First Chapter Comp Results

The wait is over for all of those writers whose chapters went to literary agent, Susan Armstrong, to read. She’s given feedback on all of the chapters, as well as choosing a winner and two runners-up. Congratulations to everyone! And huge thanks to Susan for being the judge this time around.

Immediately gripping, a strong voice, original sense of place and plot, and fantastic characters. What’s not to love?! This one really stood out for me and I definitely wanted to read more. A clear winner.


Runner-up: ASHES OF ROSES by Anne O’Connor
I love that there’s a distinct voice here. It took a while to get to the point so I’d trim the very opening and give the reader a stronger sense of secrets hidden/family trying to find them out before it’s too late to increase the intrigue but a memorable chapter.


Runner-up: HUNDREDS OF BUTTERFLIES by Melissa Addy
The set up and voice caught my attention and I got a nice hint of things playing in the background, to come out later, so I was drawn in. I’d have liked more of a sense of threat in terms of what it means to be chosen/not chosen so there felt more to be at stake. A good first chapter.


Shortlisted: BALANCING EGGS by Penny Stanton
Atmospheric writing and I love the idea of a wife just taking off. It took a while to get into and I couldn’t quite picture that opening scene, which I felt should have been more amusing but strong potential.


Shortlisted: THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY by Felicia Yap
There’s an interesting concept here, which needs more than the first chapter to explore but I was intrigued (though the first couple of pages did remind me too much of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by SJ Watson). The murder was a great early hook but the husband perhaps acts too suspiciously and I did find myself wondering how the the concept would actually work as the novel progressed – but that’s to be seen! And I’d change the title to something fresher.


Shortlisted: GRIEVANCE by Sarah Linley
Interesting premise and powerful opening paragraph as it immediately makes the reader think – what would I do? I’d like to feel the impact of what’s happened more deeply so maybe supplement some of the time she spends describing where she’s going to showing us her reaction/behaviour, for example expanding on her stealing things.


Shortlisted: DISARRAY by Jo Carlowe
Good intriguing hook in the opening but I’d suggest amending the structure as rather than a first chapter it felt like each scene was just being attached on to the last so it felt a little jumbled. Also, I’d push the first diary entry back a bit so we can get our feet with Luke first, and appreciate a bit more what this diary means to him.


Shortlisted: ALMOST FLYING by Vicky Grut
The story started immediately, which I loved but then it did become a little rushed so I’d give a little more air to that initial interaction between the characters. Also, their voices felt younger than their age so unless that’s intentional I’d take a look at that.


Shortlisted: HIS PATH OF COLOUR by Cathie De Frietas
I liked the tone of this one, it felt quite different to the others and so stood out. The ‘you’ that the narrator addresses is part of what made it stand out but I felt it was used too much and began to grate a little particularly alongside the numerous introspective/rhetorical questions so I’ll pull back on both and allow your lovely prose to come through more. Also, I’d love an early sense of where this is going/what sort of story it was going to be.


Shortlisted: THE MOUNTAINS OF INSTEAD by Michele Savidge
There are some lovely drops of suggestion in this one that made me curious to read on. I did feel though that some points you want to make are too heavily hammered home. For instance, you can show me from a couple of lines that she’s hot, can’t sleep and is anxious but we’re told this again and again so I’d trim that. The mention of a decision she has to make is intriguing and I think you could expand on that a little so we are properly hooked to find out what that decision is.


Nemma will now get her submission package reviewed by Susan while Anne and Melissa get theirs reviewed by me.  The next competition closes in June and the judge is the lovely, Jenny Savill. Find out more here.

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