1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

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Krista G.
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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » July 27th, 2010, 2:41 am

Thanks, D.S. Deshaw. I'm glad it was clearer this time. And interestingly, your suggestion was the other version of the first sentence that I thought about going with:)

Holly, excellent points. I'll have to see if I can blend the description a little better.
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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by adamg73 » July 28th, 2010, 12:54 pm

I agree with Holly, if you drop that first bit about the awful room and get right to him, it works a lot better. I like how you don't take long to explain what "Stream" is. As a sci-fi reader it drives me nuts when you have to wait for 3 chapters to find out what a referenced piece of technology actually is. Looking good!
Last edited by adamg73 on July 29th, 2010, 11:27 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » July 29th, 2010, 2:03 am

Thanks for the input, adamg73. And what a delightfully rhythmical screen name:)
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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 2nd, 2010, 1:34 pm

I like all three versions, Krista G, but prefer the original, particularly where it hints at a future where Apple are old. Does Mr. Jobs miss the neural implant boat?

In versions two and three I think too many cooks are spoiling the broth. And I really don't care what color the principal's carpet is!

I doubt SF fans will have a problem guessing what Biomedia and B-Reader (Brain-Reader?) and Stream Surfer are, and more general readers will no doubt get it over the next few pages.

Continuing the cooking metaphors, take all advice with a grain of salt, including mine.

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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by wilderness » August 2nd, 2010, 2:07 pm

I like version 3 a lot, in particular:
Seth shifted in his seat and tried to concentrate on his homework (Problem number eight. Find the limit as x approaches e of the natural log of x, b-Reader droned in his head), but his own thoughts were so loud he barely heard the words.
This is a masterful way of explaining b-reader -- you know immediately what it is, but it doesn't feel like you're being talked down to. I read a lot of YA SF, but it really wasn't clear in the first version what the italics meant, and the word b-reader showed up several paragraphs later. So nice job! I also like how you explained Stream Surfer.

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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » August 2nd, 2010, 10:03 pm

J.T. Shea, I like the Apple line, too. I wonder if there's some way I could work it into the most recent version, because I do think having Seth already in the principal's office and hearing the secretary's cryptic comments is a little more hook-y. Thanks for your input, and for bringing that line (which was my favorite from the original draft) back to my attention.

Wilderness, thanks for your feedback. I must say, I blushed when you described my writing as masterful:)
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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 3rd, 2010, 8:59 pm

You might have Seth, already in the principal's office, overhear the intercom making some other announcement, thereby prompting his Apple comment.

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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » August 5th, 2010, 2:05 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:You might have Seth, already in the principal's office, overhear the intercom making some other announcement, thereby prompting his Apple comment.
Thanks for this idea, J.T.
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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Andrewauthor » August 31st, 2010, 4:50 pm

Krista G. wrote:Many thanks to all the people who've already taken the time to give me feedback. Here's the latest incarnation of my first page (roughly). The first sentence is still giving me fits, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far. What do you think (about the first sentence and/or the rest of this)?

Seth had (Consider changing this from passive voice. i.e. get rid of the 'had') always appreciated the awfulness of the principal’s office, but he’d (again, get rid of the 'd) never realized how awful the waiting room was. The toothpaste-colored carpet was hideous, the free Stream access annoying, and wasn’t that three-hundred-liter fish tank big enough for dunking students?

Seth shifted in his seat and tried to concentrate on his homework (Problem number eight. Find the limit as x approaches e of the natural log of x, b-Reader droned in his head), but his own thoughts were so loud he barely heard the words.

What could Ms. Mahoney possibly want with him? The intercom message that summoned him interrupted his calculus class.
Honestly, that intercom had to be as old as Apple, and wasn’t this supposed to be the biomedia capital of the universe? (I hesitate to end it this way because it sounds almost identical to 'wasn't that three-hundred-liter.... )


The secretary looked up. “Sorry for the wait.” She flashed him a phantom grin. “But I think you’ll find it worth your while.”

