Friday, November 7, 2014

First Page Critique #2

Hey everyone! I hope you guys are finding these critiques helpful. Please feel free to comment. Here is critique #2. 

First Page:

Nobody could outrun Rosa Walker. She raced along the eight-kilometer loop that encircled Wirthlin Base, passing enlistees and fellow officers as if they were standing still. Many increased their pace when her blond ponytail streaked past, but each would fall back after a hundred meters or so, shaking their heads.

Seventy-nine meters from the broken tree to the water tower, Rosa calculated. Elapsed time, nine-point-one seconds. Average speed: thirty-one-point-two-five kilometers per hour. Twelve minutes to dawn.

The numbers were a constant stream, a flood that ceased only when she slept. Most of it she pushed aside like background noise, focusing only on the bits she needed. Right now she was more concerned with putting one foot in front of the other, with the slow burn in lungs and leg muscles as she pushed her body to the limit.

Above her, a glittering arc of asteroids crossed the sky--the white and orange rings of Pegasus Four. They writhed as a trio of tiny moons spun through at eccentric angles, shepherding them into complex, serpentine waves. The rings grew fainter with every passing moment, paling until they might have been one long cloud stretched across the sky.

Soon the slow burn became a fire that would not be denied, and Rosa reduced her speed. A breeze filtered through the trees to either side of this part of the loop, stirring the azure foliage and cooling her face. Wind speed eight kilometers per hour, north by sixteen degrees west. Dawn’s light cast a reddish hue across the sky, promising rain before nightfall.

Ahead ran the neat double file of Wirthlin’s Tactical Armor squad--a dozen men and two women, all with hair cropped to a centimeter or shorter. Each bore the winged egg of the Nidus Defense Forces across their white T-shirts and athletic shorts. A pair of officers led the file.

Rosa wet her lips with anticipation. This was her favorite part of the morning run--the final 500-meters. About a year ago the TAG squad started running it with her whenever they happened to share the road. No one ever beat Rosa to the training yard, but they made her push herself hard.

The younger of the two officers spotted Rosa coming up from behind and caught the attention of Captain Reynolds, a steel-eyed man with a touch of grey in his brown hair. Reynolds checked the traffic on the road and nodded his approval. Eager grins rippled backward through the squad.

Just before they reached their marker, a lamppost on the right, a familiar sensation washed over Rosa. It was an invisible wave, a subtle vibration that reminded her of sunlight filtering through a canopy of leaves. She didn’t know what caused it, or why nobody else ever seemed to notice. It was just something she took for granted, like the numbers that inundated her day and night.

The squad spread out across the road beside Rosa and the other officers. Ten meters to the lamppost. Five. The Tactical Armor squad took off like lightning, but Rosa stumbled. A second vibration had joined the first, new and unfamiliar. It had its own rhythm, more rapid and erratic than the first. Like a bonfire flickering on a hilltop.

The others had almost a forty-meter lead by the time Rosa shook off her surprise. The new vibration was distracting, an anomaly that demanded explanation. She couldn’t focus, and it cost her precious seconds.

Rosa reached the exercise yard in fifth place. She tried not to let her embarrassment show as she walked a cool-down lap around the yard, but it was difficult. She hadn’t run that stretch so slow since before her last promotion.


I think you have some good descriptions here. For instance, I really like the imagery in the paragraph about the asteroids. However, I didn't really feel I got a good sense of the setting/characters. Are we on Earth? For me, there seemed to be an abrupt transition between this paragraph and the other paragraphs. I know it's only the first page, but I think this paragraph is the only one that hints at the story being science fiction. Also, I felt there might have been a little bit too much emphasis on numbers (why are the numbers so important to her and how is she able to calculate certain things?), and I would have loved to see some interaction between the characters.  


Anonymous said...

Thanks for continuing to post these valuable insights Jordy. Seems like an interesting first page, but I agree with you about not being sure what planet we were on.

Looking forward to your next post!

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