First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

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First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

Post by writeonsistah » September 27th, 2010, 4:06 pm

These are the first 280 words of my first book, a YA novel. I'd love to hear your feedback on whether or not the opening conflict is strong enough to draw you in and if it gives you enough of a feel for the main character. Characterization really starts in the next scene, but this setups a lot of what will be important later. Thanks for reading! (P.S. There are tabs in the real version. For some reason I can't figure out how to keep everything from being flushed left in this post thought)

“History is more than just the study of the past. It shapes us. It defines us.” Ms. Beckman slammed her hands against her desk and leaned forward. “The only way to know yourself is to know your history. So I’m assigning a Heritage Project. You’ll have two weeks to write a ten page paper on your family tree.”
Ten pages? Yikes. This is going to be a disaster.
Ms. Beckman worked an imaginary shovel. “I want you to dig into your roots. Dig deep. Research your grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents! I expect a thorough investigation of your lineage.”
Well, there goes my 4.0.
The bell rang and my classmates hurried away.
“Ms. Beckman?”
“Yes?” She looked up from wiping the chalkboard. “How can I help you, Jasmine?”
I averted my eyes. “I was wondering if I could do an alternate assignment. I don’t mind writing a longer paper but…I can’t do the Heritage Project.”
“Why not?”
I blew out a slow breath. “I’m adopted. And my dad’s a single parent.”
“How exciting!” Her bright blue eyes lit up. “So your family tree has three branches.”
“No.” She totally doesn’t get it. “It has one. My adoption was closed. I couldn’t find my birth parents even if I wanted to.” And I don’t. They hadn’t wanted to know me, so I didn’t want to know them either.
“Oh. I’m sorry.” Ms. Beckman looked embarrassed. “Well…I know you’re a conscientious student so… just do the best that you can.” She brightened. “And who knows? Maybe you’ll uncover something about your biological parents. This project could be a real breakthrough.”
“Yeah. Maybe.” Not gonna happen.
I headed off to lunch.
Check out the first two chapters of my debut novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek.

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Re: First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

Post by sgf » September 27th, 2010, 4:45 pm

Hi writeon--

I thought this was an excellent opener. I didn't get much of a conflict yet... I'm guessing it will have something to do with Jasmine learning about her real family. But what I thought you did really well (well enough so I would keep reading) was show the reading Jasmine's character, especially through her thoughts. The dialogue was also great. I liked the way you blended actions between dialogue, which gave me an idea of what the characters were doing.

Honestly, I don't have any suggestions or nitpicks for this.. it's really good. Thanks for sharing!

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Re: First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

Post by surrealrain » September 27th, 2010, 8:04 pm

I just read, and reread, and cannot find anything negative to say about it. It's definately a story I am interested in reading more of. Great job!

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Re: First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

Post by Mark17 » September 27th, 2010, 10:16 pm

Hey sistah, I really liked the passage, I'd definitely read on. The only thing I would say you don't have to put the thoughts in italics since it's first person. Her thoughts and asides are the narration. If the thoughts are just left as regular text I think the reader will be drawn to the narrator from the get go. Great job on this. Keep going. Good luck.

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Re: First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

Post by D.T.Roberts » October 1st, 2010, 12:02 pm

A very good start. I agree with Mark. The itailics seem to distract.
Good use of dialog. It shows the interaction between characters without to many narative discriptions.
I can see the beginnings of conflict. A paper that will be difficult to research and one she really doesn't want to write. Maybe she is affraid of what she will find.
I would definately keep reading.

Good Job
It has been said that writing comes more easily if you have something to say.

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Re: First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

Post by erin_bowman » October 19th, 2010, 11:45 pm

There is not a super strong opening conflict, but I think this is 100% OK. There is enough tension building to pull a reader in. Even without much alluding to it, I'm fairly sure the MC is going to discover some seriously interesting things once she starts digging around for her family history. Maybe things she doesn't want to know. Or secrets. Or things that change her forever... (am i close? ;) )

Some people found the thoughts (italics) distracting. I think they are distracting only because they are misleading until later on. At first I thought Jasmine was an unmotivated student, or maybe hated writing papers. Then I got to the 4.0 thought and was even more confused. Clearly she is a good student... why is 10 pages a problem for her? It's not til later when she admits her predicament that those lines make sense. Maybe this is fine. Or maybe the opening lines just need to be tweaked a little. Ten pages? That would be a breeze - if I had a family tree to comb. (A little cheesy, but you see where I'm going.

Overall I like the thoughts built in. I wouldn't remove them. They give us such a nice look at the MC's personality and hesitation to take on this assignment (part of which creates the tension and hook that leaves me wanting to read more, even without a huge conflict upfront).

Hope that helps!

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Re: First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

Post by LaylaF » October 24th, 2010, 6:01 pm

Hi writeonsistah...

I liked your excerpt. It totally drew me in. In fact, I wanted to read more and was disappointed that it ended. Like everyone else, I don't really have any changes to suggest. In fact, I had no problem with the italics. I could tell it was her thoughts and actually thought it helped with the emphasis.

Looking back at the title..."Super Geek" I guess more of that aspect (being a geek) will come out as the story progresses. Can't wait to read it!

Great job! I'm sure this will be an interesting novel.

Mariam Maarouf
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Re: First page of YA novel, Jasmine Powers, Super Geek

Post by Mariam Maarouf » October 28th, 2010, 7:36 pm

*clasps* Great job. I can't find a thing to criticize (not even the italics. I loved them; they added character, and I connected with the MC in less than 300 words. Usually, I don't connect with characters until later on, so awesome job on that).

If I really, really, really had to find something negative (which is HARD), I'd just say that I've seen the opening-slash-classroom-assignment more than once before, but not so many times that I classified it as a cliche. So, that's not even a negative.

You beat me. Were I an agent, with a fairly good query and something like that as the rest of the sample, I'd request a full just to read more of the character, hoping the rest is as deep and 3-dimensional as this one.

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly." - C. J. Cherryh , ,

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