Novel Boot Camp – Workshop #2: First Page Critique

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Welcome to week two of Novel Boot Camp! Week one was a wild ride and a fantastic success. Thanks so much to everyone who participated, shared the posts, made donations, and helped out your fellow writers on Twitter and in the Facebook group. Novel Boot Camp would be nothing without you!

This post was originally going to contain the results for workshop #1 (I can hear you all laughing at my optimism), but participation was higher than I expected. There were 115 novel openings posted (that’s about 23,000 words!) and over 1,000 guesses!

So, needless to say, I have not had time to calculate the winners. It may take until after Novel Boot Camp for the results to be posted. Thanks for your patience!

Because participation was higher than expected, this week’s workshop will not have a winner that requires judging (or else I might go insane). I know this isn’t quite as much fun, but take solace in knowing that the more openings you critique, the higher your chance of winning!

How to Critique Other Writers

Before we launch into the rules of the critique, I want to give a brief mini-lecture on how to be a good novel critiquer. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Don’t be mean, hostile, aggressive, or cruel. There’s no reason to put people down or embarrass them for their mistakes. Be kind in pointing out issues. Remember that this may be the internet, but the people posting are real writers with real feelings.

Be honest. Don’t say you like something just because you like the writer or because you want to be supportive. You can be encouraging and still tell the truth.

Reciprocate! Don’t ask for critiques with no intention of providing a critique of your own. This isn’t fair to the writers who take time out to help you.

Be approachable. This isn’t the time or place to use fancy literary terms or to act uppity or pretentious. The goal is to help the other writer, not sound smarter or more accomplished.

Admit what you don’t know. Avoid giving advice or making recommendations when you aren’t sure whether something is right or wrong. If you aren’t sure, say so. Wrong advice can often we worse than no advice.

Focus on Feelings. How you feel about an opening, character, word choice, sentence structure, etc. is very valuable to the writer. A statement like, “I didn’t feel sucked in, and the main character seemed a bit mean.” is often more constructive than a statement like, “I wouldn’t start my novel at this point, and the main character shouldn’t smack the dog.”

The Value of Critiquing

When writers email me asking how to improve their writing, I always tell them to start critiquing! Nothing is as useful at opening up a writer’s eyes to issues and mistakes in their own manuscript as seeing those same issues in someone else’s work.

Make sure to read some other writer’s critiques as well. This can teach you to recognize issues you didn’t even know existed.

Workshop #2: First Page Critique

July 7 – 13

How to Submit Your Novel Opening

*Please read all of the rules before posting.*

Writers will be posting their own submissions this week. You do not need to email me or fill out a form. You may post under your real name or anonymously, but keep in mind that you cannot win if you do not have a username that I can use to identify and contact you.

Your submission should be posted in the comments section below and should include nothing but your genre and the first 250 words. Do not begin or end your post (or reply to your own post) with any additional information. The goal is to get unbiased, authentic critiques.

Example post:

GENRE: YA Science Fiction

She looked at me with fear in her eyes and a laser-gun in her hands….. (stop at 250 words).

Each writer may post up to two openings. Please only post two if you are truly working on two novels at once. Don’t dig into the bowels of your hard drive just to come up with a second opening. In other words, don’t waste your fellow Boot Campers’ time with an opening you’re not serious about.

A note about the submission length: I increased the length from 200 words to 250 words due to a number of complaints about the word count restriction. Only allowing 200 words was an attempt at keeping the contest more manageable. I am allowing Novel Boot Campers to post up to 250 words this week under the condition that posts not exceed that length. Last week a bunch of you tried to pull the wool over my eyes and submitted 300, 400, and even 600 words. Last week I hacked off the extra words, but this week I will not be doing that. If you post more than 250 words, I will delete your submission without explanation.

What to Do After Receiving a Critique

You are welcome to reply to critiques on your work to thank the critiquer or to seek clarification.

Please do not post updated versions of your novel opening. This will prevent any individual writer from dominating the workshop. Asking for subsequent critiques is also asking a lot from your fellow writers who already took time to help you out.

Absolutely do not, under any circumstances, reply to a critique in an aggressive, insulting, or demeaning manor. It’s okay to disagree, but please do so respectfully.

I want this to be a positive and empowering experience for the Novel Boot Campers! If I feel that someone is disrupting that experience, I reserve the right to remove their posts and/or ban them as necessary.

How to Leave a Critique

Please post your critiques as a reply to the novel opening, not as a general reply in the comments section.

Please do not post one sentence critiques, such as, “I liked it.” Why did you like it? Be specific.

Do not mention your writing “status.” For example, do not mention that you’re a published author, an editor, a bestseller, an award-winner, etc. I do not have time to validate these statements and do not want writers being misled into believing they are being given professional advice.

Prize – Free 1,000 Word Critique!

Due to the volume of participants, it is unlikely that I will be able to select a winner based entirely on merit. Unless there is one critiquer who really stands out from the rest, the winner will be selected randomly.

That said, I will check through the posts of the random winner to ensure that they participated to the best of their ability. This means that the winner must have made a minimum of 5 critiques, all of which must be 3 sentences or longer in length.

My Participation

I will be offering critiques as I am willing and able. I’m editing novels 50 hours per week (not including the time spent on Novel Boot Camp) so it is unlikely that I will be able to offer critiques for most writers.  😦

Please do not take it personally! The ones I comment on will be more or less random.

And who knows? Novel Boot Camp will be over someday and maybe I’ll have time then to offer some critiques.

Connect with Other Novel Boot Camp Participants

Need a writing friend? Got a question? Need a shoulder to cry on? We’re there for you!

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I will be answering writing and editing questions on our Twitter hashtag as time allows. Due to the insane volume of emails I’m receiving, I cannot provide free advice or assistance via email. Thank you!

What is Novel Boot Camp?

Novel Boot Camp is a free online novel writing course focused on identifying and correcting problems in your novel. Learn more about Novel Boot Camp and find past (and future) posts here.

