First Page Feedback: Guilty as Charmed

Copies of Lorin and Brenda's feedback are available for download in the Resources for Writers section under Extras. 

If you're interested in submitting your first page (up to 250 words) for feedback, please email a Word doc or text file copy to erin_anderson@free-expressions.com. 

Feedback sessions are also open for QUERY LETTER submissions (up to 400 words)! Email a Word doc or text file copy to erin_anderson@free-expressions.com to participate.


First Page Feedback: Guilty as Charmed by Sammi S.

Original: 


The fairy godmother Gladiola Bindweed stomped down the corridor toward the throne room. One look at her scowl, and the terrified goblins scattered. Other palace servants found they suddenly had errands elsewhere. Only the fire fairies remained.

Noisome busybodies, the fire fairies. They flickered in their wall sconces, the buzz of their excited gossip rising to a crescendo when she passed.

 “There goes the meanest fairy godmother in the seven queendoms.”

 “They say she drinks when she visits Earth.”

 “Why should Earth be any different from Etherea?”

 “The Queen’s had her sacked.”

Gladiola sucked in a breath. Of course they had gotten word before her. How could they not with courtiers and messengers flitting about?

The rumor she’d heard was the queen intended to replace her with some idiot demigod because of one miscalculation. Phaw! How could she possibly have known her little gift, a token really, would provoke the elves to war?

 Gladiola wrinkled her nose. The fire fairies reeked of candle wax and scented oil. Try as she might to ignore them, their incessant lisps and crackles bored into her concentration.

“I hear she’s the reason the elves tried to invade Earth this morning.”

 “Hah! She’s the reason they nearly succeeded.”

Gladiola ignored them and kept walking with savage resolve. Was it her fault elves got bored during peace time? Was it her fault  the fairy queen declared Earth off limits to all Ethereans because of them? So what if Gladiola had given them the game of football?


Lorin's Comments:

The fairy godmother Gladiola Bindweed stomped down the corridor toward the throne room. One look at her scowl, and the terrified goblins scattered. Other palace servants found they suddenly had errands elsewhere. Only the fire fairies remained, flickering in their wall sconces. [Might help to ground the reader in terms of some concrete detail as to where/how they remain.] [Great energy/propulsion in this opening.]

Noisome busybodies, the fire fairies. They flickered in their wall sconces, theThe buzz of their excited gossip rising rose to a crescendo when she passed.

“There goes the meanest fairy godmother in the seven queendoms.”

“They say she drinks when she visits Earth.”

“Why should Earth be any different from Etherea?”

“The Queen’s had her sacked.”

[I’d love just a bit more concrete/physical detail—just another line—somewhere in this opening.]

Gladiola sucked in a breath. Of course, they had gotten word before hershe had. How could they not with courtiers and messengers flitting about? [Feels like this could use a bit of elaboration. Flitting about where, doing what?]

The rumor she’d heard was the queen intended to replace her with some idiot demigod because of one miscalculation. Phaw! How could she possibly have known her little gift, a token really, would provoke the elves toan all-out war? [Might leave the specific players unmentioned here, so it’s not redundant in the fire fairies’ conversation below.]

Gladiola wrinkled her nose. The fire fairies reeked of candle wax and scented oil. [Great detail] Try as she might to ignore them, their incessant lisps and crackles bored into her concentration.

“I hear she’s the reason the elves tried to invade Earth this morning.”

“Hah! She’s the reason they nearly succeeded.”

Gladiola ignored them and kept walking with savage resolve. [Can you give us an overt hint of what she is actually resolved to do here? Talk her mother out of the sacking?] Was it her fault elves got bored during peace time? Was it her fault the fairy queen declared Earth off limits to all Ethereans because of them? So what if Gladiola had given them the game of football? [Feels like you might hint at a consequence here. E.g., “So what if Gladiola had given them the game of football? How could she know it would turn them into lunatics?” Of course, that might come in the next paragraph. But just another beat here to further tantalize the reader.]

Wonderful, energetic opening. You do an excellent job of establishing genre and tone, of sucking us right into the story with a dynamic force, a sense of being pulled along toward some confrontation we’re eager to see.

My only two suggestions would be, as mentioned above, to give us just a hint more concrete/physical detail somewhere throughout, and to dig into Gladiola’s point of view and motivations just a bit. This feels just a notch authorial, which is fine and appropriate for the tone you’re establishing and for the opening of a novel.

However, I found myself wishing for just a bit more feeling of being brought closer. I’d love a stronger understanding of what, specifically, Gladiola wants, and I’d love a sharper feeling of viewing this world/moment through the lens of her emotion in the scene. But I’m talking about just a pinch of seasoning—just a couple/few lines to give those elements added dimension.

Thanks so much for sharing this with me! Best of luck with your revision!

-- Lorin