First Sentence Critique

Miss Snark is hosting a first sentence critique today.  Unfinished manuscripts were allowed.  So even though nobody has ever read my WIP, and I'm only 15k in, I entered.  I've never been good at beginnings, and I think my first sentence would be better with the second attached to it, or maybe the first page...we'll see what critters think.  (I'm sure it is too vague, and lacks voice, but ah well.  It is what it is!)

The posted sentences will get a YES or a NO along with a brief explanation as to WHY.  Feel free to head over and critique the 50 entrants that got in (lottery-style).

Or you can just crit it in my comments:


Happiness is so many things.


Happiness is so many things.
It isn’t this.

FIRST PAGE  (I've really never, ever rocked a beginning, so crit away or smile and keep your opinions to yourself, since this is a complete rough draft.)

Happiness is so many things.


            It isn’t this.

            It isn’t blue skies with a backdrop of bluffs.

            It isn’t twittering birds flying over this God-forsaken town.

            It isn’t 600 kids of whom five-ish know my name.

            It isn’t a mom who cries in her sleep, or having a boyfriend without kisses, or passing a chemistry exam when I started the same course last semester

            somewhere else.

            Somewhere where blue skies

            and robins

            and friends meant I was happy.

            A place where my mom was with my dad and he was with me and we smiled and hugged.

            A place that was




            The door slams when I rush into the kitchen where Mom is at the stove.  I stop, confused.  She doesn’t turn and for three seconds I wonder who this woman is and what she did with my mother.

            “What, what are you doing?” I ask.

            She turns and smiles.  She actually smiles.  “Making spaghetti.”

            When I don’t speak or move or breathe because I am afraid of this moment, afraid maybe that if I move I will smash it into kazillion teardrops, she says, “Doesn’t spaghetti sound marvelous?”

            It does.  I can’t believe it but it does.  I bring my backpack to the room I am using to sleep in and do homework in and hurry back to the kitchen.  I take out milk and find French bread on the counter.  I slice it up with a bread knife that has never been used and spread butter and sprinkle garlic and find parmesan cheese to grate.  Mom hands me a baking sheet, and she is


            I am looking at her again and examining her hair—did she cut it?  Her eyelashes are wearing mascara and it is not smudged black underneath her eyes.


  1. I love it. I mean truly, deep down, love it, the whole passage. I agree that the first sentence has more punch with the second, but it leads up to it perfectly. I'm curious to see how the tenacious and often abrasive Miss Snark will respond to it.

  2. I didn't make it into Miss Snark's First Sentence lottery either.

    Yes, I'd keep reading. It is a little vague and I'd read to find out what happiness is to the MC.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog!

  3. A fun peek into your WIP! How did you do with Miss Snark?

    I hope all is well!

  4. GREAT emotional hook. I have a strong story question, and significant empathy for the MC. Now where's the rest of your first chapter? *tapping impatient toe*

  5. Thank you for commenting on my WIP! My first line got 55 comments. At about 42 comments I counted up yesses vs. nos and I think I had 17 yesses. So, a little under 50% which was better than I expected.

    It was interesting to read all the critquers' comments. Each was subjective (obviously), such as some people said NO to first lines if it mentioned blood and they were squeamish. So, some critiqued for good writing and other critiqued as readers. Some gave advice that I didn't think was very accurate or helpful (Not just for me, but for everyone).

    Miss Snark didn't critique and there was no prize, so it was purely for experience and feedback. :) Christy

  6. Wow, those first two lines pack quite a punch! Well done! Based on this first page, I would keep reading. Not just saying that!


Stay and chat with us! Share your thoughts.