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First Paragraph Critique—Launch Week Festivities*

March 11, 2016 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill
last modified March 13, 2016

Live on Sunday, March 13, 2016front-cover-image-only-2
5 to 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time

Join us as we critique first paragraphs of any
work in progress.


To celebrate the launch of the print version of The Magic of Fiction, The Editor’s Blog is hosting a week of excerpts, events, and giveaways.

On Sunday, March 13, we’ll be critiquing first paragraphs.

This will be a fun and constructive exercise. If you want or need feedback on your story’s opening, here’s your chance to get some. Please return the favor by offering comments and/or suggestions for the first paragraphs of other writers. Invite your writing friends.

~  Post your first paragraph (fiction or nonfiction) in a comment—let us know if the work is nonfiction.

~  Include at least a partial title so others can refer to the paragraph by title in their comments. Include the genre as well.

~  A maximum of seventy-five words

~  One paragraph only unless your first paragraph is actually only one word or one sentence long

~  Yes, you may enter the first paragraph of more than one work in progress—use separate comment boxes for each.

~  Don’t feel that you must use any of the offered suggestions.

Anyone may comment, critique, and offer suggestions.

~  Keep comments positively constructive.

~  Focus on content and not on obvious typos.

~  If you can’t offer a helpful suggestion, move on to another opening paragraph.

~  This is a time to help writers, not stir up arguments; be mindful of your attitude.

I will participate, of course. But I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to comment on every entry. I hope many of you writers and editors will join us to offer your knowledge and experience.


So that your first paragraphs won’t be hanging out for the whole world to see, the critique article will be accessible by password only. The article is public, just not easily accessible.

Click Critique My First Paragraph and enter password CritiqueThis for access.

You’ll be able to access the article beginning at 4:30 p.m. EDT on the thirteenth. (Remember the time change in Canada and the U.S. this weekend.)

I’ll delete the article and comments at the end of Launch Week.



Click for a full list of Launch Week events, including a chance to win a First-Thirty Edit.

* Comments in this article are eligible for the Prize Pack Giveaway. The single prize winner will be chosen randomly from comments made on eligible Launch Week articles. (#1)



Tags: ,     Posted in: Announcements, Launch Week

23 Responses to “First Paragraph Critique—Launch Week Festivities*”

  1. Judy L Mohr says:

    Right… This is on Monday my time. I must remember to not get overexcited and post my paragraph here.

  2. Darkocran says:

    Is that the link for the contest above? It isn’t clickable at all on my android phone.
    So, even if I had been able to enter the contest on time I wouldn’t be able to post a comment anyways.

  3. Dave says:

    Sounds great! Looking forward to some fantastic hooks :)

  4. I’ve learned a great deal from your regular posts, and I look forward to your new book, The Magic of Fiction. The first few pages are filled with encouragement.
    As a newer writer I look forward to reading other authors’ entries. Thank you for doing this. Here’s my entry for the First Paragraph Critique:

    title: Shadow World, genre: sf/fantasy

    Reena’s lungs threatened to burst, though she sprinted toward the rendezvous point, where her long-lost father waited. Halting just long enough to take in a fresh supply of air, she had an awareness of someone or something following close behind. Hands pressed flat against her knees, gasping, she dragged in the needed air–so ragged it hurt. Picking up the pace momentarily abandoned, she ran as if her life depended on it.

    • Elaine, thank you so much for the good wishes. I hope the book proves as useful as the articles here at the blog.

      We’re actually not going to post the first paragraphs on this article, but on the one you’ll be able to access tomorrow. I hope you’ll be able to join us then.

  5. Entry for First Paragraph Critique:

    title: Guardian Swarm, genre: sf/fantasy

    The Swarm moved forward through smoky opalescence. No sound, no fury, no rustling of wings. Nor was there a melodious accompaniment usually heralding their passage. The singular reason for such silence occurred when an outsider entered into the Byrryda Sanctum. The last such to have arrived thus into the mist was so far out of memory, many of the Swarm had no easy recollection. Yet, each member understood and reverenced the event.

  6. I’m in. And thanks for the money-saving email, I’ve been waiting for the book to come out since it was announced.

    See you tomorrow.

  7. Talius Viti says:

    looking forward to it

  8. Here’s my 1st paragraph of a contemporary fiction novel. (Gift Uncovered)
    Kent’s slippers tapped on the ceramic floor as he stepped into the kitchen, and softly pressed his fingers on his wife’s shoulder, but her head spun towards the counter to peek at the newspaper he had just dropped. Assuming her husband had read the article, and would talk about it, Miah smoothed the towel and turned towards the stove, cracked more eggs into the frying pan, and lifted the pan of bacon into the oven.

  9. Maggie Smith says:

    Contemporary Women’s fiction (Where I Belong)

    “Anna, do you want to know why we’re not having sex?”
    I looked over at my husband Sam. What had he asked?
    I’d just finished my daily two mile jog around our sub-division. It was a sparkling Saturday morning in early September and the fall air had felt as crisp as the first bite of a ripe red apple.

    • pirkko says:

      I think it’s a brilliant question that surprised her. But the coolness of the fall morning seems to give clues to her answer. I would want to read more. Not sure if ‘sparkling’ would fit.

  10. LynNap says:

    75 words – First paragraph – SF/Futuristic – “The Guardian’s Charge.”

    Lord knows he hated the concept. It reeked of pure fantasy. Nothing in its definition remotely related to his ideology.
    FATE, noun : that which is inevitable and predetermined.
    With advanced scientific degrees, he relied on fact. And you got there by experimentation and observation. Divine providence didn’t have a fighting chance. But at 8:22AM that all changed. Fate suddenly became a quantifiable phenomenon and Aaron Waite couldn’t believe it was happening to him.

  11. Here’s my Entry for First Paragraph Critique:
    title: Shadow of the Past • a ‘trilogy’
    genre: scifi/drama/romance/fantasy

    IT CAME IN SLOW MOTION. A corrugated steel wall bearing down on her, forcing the view to shatter into a web of shards.
    Her eyes flew open with a start. It took her a moment to register that she was still in the office. The screen in front of her was flashing an error message. She looked down at the keyboard; her clenched hands were pressing multiple keys. She lifted them slowly, but she didn’t see them.

  12. Hey, all—follow the link in the middle of this article to go to the article where the paragraphs are being critiqued.

  13. Summer Ross says:

    What a great way to kick off the event. I’ll head over and give my feedback on some paragraphs.
    Thank you for taking the time to put this together and encourage others.

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