Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Calling all Brave Pens: First-page critiques at TKZ

By Kathryn Lilley 

[Update: We had a great response by Brave Pens and reached our max of 30 submissions, so we're not taking more at this time. Stay tuned to this blog as we do the critiques that came in!]

Jim's Sunday post about first-page blunders inspired an idea: We're going to do some first-page critiques  here on the blog! You can send us the first page of your manuscript (anonymously, of course!), and we'll critique it. Sound good?

Here's how it will work: Send the first page of your manuscript (and title) as a Word attachment to the email address killzoneblog at gmail dot com. (We'll take the first 30 "first pages" we receive this go round, first come first served.) The pages will be divvied up among the Killers; from time to time we'll post each first page, and do a critique. Everyone will be able to comment as well.

I think this will be lots of fun, and hopefully helpful! I remember right before I found an agent, I got the first 30 pages of my manuscript critiqued by the P.J. Parrish sisters (I won the critique during an auction at Sleuthfest). Their comments were hugely helpful--I made a list of the comments and went back through my ms, applying the comments throughout. After I did that draft, I landed an agent and publishing contract in very short order.

It was also the first time I'd had "real world" feedback about my writing. Until that critique, my only input had come from my writing group and creative writing courses--all good feedback, but I was yearning for input from people who toil in the workaday publishing trenches.

So I'm looking forward to reading some of your pages! Let us know how you like the exercise, and we'll probably do it again!


  1. I am so grateful that you are doing this! Even though I thought I knew all that, I looked over my WIP after reading the post, and realised I had made most of the mistakes!

    So I will send in the first page gladly to have you tear it to shreds! It is a first draft though, I know it has many edits to go, but looks like it will need re-writing.

    However, after the initial groan and self-chastising, I look forward to the re-writing: especially with your input.

  2. Aw man! This is so awesome! Thanks TKZ!

    I do have one question though: my manuscript has a prologue, should I send you guys the prologue or the first page of Chapter 1?

    Thanks again!


  3. Thank you !! It's really exciting to know such a 'contest' paid for for you. There's hope!

  4. Wonderful idea! Looking forward to all the crits.

  5. I too found 'real world' input helpful - especially for the first pages of my manuscript. I'm looking forward to casting my eye over what comes in!

  6. Kate, if you think your story needs a prologue (many don't), I would start with that. Clare, I remember having a bidding war with someone to win the critique by PJ Parrish--I was determined to get it, and so was the other person. The Parrish sisters ultimately agreed to do 2 critiques! It was a fundraiser, so it all went to a good cause.

  7. I just mailed you my first page. I'm hope I was in time to get into the first round of critiques! Thank you for doing this.

  8. Hey Kathryn,
    Thanks for the shout out! It's always a pleasure to help out new writers and your manuscript was certainly one of our best. Good to see you paying it forward. Writer's karma!

  9. Did the thirty slots get filled??

  10. Hey PJ sisters, great to hear from you! I'm always telling the universe how much your insightful comments helped me push my writing career forward. Saved me a ton of rejections, I might add! By the way, my mother called me up the other day and was raving about a book of yours. She said, "It's by an author named PJ Parrish. Ever heard of her?" She's a tough reader to impress, so you definitely have a new fan!

  11. Amanda, we did reach 30 submissions. I have added an update to the post. Stay tuned for the critiques, which will be coming out over the next few weeks!

  12. Will you be doing this again any time soon? I just found this blog and love it! Unfortunately, I jumped in too late for the crits.