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Novel’s First Page Blog Hop

February 17, 2012

Jamie Ayres, fellow blogger and a wonderful writer, is hosting a blog hop that sounded like a lot of fun. The rules are simple. Post the first page of your novel, then read and offer feedback on other participating blogs. Next Wednesday five of the entries will be drawn for a first page critique by author Heather Burch, who has just published her debut novel, Halflings.

Since I’ve just finished a second pass through my Chapter One, this is perfect timing for me. What a great opportunity to post my work and get some constructive feedback. I’ve found that I just love tweaking words! Here are Jamie’s contest rules plus links:

If you’d like to participate, then please email me at & post the first page of your manuscript on YOUR blog. I will compile a list of the participating blogs and post them here. That way, everyone can hop around and post constructive feedback on each others first page. I will randomly draw five names to receive a personal critique from [author] Heather [Burch].”
My entry goes like this:

Title: The Tempest’s Serenade
Genre: Mainstream Paranormal Romance (still working on finding my niche)
Word Count: 95,000

Pitch: After a near-death experience causes him to cross into the afterlife, gifted guitarist meets the angel who has haunted him since boyhood and discovers the secret behind his preternatural talents.

My first page:

Christmas lights just didn’t look right draped over palm trees.

Outside the window of Nicholas Moore’s apartment, the palm tree’s festive disguise reminded him the recording was supposed to be finished by Christmas break. And all Stuart could talk about was his date tonight.

Nick cradled his guitar, more than ever like a living, breathing creature that demanded his undivided attention. He could still remember the day he’d first held it, seventeen Christmases ago, with his fingers too small to reach all the way across the frets of the black Fender Stratocaster. How would he know if this was the one, he’d asked the shop owner. He remembered the man’s words.

You’ve got to hold the guitar in your hands and feel the neck and the action, and how it snuggles up against you. You’ve got to close your eyes and let it vibrate next to your skin before you know…this is the one.

Today Nicholas Moore balanced this love on one knee while manipulating the controls on his effects box.

“Thought we were going to work on ‘Thirteen Steps’ today?”

Nick started, shaken from his reverie, his last chord disintegrating from a D minor seventh into a major mess. “What?”

Stuart sank into the wingback chair. He twisted the cap off a bottle of vitamin water, and held it in front of his lips. “‘Thirteen Steps’ The one I just wrote. I thought we should work on the bridge some more before we take it to the rest of the guys.”

“Yeah, sure, just gimme a minute,” Nick replied.

“I gave you a minute, man. It’s been half an hour. I can’t stay here all afternoon. I got a date.”

Nick looked up from his guitar to see Stuart grinning. The idea of Stuart the ex-drunk sitting next to Courtney for the duration of dinner and a movie would take a lot of getting used to.

  1. February 17, 2012 4:53 pm


    I really loved the first line. Great, unique image. I also liked the way you described him finding “the one,” it reminded me of Harry Potter in the wand shop. 🙂

    My only feedback is actually about your pitch…if you don’t mind me straying from the contest parameters. Since you say it’s a romance, make sure the romance is mentioned in the pitch, in fact, it should be critical to your plot. If it’s not, then maybe this is more of a contemporary fantasy.

    Great first page! Good luck!


    • February 17, 2012 11:54 pm

      I welcome all feedback! So thank you for your thoughts on this. The romance is quite important, so I will have to be sure and make that clear.
      And I’m glad you found the introduction of Nick’s guitar compelling.
      Thanks for stopping by the blog! 🙂

  2. February 17, 2012 9:09 pm

    Ok, you already have an unfair advantage since my 11-yr-old started playing guitar in September (and she’s awesome if I do say so myself, heehee). Soooo of course I love it! That drew me in. I’m not sure the dialogue is memorable enough for a first page . . . you may want to step it up a little there. Most people have short attention spans these days . . . they inhale violent video games, they encapsulate life in a text or twitter message or Facebook update. So just make sure every spoken word is moving your plot forward & jump right into the conflict. I think you’ve got some really great characters, just give me something a little bit more right up front– you have to manipulate the emotions of your reader:):) ~Thanks for participating & hope you win the drawing for Heather Burch’s critique, too! I’m really enjoying her debut novel, Halflings!!