1,062 thoughts on “Novel Boot Camp – Workshop #2: First Page Critique

  1. Kylie Betzner says:

    Genre: Comedy/Fantasy

    The Round Table had seen better days. King Arthur made this observation from his throne atop the raised dais. Rather than face the subject head-on, Arthur angled his body away and scrutinized it from the corners of his eyes. The oak surface, once polished and smooth, was now dull and covered in scratches and stains. Arthur dared assume if the seating arrangement was ever moved, the knights would still be able to find their prior places by the rings left from their drinking glasses. Arthur stroked his throat and grimaced. It looked as though the knights had used the table for weapon practice or for a demonstration of proper wood chopping techniques, practices not fitting the famed table of legend. Some decorative font caught his eye. It read: if you love God, carve your name below; if you love the Devil, ignore. Arthur made note of the names scratched below; to his surprise, Galahad’s was not listed. This might have concerned him more had he not noticed the giant chunk of wood missing from one side of the table; Arthur believed his brother, Sir Kay, might be the culprit. His favorite pastime had always been whittling.

    When his eyes could no longer suffer the sight of the table, he closed them; he did not even need to look at the table to know it was in a decrepit state, for its creaking served as a constant reminder that it was, in its own way, suffering. He almost believed the table could actually feel pain the way it carried on some nights.

    • Sue O says:

      I like the first sentence a lot. The description of the table was very vivid as well. My favorite part was “creaking served as…suffering.” That was wonderfully done. I enjoyed the voice as well, very authentic. Sorry I can’t give you anything more specific. I noticed the genre is comedy. It doesn’t seem it from this excerpt though.

      • Kylie Betzner says:

        Thank you for the feedback! Yeah, 250 words is hard to work with but I think you make a good point. Some rewording might help as the sentences are a bit heavy.

    • English Tim says:

      As interesting and original as the decrepit Round Table is, I suspect King Arthur will be your Main Character. So why isn’t he centre-stage your opening? Right now he’s playing second fiddle to chipped wood and, I admit, fascinating graffiti. We’re not browsing an antiques shop here. We’re reading a novel.

      Keep all this table atmosphere, but show us more Arthur and promise adventure! How is the old hero? What does he look like these days? How old is he know? At death’s door or with an adventure left? Still got that crown? What about the sword? The beard? If you don’t say, I either have to guess or he becomes this faceless, featureless figure floating around. All I know from your opening is that he strokes his throat. That’s it!

      You’re not the first person who has completely forgotten to describe their MC here in Boot Camp and you won’t be the last. It seems to be fairly common.

      I did enjoy it, though. From what I see it looks original and promising and I hope, I mean really hope, that there are adventures. I haven’t seen any comedy yet. The graffiti made me smile, but unless it makes us laugh it isn’t a comedy…

      But very intriguing. For some reason this feels authentic, like the writer knows their subject well and could even come from that era, which brings me closer to the story. I think that’s very difficult to do well. I would turn the page, and if there’s an adventure with Old Arthur in the wind I would turn the next one too. And the next after that.

      • Kylie Betzner says:

        Hi there, thanks for the thoughts. I should probably put more description in there of him just for the reader’s sake. I was encouraged originally to take out description because the reader “doesn’t need to know what color their eyes are” but from your comments, I can tell the reader does still want to “see” the characters.

        Arthur is actually not the main character. The main character is introduced in chapter 1. This is the prologue. The theme of the novel centers around change and how certain characters respond to it versus others. Arthur is actually a bit of an antagonist in the novel. It becomes more apparent in the next paragraph when Merlin enters haha.

        I’m glad to see consistent feedback on the tone of the opening no being humorous enough. Chapter one certainly got more laughs from my readers so I have to tweak the prologue to better match the rest of the novel, that’s for sure.

        I appreciate your compliment. There is definitely adventure and humor in the following pages. But yeah, that first 300 words or so does need some tweaking.

        • English Tim says:

          Hi, I’m no expert, but I think that showing a small clue on appearance here and there is all we need. All the best for your novel.

        • Chester Hendrix says:

          Kylie-
          Not sure about others, but I counted Arthur mentioned 4 times. The entire sequence is seen through his eyes. I think you’re doing well. It would be easy to mention the color of his eyes [“When his tired blue eyes could no longer suffer…”]. Other than that, the few glitches mentioned are all that hold this back – don’t YOU hold this back! You’re doing fine!

    • Helen Cole says:

      Your description of the scene is incredible. I have no doubts you could have this published someday. I was confused by the first few sentences though, because it sounded like he was positioned to fight someone, then was suddenly examining a table. Your description in this small section tells a lot about the other nights and what their demeanor is like. Excellent.

    • Marilyn McKay says:

      Great table description, but thought the reader might be more curious if the intro started with the second sentence ‘Rather than….’ because you use ‘famed table of legend’ later in the paragraph. And is Arthur’s name on the missing piece of wood? As a reader I wanted to know.

      Otherwise I am intrigued by this opening.

    • Julie Griffith says:

      I love this era, and was excited to read this. I like the first line a lot. I do think a little more description of King Arthur would be nice. The descriptions of the table are clever, but I felt like there was too much about the table. Does it have a lot of significance in the story? Also, I got the impression that no one was sitting at the table during this scene, but then the creaking is mentioned and I wondered why it would be creaking when no one is touching it. Now that I got that out of the way, I’d like to say that I really like your voice and style of writing. The writing itself is very good. Grammar, puntuation, sentence structure are all in order. Your descriptions are unique and interesting. I think you have talent, but I wonder if there might be a better scene to start off your novel–one with a little more going on.

      • Kylie Betzner says:

        Thank you so much for the compliments. I’m excited that readers seem to really like my voice as that’s taken years to develop.

        I think it would help if I described Arthur a little more at the get-go and made some of the setting more clear. I appreciate the feedback. This helps a lot!

    • Anonymous says:

      HI Kylie. My sense is the table is somehow mirroring King Arthur. Once stood a proud man but now he, like the Round Table is old, tired and full of memories and pain. A few suggestions for your consideration. …still be able to ….still find… left from their ….left from under their…..Some decorative….a decorative…It read: if you love God, carve your name below; if you love the Devil, ignore. Arthur made note of the names scratched below;I’m not sure but should this be italicized and indented?.below; to his …below. To his…Arthur made note of the names scratched below; to his surprise, Galahad’s was not listed. You might consider a rewrite because this sounds odd to me. Arthur noted the names carved in the wood below the idiom or saying ……table; Arthur….table. Arthur Arthur believed his brother, Sir Kay, might be the culprit. His favorite pastime had always been whittling. Sounds clunky. Consider a rewrite for example: Arthur suspected his brother Sir Kay, an avid whittler, to be the culprit….You might also consider using internal dialogue or since he’s old, he could be talking out loud…heheheh Good luck with your story.

