Monday, January 6, 2020

First 100 Words Critique

She writes with both hands!

Based on your input, you want more than 50 words and you want a broader category/genre.  This week we'll try the first 100 words of an ADULT HISTORICAL FANTASY.  We'll also open an entry period for ANY CATEGORY / GENRE YOU WANT TO SUBMIT.  You need to tell us what the category and genre is, so we can provide appropriate critique.

Here's the entry requirements.  If you want to enter, send us an email as follows:

Subject:  First 100 Critique – [name your category and genre]

The following 100 words are my own work and I give OA permission to post it on the OA blog for the life of the blog.

I commented on the entries posted on [date] and [date] as [your online ID].

My first 100 words:

[Copy/paste your first 100 words here.]

Send us your entry by Friday January 10, 2020.  We'll confirm receipt and let you know the date it will post on the blog.  Then, please invite your friends to read and critique.  The more the merrier!

If you don't receive a confirmation email by Sunday January 12, 2020, send us a DM on twitter and we'll figure it out.

We haven't chosen the category/genre for the first Pass or Pages yet, but if you want your first 250 to hook an agent, and you hope we choose YOUR category/genre, consider submitting your first 100 so you can get new eyes on your opening.

On to this week's entry!

Reminder:  Be nice, but be honest.  [Comments that are not polite/respectful will be deleted.]  What would YOU like to know if this was YOUR first 100 words?  Do you think it's a good opening line for the category/genre?  Does it have a hook?  Does it pull you into the story?  Do you want to read more?  Why or why not?  Be specific, so your critique helps the person who wrote the entry.

Adult, Historical Fantasy

Inside the Peach Orchard Inn, Lord Liu Jie expected to see ghosts. If the farmers knew that, they'd kill him.

They won’t if I don’t react. Besides, I don't see real ghosts. They're embarrassing hallucinations I want to see because two of them are my children.

Hallucinations or not, today will be difficult. Behind the bar, the yellow silk of an imperial call to war flickered in the lamplight.

Jie reread it.

"Yellow Turban rebels assault the people and threaten the capital. The Son of Heaven requires aid, as sons might come to their father.  All districts report."


  1. This is interesting! I'm a fan of 2nd-3rd century China, so seeing Yellow Turban mentioned right away really appealed to me. I also like the use of internal dialogue early. We get a brief sense of who Jie is and what he's lost. Initially, this had a YA feel to me. I think because so many YA books use this one or two sentence "ominous hook" to lure in the reader, I was quick to assume the voice was much younger. But it wouldn't stop me from reading!

  2. I googled Lord Liu Jie and discovered an actor and one other person with that name. Be aware of things like that.

    I'm curious why the farmers would want to kill him if they knew he'd expected to see ghosts. I don't read much historical fiction, but from the first comment there are folks who do and can give you good feedback.

    Good luck!

  3. I like it in general, but the second paragraph needs some work. The first sentence of that paragraph is ambiguous ("they won't if I don't react") - even just adding "they won't KNOW if I don't react" would help.
    Make it clear whether Jie sees "ghosts" or "hallucinations" (basically, pick one word and stick to it). It's hard for me as a reader to get behind an idea if it's not explained in a straightforward way in the first 100 words.
    Also, stating that Jie "reread" the call to war makes it clear that he already knows the info on it, and is only reading it for the reader's sake so they can get that info too. Nitpicking, but worth keeping in mind.

  4. Thanks, Amren! I'm trying to come up with a way to make it clear to the reader that he believes what he sees are hallucinations, but they're really ghosts. It's not been easy....


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