Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Single Page Can Change Your Life

One page, just two hundred and fifty words can change the life of an author forever. Why? Because they are the introduction to the story you’re about to tell. They set the stage. They are the hook. If your reader turns the page then you’ve done your job.

I’ve entered the Made of Awesome Contest hosted by the amazing Shelley Watters. Contests like this are fun because they give everyone a chance to provide feedback on each other’s work. I enjoy the process as much as I enjoy writing and am excited to share my work with you. Please enjoy the first page of On Fallen Wings.

The Darkness Between Trees

For as long as I could remember, Faeries had danced at Stone Meadow.
I loved dancing and the night was perfect, like a dream. I was innocent to its graces. Raising my arms, I leaned my head back to absorb glowing blue rays on my face and hands. Then I closed my eyes and caressed the cold tips of grass with my feet, repeating the familiar sway of my steps. As a frosty wisp of air stirred me from my trance, I swept my gown in a circle and spun to where my young sister, Leila, sat watching.
She reached up and parted a long strand of hair from my face. “That was wonderful,” she said. “Are you nervous for tomorrow?”
“Oh, yes.” I fell to the grass. “I can’t believe this is happening.” Then I covered my face with both hands and moaned with joy. “My Day of Promise, at last!”
Leila rolled onto her stomach and leaned on her elbows, propping her chin with her palms. “What is it like to be in love?”
I grinned at her curiosity and stretched my arms straight. “It’s like dancing barefoot in the meadow under moonlight,” I told her. “Love tickles your toes and then climbs to your heart.” I rolled on the grass. “It spirals toward your fingertips as you spin and spin. Then it reaches up to the moon, grabs its rays, and pulls them down like a warm blanket.”
Leila sighed. My sister’s wide eyes revealed their wanting.

There they are. Two hundred and fifty words. This portion of the contest is about feedback. What ideas do you have that will make the page better? What needs improvement? What did you like? Thanks in advance for visiting and offering your comments.


  1. Hiya,

    As a fellow contestant, I'm here to review your entry for the Awesome Contest:)

    First impression: The character's love in this piece is so powerful and beautiful, that it caught my attention. Your hook is the upcoming Day of Promise, but it's lacking something. A stronger hook to make me turn the page - so far everything seems perfect so what grabs me by the throat about this event? Is it what she leaves behind or a tiny fear of the unknown?

    Needing some love: The second paragraph starting 'I loved dancing...' didn't seem to quite connect to the first sentence for me. At first I thought she was a fairy, and maybe she is, but I didn't get the impression. Maybe just give us a connection between the opening line and the rest.

    What I liked: Really liked your opening sentence, plus when the protagonist tells us what love is like.. that is gorgeous and so well written. I loved that part and wanted more. I wonder if you could bring that up earlier on.

    Best of luck in the contest:)

    Here's mine:

  2. Excellent notes-Exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I LOVE fairy stories and especially the opening line, but then I wasn't sure if the MC was a fairy or just a girl. (Also, is there a way you can squeeze in her name?)

    I'd like to feel a little bit more of the emotion/tension/anxiety of the older sister and not just the anticipation of the younger. If she's in love who is she in love with? The Day of Promise sounds interesting, is she about to get married, or to find out who her soul mate is? A quick description of it will help me keep turning the page. If you've got a good hook on the back jacket I might keep reading, but as the page is, the conflict seems a bit too subtle.

    I was innocent to its graces.—Very poetic, but I have no idea what this means.

    I covered my face with both hands and moaned with joy.—Cut “Then” to make the action more immediate, and to help draw readers into the story more.
    I grinned **at her curiosity** and stretched my arms straight.—This feels like telling. I think you could cut it or show it better with facial expressions. (Even replacing grin with a description of her lips tugging up at the corners. Etc..)

  4. This is exactly why I love contests like these. Awesome feedback. Thanks. Keep it coming folks...

  5. You write very beautifully. The one thing I would suggest would be to explain a little more, as mentioned by the above comments. Her description of what love feels like was especially beautiful.

  6. Beautiful description of what love feels like, and also the sensations she feels as she dances, but there is no tension here. I'm not asking myself any questions in from this opening, so why would I read on?

    I'm not sure where your story is going, or what the relationship between the sisters is, but maybe to inject some tension, you could have the younger sister jealous of the elder's love, and that would create conflict between them. Or she's afraid love will tear her sister from her. Just something to get questions raised or there is no reason to keep reading to find out.

  7. mr. mchenry

    as a blue collar, beer drinking, sports lover from cleveland I do not know the first thing abour faeries or thier stories, but I would love to read more of this story. the pacing is slow, and while others complained about this i found it well suited to the mood of the scene. 2 carefree/happy people enjoying the beautiful world around them. they have a passion for life and of love and of each other that screams off the page in beautifully written sentences. right now, they haven't a care in the world, so that when the conflict is introduced it will become all that much more intense and page-turning.
    the loud-mouthed-barley educated clevelander in me wishes they were drinking beers and talking about the cavaliers in the playoffs, but the lover of good wordplay is so content and ready to fall into the world you have created.

    douglas esper

  8. Excellent. I'm not sure if "moaned with joy" is the right word. Perhaps "squeled", or "sighed", or "giggled". You would know better than I.
    Very good with showing action, and staying away from passive writing. =)

  9. Great imagery! You can get a sense of the characters right away. I would love to get a glimpse of the conflict in this love-struck MC's story, if possible :)

  10. Love the first sentence! The imagery in the scene is great. I would watch your use of "then" and similar transition words – the excerpt would be stronger without them. Also, the word "moaned" creeped me out a little. :) Really enjoyed this! Best of luck!!