  2. Kylie Betzner says:

    Hi there, thanks for sharing. First off, I like how you introduce topical information via magazines. That’s a good way of providing information without being too “info-dumpy.” Also, I like how you introduced the character right off the get-go before the information. I might want to know more about Wendy and where she is and why before going into description of the magazines though.

    Some thoughts for improvement: I saw the word amazing used quite a bit. There are a few too many adjectives in the opening line “unusual” and “amazing” as well. Might consider pairing those down as they can slow the reader down.

    Otherwise, the writing is good. I’m interested to know more about the Lord Keeper of Records.

  3. Darlene C. Hancock says:

    Darlene C. Hancock

    With each mile of two-lane highway the Audi A5 swallowed, Cassie Long’s toned muscles tightened another notch. Ten years had passed since she’d last glimpsed Magnolia Grove. She should have come home sooner, but time had a way of rushing by. Now, Cassie had no choice.
    Jason Lane called two days prior with news of Marjorie Moore’s passing. Although they both graduated in 2002, Cassie had no idea Jason had become an attorney. Nor did she know that Jason handled her mother’s affairs. Marjorie Moore’s death had come suddenly, Jason told her. No lengthy illness ensued or other condition to cause her death. He needed Cassie in Magnolia Grove as soon as possible.
    When the city limit sign came into view, Cassie drew a deep breath and slowly released it through pursed lips. She dreaded what lay ahead—the funeral and handling of her mother’s affairs, having to see everyone again and face their nosey questions and possible acquisitions. When she’d left town, she’d never considered having to return.
    Cassie cringed when she passed old Henry’s service station on the outskirts of town. Nothing had changed. The place still had plain, dingy white paint and the same old sign with faded red lettering. Grass and weeds stood knee-high along the edge of the building, around the sign and in the ditch along the road. Not a welcoming sight when entering town, Cassie thought. How much time would it take to clean up the place?

    • Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

      Let me first say I really enjoyed what I read! The first thing I couldn’t help but notice was that you didn’t add the genre at the top. In the future i’d recommend including it, this way the reader can mentally prepare themselves a bit. Since we don’t get to read the back of your book (yet) people who might avoid certain genres won’t fall into it on accident. That’s all of the nit-picky stuff though, I promise!

      Now on to your actually writing! I felt like there is a strong story here. I’ve only read a few words and I already have suspicions of Jason Lane. But I might be wrong, maybe he’ll turn into a love interest.
      Also, I like that she is moving in the story (driving) this helps with giving some background and information about Magnolia Grove, without it just being an information dump. The only suggestion I might ad here would be to try and find a way to show some of this information without telling it. An example of this:
      **Cassie cringed when she passed old Henry’s service station on the outskirts of town. Nothing had changed. The place still had plain, dingy white paint and the same old sign with faded red lettering.**

      I might suggest cutting out the line *Nothing had changed** because the reader will assume this from the following sentence (still had…) but you might also be able to go further and find creative ways to tell the reader information (such as the town still looks the same as it did last time she was there) without actually writing that. Maybe she thinks back to a memory that took place at the service station, or maybe she has an old photograph of the place she looks down at, or sets on her dash of her and her mother, or maybe one of her friends calls her on her cell when she’s driving back down memory lane, and she might complain about how nothing has changed. As long as it’s coming from Cassie and not the author (I hope that makes sense). *Of course these are just quick suggestions, you know your story better than I do. I’m sure you’ll find the right way to give us the scoop, without actually having to use a spoon!*

      Now back to the story. Through small details (such as her procrastination, her annoyance at being home, etc..) I really felt like I had a clear picture of Cassie. Also you did a great job at already showing the conflict early, which is something I really struggle with. I am very interested in the direction you are planning on taking the story, and I can’t wait to read more!

    • Brooke Kennedy says:

      I think you’ve done a great job so far! I feel like I get to know her quickly, and your imagery is really easy to understand! It’s telling as she goes along without much info dumping.

      “Cassie drew a deep breath” maybe should be “drew in”

      The only other thing I have to add is putting in some feelings. Not sure how she feels about her mother or Jason.

      Other than that I love it!

    • English Tim says:

      (((Cassie Long is Marjorie Moore’s daughter, right? Cassie Long might be married, we don’t know who to, but ten years ago she lived in Magnolia Grove, where her mother Marjorie Moore, who may have remarried since giving birth to Cassie Long, lived until she died suddenly and her mother’s lawyer, Jason Lane, with whom by coincidence Cassie Long graduated in 2002 but had no idea he was her mother’s lawyer or was a lawyer at all, has called up to say he needs her there.

      (((Please correct me if any of this is wrong. I had to stop reading piece it all together in my head because there were lots of names, places and backstory to suddenly take in and we had Long and Lane, Marjorie and Magnolia, an Audi and an attorney and…and…why not just start at paragraph 3?))))

      When the city limit sign came into view, Cassie drew a deep breath and slowly released it through pursed lips. She dreaded what lay ahead—the funeral and handling of her mother’s affairs, having to see everyone again and face their nosey questions and possible acquisitions. When she’d left town, she’d never considered having to return.

      (((Relief! So simple after all! Cassie doesn’t want to go to her mother’s funeral or handle her mother’s affairs. I’m interested now and I don’t even need to remember all those names! As for Jason, there’s bound to be an attorney: where the body lies the vultures gather, says the Bible. I don’t need to know about him, or the other history, until later. What has hooked me is very simple: why does Cassie so hate her mother, or why was she so hated? Well, I don’t expect to find that out right away, so show me some more please.)))

      Cassie cringed when she passed old Henry’s service station on the outskirts of town. Nothing had changed. The place still had plain, dingy white paint and the same old sign with faded red lettering. Grass and weeds stood knee-high along the edge of the building, around the sign and in the ditch along the road. Not a welcoming sight when entering town, Cassie thought. How much time would it take to clean up the place?

      (((And you have. Hatred, death, money and decay. Great! You nearly lost me back there! Now I’m reading. Now I want to turn the page. You can drip-feed the names and details later, together with Jason, but lawyers should only ever come in little bite-size chunks…)))

    • Chase Curtis says:

      I liked your description at the end, it is a good example of showing me that the town is dilapidated, or just a bad place. If I was you though, I would think about maybe starting with the phone call from Jason to Cassie, the one in which he tells her that she has to come back home. You could slip in how long she has been gone, “Cassie I haven’t seen you in ten years.” her reticence to return, “I just can’t Jason those memories are far to fresh.” etc.etc. I just think it would be easier for you to show the information this way through dialogue. Good stuff though.

