I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

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WilliamMJones
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I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

Post by WilliamMJones » July 15th, 2010, 3:05 am

Newest version near bottom

I will (hopefully) be ready to start querying agents after my next rewrite. Since some agents want the first five pages, I figured they should be as polished and perfect as possible. Thanks in advance for comments. Here they are:



I’m a Nobody

Part I

Chapter 1: Through the Door


Hide.

I obeyed the voice in my head without question. The classroom door opened easily despite being locked. I closed it silently and turned to the dark room. Moments later the sound of footsteps came from the hall. They were fast and sharp. They grew closer, until they were just outside the room, and then they began to fade. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing I had almost been caught trespassing.

It was nearing midnight, and the school’s security system was working, but I felt no urgency to leave. The cameras had not detected this person. “Someone else can do it too?” I asked.

Follow.

I obeyed, throwing open the door and chasing the source of the footsteps through the dark halls.

I knew that hearing voices meant someone was crazy, and obeying the voices without question made them dangerous. But I wasn’t crazy or dangerous. The voices in my head were always right. I didn’t know what that made me.

If this person was like me, I would get an answer.

I followed the source of the footsteps through the school, past the main office and into a hall full of dull green lockers. I thought I knew where the person was going, though I couldn’t be sure. After two more turns and a walking through a short hall past a security camera, they were in front of a door. It looked like every other door in the school, with an oversized steel doorknob and peeling red paint. It was locked, but not in the normal way. I could open normal locked doors, but not this one.

From behind, the person looked like a girl. She was tall with long black hair. She reached for the door.

“What are you doing here tonight? It’s almost midnight.” I jumped in surprise as someone started talking. It was a boy’s voice. He stepped out of the shadows next to the girl and leaned casually against the door.

“My father sent for me. Do you have a problem with that?” The girl’s voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I tried to get a look at her face, but her back was to me.

“Don’t be so touchy. I was just curious. You don’t usually visit on school nights. But if you’re just visiting, you’d better hurry. Not much time ‘till midnight.”

The girl was quite for a few seconds, and then she asked, “What are you doing here anyway?”

“Just hanging out.”

She crossed her arms. “Don’t lie to me, Michael. What are you doing here?”

“Relax Jen. I’m not here to cause trouble. I know the laws. As long as they stay where they’re supposed to I can’t touch ‘em.”

“That’s never stopped you before.”

“I don’t go around hurting humans. Sure a couple mighta ended up locked in a trunk or stuck on a roof, but they were okay. It was just a joke.”

“Yes, it’s so funny to mess with the defenseless humans.”

“Hey, they aren’t all so defenseless. You of all people should remember that. If it makes you feel better I was just leavin’.” The girl pushed him aside and opened the door. “Smell was starting to make me sick anyway,” he said as he stepped through. The girl followed behind him, and the door slammed shut with a bang.
Last edited by WilliamMJones on August 16th, 2010, 7:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

Post by GeeGee55 » July 18th, 2010, 1:35 am

Hi, WilliamMJones:

Don't you hate it when you post something and nobody comments? I have an excerpt posted below with one comment. One wonders is it that bad or that good? So boring nobody can read it long enough to make a comment? But enough about me and my insecurities. I think this is pretty good, but the sentences could be crafted a bit more and changing some of the paragraph breaks might make it clearer.
WilliamMJones wrote:

I’m a Nobody

Part I

Chapter 1: Through the Door


Hide.[/i I obeyed the voice in my head without question. - I like this opening.

The classroom door opened easily despite being locked. I closed it silently and turned to the dark room. - This does not really make a picture for me and it could be made more sensual, I think, for example: Although the door to my right was locked, it opened instantly when I touched the cold knob. That's not great either, but just to illustrate what I mean. I entered the dark classroom, crouching....or whatever. Moments later the sound of footsteps came from the hall. They were fast and sharp.- Or: Moments later the sound of footsteps, fast and sharp, approached from down the hall - so just playing with the sentences to make them as concise as possible and add some variety and get some strong verbs They grew closer, until they were just outside the room, and then they began to fade. I breathed a sigh of relief - this is a cliche, knowing I had almost been caught trespassing.

It was nearing midnight, and the school’s security system was working, but I felt no urgency to leave. The cameras had not detected this - it's not clear to me if he means himself or the other person person. “Someone else can do it too?” I asked.

Follow.I obeyed, throwing open the door and chasing the source of the footsteps through the dark halls

I knew that hearing voices meant someone was crazy, and obeying the voices without question made them that someone dangerous. But I wasn’t crazy or dangerous. The voices in my head were always right. I didn’t know what that made me.

