MG Historical Fiction First Page Critique

Welcome to my first ever first page critique! I promised to blog more about the writing process this year. While I’m not great at writing blogs, I do LOVE helping other writers improve their work. If you’d like to submit your first page for consideration, you can fill up this form.

My goal isn’t to tear writers apart, but to point out common mistakes a lot of writers make in their opening pages. My hope is seeing it broken down like this will help other writers recognize the flaws in their own writing. If you have questions about any of my feedback, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Our first sample is a MG Historical Fiction Novel. This page comes from a complete novel that is ready to query.

What I liked about this sample is that it surprised me right away. Perhaps it’s the middle school “mean girl” in me, but I expected the competing Jennys to be an enemy situation. Instead, Jenny with a ‘y’ is looking for a best friend. Breaking the reader’s expectation is one of the cornerstones of good fiction, so great work, writer!

Manuscript 1 .png

What’s tough about first pages is that there is a lot of information to convey quickly. Where are we? What’s going on here? This author did a great job getting the character’s desires on the page right away. Jenny is looking for a best friend! Immediately, I find myself invested in her story. Will Jenni with an ‘i’ want to be friends, too? Will she turn Jenny with a ‘y’ down?

There is some room for tightening in this sample. I’m anxious to get to dialogue and see what happens. A few tweaks and we could get the reader to the action much faster.

Manuscript 2.png

A killer opening line is so important, and here, about halfway down the page we have one. I’m recommending the author revise a little bit to move that sentence up. It tells us SO MUCH about the story in so little space. We learn this isn’t a contemporary story, and that Jenni has something our main character wants. It creates an immediate sense of tension that encourages me to keep reading.

I do have some unanswered questions I hope will be explored in the coming pages. Why is Jenny this far along in life without a best friend? What exactly is it about Jenni with an ‘i’ that makes Jenny know she’ s good friend material? What will happen if Jenny doesn’t convince Jenni to be her friend?

I’d like to thank the author for trusting me with their words. I hope my feedback is helpful!

I’ll be back next week with a new first page!