    • Julie Griffith says:

      I’m curious about the genre since it’s omitted and I’m not really sure after reading it what genre it is.
      The first paragraph had me intrigued. She was returning home after ten years becuase something happened that gave her no choice but to return.
      Then the second paragraph slowed me down. Is is necessary to have everyone’s first and last names? It’s a lot to absorb right at the beginning, and it took me a moment to realize that this was her mother who died. I feel like some of these details could be eliminated here. If you say she died suddenly and unexpectedly, then you don’t need to go into the fact that there was no lengthy illness, etc.
      I don’t understand the use of the word “aquisitions” in that sentence in the third paragraph.
      Also, it says she never considered having to return, but above, it says she should have come home sooner. I think it should be one or the other.
      This sounds like an interesting story. I already wonder how her mother died, what was wrong with their relationship, and if Jason might be a bad guy or a love interest. This opening could flow a lot better and keep the reader in the moment if you cold find a better way to convey the info in the second paragraph.

      …Ten years had passed since she’d last glimpsed Magnolia Grove. When she left, she never considered having to return. Now she had no choice.
      Two days ago, Cassie had received a call from an attorney, who coincidentally was a former classmate. He informed Cassie that her mother had died suddenly and unexpectedly. So now here she was, entering the city limits of Magnolia Grove…

      Just an idea of how it could be simplified. Good luck with your story. The writing is good and you did a good job of introducing the conflict right away. Hope some of this helped.

  4. Korey L. Ward says:

    Alex…, Alex…, “Isaac Alexander Hamilton! Get your butt down here right this instance!” called the exaggerated voice of Sarah Hamilton, Alex’s mother. “You have a very big day ahead of you today.” This is the day that will change all of our lives forever.”

    Oh how right she will ever be.

    Alex was nuzzled in his comfy twin bed, with his leg hanging out of his red and blue superman sheets. Alex loved super hero comics; he could tell you just about any fact about any super hero out there. Alex began to roll over on his back and pressed his soft blue pillow over his eyes as the morning sun started piercing through the partially raised window blinds. The birds were chirping he could hear the motor of the neighbor’s lawn mower just outside. It was a beautiful spring day; but Alex didn’t want any part of it, because today was the day he had to pack up and leave everything he loved behind.
    Alex was not only leaving his house that contained so many memories. He was leaving his friends at school, trips to the mall, and the walks to the Ice Cream Shoppe, a few blocks from where he lived. Most of all Alex would just plain miss the security he had of knowing when and where things happened. Even though Alex lived in the city, there seemed to be a time and place for everything. Simply put, it was his home.

    • Helen Cole says:

      This provides a great hook. I would keep reading this if I had skimmed over this as a first page in a book. I like that you can somewhat explain his age, without ever saying it, and the super hero comments help to pinpoint a possible time period. I wonder what will happen or where he is going. The last two sentences in the first paragraph need to be fixed – combined.

  5. Korey L. Ward says:

    FIRST FOR PAGE CRITIQUE

    Middle Grade:

    Alex…, Alex…, “Isaac Alexander Hamilton! Get your butt down here right this instance!” called the exaggerated voice of Sarah Hamilton, Alex’s mother. “You have a very big day ahead of you today.” This is the day that will change all of our lives forever.”

    Oh how right she will ever be.

    Alex was nuzzled in his comfy twin bed, with his leg hanging out of his red and blue superman sheets. Alex loved super hero comics; he could tell you just about any fact about any super hero out there. Alex began to roll over on his back and pressed his soft blue pillow over his eyes as the morning sun started piercing through the partially raised window blinds. The birds were chirping he could hear the motor of the neighbor’s lawn mower just outside. It was a beautiful spring day; but Alex didn’t want any part of it, because today was the day he had to pack up and leave everything he loved behind.
    Alex was not only leaving his house that contained so many memories. He was leaving his friends at school, trips to the mall, and the walks to the Ice Cream Shoppe, a few blocks from where he lived. Most of all Alex would just plain miss the security he had of knowing when and where things happened. Even though Alex lived in the city, there seemed to be a time and place for everything. Simply put, it was his home

    • Adrian V. says:

      Hey there, here’s a few things that I’ve noticed 😛

      If you use Sarah’s full name you needn’t mention it’s his mother, I think dropping her Hamilton is better since it was mentioned already just before and the connection is easy to make. 🙂

      A bit further you say, with his leg hanging out of his red and blue superman sheets. I think dropping the first his and saying with “a leg” might work/sound better ? I too am often guilty of these kinds of mistakes. 😦

      After the “contained so many memories”, I’m not sure the full stop is well placed. I know the sentence would be long, but the split there feels wrong to me.

      Cheers!

    • Jackie C says:

      Hi! I’m assuming Alex is a young boy, and if he is, you do an excellent job of using voice and tone to get that across. What you’ve written so far seems very realistic, which is awesome!

      Here are the critiques!

      Alex…, Alex…, [Is he hearing this in a dream? You may want to specify] “Isaac Alexander Hamilton! Get your butt down here right this instance!” [ ‘instant’ instead of ‘instance’] called the exaggerated voice of [This sounds forced. Try cutting ‘the exaggerated voice of’] Sarah Hamilton, Alex’s mother. [Perhaps wait to mention her name until later on?] “You have a very big day ahead of you today.” This is the day that will change all of our lives forever.” [try to rephrase the first sentence. You have “day” and “today” close together. Also, take out the second quotation mark]

      Oh how right she will ever be. [Is this in omniscient point of view? If not, it should be taken out]

      Alex was nuzzled in his comfy twin bed, with his leg hanging out of his red and blue superman sheets. Alex loved super hero comics; he could tell you just about any fact about any super hero out there. Alex began to roll over on his back [Alex rolled over onto his back?] and pressed his soft blue pillow over his eyes as the morning sun started piercing through the partially raised window blinds. [“partially raised window blinds” is a quite a mouthful. I think the reader could get on without “window”] The birds were chirping [add “and”] he could hear the motor of the neighbor’s lawn mower just outside. It was a beautiful spring day; but Alex didn’t want any part of it, because [maybe take out “because” and start a new sentence here] today was the day he had to pack up and leave everything he loved behind.

