James River Writers: First Pages Critique Contest

Recently, James River Writers annouced that they would select some lucky writers to have the first page of their work read at their annual conference.


Of course, I submitted Seraphim to the contest. Want to know what they get to see? Here’s the first page:



Genre: Young Adult

Bryan Turner swerved off the busy highway and onto the tiny side road that led to Grey Woods. The narrow trail cut between thick undergrowth, curved around the wood’s muddy lake and ended just outside fraternity row- where the last students at the last party of the summer would be waiting for Bryan to bring the beer.

He didn’t really want to enter campus this way, Grey Woods was creepy as hell. Plus, it took him an extra twenty minutes and he’d be stuck cleaning mud off his tires tomorrow. But it was well into Saturday night and he had already started drinking. The town cops had set up their end of the month DUI check points and if he was going to make it back to frat row for Ethan’s party, he couldn’t stay on the main roads.

The gravel road became a dirt trail that twisted through the warped and sickly trees. Bryan slowed his truck and squinted into the darkness. The townies nicknamed the path ‘ghost alley’ because it was nearly impossible to see, especially at night. It was a sliver of space in the overgrown forest, like a thin part separating a mess of wild hair. But Bryan had great eyesight and knew the trail better than most, so he figured he’d be at the party in less than ten minutes.

Clusters of black oak and white ash trees towered over his pick-up truck like gnarled and twisted monsters. They reached towards his vehicle, the claws of their branches narrowly missing his custom paint job. Their leaves radiated in the moonlight, giving the trees an eerie emerald glow. It was like driving through a lush jungle, with one exception. There was no wildlife in Grey Woods. No squirrels in the trees, no fish in the inky black water. Any animals had disappeared a long time ago, like rats fleeing a sinking ship. The silence of what should have been teaming with life made the woods seem even more creepy, and explained why the only people who went in were students looking for enough privacy to make out or get high.


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