If this person was like me, I would get an answer. - this sentence seems unnecessary

I followed the source of the footsteps through the school, past the main office and into a hall full of dull green lockers. I thought I knew where the person was going, though I couldn’t be sure. After two more turns and a walking through a short hall past a security camera, they = if the source is singular, the pronoun shouldn't be plural were in front of a door. It looked like every other door in the school, with an oversized steel doorknob and peeling red paint. It was locked, but not in the normal way. I could open normal locked doors, but not this one.

From behind, the person looked like a girl. She was tall with long black hair. She reached for the door.

“What are you doing here tonight? I jumped. It was a boy's voice. He stepped out of the shadows next to the girl and leaned casually against the door.

“My father sent for me. Do you have a problem with that?” The girl’s voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I tried to get a look at her face, but her back was to me.

“Don’t be so touchy. I was just curious. You don’t usually visit on school nights. But if you’re just visiting, you’d better hurry. Not much time ‘till midnight.” Offer a bit of description here of something of their body language or the place or something

The girl was quite quiet for a few seconds, and then she asked, “What are you doing here anyway?”

“Just hanging out.”

She crossed her arms. “Don’t lie to me, Michael. What are you doing here?”

“Relax Jen. I’m not here to cause trouble. I know the laws. As long as they stay where they’re supposed to I can’t touch ‘em.”

“That’s never stopped you before.”

“I don’t go around hurting humans. Sure a couple mighta ended up locked in a trunk or stuck on a roof, but they were okay. It was just a joke.”

“Yes, it’s so funny to mess with the defenseless humans.”

“Hey, they aren’t all so defenseless. You of all people should remember that. If it makes you feel better I was just leavin’.” The girl pushed him aside and opened the door. “Smell was starting to make me sick anyway,” he said as he stepped through.- this is interesting The girl followed behind him, and the door slammed shut with a bang.


Good Luck WM. Remember I'm no expert just offering what I think might be of help

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

Post by EvelynEhrlich » July 19th, 2010, 1:43 am

WilliamMJones,
Intriguing beginning. Good pace, good tension. I agree with GeeGee55 that I could use a little more description of the school, although I understand that it's near midnight and dark, so maybe MC can't see much (although it's presumably his school, so he'd know what it looks like anyway). Some comments below, hope they help. But it's looking good.
WilliamMJones wrote:

I’m a Nobody

Part I

Chapter 1: Through the Door


Hide.

I obeyed the voice in my head without question. The classroom door opened easily despite being locked. I closed it silently and turned to the dark room. Moments later the sound of footsteps came from the hall. They were fast and sharp. They grew closer, until they were just outside the room, and then they began to fade. I breathed a sigh of reliefexhaled., knowingI had almost been caught trespassing. I think breaking this up into two sentences adds more impact.

It was nearing midnight, and the school’s security system was working 'working" doesn't feel right. It implies that it sometimes/often doesn't work? I think you're aiming for something simpler, that it's on. Or the mere fact that there is a security system. Re-word? , but I felt no urgency to leave. Tthe cameras had not detected this person. "I felt no urgency to leave" sucks the tension out of the paragraph, and you don't need it. The last sentence of the paragraph serves the same purpose, but with more mystery (and an answer at the same time). “Someone else can do it too?” I asked.

Follow. I like these short, voice-in-head commands. You have just the right number of them (two), so that it's effective and not overdone.

I obeyed, throwing open the door and chasing the source of the footsteps through the dark halls.

I knew that hHearing voices meant someone was crazy, and obeying the voices without question made them dangerous. But I wasn’t crazy or dangerous. The voices in my head were always right. I didn’t know what that made me.

If this person was like me, I would get an answer. Nice use of a single-sentence paragraph for dramatic effect.

I followed the source of the footsteps second time you used "source of the footsteps" on this page. I know it's technically accurate that you follow the "source" rather than the "footsteps," but for variation's sake, I think you can just use "footsteps" here (or another phrase) through the school, past the main office and into a hall full of dull green lockers. I thought I knew where the person was going, though I couldn’t be sure. After two more turns and awalking througha short hall past a security camera, they same comment as GeeGee - use a singular pronoun here were in front of a door. It looked like every other door in the school, with an oversized steel doorknob and peeling red paint. It was locked, but not in the normal way. I could open normal locked doors, but not this one. It wasn't normal.

From behind, the person looked like a girl.Awkward phrasing. She was tall with long black hair. She reached for the door.