      Alex was not only leaving his house that contained so many memories. He was leaving his friends at school, trips to the mall, and the walks to the Ice Cream Shoppe, a few blocks from where he lived. Most of all Alex would just plain miss the security he had of knowing when and where things happened. Even though Alex lived in the city, there seemed to be a time and place for everything. Simply put, it was his home.

      I enjoyed it! I’m eager to see how the plot thickens!

    • Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

      I love middle grade books! Glad you are writing one Korey!
      I’ll start with a few things I noticed. It’s been mentioned, by I also second the thought about cutting either “Alex’s mother” or “Sarah’s last name.

      I like that you opened the story with Alex’s mother yelling at him to get up. Your audience will be primarily kids, all of whom have started out many of their days to the same wake up call, and instantly they will all relate with the character. I will add that every word Sarah says in that first paragraph is important, because we (the readers) will get our understanding of sarah and alex’s relationship from how she speaks to him almost immediately. I think you could cut a couple words here so the dialogue feels more natural. Examples: “You have a very big day ahead of you.” Since she is waking him up, it is implied that she’s talking about that day, so you could cut “today.” Also, in the following sentence I think you can cut “all of” and just say, “This is the day that will change our lives forever.” More to the point, but this could just be preference, so take it with 2 grains of salt.
      I might also suggest cutting “simply put” at the end. A short sentence is putting it simply, so you don’t have to start with that. “This was home” or “it was his home” or even “It had been his home” etc… any of these are putting it simply, no need to be redundant here.

      Now on to the story overall. I loved Alex, he felt like a normal kid, and i’m starting to have the suspicion that his love for superheroes is not a coincidence! I loved your opening, and your descriptions of his old life (malls, ice cream shops, etc..) that he was leaving behind. I also loved your writing style, and think this is a very promising introduction of Alex and his story! Keep at it!

    • Julie Griffith says:

      You have introduced conflict on the first page (Alex has to leave his home and doesn’t want to) and you have alluded to something exciting to come by saying it will change their lives forever. I think young readers will relate to a kid who doesn’t want to leave his friends and familiar surroundings. So all of that is good. Now on to the technical stuff.
      Alex…Alex… should be within the quotation marks.
      Instance should be instant.
      You don’t need to say exaggerated voice because the dialogue and exclamation point get that across. And just say Alex’s mother; the full name seems awkward here. Also, I’d just say, “You have a very big day ahead of you. This is the day that will change our lives.”
      The sentence about her being right is phrased in a strange way and I wonder if you need it at all.
      Nuzzled isn’t the right word in this situation. What about snuggled?
      Try to avoid saying someone begins to or starts to do something. Just say Alex rolled over. Same with the sun–just say the sun pierced through the partially raised window blinds.
      The next sentence is missing something. How about– Outside, birds chirped and the neighbor’s lawn mower hummed.
      The next two sentences should be combined–Alex was not only leaving this house that contained so many memories, he was also leaving his friends, trips to the mall, and walks to the Ice Cream Shoppe.(you don’t need to say a few blocks if we know it;s close enough to walk to)

      Sorry for all the suggestions. It’s a lot easier for someone looking at it with “fresh eyes” to see parts that don’t flow right or sound right, and to see little mistakes that are easy to miss ourselves. Hope some of this helps.

  6. Adrian V. says:

    FIRST PAGE FOR CRITIQUE

    Genre: Historical fiction

    A great shadow crept across the land as the sun slowly hid behind the snowy peaks of the distant Barric Mountains. “It is as if the sun doesn’t want to witness what is to happen,” thought Hector. He wondered if that meant that he would fail what he set to do, if the gods closed their eyes like he closed his when a friend stumbled and fell horridly. “If I fail now, I might loose everything, they’ll throw me in a dungeon to rot my years away, my mother and my sister too”.

    The thought frightened him. He pushed it away by getting up and padding around thick bushes and surveying the courtyard again. It was a well tucked farmhouse right on the edge of the town, surrounded by dense vegetation. “Private” he thought, that led him to think he was definitely at the right house.

    He froze in place when the wheels of a carriage screeched on the road that ran right behind him. “This is it, they’re coming”. Quick on his feet he made a few fast strides to the tree he picked out beforehand, and got up in a flash. His strong, calloused hands gripped at the branches and held him motionless as dark eyes fixed intently on the carriage. “Three men, five with the two at the farmhouse.” He frowned, “this is going to be a bloody night”.

    • English Tim says:

      Hi, Wouldn’t Hector have already processed his fear of failure and, by now, be grimly resolved for the bloodshed ahead? Your last line implies that he has. If so, that would allow you to start at the action. You could consider starting with the screech of the carriage and give him brief thoughts in the tree while he scopes the bad boys. That’s where I was hooked. Just a suggestion.

      • Adrian V. says:

        Thanks Tim, i really was hoping to get something from you. 🙂

        I was curious about my wording. I’m very paranoid about my phrasing/wording. Am I using too many he/his/him’s ? Or am I making other big mistakes ?

        I’m guessing you would’ve mentioned them if that was the case, but since now I’m gonna run with this until the end, I was hoping to be sure not to repeat a mistake throughout my novel and having a big headache because of it later. 😀

        Cheers!

        • English Tim says:

          Hi Adrian,

          Thanks for your comments, but please don’t get the idea that I’m an expert. I’m not. Your use of he and his didn’t jump out at me. Now you’ve pointed it out, I see you tend to use a lot of them. In my opinion this is most likely to be because you don’t split your sentences enough or find shorter ways to say the same thing. I’ve gone through your opening to give you some examples:

          A great shadow crept across the land as the sun slowly hid behind the snowy peaks of the distant Barric Mountains. “It is as if the sun doesn’t want to witness what is to happen,” thought Hector. (((Or maybe: “The sun doesn’t want to watch.”)))

          He wondered if that meant that he would fail (((what he set to do…you can drop this to lose the third he))),(((full stop))) if the gods closed their eyes (((like he closed his…you can drop this to lose a he and his))) when a friend stumbled and fell horridly. “If I fail now, I might loose(((lose))) everything,(((full stop))) they’ll throw me in a dungeon to rot (((my years away…..you can lose this. when you rot, you rot, all your years),(((full stop)) my mother and (((my…drop this, of course she’s your sister))) sister too”.

