Monday, March 7, 2011

Catch Me if You Can Blogfest!

So, Kristina over at KayKay's Corner is having a blogfest! I'm so into these right now it isn't funny. :)

Here's the challenge:

Post the first 550 words (or less) of your WIP on your blog for feedback as to whether this would catch an agent's eye.

Be honest! :) Here we go.


Prep schools aren’t exclusively for the preppy. Us poor schmo types migrate to places like Harrington Dove Academy to escape the greatest horror of our seventeen-year-old lives.
Our parents.
My roommate and I had the pleasure (that’s dripping sarcasm, thanks) of cheerleader suitemates, and I woke to the sound of two, tone deaf voices telling me to ‘putta ring on it.’ Harrington’s dorms were radically liberal, what with girls and guys on the same floor (‘just asking for…you know,’ per my mother), but the suites were same-sex. And thus, the young Beyonce’s on the other side of the shared bath. Though I try not to believe in stereotypes, these girls confirmed every one I’d ever heard about pom-pom pushers.
And (apparently) they liked to sing at eight in the morning the week before break. I cringed at a particularly loud warble and wondered how much booze they snuck by the resident advisor last night. Or with her help. Our RA wanted to be legal as badly as a border-crossing immigrant.
By quarter past nine, they were quiet (passed out? dead?), and I rolled out of bed to pack. I pulled onto the highway around eleven, cursing the sprinkles dotting my windshield. Mom hadn’t called back after last night’s fiasco, but I wasn’t surprised. She didn’t know how to check her texts without help, and forget Dad. He was hopeless when it came to cell phones.
I passed a caravan of senior citizens using the left lane for sightseeing and set the cruise control with more force than necessary, Gorilla Gluing my eyes to the road as I passed. Honestly, I didn’t trust myself not to snarl at the lead driver of what had to be a Henry Ford original.
Thick, gray clouds were marching across the sun, and I set my windshield wipers to their max setting about ten minutes later. My mother’s phantom voice sliced through my brain (‘you never see the water until you hydroplane, Katherine’), so I turned down the music, flipped my cruise off, and moved into the right lane. But I was not happy about it.
When the elephant-sized drops let up, I hurried to set my cruise again. It was far too dark for the middle of the day, but I didn’t care. I just wanted out of this car. A horn blared, and I looked in my rearview mirror.
“What’s the problem, mister?” A flash of lightning lit up a flouncing shape to my left. Maybe a deer? I checked to see if anyone swerved for it, and the honking sounded again. I sat straighter and tugged at the seatbelt crossing my body.
It happened very fast.
Headlights blinded me.
Something smashed into my chest.
I screamed once.
And to think this all started with a silly, little dream.


That's it!

As of last Tuesday, I've decided to pull my college-age story back to junior year of high school. I've gotten this suggestion many times by many extremely wonderful authors, but held out. Boy, never again! Jennifer at YA Audiobook Addict made the suggestion of a boarding school, and love her heart, it's a fantastic idea. I've always thought of this book as YA, but setting and the age of my characters bumped against it.
Plus, if I completely revamp, I may be able to resubmit to agents who passed on it. Am I wrong on that? Hmm...anyone with experience, help! I don't want to wind up 'that person.' You know, the one Janet Reid blogs about where she posts a picture of Meredith Barnes giving the camera the stink eye? Yeah, you know the one.


Thanks for reading! What do you think? All/any/every feedback is welcome. And check out the other blogfesters. :)


-Marie

20 comments:

Heather M. Gardner said...

Good entry. I'm intrigued to find out what 'last nights fiasco' is and why she packed to get on the road. I also like the 'mom' voice giving advice. I hear my mom in my head all the time. Thanks for sharing.

writesbymoonlight said...

The voice in this is strong. And sarcastic, but what teenagers aren't. :-) Great job establishing age.

I'm not sure what Katherine's motivation is. I don't know what she wants or what stands in her way. Knowing that might help me relate to your MC and care more about what happens to her.

Thanks for posting. Natasha Hanova

stu said...

This does a good job of establishing the character, and has a nice voice.

dawnall said...

Great voice and the sarcasm is spot on for YA. I was drawn in totaly until the last line which was a bucket of cold water. Dream sequences are frowned on heavily in fiction anymore having been done to death. Any references to dreams or dreaming in a first chapter can be a killer with an agent or editor. I'd just consider whether that line is essential to her story.

Zan Marie said...

You had me at the first paragraph--especially the second line. OMG! I'm hooked good. More please. ; )

BTW, I'm following you now.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

I like it-- gorilla-glued eyes- that's a great line.
The only thing that made me pause was the line about dripping sarcasm. Is there a way to show, not tell, us about that? I realize it's difficult when you don't really know the character yet. I don't dislike the line, but it did make me pause.

Alleged Author said...

Love the voice. This girl reminds me of some of the kids I used to tutor. Sarcasm is a teenager's biggest ally.

Medeia Sharif said...

Great excerpt. I'm loving this blogfest.

Kristina Fugate said...

The voice in this piece is just amazing. Very strong and sarcastic. Definitely a teenager :) But dawnall brings up a good point--dreams are tricky when it comes to agents and editors.

