Today we’re critiquing the first page of A RAGING NEED TO KILL, which was submitted anonymously by a reader. I’ll add my comments at the end, and then please give your feedback in the Comments.
A Raging need to Kill
Lilli missed her mom and she hated her dad, Henry, but she still cooked dinner just for him. Lilli opened the oven door and ducked over the golden brown turkey to check if it was done. When she poked the turkey with the fork, a piece fell off, she picked it up, and threw it in the trash bin. A smile spread on her face. “Perfect,” she whispered. She stirred in rosemary seasoning, butter, and garlic salt into the cubed potatoes. Thanksgiving dinner was ready when Henry walked into the living room with a beer in his hand.
Lilli’s mom, Kaitlin, had insisted on having the dinner each year and Lilli was determined to honor her tradition even though Kaitlin was dead. Henry walked closer to Lilli and rested his back against the wooden cabinet. The mouth-watering smell of turkey and cranberry sauce was overpowered by the smell of beer mixed with nicotine, wet hay, and manure.
“Did you prep the girls for the auction?” he asked Lilli, making her neck tense up.
“Not yet, sir. I’ll do it after dinner,” Lilli said while she stared at the yellow stains on the backsplash. She resisted moving even if every cell in her body wanted to step a couple feet away, instead she clenched her jaw to steady her uneasiness.
“Are you hungry, Dad?” she asked trying to remind him that she was his daughter.
“She’s not here anymore. Don’t hold on to the past, Lilli. It’ll be easier,” he said in a calm voice but she still noticed his irritation. He took a step closer to her and she grabbed a plate, served the potatoes and turkey, walked to the table, and back to the kitchen.
After serving two dinner plates for the two of them, she sat at the small wooden table. Henry ate the dinner and after a few minutes, he put down the fork and looked at Lilli with suspicion. “What did you put in the food? You haven’t touched yours. What, you poisoned me?”
“No, Dad,” she said and looked down with a small smirk.
He got up and tried to steady himself with the table. His eyes looked disoriented and he reached out for her but she staggered backwards. He threw a punch at her but Lilli ducked and he missed her.
Whoa, talk about a dysfunctional family! I felt the bleakness of the narrator’s world as I was reading this page. I appreciate the way the writer used small details to put the reader inside the Lilli’s POV, such as her staring at the yellow stains on the backsplash.
This scene definitely made me want to learn more about Lilli’s world. I would suggest doing an editing pass to tidy up some punctuation and break up sentences for rhythm and flow.
I would also suggest rearranging the dialogue between Lilli and Henry to increase the tension in the following exchange.
Henry ate the dinner and after a few minutes, he put down the fork and looked at Lilli with suspicion. “What did you put in the food? You haven’t touched yours. What, you poisoned me?”
I suggest breaking up the something like this:
Henry ate the dinner. After a few minutes, he set down his fork.
“You haven’t touched your dinner.”
“No, Dad.” Lilli stared down at her plate and stifled a smirk.
”You put something in the food?” Henry staggered to his feet, then tried to steady himself against the table. “What, you poisoned me?”
In general, job well done! I’m hoping we will find out in the next page whether Lilli did in fact poison Henry. (Sounds like he deserved it).
Our thanks go out to today’s brave writer for submitting this first page! TKZers, how did you react to this first page? Please share your feedback in the Comments.
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