Problem number eight. Find the limit as x approaches—

Seth pushed the words of the calculus problem aside, out of thought. “What do you mean?”

She cupped a hand around the side of her mouth. “Don’t tell her I said anything, but … congratulations.”

Problem number—

“Congratulations?”

“Not so loud!” She leaned over her laptop, bleached blond curls bouncing stiffly, but then something on the screen caught her attention and she seemed to forgot all about him.

Problem number eight. Find the limit as—

Seth closed the calc book with a thought and exited b-Reader with another. But that only made way for a new flood of sounds and pictures, which burrowed into his brain with almost no effort at all. In the quiet of the waiting room, without his homework to distract him, Stream Surfer’s smooth-talking voices were impossible to ignore.

Welcome to Stream Surfer, where the whole world is at your—Complete Will Smith collection, now available in—The twenty-forty-six International Biomedia Conference begins next week at Hermes United headquarters in Las Vegas. Top students from around the world will take part in the week-long event, which includes workshops, guided tours, and an exclusive audience with the industry’s leading man, and leading eccentric, Marvin Hermes.

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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by writeonsistah » September 28th, 2010, 4:37 am

Hi Krista! Hopefully I don't come off as a total idiot for saying this, and I feel a bit like one because it seems that most of the other commentors are totally getting what's going on in your first page, but I guess I'll speak up for those of us who are not quite so quick on the draw, lol. I'm a bit confused. Seth has some kind of chip which is talking to him apart from his own thoughts? Is Stream Surfer some kind of radio station in your head? It seems like you have a cool concept, but it wasn't totally clear to me what was going on.
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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by erin_bowman » October 13th, 2010, 10:48 pm

The idea of the Stream Surfer reminds me a lot of FEED by MT Anderson (also a YA distopian novel). And I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just interesting, and you may want to check out FEED to be sure you're not going down a path too close to something already out there. (Of course, my opinion of these concepts being "similar" is based solely on your short excerpt. Things could, in fact, change drastically in the following pages not shared here, and if that is the case, don't mind me :) )

Either way, I agree with some of the comments about the descriptions being a bit overkill at the beginning. I am intrigued by the fact that he is in the principal's office, but I don't necessarily care what color the carpet is or how much water the fish tank holds. I want to get right to why he's there. I do love the calc problem constantly interrupting his thoughts. Because the reader is faced with the same, repeating interruption as the MC, they are able to relate to him almost instantly.

more on FEED if you're interested: http://www.amazon.com/Feed-M-T-Anderson/dp/0763622591

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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » October 14th, 2010, 2:08 pm

Thanks, writeonsistah, for your thoughts. I appreciate your honesty. You're right - Seth has what I call a Wingtooth, a tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the Stream. Essentially, a Wingtooth is an all-in-one media device, but instead of holding it in your hand, it plugs into your head. I realize it's not one-hundred-percent clear right away, but I think I prefer that over a first-page info-dump. Hopefully, with the information agents will see in the query, they'll be able to put two and two together.

Erin_bowman, thanks for the heads-up about FEED. I was actually about halfway through the first draft when I first heard about FEED, so of course, I scurried over to the library to check it out. I didn't make it all the way through (the language was a little too grating for me), but I did look up a lot of information on FEED online. Also, several of my beta readers have read FEED, and they agree that the voice is nothing alike and the stories diverge pretty dramatically once you get past the initial concept. FEED takes the concept in a more literary direction, and Bob is definitely commercial.

Here's the current first page, since it's changed a bit since the last time I posted it. Feel free to comment on it if you like. (I just didn't want the old version to be sitting at the top of the forum):

The principal’s office was bad, but the waiting room was worse. Seth shifted in his mint green seat and tried to concentrate on his homework (Problem number eight. Find the limit as x approaches e of the natural log of x, b-Reader droned inside his head), but his own thoughts were so loud he could barely hear the words.