I jumped in surprise as a boy stepped out of the shadows next to the girl and leaned casually against the door.“What are you doing here tonight? It’s almost midnight.” I jumped in surprise as someone started talking. This is a little confusing. Since I'm introduced to the girl in the previous paragraph, I assume the dialogue following it belongs to that girl. But then I find out that it's someone else, so I have to go back and re-read the line. Consider moving a sentence before the dialogue to orient the reader. (Mary Kole over at kidlit.com recently had a good post about this common error.) It was a boy’s voice. He stepped out of the shadows next to the girl and leaned casually against the door.

“My father sent for me. Do you have a problem with that?” The girl’s voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I tried to get a look at her face, but her back was to me.

“Don’t be so touchy. I was just curious. You don’t usually visit on school nights. But if you’re just visiting, you’d better hurry. Not much time ‘till midnight.”

The girl was quite quiet for a few seconds, and t. Then she asked, “What are you doing here anyway?”

“Just hanging out.”

She crossed her arms. “Don’t lie to me, Michael. What are you doing here? This last question is implied, and she wouldn't really say it in conversation.

“Relax Jen. I’m not here to cause trouble. I know the laws. As long as they stay where they’re supposed to add comma here I can’t touch ‘em.”

“That’s never stopped you before.”

“I don’t go around hurting humans. Sure add comma here a couple mighta ended up locked in a trunk or stuck on a roof, but they were okay. It was just a joke.”

“Yes, it’s so funny to mess with the defenseless humans.”

“Hey, they aren’t all so defenseless. You of all people should remember that. If it makes you feel better add comma here I was just leavin’.” paragraph break here The girl pushed him aside and opened the door. paragraph break here, because otherwise, I think Jen is saying the next line. “Smell was starting to make me sick anyway,” he said as he stepped through. The girl followed behind him, and the door slammed shut with a bang.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

Post by gsfields2004 » July 19th, 2010, 12:32 pm

YA is not something I generally read, but I honestly enjoyed the opening scene. I also thought you could set the stage a little more. The other comments I thought were on the mark; before more clear about who "they" are, tighten up the sentences, make themmore concise, less is more when you use strong verbs, etc. I've added a couple recommendations to add to the ones already provided.
WilliamMJones wrote:
Chapter 1: Through the Door[/b]

Hide.

I obeyed the voice in my head without question and looked for a place to hide. The classroom door opened easily despite being locked. I closed it silently and turned to the dark room. Moments later the sound of footsteps came from the hall. They were fast and sharp. They grew closer, until they were just outside the room, and then they began to fade. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing I had almost been caught trespassing. I exhaled, not realizing that I was holding my breath.

It was nearing midnight, and the school’s security system was working, but I felt no urgency to leave. Thecameras had not detected this person. “Someone else can do it too?” I asked. You lost me here as well.
Follow.

The voices were speaking again andI obeyed did as they commanded. throwing Throwingopen the door and chasing I chased the source of the footsteps through the dark halls.

I knew that hearing voices meant someone was crazy, and obeying the voices without question made them dangerous. But I wasn’t crazy or dangerous. The voices in my head were always right. I didn’t know what that made me. I don't think this is needed here. I would have her reflect on this maybe later in the story, but not during a chase.

If this person was like me, I would get an answer. Not really necessary.

I followed the source of the footsteps through the school, past the main office and into a hall full of dull green lockers. I thought I knew where the person was going, though I couldn’t be sure. After two more turns and a walking through downa short hall past a security camera, they wereI saw themin front of a door. It looked like every other door in the school, with an oversized steel doorknob and peeling red paint. It was locked, but not in the normal way. I could open normal locked doors, but not this one.

From behind, the person looked like a girl. She was tall with long black hair. She reached for the door.

“What are you doing here tonight? It’s almost midnight.” I jumped in surprise as someone started talking. It was a boy’s voice. He stepped out of the shadows next to the girl and leaned casually against the door.

“My father sent for me. Do you have a problem with that?”I have fifteen and thirteen year old daughters and they might say something more like, "I don't have to explain myself to you."The girl’s voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I tried to get a look at her face, but her back was to me.

“Don’t be so touchy. I was just curious. You don’t usually visit on school nights. But if you’re just visiting, you’d better hurry. Not much time ‘till midnight.”

The girl was quite for a few seconds, and then she asked, “What are you doing here anyway?”

“Just hanging out.”

She crossed her arms. “Don’t lie to me, Michael. What are you doing here?” Again, drawing on my daughters behavior, they probably wouldn't even respond. They would just cross their arms, tilt their head slightly, and stare at Michael.

“Relax Jen. I’m not here to cause trouble. I know the laws. As long as they stay where they’re supposed to I can’t touch ‘em.”"I can't touch 'em if they stay where they're supposed to."

“That’s never stopped you before.”

