KP Critiques – 06

We are back again with another installment of KP Critiques! We thank all of you for having the guts to send in your work. Receiving criticism, no matter how constructive, is always a hard pill to swallow. Just remember, having your work critiqued is one of the best ways to grow as a writer!

Today’s critique is an installment from Shiloh Hamilton’s book, Miami’s Finest.

Shiloh’s submission! 

It was 10 o’clock, November 1980.

KP Critiques Post 2
“Trent Village! Get yourself in this kitchen now!” My mother screamed to me in my room.


“What’s up, Mom?” I replied as I entered the kitchen of our tiny apartment.


“Where on earth is your brother? Tommy was supposed to be up from the garage over an hour ago!”


“Is there anything I can do.” I asked


“Yes. Go down to the garage in the alley and tell him to come up.”

I nodded and headed out the door into the hall where I took an elevator to the bottom floor. As I exited the elevator I pulled up my jacket and headed for the back door of the apartment. I opened the door and a moist chill blew through the door. I walked out and started toward the farthest part of the alley, in the back was my brother’s garage. I approached the garage and saw the shack full of tools along with the 1967 Dodge Charger 426 Hemi.

I stopped and smoothed my hand across the hood. The Charger had a super charger engine sticking out the top with three side exhaust pipes near the doors. The beautiful glossy black Charger had a spoiler on the back and chrome trims and wheels.

I peered through the windows when I started hearing talking from the garage. I opened the door to the shack-like garage and stepped in, but nobody was there. The voices were getting louder. I realized the voices were coming down the alley. I cracked open the door a little and watched as my brother came around the corner talking to someone behind him. I cracked the door a little more to see two men in husky trench coats behind my brother.

The men looked a lot like each other so I figured they were brothers. They were about thirty-five to forty years old it looked like, but they were apparently trying to hide their faces. I couldn’t make out what they were talking about but I watched as they motioned back around the corner and another person in a trench coat came around with the other two. This one was about Tommy’s age but a little shorter, but he too hid his face.

I was about to come out when their talking started getting loud enough to sound like a muffled yell. I turned away from the door and grabbed my brother’s crowbar from a table. I turned back to the door and saw them all coming towards me. I froze in my spot watching as my brother grabbed for the door. Then my brother spoke enough I could hear. “I already told you, I’m out!”

Then another voice came, it sounded much older, “Listen to my brother here, we can bust you up good right here and your family if we had too.” At this comment I rose from the door and backed away a little. My brother opened the door more and extended his hand toward a toolbox and started to open it while still speaking. “Just bug off and let me work on my car.” He opened the toolbox and pulled out a big desert eagle.

Our Critique!

It was 10 o’clock, November 1980.

I’m going to assume that since you’re beginning with the date, and the date is really important to the story other than just a general setting.  If this date isn’t really important to the story plot, then it shouldn’t be the first sentence of the story. 

“Trent Village! Get yourself in this kitchen now!” My mother screamed to me in my room.
“What’s up, Mom?” I replied as I entered the kitchen of our tiny apartment.
“Where on earth is your brother? Tommy was supposed to be up from the garage over an hour ago!”
“Is there anything I can do?” I asked

If he’s asking a question, there should be a question mark, not a period


“Yes. Go down to the garage in the alley and tell him to come up.”


At least in the email I got, the whole rest of the selection you sent appeared as one paragraph.  I don’t know if that is the way you wrote it, or if sending it over email messed it up, but this next paragraph is way too long.  You’ll want to break it up into three to five smaller paragraphs.


I nodded and headed out the door into the hall where I took an elevator to the bottom floor. As I exited the elevator I pulled up my jacket and headed for the back door of the apartment. I opened the door and a moist chill blew through the door. I walked out and started toward the farthest part of the alley, in the back was my brother’s garage.

This is a comma splice.  Replace the comma with either a semi-colon or a period. 

I approached the garage and saw the shack full of tools along with the 1967 Dodge Charger 426 Hemi. I stopped and smoothed my hand across the hood. The Charger had a super charger engine sticking out the top with three side exhaust pipes near the doors. The beautiful glossy black Charger had a spoiler on the back and chrome trims and wheels.

Given that you’re taking the time to explain here what the car looks like, I’m assuming it has some relevance to the story.  If not, it’s not worth the time to explain what it looks like right now; your primary goal with the introduction of your story is to get readers hooked.  If this description doesn’t help with that, and it isn’t crucial to be told now, then you should just go ahead and cut it.

I peered through the windows when I started hearing talking from the garage. I opened the door to the shack-like garage and stepped in, but nobody was there. The voices were getting louder. I realized the voices were coming down the alley.

So he’s in the alley, and the voices are coming from the alley, but he thinks they’re coming from the garage?  How does that work?

I cracked open the door a little and watched as my brother came around the corner talking to someone behind him. I cracked the door a little more to see two men in husky trench coats behind my brother. The men looked a lot like each other so I figured they were brothers. They were about thirty-five to forty years old it looked like, but they were apparently trying to hide their faces.

How are they trying to hide their faces?  By lowering their heads?  By wearing face masks?

I couldn’t make out what they were talking about but I watched as they motioned back around the corner and another person in a trench coat came around with the other two. This one was about Tommy’s age but a little shorter, but he too hid his face. I was about to come out when their talking started getting loud enough to sound like a muffled yell.

From what you’ve been describing, it seems like these men are pretty close to Trent.  Why can’t Trent hear what they are saying? 

I turned away from the door and grabbed my brother’s crowbar from a table. I turned back to the door and saw them all coming towards me. I froze in my spot watching as my brother grabbed for the door. Then my brother spoke loud enough that I could hear.   

This sentence doesn’t make sense; I added some words that I think bring across what you were trying to say, but you’ll want to revise that sentence. 

“I already told you, I’m out!” Then another voice came; it sounded much older, “Listen to my brother here, we can bust you up good right here and your family if we had too.” At this comment, I rose from the door and backed away a little.

Trent doesn’t seem to have a clear agenda.  First when he hears their threats, he grabs a crowbar—then he tries to move away from them.  Is he inherently courageous or more cowardly?  I’m trying to get a clear sense of what kind of person he is, and am not sure. 

My brother opened the door more and extended his hand toward a toolbox and started to open it while still speaking. “Just bug off and let me work on my car.” He opened the toolbox and pulled out a big desert eagle.

The selection you sent seems to be mostly setup to the big conflict in the opening chapter, so it’s hard for me to judge how good it is as an opening given that I’m only seeing the setup.  There are a couple areas where I think you could cut down on the description in order to move us to the conflict so that we can see what kind of story this is going to be.  Trent’s personality could also be a bit more clear in this selection.  That being said, you have a lot of good things in place that look like they will be making for an interesting story.  It’s just hard for me to judge the quality of all that when I’m just seeing the set-up.  This opening needs some revision, but it’s a solid start.  Nice work!

– Josiah DeGraaf

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