**Updated**Excerpt - YA Dystopian -- Untouchable

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klbritt
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**Updated**Excerpt - YA Dystopian -- Untouchable

Post by klbritt » August 29th, 2012, 9:53 am

UNTOUCHABLE (working title)

CHAPTER ONE
7:00pm - 36 Hours

Sitting at our small folding table we use to eat our rations, my fingers run over the crisp white letter I received earlier today. I’ve read it a hundred times and still don’t understand. “I’m wanted for reconditioning, and I have thirty-six hours to report to the Capital.” What’s reconditioning? My mom busies herself in front of the rusted kitchen sink, her red apron faded and frayed at the seams. She tucks a loose strand of her auburn hair behind her ear and chews on her upper lip, something she does subconsciously when she’s nervous. I ask her about the letter but she pretends not to hear me as she picks at a fleck of dried food on the white plate she’s been holding for the last five minutes.

“Mom?” I press her for more. I need to understand.

She drops the plate in the sink and it shatters into a hundred small pieces of uncertainty. Her hands slam on the counter, her cheeks redden. “Lilly! God, just leave it alone.” Her voice shakes and she can’t look at me as she sulks out of the kitchen and slips into her bedroom, locking the door behind her.

I glance at the clock resting on windowsill; it’s just after seven. The white face, dotted with lines echoes the face of my mother. She has been shutting me out a lot these past few months and I wonder now, if it has something to do with the ‘reconditioning’.

I finish our dinner dishes, washing them by hand and then lay them on the counter to dry. Seven-thirty. It’s strange now; my eyes focus on that clock as if my life depended on it. Does it? I glance once more at the letter siting on the small table before I grab my ID necklace, slip it over my head and race out the door.

We are told that we are lucky to be living like we do. All the houses where my mother and I live are the same, given to us by the Capital. Tiny dusty-white houses with four walls and a roof that’s nearly flat with the red earth to separate each home. They are little blips on an unpaved street, like the teeth that break through the gums of an infant.

I turn back to our house with the faded white lily painted on the door and suddenly I’m six years old again. I had been playing in the streets with another girl my age. She and I were jumping rope and playing tag. Her mother called her in for dinner and so I went home. Except, I couldn’t go home. With the houses all looking the same, I had no clue where to go. I spun around in circles trying to find the house that was mine. When I couldn’t find it, I sat in the center of the dirt road, legs crossed and cried into my dirty hands.
I don’t know how long I had been crying on the road, but finally, my mother came to me. “Lilly,” she said, “what is the matter with you?” I looked up through muddy eyelashes to my mother who was standing impatiently tapping her foot with her hands on her hips.

I tried to tell her I was lost but she only scoffed at me and told me to march inside the house and wash up for dinner. I looked at her, mouth agape and walked in the direction her finger pointed. The next morning, she painted a small white lily on our door. I never feared getting lost again.

Jogging down the road, I count the houses until I reach the eighth one from mine: Nanette’s. I knock on the door, her mother answers; her face is swollen from crying.

“Is Nanette here?” I ask, hoping I haven’t interrupted anything. She nods then holds a finger up as if to say hold on. She turns away and calls for Nanette. Nanette walks to the door, her head hanging low. She’s holding a letter. “Do you have to go too?” I ask. Nanette nods just once and turns around. Do I follow her inside? Her mother forces a smile and tells me now is not a good time. She shuts the door silently and I feel like my world is crashing to the ground.

I walk towards the edge of our colony, where a twenty-foot cement wall keeps us safe from what lies beyond. As children, sometimes Nanette and I would play by the wall hoping to hear something on the other side. Anything. We’d make up stories about what was beyond the wall: monsters, giants…nothing. Other than the wind that blows through our colony, we never heard a thing.

Tonight, as the sun goes down, I press my ear against the heat-baked wall and close my eyes. I still hear nothing. Until, I do hear something. My heart stops, then takes off at a sprint. Something is scraping up the wall, rhythmic thumps and the occasional slip. At the top of the wall I see the tips of eight fingers. Then I see a head with a mop of shaggy brown hair. I squint my eyes trying to make out the figure, and then I take a step back. It’s a…boy. At least I think so. I’ve never seen one.
~Kristie

-: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read - Groucho Marx :-

http://www.BKRivers.blogspot.com

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Philabuster
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Re: **Updated**Excerpt - YA Dystopian -- Untouchable

Post by Philabuster » September 18th, 2012, 8:25 pm

Love the writing and the premise.