“I don’t go around hurting humans. Sure a couple mighta ended up locked in a trunk or stuck on a roof, but they were okay. It was just a joke.”

“Yes, it’s so funny to mess with the defenseless humans.”

“Hey, they aren’t all so defenseless. You of all people should remember that. If it makes you feel better I was just leavin’.” The girl pushed him aside and opened the door. “Smell was starting to make me sick anyway,” he said as he stepped through. The girl followed behind him, and the door slammed shut with a bang.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

Post by maybegenius » August 14th, 2010, 8:51 pm

The others have touched on the typos and technical issues, so I won't go over those again :)
It was nearing midnight, and the school’s security system was working, but I felt no urgency to leave. The cameras had not detected this person. “Someone else can do it too?” I asked.
I'll echo that this sentence confused me. "This person" is disorienting. Perhaps "The cameras hadn't detected anyone else" or "According to the cameras, no one else should have been here." The dialogue seems out of place, as well. We don't know what your narrator can "do." So far, it seems like he (she?) hears voices, opens locked doors, and sneaks into buildings at night. The other person has given no indication of being able to do any of these things except sneak into the building. What is "it?" Also, why doesn't the narrator feel the urge to leave when someone's in the school that shouldn't be? The attitude here is fairly unconcerned.

Which brings me to my next point... I'm not sure what's going on here. It's good to start in media res, and the action and pacing here are good, but sometimes we need a little something to hold on to when we're tossed into the action. Something to ground us and let us know what's going on. Why is the narrator in this school? WHAT is this school? Are they just aimlessly following commands from the voices in their head? You see what I mean?

So we have apparently supernatural beings, and the narrator barely reacts at all, which leads me to believe they're not human, either. Either that, or they know something inhuman exists in their world. Either way, it'd be good to have that cleared up. I know if I were trailing someone who said something about "not going around hurting humans," I'd probably get pretty wigged out.

I'd like a little more setting. The name of the school, as observed on a sign. The narrator thinking about what they're there for. More detail.

Outside that, I think you definitely have a good sense of pacing. This moves forward very well, and nothing's slow. That's harder to do than it sounds, so kudos!
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WilliamMJones
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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

Post by WilliamMJones » August 16th, 2010, 7:11 pm

Newest version, after Nathan's Page critique monday. And tried to clear up the "Someone else can do it too" line. And the reason for the MC being in the school is explained on page two. Wandering around at night is how he experiments with his powers.

Hide.

I obeyed the voice in my head without question. The classroom door should have been locked, but the cold doorknob turned easily. I ducked inside and closed it silently behind me. Moments later the sound of footsteps, fast and sharp, approached from down the hall. They grew closer, until they were just outside the room, and then they began to fade. I realized I was holding my breath and exhaled.

It was nearing midnight, and the school’s security system was on, but no alarm had been activated. No silent commands warned to leave. I realized this person was able to go unnoticed, an ability I had never seen in anyone other than myself.

Follow.

I carefully opened the door and followed source of the footsteps through the dark halls.

I had accepted that I wasn’t normal years ago. But I knew I wasn’t crazy, because the voices in my head were always right. I hoped that by following this person, I might meet somebody who shared my abnormalities.

I followed the footsteps through the school, past the main office and into a hall full of dull green lockers. I thought I knew where the person was going, though I couldn’t be sure. There was a door in the school that I couldn’t open, the only door that was ever locked to me.

After two more turns and a short hall past a security camera, the person was in front of the door. It looked like every other door in the school, with an oversized steel doorknob and peeling red paint.

I saw that the person I was following was a girl. She was tall with long black hair. She reached for the door.

I jumped in surprise as a boy stepped out of the shadows next to the girl and leaned casually against the door. “What are you doing here tonight? It’s almost midnight.”

“My father sent for me. Do you have a problem with that?” The girl’s voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I tried to get a look at her face, but her back was to me.

“Don’t be so touchy. I was just curious. You don’t usually visit on school nights. But if you’re just visiting, you’d better hurry. Not much time ‘till midnight.”

The boy’s voice was relaxed, but the girl seemed tense.

She was quiet for a few seconds before asking, “What are you doing here anyway?”

“Just hanging out.”

She crossed her arms. “Don’t lie to me, Michael.”

“Relax Jen. I’m not here to cause trouble. I know the laws. As long as they stay where they’re supposed to, I can’t touch ‘em.”

“That’s never stopped you before.”

“I don’t go around hurting humans. Sure a couple mighta ended up locked in a trunk or stuck on a roof, but they were okay. It was just a joke.”

“Yes, it’s so funny to mess with the defenseless humans.”