    • February 18, 2012 12:03 am

      I’ll be picking up a copy of Heather’s book for sure. How can I go wrong? There are angels in it! 😉
      Thank you for your feedback. I felt really limited when I saw how little of my story came out in the first three hundred or so words. That should have been my first sign of trouble. Now that you concur, it really helps me to see where I can make some changes.
      It’s always good to see you here!

      • February 18, 2012 10:48 am

        I like the memory part of him getting his guitar but I’m not sure it’s needed on the first page. That way, more of the action can be on the first page. I do like this excerpt!

        • February 18, 2012 11:44 am

          Thanks for reading and I appreciate your insights. I’m glad you like the story–so far. 😉 It looks like I might have some rearranging to do!

  3. February 18, 2012 5:41 pm

    The writing and voice is good in this. I love how he really connects to the guitar. I like this line, “his last chord disintegrating from a D minor seventh into a major mess. “What?”

    Otherwise, I agree with the above comments about backstory. It would be good to shave most of it out of the first page so we can find out more about this date. There seems to be a bunch of conflict around the girl and that’s a good thing. Great job!

    • February 20, 2012 7:14 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and giving this a read!
      I can see your point, and why it felt a bit choppy even to me as I wrote it. I just wasn’t quite sure why. Your thoughts are so helpful in analyzing this–and hopefully coming up with a solution.
      I’m glad you like the story. 😀

  4. February 19, 2012 12:34 pm

    I really, really liked this, and it’s not just because I’m learning to play guitar! I feel Nick’s love for his guitar and music. Well done!

    I LOVED what the shop owner told Nick, but perhaps it would work better if it wasn’t a flashback. So maybe: The shopkeeper told me I had to hold the guitar in my hands…

    I wish you the best of luck!

    • February 20, 2012 7:18 pm

      Aww, shoot, thanks. *blushing*
      There’s actually an entire scene where this takes place that I’ve already written. Maybe I’ll hold off until then.
      Thanks your input, and I’m glad to you took the time to stop by my little blog. 🙂

  5. February 20, 2012 3:29 pm

    I liked the image of him equating his guitar with a lover, wanting to find The One. One thing did trip me up: wasn’t it Stuart wasting the half hour with talking about his date?

    • February 20, 2012 7:25 pm

      Good point! I should probably make it clearer, that Nick is spacing out, while Stuart is the one antsy to get done in time.
      Just writing that out here really helped me get this untangled! Amazing what another set of eyes can set straight.
      Anyway, I’m glad you took a look at this, that you found it interesting. Thanks for swinging by the blog!

  6. February 22, 2012 7:21 pm

    Hey Kirsten! Sorry, I am running a bit behind. I just got to read this.

    I have some good, some bad thoughts.

    Your opening line is great. I really liked it. I paused when he had to “Finish the recording by Christmas” because I thought “the recording of what?” I did figure it out in a few lines, but I’m not sure if you wnat a question like that in the first paragraph.

    On the guitar. I think this is a fairly expensive guitar (not sure). I have a vision of a five year old holding an expensive guitar. Is this realistic? I’m not sure on that one. The flashback may be out of place so early in the story, too

    The writing is crisp and fluid overall.

    One possible problem is that I don’t think there is anything in this first page that would grab someone interested in the genre you are plugging. I’d be afraid they would put it down and move on to the next before they reached your “hook”. That is just something to consider. Good luck!

    • February 24, 2012 11:53 am

      Hi there Jennifer,
      I really appreciate your thoughts, and your concerns were echoed in some of the other feedback I’ve received.
      Thank you so much for stopping by! I have lots of ideas on where I need to go with this, and thanks to all the feedback I’m excited to get started. 🙂


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