          The thought (((frightened him…you could replace with “was terrifying” to lose a “him”.))) He pushed it away by getting up and padding around (((the))) thick bushes and surveying the courtyard again. (((I’m not sure you push thoughts away by padding around. Don’t you push them away and then pad around?)))

          It was a well tucked farmhouse right (((do farmhouses tuck? and tuck well? Over here we say “The farmhouse was tucked away”))) on the edge of the town, surrounded by dense vegetation. “Private” he thought,(((full stop))) (((that led him to think he…replaces these words with “It”))) was definitely at the right house.

          (((I really liked the paragraph below. So do you, I think, because you start to fly. I think you could be more comfortable writing action, which is great because readers always want more of it. Give us lots!))).

          He froze (((in place…when you freeze, you’re in place)))when the wheels of a carriage screeched on the road that ran right behind him. “This is it,(((full stop))) they’re coming”. (((Quick on his feet…you can drop this. If he’s making fast strides he’s quick on his feet. To save even more words you could just say “he ran”))) he made a few fast strides to the tree he picked out beforehand,(((no comma))) and got up in a flash. His strong, calloused hands gripped (((at…redundant))) the branches and held him motionless as (((his))) dark eyes fixed intently on the carriage. “Three men, five with the two at the farmhouse.” He frowned, “this is going to be a bloody night”. (((Why is he frowning? Is he puzzled? Even if he is, I don’t think he’s a frowner. How about: “Three men. With two at the farmhouse, that makes five,” he decided. “It’s going to be a bloody night.” (((I’ve suggested that last small change so the reader will remember the famous “It’s going to be a bumpy night” quote from the movies and realise this is going to be much worse. I suspect that was in your subconscious when you wrote the line, and it does work.)))

          (((These are all just suggestions. The idea is to adapt anything you like into your own style and improve on it.)))

          All the best
          Tim

          • Adrian V. says:

            Thank you very much! This was in fact exactly what I was looking for. For some reason, maybe because english is not my native tongue, I couldn’t find ways to properly change the way I was writing. This has been informative!

    • Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

      I really liked this! I loved the line about the sun not wanting to witness what was going to happen. In just a couple of paragraphs, I am already interested in who Hector is, and what he’s doing. His sister and his own life temporarily answer the why, but we (the readers) know there is more behind this, and I’m excited to keep reading to figure out how he got there in the first place.
      I enjoy your writing style, it feels smooth and held my attention the entire time.
      A part that kind of confused me was one of the last lines. “Three men, five with the two at the farmhouse.” I admit I had to read this twice, but I think that is only because it sounded like a math problem to me. This could just be me.

      The only thing I’ll add to the story overall is questioning how prepared Hector is. Does he have a sword, a crossbow, or is he going to fight these 5 men with his bare hands. Maybe mentioning somewhere early, possibly when he’s in the bushes, about his weapon. Of course there is a good chance that you answer this almost immediately after the 250 word mark, if so it is fine… but be aware that the reader doesn’t have a clear picture of Hector yet.

      Again, I loved this! I would continue reading without a doubt, and i’ll admit this is a genre I almost never read. Great job, you are a very talented writer!

  7. Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

    FIRST PAGE FOR CRITIQUE
    Genre: Young Adult Fiction

    ****
    Prologue

    I was five years old the day I found Earl Talon’s body. When I found him he was lying in the dirt out by the cliffs, and other than the large hole in his stomach, he looked mostly the same. Mom just about fainted when I wandered back home covered in blood. I must have spent hours trying to wake him, and it ended up costing me my favorite dress.
    Later that day Angel would add a new law to our very short list of town rules after the event: Any body left behind from the hands of another must be properly buried within two hours of the incident by all parties involved.

    Later that evening my father and I sat on the porch together as we did every night. After fighting off a dozen questions, he finally explained to me that Earl wasn’t going to be waking back up, and that he’d been killed over a card game the night before.
    “Why are people so awful here daddy?”
    “It’s this damn desert, it brings out the worst in people.” He’d always say, shaking his head.
    My father truly believed the reason everyone in Dog Paw acted the way they did was because of the weather. For him it had nothing to do with the fact that everyone here had either just got out of prison, or came to the desert to avoid it.
    He blamed the heat.

    • Adrian V. says:

      You should skip the second found in the other sentence and simply begin with “He was lying…”
      The third paragraph begins with later just like the second. You can just delete the later and leave “that evening” and it’ll be just right.

      Otherwise, very nice! Would love to get a longer bit from your manuscript, hear more about that town out in the desert. 😀

      • Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

        Thank you Adrian! As soon as I pressed enter, I cringed at the sloppy errors (reason #2993 why I need to read aloud before posting anything!) Thank you for pointing these out!

    • Chase Curtis says:

      Good I like your narrator, unique voice. But you might want to try and have something happen. See I had this same problem I thought narrator would be interesting enough on his own to carry my story, nope, just doesn’t work. I loved your voice but you need something to happen, maybe show the scene where she finds the body. You tell me about it and I’m interested but I’d rather see it. Then we could see Angel and understand everything a little better. Really good though you have talent, just keep pushing yourself.

      • Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

        Thanks Chase. In the following paragraph something big happens on the front porch, but didn’t make it within 250 words. I really appreciate you mentioning this though, because it doesn’t matter how cool something is on page 2, if I already lost the reader on page 1, so thanks!
        p.s. Thank for mentioning this struggle in your own work too… Glad I’m not the only one in this club!

    • English Tim says:

      I thought your first paragraph was really great. The style reminded me a little of Elmore Leonard’s early westerns. One tiny point: was it her birthday? You’re specific to the day. If not, then I think it should be: “I was five when I found…etc”.

      A couple of questions:

      In paragraph two, how can a body which has been left behind be buried by all parties involved? If they’ve left it behind, surely they can’t bury it? Are you implying that by law killers are now required to come back with shovels?

      If Earl was killed over a card game, why is his body out by the cliffs? Was he playing cards under them, did the killer follow him there or was he killed elsewhere and dumped? Maybe you intend for this question to be hanging. If so, please ignore!

      I also liked the paragraph starting: “My father…” I’m no expert, but in my opinion your voice is very strong and you can perhaps let it run for a few paragraphs before dialogue. She is already talking to us. Just a thought.

      • Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

        Thanks Tim! I’d be lying if I said Elmore Leonard wasn’t one of my heros!
        Thanks for bringing up so many great questions, many of these are easily answered in my head, but don’t make their way to print. Many are easy fixes, which i’ll get on right away!