“Hey, they aren’t all so defenseless. You of all people should remember that. If it makes you feel better, I was just leavin’.”

The girl pushed him aside and opened the door.

“Smell was starting to make me sick anyway,” he said as he stepped through. The girl followed behind him, and the door slammed shut with a bang.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 16th, 2010, 9:06 pm

I didn't have much of a problem with the original, William, but this version is clearer.

I think the definite article is missing from one sentence:-
'I carefully opened the door and followed the source of the footsteps through the dark halls.'

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy, First Page

Post by ericabertel » August 18th, 2010, 5:33 pm

William,

I like the new version better than the original. I saw a couple of things that I will point out, but overall I think this is a good beginning. As a reader I would be intrigued.

Hide.

I obeyed the voice in my head without question. The classroom door should have been locked, but the cold doorknob turned easily. (I like this change, but now your missing the addition of his ability to bypass most convientional locks.) I ducked inside and closed it silently behind me. Moments later the sound of footsteps, fast and sharp, approached from down the hall. They grew closer, until they were just outside the room, and then they began to fade. I realized I was holding my breath and exhaled. (This last sentence is better, but I did like Nathan’s idea to add the consequences if he gets caught. Maybe he is afraid to be expelled or worse he's at his school on scholarship or something, which would escalate his situation while adding a dimension to his character.)

It was nearing midnight, and the school’s security system was on, but no alarm had been activated. No silent commands warned to leave. (Maybe say The voices in my head were quiet, if the alarm had been triggered they'd be hollaring for me to run. I just didn't automatically connect this statement to the voices in his head.) I realized this person was able to go unnoticed, an ability I had never seen in anyone other than myself. (This was much more clear)

Follow.

I carefully opened the door and followed (the)source of the footsteps through the dark halls.

I had accepted that I wasn’t normal years ago. But I knew I wasn’t crazy, because the voices in my head were always right. I hoped that by following this person, I might meet somebody who shared my abnormalities. (Suggestion: Maybe by following this person, I might...this gets rid of one sentence starting with I. In first person there are so many of them.)

I followed the footsteps through the school, past the main office and into a hall full of dull green lockers. I thought I knew where the person was going, though I couldn’t be sure. There was a(not sure how anyone else feels about this, but I would change a door to one door. To me using one makes it stand out more how rare of an occurance this is for the MC) door in the school that I couldn’t open, the only door that was ever locked to me.

After two more turns and a short hall past a security camera,(this sentence threw me. The part about a short hall past a security camera. Are you missing a comma after hall? Even then the sentence isn't structured correctly. Down a short hall, past a security camera,...not sure if that is much better, but there is something not flowing right for me here.) the person was in front of the door. It looked like every other door in the school, with an oversized steel doorknob and peeling red paint. (Like the imagery of the door***)

I saw that the person I was following was a girl. She was tall with long black hair. She reached for the door. (How did he see that she was a girl? Show me rather than tell me.)

I jumped in surprise as a boy stepped out of the shadows next to the girl and leaned casually against the door. “What are you doing here tonight? It’s almost midnight.” (Maybe I'm alone in this, but this is the one place I liked the old version better. I felt the MC's shock w/ him in that version)

“My father sent for me. Do you have a problem with that?” The girl’s voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I tried to get a look at her face, but her back was to me.

“Don’t be so touchy. I was just curious. You don’t usually visit on school nights. But if you’re just visiting, you’d better hurry. Not much time ‘till midnight.”

The boy’s voice was relaxed, but the girl seemed tense. (This is to telling. I think you could show his casualness in his demeanor and her tenseness in hers. Have him leaning against the door jam with his feet crossed. She could be fidgeting with something you couldn't quite see. If that something could have a meaning to the story later it would be a cool tie in.)

She was quiet for a few seconds before asking, “What are you doing here anyway?”

“Just hanging out.”

She crossed her arms. “Don’t lie to me, Michael.”

“Relax Jen. I’m not here to cause trouble. I know the laws. As long as they stay where they’re supposed to, I can’t touch ‘em.”

“That’s never stopped you before.”

“I don’t go around hurting humans. Sure a couple mighta ended up locked in a trunk or stuck on a roof, but they were okay. It was just a joke.”

“Yes, it’s so funny to mess with the defenseless humans.”

“Hey, they aren’t all so defenseless. You of all people should remember that. If it makes you feel better, I was just leavin’.”

The girl pushed him aside and opened the door.

“Smell was starting to make me sick anyway,” he said as he stepped through. The girl followed behind him, and the door slammed shut with a bang.

I like the dialogue a lot. I can get a good sense of each character by how they speak and that's the way it should be. I like this story and I hope it gets somewhere. Good Luck.

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