This is my first excerpt that i'm "critiquing." I'm barely able to take apart my own work so take everything I say with a grain of salt.
klbritt wrote:UNTOUCHABLE (working title)

CHAPTER ONE
7:00pm - 36 Hours

Sitting at our small folding table we use to eat our rations, my fingers run over the crisp white letter I received earlier today. I’ve read it a hundred times and still don’t understand. “I’m wanted for reconditioning, and I have thirty-six hours to report to the Capital.” What’s reconditioning? My mom busies herself in front of the rusted kitchen sink, her red apron faded and frayed at the seams. She tucks a loose strand of her auburn hair behind her ear and chews on her upper lip, something she does subconsciously when she’s nervous. I ask her about the letter but she pretends not to hear me as she picks at a fleck of dried food on the white plate she’s been holding for the last five minutes.

“Mom?” I press her for more. I need to understand.

She drops the plate in the sink and it shatters into a hundred small pieces of uncertainty. I'm not sure what you mean by shatters into a hundred small pieces of uncertainty Her hands slam on the counter, her cheeks redden. “Lilly! God, just leave it alone.” Her voice shakes and she can’t look at me as she sulks out of the kitchen and slips into her bedroom, locking the door behind her.

I glance at the clock resting on windowsill; it’s just after seven. The white face, dotted with lines echoes the face of my mother. She has been shutting me out a lot these past few months and I wonder now, if it has something to do with the ‘reconditioning’.

I finish our dinner dishes, washing them by hand and then lay them on the counter to dry. Seven-thirty. It’s strange now; my eyes focus on that clock as if my life depended on it. Does it? I glance once more at the letter siting on the small table before I grab my ID necklace, slip it over my head and race out the door.

We are told that we are lucky to be living like we do. All the houses where my mother and I live are the same, given to us by the Capital. Tiny dusty-white houses with four walls and a roof that’s nearly flat with the red earth to separate each home. They are little blips on an unpaved street, like the teeth that break through the gums of an infant. Love this line

I turn back to our house with the faded white lily painted on the door and suddenly I’m six years old again. I had been playing in the streets with another girl my age. She and I were jumping rope and playing tag. Her mother called her in for dinner and so I went home. Except, I couldn’t go home. With the houses all looking the same, I had no clue where to go. I spun around in circles trying to find the house that was mine. When I couldn’t find it, I sat in the center of the dirt road, legs crossed and cried into my dirty hands.
I don’t know how long I had been crying on the road, but finally, my mother came to me. “Lilly,” she said, “what is the matter with you?” I looked up through muddy eyelashes to my mother who was standing impatiently tapping her foot with her hands on her hips.

I tried to tell her I was lost but she only scoffed at me and told me to march inside the house and wash up for dinner. I looked at her, mouth agape and walked in the direction her finger pointed. The next morning, she painted a small white lily on our door. I never feared getting lost again.
The first time I read this I got confused. It's somewhat unclear if she's literally traveling back to when she was six (she was noting the clock on the wall pretty specifically earlier) or if she's just having a flashback. Obviously reading it a second time indicates she's having a flashback, but is there any other way to incorporate the white lilly on the door later in the story? Maybe have a line noting the white lilly but explaining it later?

Jogging down the road, I count the houses until I reach the eighth one from mine: Nanette’s. I knock on the door, her mother answers; her face is swollen from crying.

“Is Nanette here?” I ask, hoping I haven’t interrupted anything. She nods then holds a finger up as if to say hold on. She turns away and calls for Nanette. Nanette walks to the door, her head hanging low. She’s holding a letter. “Do you have to go too?” I ask. Nanette nods just once and turns around. Do I follow her inside? Her mother forces a smile and tells me now is not a good time. She shuts the door silently and I feel like my world is crashing to the ground.

I walk towards the edge of our colony, where a twenty-foot cement wall keeps us safe from what lies beyond. As children, sometimes Nanette and I would play by the wall hoping to hear something on the other side. Anything. We’d make up stories about what was beyond the wall: monsters, giants…nothing. Other than the wind that blows through our colony, we never heard a thing.

Tonight, as the sun goes down, I press my ear against the heat-baked wall and close my eyes. I still hear nothing. Until, I do hear something. This reads strange to me. My heart stops, then takes off at a sprint. Something is scraping up the wall, rhythmic thumps and the occasional slip. At the top of the wall I see the tips of eight fingers. Then I see a head with a mop of shaggy brown hair. I squint my eyes trying to make out the figure, and then I take a step back. It’s a…boy. At least I think so. I’ve never seen one.
All in all I'm intrigued. It didn't occur to me until I read the last line that the four characters mentioned so far were all female. The boy climbing over the wall really made it interesting. Very curious to see where it goes from here.

The clock earlier was noted pretty explicitly...foreshadowing?

Do they make you undergo "reconditioning" at a certain age? If so is her and her friend the oldest in the colony? If not than wouldn't she had known about the reconditioning from other people who have done it before her? Her mother certainly knows of it but can't seem to talk about it.