        The part I will have to rework is the bit about the new law being implement by Angel (who is sort of like the mayor here) The point I was trying to make was that in the old days of Dog Paw, people would just shoot someone and toss their bodies out by the cliffs for the coyotes or birds. Then things change when a child (the only child of 88 people) is born into this small town of monsters. I mentioned the law not just to introduce Angel’s authority, but also to show the reader that no one really bats an eye at a murder over something as senseless as a poker game.

        Again, thanks for your help! Back to the typewriter shaped drawing board!

        • English Tim says:

          Hold your horses, Dominic. I don’t think you need the drawing board. Just keep it simple. You wrote: “In the old days of Dog Paw, people would just shoot someone and toss their bodies out by the cliffs for the coyotes.”

          What’s wrong with that? I think it says everything you wanted to. (Drop the birds, though. Most birds don’t eat carrion. Just vultures, ravens and similar.) Now you can add…So Angel brought in a new law…etc. Just an idea.
          All the best, Tim.

    • Betsy Herbert says:

      Good opening, interest piqued! I was wondering, though, why she’d be covered in blood. Look at that word choice. I think she’d have, maybe, just a blood stain on her dress. I don’t think she’d spend hours, though it might seem like hours to a 5 year old.
      I find para 2 very interesting, but I’d cut the line about “by all parties involved”.
      When she asks, “Why are people so awful here, Daddy?”, it makes it clear that she knows about people in other places, which may be true….just an observation.
      I love the name of the town and the last paragraph is really great. Thanks!

      • Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

        Thank you Betsy! All of these observations are great! I can’t even get my 5 year old nephew to sit still for ten minutes, why I thought a 5 year old wouldn’t get bored hanging out with a dead guy after “hours” I don’t know! Thanks!

        • English Tim says:

          I must disagree. It’s great, and makes your opening great. Maybe it was hours. And even if it wasn’t, you wrote “must have spent hours”, which covers you. It’s a brilliant picture you painted and I wouldn’t change a word. Sorry!

    • Erica says:

      Hi Dominic

      I loved this and can’t find anything much to say that hasn’t already been said!

      The Angel paragraph needs a bit of a tweak (as you know) but, for the new law from Angel, could you try “Anybody who dies by the hands of another…”etc ? I agree with Tim about the logic of it, but there is a nice humor to it and it should stay, somehow.

      I struggle with writing in the first person, but I think you do it really well and got her voice across right from the start. It made for an easy read, that just made me want to turn the page.

      I’d like to read more, definitely. Please!

  8. Betsy Herbert says:

    Genre: Contemporary

    There were six women waiting in Texas who I didn’t want to see. Not the state, just the conference room. All the meeting rooms were named after bigger states, California, Florida, Alaska. Some of these women were mad at me for selling out, leaving behind my old job and taking this new one. I’d just hit forty. And so it happened that just days after my supervisor status became official, I had to teach a group of grown women how to cry.
    Heading down the lavender-gray corridor, I fretted about holding their attention. Would I drop a book on the floor, or come in quietly, stand stoically and wait for them to look? Or, yell, “OK, ladies,” like a prison guard. I was always trying to gauge my tone of voice and what the correct volume was for every situation. I continued through the maze of shoulder-high cubicle wall landmarks – the plant cube, the candy cube — pausing before opening the door. I’d come to this place, Sim Cirque, Conflict Simulators, as an actress who wanted to make ends meet as a role player. Now, here I was, about to deliver a dreaded Power Point about the levels of crying. I wasn’t training the easy, stagey, type: throw your head down, shake your shoulders like bubbling oatmeal. No, we were talking sobbing, moaning, rocking, keening, even. I envied them. They had the opportunity to let out every grievance they’d ever had; all in a day’s work. That was all over for me now.

    • Dominic Matthew Jackson says:

      Sometimes I feel that in writing circles, we must always follow the golden rule: If you don’t have anything mean to say, don’t say anything at all. (kidding… kind of)
      But the truth is I loved this. I racked my brain trying to offer some sort of critique, but the further I read, the more my questions were answered.
      At first I did see a problem in not having any info on our main character here (A physical description, not even a name) however, I am sure this would all be answer soon (if not, that would be a place to start!) Since there were no other characters (other than “the girls”) it didn’t confuse me, I knew the voice and the speaker were the same (if that makes sense)
      I am very interested in where this story is going, and I found myself smiling at a lot of the minor details (such as the big rooms being named after big states… clever)

      WHich this comment actually offered something (anything!) other than my enjoyment, but right now that’s all I can leave here! Keeping writing, I love your style!

    • English Tim says:

      Well, I’m intrigued. Outside of acting class, where are people taught to cry? And why on earth would some corporation be teaching six women to cry more effectively? I even Googled “conflict simulation” and found military wargames. So I am clueless. My best guess is that either they are secret agents being taught to improve pillow talk or are being instructed how to defraud insurance firms. But why would a company involved in either trumpet its name? Maybe it’s obvious and I have missed it. If not, I would suggest that more about her crying mission could come higher, above the details about the State rooms and her entrance worries. Just a thought.

      • Betsy Herbert says:

        Thanks, Tim. It’s not anything like secret agents. You’ve honed in on the problem, though, about where/when to introduce the “business”. It comes a little bit further on at this point, but, I may rethink that. Thanks for reading!

    • Kimaowen says:

      I’m not quite sure what your book is about but it’s definitely piqued my interest. I stumbled over the first line but after rereading it and moving on it makes sense that the conference room is named after the state of Texas. It was just a pretty awkward start for me. I don’t really understand what’s going on in your opening… I’m assuming it will become apparent at some point why this woman has to teach a group of women to cry. I felt like some of the information was tossed out there but not really relevant to what’s happening such as the mention that she just turned forty. Overall I think you’re off to an intriguing start.

    • Erica says:

      Hi Betsy

      I’m intrigued as well and I can’t find much to fault, so I’ll nit-pick instead, if you don’t mind!

      You mentioned that you didn’t know when to introduce the business. I’d have thought it’d be the next paragraph after these first 250 words, but not too much longer after.
      Have to say that I really like the “OK, ladies”, particularly after suggesting the book drop. A thought – if she already knew the women waiting and the employer/surroundings so well, wouldn’t she already have worked out how to play it? Something like “I always tried to gauge my tone of voice; what the correct volume was for every situation, but this one was hard.” I just felt that the sentence was missing something, or even why this was going to be so difficult. Or, is it just because she used to work with them?
      Overall I liked it a lot – I’d definitely turn the page!