  11. Good start if perhaps a bit slow for my tastes. Only one thing made me stop and say huh?
    "I leaned my head back to absorb glowing blue rays on my face and hands."
    Blue rays from what? You mention night, grass and the moon so it is set on an earth type planet.
    Perhaps it's me but a few words could fix it.
    Good luck on the contest!

  12. Nicely done imagery. Consider transposing your first sentence -- starting with "Faeries" might make for a stronger opening.

    Best of luck!

  13. I loved your opening line. Your descriptions are so poetic. The only thing I would ask that you change is to give some kind of indication as to how old the MC is. At first I thought she (I presume it is a she) was only about twelve or so, but then she speaks so knowingly of love to her younger sister that i decided she must be older. I don't think you need to come right out and declare how old she is, just give some kind of hint.

  14. I love the description of being in love. Really poetic.

    The first line makes me think that at some point the faeries may not dance at Stone Meadow.

  15. Out of all the comments, I think Douglas hit things pretty spot on.

    Great story telling here and the description of love and being in love, was beautiful.

    I don't believe there is any need for tension in this opening scene, because when it does happen, it will make that much more of an impact!

    I'm sometimes in awe of how much commenter's think you can squeeze in any submit that's 250 words (and of course, to each his own, as it's all subjective!)...and in my mind, if they have all these questions right off the bat, then that right there is what makes a reader turn the page. Now, with that being said, I do hope the answers lie somewhere in the next few pages to keep the reader engaged.

    While I'm not a huge fan of Faeries - and I'll admit, was quite surprised to see this written from a male (please don't take that the wrong way!), I will say I was quite intrigued by your story building here and amazed at how well you've captured the female POV. Excellent job!

    My only crit - super tiny observation:

    The entire 2nd paragraph is about her movements and dancing, where she then ends, by her sister. But then, her sister reaches up and parts her hair from her face (but the MC is still standing and the sister is...sitting?). And finally, the MC falls down to the grass in the 4th paragraph.

    Just trying to visualize how this can all take place as effortlessly as it sounds, if one is standing and one is sitting - and wondering if it would be better for her sister to part her hair, once she's flopped down to the grass.

    Like I said, super tiny.

    Other than that, great job on this - I'd read more for sure.

    Good luck in the contest as well!

  16. Wow, kind of a magical sisterly moment:) Tender and compelling. I'd definitely keep reading.

    I assumed that the sisters were faeries or creatures of sort but in reading your piece over again, I don't know why I assumed this. It must be your opening line about faeires dancing in the meadow. I think you definitely need to give us some hint about what the girls they are.

    I think that the dialogue is spot on and painted a clear picture of the scene. “Love tickles your toes and then climbs to your heart.” I rolled on the grass. “It spirals toward your fingertips as you spin and spin." Well done.

    That being said, I think rather quickly from this point, you have to give us some kind of hint that something is going to happen to threaten or change our main character's blissful state. Since it's only 250 words, I don't know what comes next but I keep reading to find what challenge is thrown into this happy story.

    Thanks for sharing! Good luck!

  17. I'm sensing the calm before the storm here. =) The scene is beautiful and very soothing.

    Like one of the other readers, I couldn't decided if the MC was a fairie initially. A simple remedy would be "...long as I could remember, we Faeries had danced..."

    I was also confused by the line, "I was innocent to its graces." When I paused and read it again I loved what it's saying, but I'm wondering if there might be a clearer way to communicate the idea.

    Love the prose and description of "love". I would read on--just to find out what it is that's going to rattle this perfect world.

  18. Hi Jamie!
    I wrote an MG-UF with a pixie as my mc, so I understand this style. I found it hard to get an agent's interest; they seem to want human mc's.
    I thought the descriptions were good, but found the tone of the fae hard to connect with. They were so euphoric, they seemed almost drugged. The 'moaned in joy' threw me (my mind conjured up adult images); same with 'wide eyes revealed their wanting'.
    I'm also not sure there's enough of a hook here. There's no tension. Perhaps you started the ms a bit too early in the story.
    Good luck!

  19. I agree with Erin's comments. I was drawn in by your beautiful descriptions and think you are almost there. Good Luck

  20. Thank you for the excellent feedback. I've enjoyed reading all of your advice and observations, now I'm off to tweek a few things.

    Erin, I'm surprised as well. Every time I review one of my pages, I think, "where did that come from?" I'm the polar opposite of the character in this story, but I'm having fun writing it from her point of view.

    Good luck to everyone in the contest and thanks again. With your help, I'm trying to give you the best that I can.


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