At long last, I'm very pleased to say that today's the day: I'm posting my critique of our contest winner's first two pages. Commenter slingsomeink bravely agreed to let me critique the first two pages of her historical romance novel here on the blog.
Blogger is really fighting me on the format of this-- or maybe I'm just doing battle with my own technological ineptness today?-- but keep scrolling down, please, for the annotated pages. I've got a summary of my critique at the bottom.
slingsomeink is doing a lot of things here that I really like, not least that she's catapulted her heroine into an unfamiliar and unexpected situation. Emily Starling seems to be a well-bred young lady, at least middle-class (and possibly a member of the ton) based on her education level and memories of "back home," not the sort of woman we expect to see herded onto a prison ship, bound somewhere that's five months' journey from England. The author takes pains, even in these two pages, to draw distinctions between the heroine and her fellow inmates. The former cellmate doesn't seem to like Emily much, for example; I doubt "Duchess" is a term of endearment. Yet there's nothing in this segment that suggests that Emily is wrongfully imprisoned...and I love that we don't yet know what she's imprisoned for. This mystery will keep me reading, and a smart writer will keep me on the hook for a while, till I'm more thoroughly invested in the story.
I also like that slingsomeink wastes no time introducing us to the man I assume will be the hero, this sea-god officer on the prison ship. If Emily's biting back a sharp retort, I'm guessing sparks will fly between these two.
As a number of my comments point to, there are a few clunky bits in here, too; in particular, I'd like slingsomeink to give us a bit more background on what's going on here, as this feels a little disorienting in the first couple of paragraphs. Watch out for cliches, and be mindful that word choice is appropriate to the character whose "head" we're in at that moment.
Overall, this is promising. I'd keep reading.
Thanks, slingsomeink, for being a great sport. What did the rest of you think? (compliments and constructive criticism only, please.) Any questions about any of my terminology, etc.?
Should we do this again soon?