  9. Victoria K. says:

    Genre: NA – Romance

    Life is full of first. There’s the scrapbook worthy instances– like when a child take their first steps. Then, there’s those less than admirable events that involve a “Happy 21st!” banner, celebratory drinks, and a raging hangover that drags till noon. Not that I’ve had any personal experience with the latter. But anyone that ever bothered to spend at least five minutes watching trashy college reality TV, or bears witness to the endless public documentation of people’s lives through various forms of social media can get the gist of it. But I digress. Everyone’s life is marked by these memorable moments that introduce us to new experiences every day. As for myself, I often anticipate one first in particular:

    Love.

    In the years between my painfully awkward teenage adolescence and the present brink of adulthood, I had expected to at least feel something – anything – resembling even a fraction of the romance I had seen in movies. A passionate first kiss in on a baseball field. Some sexually tense eye locking with an attractive guy in the co-ed dormitory. Unfortunately, at the ripe age of 20, I’ve had nothing remotely close to these experiences. Although I’m a believer in the concept that good things come to those who wait the very foundation of those thoughts are shaken when I stand in the living room of a Nine-Year Old’s birthday party. A mere front for what’s actually an arranged date with a man ten years older than me.

    • English Tim says:

      Hi Victoria, I think the hook is that she has been fixed up, presumably by anxious friends. So you could consider starting there. I liked the way you conveyed her awkwardness, which makes her much more engaging.

      As you have it, I infer that she is gorgeous. The leggy model type. If that’s wrong, we’ll need a clue to show us otherwise. Depending on the answer, there will be two different types of story, each as good as the other.

      Your first paragraph is actually redundant. You’re not telling us anything we don’t already know, which can turn the reader off quickly.

      So instead, why not start by showing us how she deals, or doesn’t, with this arranged meeting. Then you could weave in details of past liaisons, or arranged dates, which disastrously failed to sprout.

      Not forgetting her friends, of course, watching in agony from a hot tin roof.

      Hope this is helpful. All the best, Tim.

      • Victoria K. says:

        Hello, Tim!

        Wow thank you for all the pointers and great advice. I’m sorry it took so long to reply. My laptop was broken for a while until I got it fixed this week. A lot of the things you pointed out, I agree with and noticed the problems prior to posting but I wasn’t sure. For instance, the redundancy. I have a bad habit of rambling on about pointless things instead of jumping right into the scene. I’ll be sure to look at the workshops you recommended for some extra help though. Thank you so much! I’m very glad you commented on my intros.

  10. Victoria K. says:

    GENRE: YA Realistic Fiction / Romance

    Jason was her best friend.

    So whenever he needed someone to talk to about relationships, she was there for him. Tonight was no different. Despite the fact that it was past curfew, Erin slipped out of the back door quietly. Her parents were strict, so she knew if she was ever caught she’d be skinned alive. This sort of impulsive behavior was unlike her. Yet, she didn’t think twice when she sprinted across the yard, running towards the end of the street. Her bare feet smacked against the jagged pavement painfully, but she couldn’t spare concern for her comfort in an attempt to be stealth. She made an extra effort to avoid the fluorescent glow of the street lights. The neighbors of Portland St. weren’t exactly the most private people, thus they were prone to gossip. As she neared her destination she slowed her pace. A dark, but unmistakable, figure came into view.

    “Jason.” His name fell out. Hushed, though blanketed in worry.

    Erin took on the role of his relationship counselor often. More so by years of habit rather than voluntarily. When she approached him, her mind instantly wracked over what words of advice she could offer this time. It was always like this. Jason would hang on every word. He’d thank her. Then tell her how smart she was — despite the fact that she had never been in a relationship herself.

    • English Tim says:

      Hi Victoria, I think this opening flows better than the other one, mainly because you do a lot more showing rather than telling. But nothing really grabs me. Unless I found something original, mysterious or exciting here I would wander off. Jason is not mysterious to me. He just comes across as needy, or a user. If there is something mysterious about him, you need to give us bigger clues.

      I think Ellen’s Lectures 1 and 2 will really help you. They will show you how to bring your hook into your opening and lock the reader in. Just click on “Uncategorized” on the Main Page. That’s my view generally. Here are some specific comments:

      Jason was her best friend.

      So whenever he needed someone to talk to about relationships, she was there for him.

      (((This is a technicality, but an important one: Your line above shows that she is a friend to Jason. Nothing so far shows he is a friend to her. So, it’s quite possible that she is Jason’s best friend, but if you go on to show Jason letting her down then your first line will be wrong. I think it’s much safer as: She was Jason’s best friend. I came back up here to write that because I’m not sure I trust Jason. With a bigger clue the reader might be certain of it. That would be one way to lock ’em in.)))

      Tonight was no different. Despite the fact that it was past curfew, Erin slipped out of the back door quietly. Her parents were strict, so she knew if she was ever caught she’d be skinned alive. This sort of impulsive behavior was unlike her. Yet, she didn’t think twice when she sprinted across the yard, running towards the end of the street. Her bare feet smacked against the jagged pavement painfully(((do you mean the pavement is jagged, being set badly, or that the stones themselves are jagged?))), but she couldn’t spare concern for her comfort in an attempt to be stealth. (((this reads a little laboured))) She made an extra effort to avoid the fluorescent glow of the street lights.(((How is she doing that? Running through the bushes? You just said she’s on the pavement.))) The neighbors of Portland St.(((reet, unless you’re making a point))) weren’t exactly the most private people(((, thus they…and))) were prone to gossip. As she neared her destination she slowed her pace. A dark, but unmistakable,(((no commas))) figure came into view.

      “Jason.” His name fell out. Hushed, though blanketed in worry. (((I’ve never heard of worry being blanketed. I don’t think it’s possible.)))

      Erin took on the role of his relationship counselor often. More so by years of habit rather than voluntarily. When she approached him, her mind instantly wracked over what words of advice she could offer this time. It was always like this. Jason would hang on every word. He’d thank her. Then tell her how smart she was — despite the fact that she had never been in a relationship herself.

      (((He hasn’t said a word, but I don’t like him already. I suspect he’s using her.)))

      Hope this is helpful. All the best, Tim.

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