Excerpt: Equinox -- YA romance

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D.S. Deshaw
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Excerpt: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 22nd, 2010, 1:32 am

Hello! My query is here if you'd like to take a look. This is about the first two pages. Let me know what you think! Any and all suggestions are appreciated. Thanks in advance :)


We were well into the Snoqualmie National Forest, tucked into the North Cascades. The forest was damp and messy as we walked between thin, mossy tree trunks. The rain filtered down to the bottom of the thirsty woods. Fresh leaves crunched under our footsteps as we weaved through the trees along the Pilchuck River.

My foot caught on a tree branch underneath the decaying foliage. I reached out frantically for balance in the darkness.

My mom grabbed my arm. She steadied me with a fresh smile. “Watch your step, Kenzie.” I could tell she was gorgeous even in the dark. She moved her arm behind me, rubbing small circles into my back.

“Sorry, Sophia. I’m not as coordinated as you are by nature.”

I felt her pause. Sometimes she liked to forget that she was different from me, from normal people. She gave me a small pat on the back. Her sweet laughter echoed between the Evergreens.

She ignored the topic and moved on to what had been her main concern since I was eight. “When’re you going to start calling me mom, anyway? I’ve been good!”

“Try to stick around for half a year and maybe I’ll make an amendment.” I gave her a coy look and she humored me with a slightly petulant glance back.

My mother, who looked no older than twenty-three, wasn’t a mom in any capacity—besides the biological. I was sure a part of her wished I thought differently, but she couldn’t change my mind now that I was sixteen. Clearly, she should’ve stuck around a bit more when I was younger.

She was finally trying to make up for it, though. Her typical two-month cycle had turned into four months. This was the longest she had stayed with us, and it was a nice change. What I wasn’t so happy with was the fact that we moved all the way here a year ago and she was just now making it a priority to stay around. We didn’t move because we wanted to. We did it for her.

The fact that I had to change schools, lose all of my friends, and rebuild my entire social network because of her was not a nice change. My dad had to find another place to work. We had to find a house, a school—and we couldn’t just pick anywhere. We had to find a place that would suit her special needs.

We moved every few years and I was starting to get tired of it. Someday, she’d be moving without me.
Show, not Tell -- blog, funny times, updated daily (weekends don't count).

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sbs_mjc1
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Re: Excerpt: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by sbs_mjc1 » August 22nd, 2010, 2:15 am

Good stuff: You do a good job of exploring how the narrator relates to her mom. There's a genuine complexity there, not just shallow teen angst.

Suggestions: The dialogue is a bit stilted. I can't see a teen saying "not as coordinated as you by nature". Something like "sorry I'm clumsy" or something might sound more natural.
Consistency with sensory details. If it's dark, describe smells (like the mustiness of moss, the sharp tang of pine, etc.) and sensations like touch instead of visual details.
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Emily J
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Re: Excerpt: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by Emily J » August 23rd, 2010, 1:50 pm

D.S. Deshaw wrote:Hello! My query is here if you'd like to take a look. This is about the first two pages. Let me know what you think! Any and all suggestions are appreciated. Thanks in advance :)


We were well well is a weak word in this usage into the Snoqualmie National Forest, tucked into the North Cascades. I think this first sentence could be strengthened a bit The forest was damp and messy what do you mean messy? thick mast? undergrowth? litter? messy feels like an odd adjective for a forest as we walked between thin, mossy tree trunks. The rain filtered down to the bottom of the thirsty woods. Fresh leaves crunched under our footsteps as we weaved through the trees along the Pilchuck River.

My foot caught on a tree branch underneath the decaying foliage. I reached out frantically for balance in the darkness.

My mom grabbed my arm. She steadied me with a fresh smile. <-- simple sentence construction is good but you have four rather short sentences in a row, consider combining two? “Watch your step, Kenzie.” I could tell she was gorgeous even in the dark. <-- I have no idea what you mean, can Kenzie see in the dark? is it her voice? I'm just not getting the idea you are trying to portray, also why is the MC suddenly remarking on her mother being gorgeous? seems odd She moved her arm behind me, rubbing small circles into my back.

“Sorry, Sophia. I’m not as coordinated as you are by nature.” <-- agree with other comment that this is a bit stilted

I felt her pause. Sometimes she liked to forget that she was different from me, from normal people. She gave me a small pat on the back. <-- in addition to the back rubbing? Her sweet laughter echoed between the Evergreens. <-- I don't think you need to capitalize "evergreens"

She ignored the topic and moved on to what had been her main concern since I was eight. “When’re you going to start calling me mom, anyway? I’ve been good!”

“Try to stick around for half a year and maybe I’ll make an amendment.” <-- make an amendment? this also feels a bit stilted, is there a reason she would speak this way? Young Republican? 'stick around' feels like casual vernacular though I gave her a coy look and she humored me with a slightly petulant glance back. coy looks and petulant glances in the same sentence feels a bit contrived

My mother, who looked no older than twenty-three, wasn’t a mom in any capacity—besides the biological. I was sure a part of her wished I thought differently, but she couldn’t change my mind now that I was sixteen. Clearly, she should’ve stuck around repeating, stick around - stuck around, maybe rephrase this? a bit more when I was younger.

She was finally trying to make up for it, though. Her typical two-month cycle had turned into four months. This was the longest she had stayed with us, and it was a nice change. What I wasn’t so happy with was the fact that we moved all the way here a year ago and she was just now making it a priority to stay around. <-- superfluous words in this sentence "the fact" "all the way" We didn’t move because we wanted to. We did it for her.

The fact <-- using "the fact" again, in most places this can be dropped without losing any meaning that I had to change schools, lose all of my friends, and rebuild my entire social network because of her was not a nice change. My dad had to find another place to work. We had to find a house, a school—and we couldn’t just pick anywhere. We had to find a place that would suit her special needs.

We moved every few years and I was starting to get tired of it. Someday, she’d be moving without me.

lachrymal
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Re: Excerpt: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by lachrymal » August 23rd, 2010, 2:49 pm

I second Emily J's crit about some of the writing here. In addition, one of the things I noticed was a rather large backstory/info dump. The last half of your excerpt is backstory and takes us away from the action. Is there any way you could work this in more naturally, rather than explaining the entire situation right up front? I think agents and other writing resources advise against a lot of telling right off the bat. Good luck with this!

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D.S. Deshaw
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Re: Excerpt: Equinox -- YA romance

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 23rd, 2010, 4:35 pm

Thank you sbs_mjc1, Emily J, and lachrymal!

What you've pointed out is incredibly helpful. I'll take a look at her dialogue later in the editing process so I can be a bit more objective and perhaps find a more 'her' way of saying those things. I'm definitely glad you and sbs_mjc1 noticed it because I definitely wasn't :)

Lachrymal, you've been incredibly helpful. I hadn't noticed the infodump, but after looking out the four paragraphs in contrast to the rest of the story, I don't think it's of too much consequence. We go straight back into the "action" after those paragraphs.

But I do agree that I should keep it to a minimum. I'll look more closely at later places (I can already think of one) where I do more 'telling' instead of 'showing'--but more for a lack of how to show--and see if I can change those. In the end, I might end up eliminating some of those paragraphs. The more I look at them, the more I wonder how much of it isn't quite explained by Kenzie saying "stick around for half a year." I don't want to leave a reader in the dark, either, though.

Thanks a bunch you three! I've definitely got some great things to take a look at :)
Show, not Tell -- blog, funny times, updated daily (weekends don't count).

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