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Title: THREE GHOSTS FOR ANASTASIA
Category/Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
“The little girl entered the bedroom, following her parents. Her little face was red and she tried to hold her tears when she saw her grandma lying in the bed, sleeping peacefully, while the color had already left her face.
‘Grandma…’ she whispered with broken voice and her mother brought a chair, making her sit near her grandmother’s side; she asked her to remain quiet and wait here, as patted her head.
‘Ok mommy, I will wait here.’ And she blew her nose.
‘That’s my girl, we will be right back.’ She said kissing her on the cheek, and she left the room.
It was quiet, really quiet, as if the sound had disappeared and the girl looked at her grandmother. She always smiled every time she and her parents visited her as also she used to tell the best stories and making cookies. In that thought new tears started to flow and the girl whipped them away.
‘No!’ the girl screamed but she realized that, on the spot he had cut, a faint glow, and then, a shining silver light appeared creating a small ball which was now floating above the dead woman’s body.
Suddenly the temperature fell drastically and the girl started to feel the chill down to her spine. Looking around her she realized that everything had become darker until she turned her eyes across the other side of the bed. A man dressed in black, tall with black hair and eyes stood above her grandmother’s body.”
Okay, interesting start. I’m curious about the spontaneously appearing man (grim reaper-type character, perhaps?). Writing-wise, there are a couple grammatical errors that I’ll adjust, but you may want to be careful because generally, when there are a lot of grammatical errors on the first page, it’s a sign that there are a lot of grammatical errors throughout (if this is a weakness of yours, critique partners can definitely help weed them out!). I was also a little confused about what happened between paragraph three and four—I felt like I was missing a paragraph, because there’s reference to “he” and a “cut” that seemed to come out of nowhere (maybe I am missing a paragraph?).
Plot-wise, I’m getting the sense that this is probably a prologue (deaths with mysterious figures on first pages are a pretty common prologue trope). You may want to be careful with this, if only because as I said before, this kind of opening/prologue is common, especially among YA Paranormals.
Finally, I’d also like to see more about the setting. We know about the bed, and the room is dark, but that’s about it. What kind of room is she in? Is it a small bedroom? A large hospital room? Are there any clues you can give us so we know where we are in time? Is it winter with little heating in the room, or winter with the heat blasting, or in the middle of summer with the room stifling? There’s a lot we don’t know, and I’d like to be able to have at least a little bit of a sense for where we are in place and time.
Now for the in-line critique:
“The little girl entered the bedroom, following her parents. Rather than starting with “the little girl,” which is really generic, I’d rather know our protagonist’s name (assuming she is our protagonist). Her little face was red (If you get rid of “the little girl” in the first sentence, then this is okay. If not, I’d reword to avoid the repetition of “little.”) and she tried to hold her tears when she saw her grandma lying in the bed, (“She saw” is an example of a filter phrase/“thought” verb. If you haven’t read Chuck Palahniuk’s article on “Thought” verbs, I highly recommend it (my CPs can attest to the fact that I throw this article at absolutely everyone, often more than once). The short version is this: filter phrases distance the reader from the narrative by placing an extra layer into the writing (with the “filter”), and thus, you can make your writing more immediate by removing them.) sleeping peacefully, while the color had already left her face. Whose face? The little girl’s, or the grandmother’s?
‘Grandma…’ she whispered with a broken voice and her mother brought a chair, making her sit near her grandmother’s side; she asked her to remain quiet and wait here, as she patted her head. This sentence is really long. I recommend breaking it up to make it easier to read.
‘Okay mommy, I will wait here.’ I don’t think you need the part I bolded. Most kids don’t repeat verbatim anyway, and the addition makes the dialogue sound a little stiff, to me. And she blew her nose. I don’t think you need the “and,” either.
‘That’s my girl, we will be right back.’ I recommend changing “we will” to “we’ll” to help the dialogue flow a little better. She said kissing her on the cheek, and she left the room.
It was quiet, really quiet, as if the sound had disappeared (As is, this description is a little redundant. I recommend choosing a stronger word or analogy for the quiet, instead.) and the girl looked at her grandmother.
She(Who? The girl? Or her grandmother?) always smiled every time she and her parents visited her as also she used to tell the best stories and making cookies.I’m not convinced we really need to know this information. Most people have nice memories of their grandmother, and these memories aren’t really especially specific. If it’s not essential to the story, I would cut it. In that thought(You don’t need this, IMO) new tears started to(You don’t need that phrase, either) flowed and the girl whipped them away.
‘No!’ the girl screamed but she realized (This is also a filter phrase—see above note about filter phrases) that, on the spot he (he? Who is he? Is this a typo?) had cut (What cut? Who cut what? Am I missing a section?), a faint glow, and then, a shining silver light appeared creating a small ball (This could easily be condensed into “a glowing silver ball of light” or something of the like) which was now floating above the dead woman’s body.
Suddenly(The word “suddenly” always removes the suddenness of whatever follows, because by saying “suddenly,” you’re warning the reader that something is about to happen. See the first point in this post for more details) the temperature fell drastically (Can you show us how this feels rather than telling us that the temperature dropped?) and the girl started to(You don’t need this) feel (This is a filter phrase again) the chill down to her spine. Looking around her she realized (Also a filter phrase) that everything had become darker (Can you describe this, rather than telling us?) until she turned her eyes across the other side of the bed. A man dressed in black, tall with black hair (I’d reword to avoid the repetition of “black”) and eyes stood above her grandmother’s body.” I’m not sure how to picture this. Is he floating above her? Standing on something that’s somehow above her body? Standing next to her, but towering over her? It’s a little unclear.
This has the potential to be really intriguing, but as is, I think it needs some work. If I saw this in the slush, I’d pass.
In the end, remember that this is your story and it’s 100% up to you to decide what changes you do or don’t want to make. But these are my recommendations, and I hope they help!
Thanks for sharing your first 250, Alexandra!
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.@Ava_Jae talks about filter phrases, show vs. tell & essential (or not) info in the 6th Fixing the First Page crit. (Click to tweet)