What could Ms. Mahoney possibly want with him?

The secretary looked up then, almost like she’d read his mind. “Sorry for the wait.” She flashed him a phantom grin. “But I think you’ll find it worth your while.”

Seth crinkled his forehead. “What do you mean?”

She cupped one hand around the corner of her mouth. “Don’t tell her I said anything, but … congratulations.”

Problem number eight. Find the—

Seth pushed the words out of his head. “Congratulations?”

“Not so loud!” The secretary leaned over her laptop, bleached blond curls bouncing stiffly, like she was going to say more. But then something on the screen caught her attention, and she didn’t.

Problem number—

Seth closed the calc book with a thought and exited b-Reader with another, but that only made way for a new flood of sounds and pictures, which burrowed into his brain with almost no thought at all. In the quiet of the waiting room, Stream Surfer’s smooth-talking voices were impossible to ignore.

Welcome to Stream Surfer, where the whole world is at your—Complete Will Smith collection, now available in—The twenty-forty-six International Biomedia Conference begins next week at Hermes United headquarters in Las Vegas. Top students from around the world will take part in the week-long event, which will include workshops, guided tours, and an exclusive audience with the industry’s leading man, Eli Hermes.
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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by erin_bowman » October 14th, 2010, 6:40 pm

Hey Krista-

Glad you've already checked out FEED. I figured your story likely differed or branched off in one way or another, and its good to know you've already made sure it stands on its own. That being said, you should try to get through FEED again if you have downtime -- andnot for research or in comparison to your work, but mostly because it is simply that awesome. The futuristic teenspeak is indeed a little though at the beginning, but you adjust as a reader after a few chapters. Can't say enough good things about that book.

Anyway, enough on that and a few thoughts on your revisions.
The principal’s office was bad, but the waiting room was worse. Seth shifted in his mint green seat and tried to concentrate on his homework (Problem number eight. Find the limit as x approaches e of the natural log of x, b-Reader droned inside his head), but his own thoughts were so loud he could barely hear the words.

What could Ms. Mahoney possibly want with him?

The secretary looked up then, almost like she’d read his mind...
I'm really glad to see you ditched some of the description at the beginning. However, I find a few things here confusing. Ms. Mahoney is referenced, and I'm assuming she's the principal, but there is a bit of a disconnect here. I think it's partially because "The secretary looked up then..." almost seems as if its referring to Mahoney. I wonder if just some reordering of these opening lines could address that.

Seth shifted anxiously in the mint green seat of the principal's office and tried to concentrate on his homework (Problem number eight. Find the limit as x approaches e of the natural log of x, b-Reader droned inside his head), but his own thoughts were so loud he could barely hear the words.

What could Ms. Mahoney possibly want with him? Why on earth had he been called in to see her?

The secretary looked up then, almost like she'd read his mind. “Sorry for the wait...


Totally rough, but hopefully you get the idea. I think this clearly defines the principal as Mahoney, and the secretary as a nameless character. I also feel like you can show the reader that Seth hates waiting, hates the anxiety of not knowing why he's in the office without using that "The principal's office was bad, but the waiting room was worse" line, and that's why I tweaked a few things at the beginning. Looking back though, it now might read that Seth is already IN the office with Mahoney, not just waiting in the waiting room. I think it's getting really close though, especially the rest of the opening. Knowing Seth may be congratulated (as opposed to the standard office repremand), baits the user.

On a final note, I'd just watch your use of "but". You've got a bunch of them just in this opening and some can probably be removed or replaced with other wordings... Hope this helps!

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Re: 1st page: BOB - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » October 22nd, 2010, 3:28 pm

Thanks for these thoughts, Erin. I'll have to see if I can come up with a way to make it clearer Ms. Mahoney's the principal and the secretary's just the secretary. And you just identified my favorite conjunction:) I'll have to see what I can come up with for that, too...
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