our series of blog posts which will critique a brave writer's first page. If you'd like to see your anonymous first page (250-300 words) here, email it to


“A decade hence, I will reclaim her as my heir. Teach her the human ways before her mind becomes too fair to comprehend your kind.”

Lord Avisgrove [Is this to lord in your story? Good foreshadowing, though some people are really against chapter quotes. I don’t mind them.]


The rhythmic thudding of her strides muffled everything but the thrumming of her heart and her short gasps for breath. [I like this opening line. It’s engaging!] Leah ran through the main street of Littleworth. Her glasses crept forward with each step, threatening to slip, yet she didn't slow down. People stepped out of her way without paying her more than a glance. Leah sidestepped a horse carriage, her quick dodge sending a trio of chickens scrambling away from a roadside bread stand. [You’re doing a good job situating us as far as time period or setting.] As soon as she had passed, the birds returned to their loitering, waiting patiently for the next few crumbs to drop from further pastry sales. [This is very well-written and interesting, but it runs on a little long for a first page. We start to get a little tired about not knowing who Leah is and who/what she is running from/to. Even a hint would sate our curiosity.]

As she ran, her eyes turned toward the sky in search of another type of bird. She spotted it perched high on the edge of the thatched roof of a clothier, cleaning its feathers without a care in the world: a sparrow with a paper attached to one of its legs. The messenger bird sometimes turned its head aside to look at the crowd below it, and Leah recognized the unmistakable glint of intelligence in its eyes. There was only one person she knew who used messenger birds other than pigeons. This sparrow was meant for hers and her father’s eyes only. [Good job of introducing some suspense. We definitely want to know more! Who is her father? Who is she, a woman in this time period, who would be privy to such intelligences? Who’s the person that sent the sparrow? All these questions in a few sentences!]

She gritted [So, I went down the grammar rabbit hole on this. I thought it should be “she grit her teeth” but apparently both are acceptable. Learn something new every day!] her teeth. Not a single word the lord could send would persuade her to return to his clutches. Her father, on the other hand, might find a way to change her mind. [Ah, she might not be so in the inner circle as was implied. Good!] He always yielded to the lord’s demands, no matter how unreasonable. He’d say one thing to her, make promises. Then he’d talk with the baron [Lord?], relent, go back on his word, and apologize to her. She could already see it unfold in her mind. This time, it’d be different; she’d make sure of it. [This paragraph gets a little messier than the other had been. You’d been doing a great job of weaving in the exposition into the narrative and it never felt info-dumpy. This paragraph feels info-dumpy. We’ve lost her running as a way to weave things in. Now it’s just thought, you could really cut out everything I’ve made a line through and keep the same result, but snappier. Then, reveal the rest later.]

Wow! This is a great first page. Nice work! I can tell the first two paragraphs especially have been well-edited and had a lot of attention paid to them. It starts to get messier in the third paragraph, but that just needs some tightening. All in all, this is definitely something I would read. Great job!


In addition to running the OWC, I am a freelance editor and writing coach. Check out my website if you're interested in learning more!


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