Critique Corner: The Innocent Life

Author            Zurrie C.       

Genre:            YA Paranormal

Chapter One: Abbrielle

As the monitor’s last peak fell and the red line plateaued across the screen screaming the last “beep” into the air, drowning all the sounds from the room, I felt the blood rush from my face.  The only image I could see was my father lying gently on the hospital bed in front of me. Though he looked like he was only bones, I still thought he looked angelic. He was now dead, and I still couldn’t bear to leave his side, as if I was anchored to the hospital chair next to him. My only true best friend was now officially gone out of my life and all that was left was his body before me.

“Abby, we need to leave honey. It’s been fifteen minutes and they need to move the body.”

Snapping back into reality, I looked up to see my dad’s best friend Bill. He was such a nice man who was almost always happy, but I could tell from his face that he was completely distraught. When Bill found out that my dad had cancer, he would not leave his side for any circumstance, unless it was to take care of me or make sure I had everything I needed.

“Abby, sweetie we really need to leave. There are necessary things we need to do and get ready for,” Bill said kindly, but I could hear the tears in his voice.

I turned back around and looked at my dad.

“I just need like ten more minutes with him. That’s all. Just ten minutes, please?” I said while trying to swallow down the sadness that swelled in my throat.

“Okay, I’ll go talk to the doctors and give you a little bit more time. I’ll meet you in the lobby in about fifteen. Okay?”

I nodded.

5 thoughts on “Critique Corner: The Innocent Life

  1. beth hautala says:

    Zurrie,
    Lots of emotion! *sniff* I like how you’ve set the stage here: Father daughter relationship cut short, now she’s left alone in the world (more or less), and anything could happen next . . . good stuff!
    Critiques . . .
    • examine your pacing and how your sentences affect it. There is a lot that goes into grief on the page. Don’t be afraid to slow it down a little. Chop your sentences up a bit so the reader is forced to slow down and really feel things with Abby. If your reader has never lost someone they love, as Abby has, then you are going to have to make them live it alongside her. It’s especially important as this is your opening.They need to care.
    • Watch so you don’t use cliches if you can help it. “I felt the blood rush from my face,” “anchored to the hospital chair” “Snapping back into reality” etc.
    Overall, I think you’ve got a good thing going here. Everyone knows what grief feels like to one degree or another, it’s universal. It will be exciting to see how you make your readers feel Abby’s particular grief and take that journey with her. Good work.

  2. swirlandspark says:

    Immediately I feel the love Abby has for her father. That’s really nice. You start off with an emotional scene and that can be a very strong catalyst for what’s ahead of her in the story. I think the emotion of the scene could be stronger though. Many of your sentences are long. The phrases within them are good, but when they’re all strung together, they lose their meaning or at least their impact. If you separate them out, it’ll be easier for the reader to imagine the scene. The timing seems off a little bit too. Take your time with this scene. It carries so much emotional weight for Abby. Let the reader feel her emotions with everything she feels.
    I think this passage would be stronger too if you re-worded the section about Bill. I don’t think in the first moments after her father died, he would mention moving her father’s body. Also, “Snapping back into reality” sounds cliché. How about something like: The door creaked and I snapped out of my fog. My dad’s best friend, Bill stool in the doorway. I am curious to see what role Bill plays in this story, if any and also what’s in store for Abby as she deals with the death of her father. This story is sure to be an emotional one and I’d love to read more. Nice work! Good luck on this. 

  3. Scarlett Kol says:

    Zurrie,

    This is a strong impactful way to start. Getting the reader invested in the character right away is very important and I think you managed to do that here.

    I noticed the first sentence ran on too much. You have some beautiful phrasing, but nowhere for the reader to really take a breath. Maybe try to break that into smaller chunks for more punch. Also, the word “gently” probably isn’t needed in the first paragraph as people don’t really lie gently or hard or anything, they just lie there. I know that you are trying to convey peace and gentleness from the father, but maybe describing something else would get your message across better.

    You also use the phrase “leave his side” twice in a short space. This phrase is noticeable and feels repetitive.

    I love love love the start with the heart monitor. You know immediately that something not good is going down. I also really like the description of the father. It is easy to tell without info dumping that this was not a sudden passing. Great job!

  4. manuregurl says:

    Wow! Quite an emotional beginning that immediately hooks the reader and makes them interested in Abby’s plight. It is easily inferred through your writing that they had a close relationship even before you reach the line about the loss of her “only true best friend.”

    I did find myself tripping over the first sentence due to its length. I like the idea of starting with the heart monitor – always a sign that something bad or traumatic is about to happen – but wonder if there’s some way to break up the sentence so it’s shorter.

    I’m intrigued by Bill and how he fit into Abby’s father’s life and whether he will now have a role in Abby’s. He sounds like more than a best friend – his dedication to the pair of them makes him appear more spouse/mother like. Which leads to my next point – the lack of any mention of Abby’s mother or her father’s wife makes it very apparent the pair were on their own. Very well handled.

    Good hook and a great start to what appears to be an interesting story. Thanks for sharing your writing. Good luck.

  5. Daniel B. says:

    As far as bonding goes, the father-daughter one is usually pretty important and you have done a good job letting the reader know that this one was. I agree with some of the other comments though about the pacing. You have a lot of emotional elements here so give the reader a chance to absorb it. You can always reflect back on this moment later in the story if need be.

    The most obvious thing for me missing in this first scene is another female or even the mention of one. That has me curious to know what happened. Why was this man raising a daughter on his own? And what about Bill and his strong allegiance to Abby’s dad. It’s always good to write so that the reader raises questions and of course needs to read further to find the answers.

    Also don’t be afraid to write short sentences. They can be very impactful and sometimes simple is better. Based on what I’ve read, I would want to keep going, especially since you listed this as a “YA Paranormal” and THAT, really has me intrigued!

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