Thanks for sharing!

Francesca Amendolia said...

I thought the warning against dreaming was about first scenes that turn out to be a dream sequence. In this context, I think dream sounds as likely to be a "hope and dreams" kind of dream - and it didn't interrupt me at all. I was (am) just curious about what her dream is.

Heh - so unhelpful, I know, when one reviewer thinks one thing, and the next something totally different. Anyway.

I liked the set-up, the suite, the school -- I thought we could wait to hear about how liberal the school is -- or about suites being same sex. I feel like this great line: "Though I try not to believe in stereotypes, these girls confirmed every one I’d ever heard about pom-pom pushers." got lost in a bit of an info-dump. It'd have more power coming right after "ring on it."

I think I'd strive to keep the first moments of this story in the present. The singing, the pom-poms, the potential morning drunken-ness.

Also, why is she packing? Is it end of term? Can you say that? Did you? I am a little foggy this am.

Anyway, it's got good stuff going on - and I'd definitely be reading on.

RosieC said...

Okay, I'm gonna jump into this "dream" conversation. My concern was that the last line implied some of what we'd already read here was a dream. I'm not sure that's what it is--I rather think/thought it's not--but it made me wonder. Is the dream portion of this necessary?

The voice is strong, but I'm a little worried about how all of her opinions are strongly negative. She hates (dare I use that word?) cheerleaders, immigrants, and old people in the first 2 pages. Maybe the immigration line doesn't mean she dislikes them, but it struck a nerve with me. Sorry. Maybe I'm too sensitive to the issue, but it got my ire up in a place it shouldn't.

I really like how you've set up her life, given us her context (yea for the friends who recommend boarding school instead of college!). I do think you could tighten it up a little and save some of the extra stuff (like co-ed floors) that aren't directly pertinent to the Beyonce pom-pom pushers (LOL) for later.

Yeowch. That last sentence was horrible. Don't judge me on it!

You have a definite hook. I'm a little disoriented, but so is your MC, so I'm right there with her. "It happened very fast" is telling, but other than that, I love this final bit with the other car. What on earth happened to her? Did she hit a deer?

Email me if you want to talk about it more. My address is linked to my blogger account.

Thanks for sharing!
Rosie

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

While the voice of the character is great, I don't think readers will care about anything except the car crash. I would probably write it like this: "As the headlights blinded me and something smashed into my chest, my only random though was how this all started with a silly dream." I'm not saying that's a genius line or anything, but I think it's a good example of what I mean.

Tracey Neithercott said...

You totally hooked me at the end there! I want to find out what happens to her.

I do think the dream mention is a little confusing (is this a dream, etc) but maybe that could be solved if you mention the dream beforehand so we know something happened because of the dream.

I wasn't as hooked with the opening because it seems like a lot of backstory. It feels like the story really starts with "I woke to the sound of..."

Other than that, I think you can just cut some of the 'telling.' You tell us the school is very liberal, but I like how you show us better, by saying it has mixed-sex floors.

I also wish that, as readers, we had more of a sense of her purpose.

There were a couple things I didn't get: Our RA wanted to be legal as badly as a border-crossing immigrant. (Wants to be legal how? Does that mean the RA isn't 21 either?) And: “What’s the problem, mister?” A flash of lightning lit up a flouncing shape to my left. (On first read I thought the quote went with the paragraph it's attached to. Might just need some more there.)

What I love: Though I try not to believe in stereotypes, these girls confirmed every one I’d ever heard about pom-pom pushers. HA ha!

And I love how things speed up at the end when she's crashing.

Hope that helps! :)

franklycreative said...

I liked the voice. It felt very authentic. You had some great descriptions, but I found the use of parenthesis distracting. I would have liked the car crash sooner and have you save the non-essential scene setting for later.

RosieC said...

PS--Thanks for joining for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. I think it'll be a lot of fun :)

Jodi Henry said...

this has good voice. I didn't like all the parentheses though. They should be used sparingly.

There is a huge jump here and it breaks the flow:

By quarter past nine, they were quiet (passed out? dead?), and I rolled out of bed to pack. ( You can't just roll out of bed and be in the car in the same paragraph, just sayin.)I pulled onto the highway around eleven, cursing the sprinkles dotting my windshield. Mom hadn’t called back after last night’s fiasco, but I wasn’t surprised.

I like the sardonic tone of the piece. Very high school girl.

J

Madeline Bartos said...

I loved the voice of this, the POV character sounds too cool! I'm really curious as to what happened, I would definitely keep reading! :D Good work, I'm hooked.

J.C. Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.C. Martin said...

I like your character's voice, but I agree with Jodi that the parentheses should go. They are quite distracting!

Also, you may want to reconsider quoting from a popular song. It might cost ya! Here's an article about it:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/01/blake-morrison-lyrics-copyright

Trisha said...

"Gorilla Gluing my eyes to the road as I passed."

Maybe it's because I'm Aussie, or maybe it's because I'm illiterate, but I don't know what this means :D

I would totally read on as well; want to know what happens!!