Definitely have the makings of a good story here.

bcomet
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Re: **Updated**Excerpt - YA Dystopian -- Untouchable

Post by bcomet » September 20th, 2012, 5:02 pm

I'm not usually a big fan of present tense, but in this excerpt, it really works and does not put me off.

The writing is wonderful: crisp, clear, full of tension. The story is so compelling. I NEED to know what happens next.
Please let me read more!

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klbritt
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Re: **Updated**Excerpt - YA Dystopian -- Untouchable

Post by klbritt » September 20th, 2012, 8:13 pm

Thanks for the encouraging words!!

@ bcomet - I seem to write in the present tense in most of my WIPs and have a hard time even starting something using anything but that. I do plan to try past tense in my next project though. I'm so glad you like the excerpt - I'd love to post more, but I don't want to dominate the excerpt threads with one HUGE post ;)

@ Philabuster - The reconditioning is kept quiet in the colony where these people live. As such, Lilly's (MC) mother can't talk about it and has a hard time dealing with Lilly's inevitable departure. I'm such a pantser that foreshadowing in the first draft is not even so much as a thought in my head...I did however, want to make the clock a big deal in the first couple chapters due to the countdown towards Lilly's departure...
~Kristie

-: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read - Groucho Marx :-

http://www.BKRivers.blogspot.com

McRouth
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Re: **Updated**Excerpt - YA Dystopian -- Untouchable

Post by McRouth » October 11th, 2012, 12:56 am

klbritt wrote:UNTOUCHABLE (working title)
I'm all about slicing things down, so here is my re-worked version. Hope this helps! By the way, awesome job! I admire your eye from language and description. If you ever need someone to swap novels with, let me know. I am in the process of editing a YA dystopian, too. And I live in PHX.

CHAPTER ONE
7:00pm - 36 Hours

Sitting at our small folding table we use to eat our rations, my fingers run over the crisp white letter I received earlier today. I’ve read it a hundred times and still don’t understand. I’m wanted for reconditioning, and I have thirty-six hours to report to the Capital. I would avoid using "the Capitol," Hunger Games ruined that phrase for us all :)

My mom busies herself in front of the rusted kitchen sink, her red apron faded and frayed at the seams. She tucks a loose strand of her auburn hair behind her ear and chews on her upper lip, something she does subconsciously when she’s nervous. When I ask her about the letter, she pretends not to hear me and picks at a fleck of dried food on the white plate she’s been holding for the last five minutes. She has been shutting me out a lot these past few months and I wonder now if it has something to do with the ‘reconditioning’.

I glance at the clock resting on windowsill; it’s just after seven. The white face, dotted with lines echoes the face of my mother. I glance once more at the letter siting on the small table before I grab my ID necklace, slip it over my head and race out the door.

All the houses where my mother and I live are the same, given to us by the Capital. We are told that we are lucky to be living like we do: in tiny, dusty-white houses with four walls and a roof that’s nearly flat with the red earth to separate each home. They are little blips on an unpaved street, like the teeth that break through the gums of an infant.

I got lost once. I had been playing in the streets with another girl my age; she and I were jumping rope and playing tag. Her mother called her in for dinner and so I went home. Except, I couldn’t go home. With the houses all looking the same, I had no clue where to go. Mom finally found me lost and crying in the road. The next morning, she painted a small white lily on our door. I never feared getting lost again.

Jogging down the road, I count the houses until I reach the eighth one from mine: Nanette’s. I knock on the door, her mother answers; her face is swollen from crying.

“Is Nanette here?” I ask, hoping I haven’t interrupted anything. She nods then holds a finger up as if to say hold on. She turns away and calls for Nanette. Nanette walks to the door, her head hanging low. She’s holding a letter. “Do you have to go too?”

Nanette nods just once and turns around. Her mother forces a smile and tells me now is not a good time. She shuts the door silently and I feel like my world is crashing to the ground.

I walk towards the edge of our colony, where a twenty-foot cement wall keeps us safe from what lies beyond. As children, sometimes Nanette and I would play by the wall hoping to hear something on the other side. Anything. We’d make up stories about what was beyond the wall: monsters, giants…nothing. Other than the wind that blows through our colony, we never heard a thing.

Tonight, as the sun goes down, I press my ear against the heat-baked wall and close my eyes. I still hear nothing. Until, I do hear something. My heart stops, then takes off at a sprint. Something is scraping up the wall, rhythmic thumps and the occasional slip. At the top of the wall I see the tips of eight fingers. Then I see a head with a mop of shaggy brown hair. I squint my eyes trying to make out the figure, and then I take a step back. It’s a…boy. At least I think so. I’ve never seen one.
Nice twist! I think it would be cool in the next chapter for your MC to talk about her preconceived notions of what a boys is, how he'd look, talk, etc. It would be fun to see her mixed-up ideas about boys--where'd she learn about there being another gender anyway?

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