Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Critique Party #3

Remember - I'm moderating the comments. This is meant to help one another, so be nice.

Our goal is to help each writer make their page stronger.

Shadow Falls, a commercial YA novel by Anonymous

It all started at the corner of Main and Spring. I’d managed to catch the longest light in town, but even that couldn’t bring me down. I’d just bought the perfect dress and I had it on good authority that Trent Jackson, the cutest boy at Creekside High School, was going to ask me to the school luau tomorrow.

So there I was, sitting in the car, staring at the lavender blue hydrangeas, picturing Trent’s face when BAM!

My hand and knee flew forward, and my torso was jerked back by the seatbelt. My other foot slid off the brake pedal and my vehicle slid violently into the one in front of me before I could find the right rectangle to push again.

I’d never been in a wreck before, so I had no idea what to do. As I finally started getting my bearings again, I figured I should probably exit the vehicle and check for damages. Shadow Falls was so small, I also figured Pete, one of our two local cops, would be here in less than two minutes to start writing up whoever had plowed into the back of me. I unfastened my seatbelt and opened the door.

My legs were shaking as I stood up, and I actually felt a little dizzy. The noise had been so loud and unexpected. I could still hear it.

“Sh-t!” a tenor voice came from behind me. “Hey, I’m really sorry. Sh-t!”
I turned around to see a guy in faded blue jeans and a white t-shirt walking up.


Holly Dodson said...

The last sentence of the first paragraph...I'd take the second "school" out to increase the flow.

...before I could find the right rectangle to push again...

Really confused me lol My first thought was WHAT rectangle...then I realized you meant pedals. Maybe just say pedal.

...As I finally started getting my bearings again, I figured I should probably exit the vehicle and check for damages...

Give me some visceral reaction here. How did the accident make her feel? I've been in an accident and I was by no means calm. My heart was racing and I was in shock (literally). I couldn't even remember my name for a few minutes. You could really pull us into the story if you show us how she reacts to this incident.

Otherwise, very interested to see where this goes...and who the boy is!

Susan said...

I agree with Holly -- a bit more visceral reaction would help us feel the car accident. And same for the word "rectangles".

Only three other comments:
1) I didn't know what you meant by "longest light" at first. It seriously took me the whole passage before I figured it out... :P Maybe you can say "longest stoplight".

2) I've never heard a teenager say "on good authority". I've heard my Mom say that...but not younger people. Maybe I'm wrong though.

3) I also don't think a teenager would call him the "cutest boy". If he's well-known as the most attractive dude at the high school, I think she'd be more prone to say "the hottest guy". "Cute" makes him sound childish...same for "boy".

Otherwise, great job. I'm definitely dying to know who hit her and what's about to happen!

KO said...

hey Anon-- thanks for sharing.

I agree with what's been posted.

I am on the fence about the rectangles. I knew what you meant, but I'm not sure if it's overly confusing.

You might be able to use this as a tool to show how in shock/confused she is.

very rough example: "My brain muddled, I stared at the two rectangles on the floor trying to remember which one was the brake. Recovering, I hit it."

"As I finally started getting my bearings again, I figured I"

felt a little repetitive to me.
Maybe try:

"As I finally started getting my bearings, I figured..."

"As I got my bearings, I figured..."

And you may not even need to get into Trent's hotness factor yet-- you could mention Trent now, and drop that he's the hottest guy in school later. Then we could be in the moment more. This is in no way a "backstory dump" but I think you could mention Trent, save some of that detail for later-- and just let us feel this car wreck right now.

And I am guessing faded blue jeans, bad-driver guy is going to be "hot", too.... can't wait to find out more.

Alicia Gregoire said...

I'm also going to agree about the visceral reaction to the car crash. You show it a little bit with the shaking legs, but like Holly, the accidents I've been in, my whole self shook with a combo of 'what just happened' and anger.

The page starts off slow, but I feel that it picks up towards the end. I'm not sure the best way to fix this without losing some of the set up. Maybe someone with a better functioning brain today can help.

The guy in the faded blue jeans is probably going to be hotter than Trent from school is my guess, and I'd definitely continue reading.

Sarah Enni said...

Oooh, this story gets off to a quick start, I really like it. Here's what stood out to me:
At the end of the first line, "town" and "down" was sing-songy to me.

In the third paragraph you explain exactly what body parts went where, but I agree with everyone above that more visceral reaction is needed.

The guy that is swearing and freaking out that he just totaled someone's car would be jogging or running up, right? Not just walking.

But as I said, I love that the action gets out there early. We get voice and place and an instigating event, all w/in the first couple hundred words. Like it a lot!

LTM said...

you guys are so awesome, and I am so flummoxed by the opening of this book... :o|

If any of you did that July Secret Agent contest, you might recognize this as entry #48. It was completely different then, and the secret agent didn't care for it.

So I went back and cut all the backstory--straight to the wreck. And now *I* don't care for it.


IMO, since this is YA-chicklit, a big part of the humor is the MC's voice and funny perspective on situtations.

So I'm considering restoring at least a portion of the deleted backstory (between her sitting at the light and BAM!) to help the reader understand her relationship to Trent and why she *isn't* the least impressed by the hottie who just hit her. (Her BF Shelly is! ;o)

Oh, about the wreck. Yikes! It's really more of a fender-bender, not a totaling of the car. (That's explained once they get out, assess the damage, Pete arrives, etc.)

But I appreciate your feedback SO VERY much. Everything that's here will stay--with your helpful adjustments. I'm just struggling w/how to set up the entire story better at the outset.

mbrrr... :o|

Amanda said...

I agree with all of the advice you've gotten so far, but I personally would just drop the first line. I don't think you need it!

I love how this starts right into action! I'm intrigued!!

Sorry this is so short, but we are in the middle of moving and I don't have tons of time!!