Don’t neglect the broader setting (page critique)

From Nathan Bransford:

Now then. Time for the Page Critique. First I’ll present the page without comment, then I’ll offer my thoughts and a redline. If you choose to offer your own thoughts, please be polite. We aim to be positive and helpful.

Random numbers were generated, and thanks to magicbeet, whose page is below.

“Move out of my way, darling,” Tari commanded with a confident smile.

Shadows filled the rented room, but Tari stood by the window in a single ray of moonlight, looking like an angel. Her skin glowed softly and her blonde hair shimmered, appearing almost silver. Her heavenly beauty contrasted with the black leather that hugged her long legs and cinched her small waist.

Darvyn tore his eyes from the deep V of skin exposed by her vest. Her pose and command were unconvincing. Had he ever refused her before? He chanced a look at her eyes, pale grey eyes, usually reminiscent of warm rain-filled clouds. Now they shone like icicle-daggers in a winter forest.

The cold scared him, but he ignored it. He blinked, reminding himself that she had betrayed Wildsea, had betrayed him.

He had invited her to this room, a room where they’d shared long hours of passion. But not tonight. Tonight, he intended to learn the truth about the woman to whom he’d given his heart.

She hadn’t confirmed or denied anything yet. He asked, “Who convinced you of this foolishness? Bring me to him, and together you and I will turn him over to the Council. You will be forgiven, but you must work with me.”

“Move,” she repeated.

In response to his stillness, she bent her elbow, resting her hand against her collarbone, a gesture that portrayed an almost childish innocence, but her eyes never left his. They held a sensual self-assurance

There are some good details in this opening, and I like that magicbeet takes the time to establish Tari’s physical presence. But I’m afraid I struggled to engage with this opening because at almost every opportunity the author missed opportunities to begin to open up the story and help us understand where we are, who Tari and Darvyn are, and what is passing between them in this moment.

. . . .

Here’s my redline:

“Move out of my way, darling,” Tari commanded with a confident smile. [This is a confusing opening because she doesn’t actually seem to be moving? She says this, but then they just stand there looking at each other?]

Shadows filled the rented room [the rented room where? Missed opportunity to establish the broader setting], but Tari stood by the window in a single ray of moonlight, looking to Darvyn like an angel [Tie this thought to the anchoring perspective to help contextualize who is making this observation]. Her skin glowed softly and her blonde hair shimmered, appearing almost silver. Her heavenly beauty contrasted with the black leather that hugged her long legs and cinched her small waist.

Darvyn tore his eyes from the deep V of skin exposed by her vest. Her pose and command were unconvincing. Had he ever refused her before? [Be more specific with this thought. Help us understand what he is actually considering refusing. Open up the story] He chanced a look at her eyes, pale grey eyes, usually reminiscent of warm rain-filled clouds now Now they shoneshining like icicle-daggers in a winter forest.

The cold scared him [Why?], but he ignored it. He blinked[empty gesture], remindingreminded himself that she had betrayed Wildsea, had betrayed him. [Missed opportunity to be more specific to start to open up the story. Be more specific with his memories and what, exactly, he fears right now]

He had invited her to this room, a room where they’dThey had shared long hours of passion in this room. But not tonight. Tonight, he intended to learn the truth about the woman to whom he’d given his heart. [Avoid repetition of room/room and tonight/tonight. Also, be more specific about what “truth” he is after. Open up the story]

She hadn’t confirmed or denied anything yet. He asked, “Who convinced you of this foolishness?” he asked. “Bring me to him, and together you and I will turn him over to the Council. You will be forgiven, but you must work with me.” [The reader has no context to understand what they’re talking about, so this is extremely confusing. Open up the story.]

“Move,” she repeated.

In response to his stillness, sShe bent her elbow, restingrested her hand againston her collarbone, a gesture that portrayed an almost childish innocence, but her eyes never left his. They held a sensual self-assurance

Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford

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