Young adult fantasy - first page

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ShotintheDark
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Young adult fantasy - first page

Post by ShotintheDark » April 13th, 2011, 8:00 pm

Hey everybody, here's the first page of my young adult novel, THE ADVENTURES OF STRIKE. I've done some work on it, using advice from this forum and a few others, and I'd love to hear what you think!


Catherine is awoken by the sound of thunder. Startled, she reaches across the bed for her husband, Scott, but realizes he is not lying next to her. She sighs. It’s happening again.

Walking down the hallway from her bedroom, Catherine enters the kitchen. She finds Scott there, standing at the table and stuffing dark clothes into a blue duffle bag. He looks tired, with a couple days growth of slightly graying beard and eyes that haven’t seen much sleep.

“I know,” he says with an embarrassed frown. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.”

Catherine steps toward him. “Scott, just tell me what is going on. Please. I’m not—I’m not going to allow something like this happen to us. Whatever this is, let me help you.”

Scott shakes his head as he jams a pair of black boots into the bag. “I know,” he sighs, “but it’s not that easy, Cathy. I don’t have enough time, I just…I just need you to be patient.”

A rumble of thunder shakes the house and a gust of wind batters the windows with rain. Catherine arches her head toward the ceiling, feeling her breath leaving her.

“Please, Scott,” she says, “just tell me where you are going. Just tell me.”

He moves to her. “Look,” he says, pulling her close and pushing her blonde hair away from her face. “It’s still me. I’m here, just like always. I know this is terrible and completely unfair, but I promise you there is nothing to worry about. I just need you trust me on this. Okay?”

Catherine pulls away. She looks to the floor. The both of them are silent as the rain falls down angrily outside.

“When I—when I get home,” Scott stammers after a moment, “I’ll explain it. Everything. I will—it’s only going to make you think I’m even more insane, but when I get back, I’ll tell you every last detail. As long as you promise not to be mad at me.”

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wordranger
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Re: Young adult fantasy - first page

Post by wordranger » April 16th, 2011, 12:50 am

ShotintheDark wrote:
Catherine is awoken by the sound of thunder. Startled, she reaches across the bed for her husband, Scott, but realizes he is not lying next to her. She sighs. It’s happening again.

Walking down the hallway from her bedroom, Catherine enters the kitchen. She finds Scott there, standing at the table and stuffing dark clothes into a blue duffle bag. He looks tired, with a couple days growth of slightly graying beard and eyes that haven’t seen much sleep.
Your beginning is your weakest part. Once your dialog gets started, it's pretty good, though. This is one of those cases where it seems like you had trouble getting started. You are stuck a little on the line of almost telling us, rather than showing us... you're just on the border.

Try this...

Catherine woke to the sound of thunder. Startled, she reached across the bed for her husband.
"Scott," she called, but he wasn't there. She got up, and sat on the edge of the bed, and sighed. It's happening again.

She took a deep breath, and walked down the hallway. As she expected, she found Scott stuffing dark clothes into a duffle bag.

Does that sound any better? I think it flows a little nicer. Are you purposely trying to write in the present tense? That seems pretty hard to do. You can probably do something similar in the present tense, but my brain just does not want to go there.

This is intriguing, though. If I had another page or two, I'd still be reading. I want to know what's happening.
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My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

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akila
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Re: Young adult fantasy - first page

Post by akila » April 17th, 2011, 11:32 am

It's interesting that the two main characters are older since this is a YA fantasy . . . or am I assuming incorrectly that Catherine and Scott are the two main characters? I think there are some issues here that solid editing can fix:

1. Use of passive voice: "is awoken" to "wakes."
2. Filler words, especially the word "just." I would remove all of the "just" you have in the dialogue because it breaks up the flow.
3. Catherine's feelings: You've written this from Catherine's POV and I want to know more about how she is feeling. For example, on the line where you write, "pulling her close and pushing her blonde hair away from her face," I would like to know what she feels when he does that because it is happening right now. A suggestion would be,
"Look," he says. He stops, pulls her close, pushes a strand of her blonde hair away from her eyes, and tucks it behind her ears. She stiffens . . . . or she sighs and nestles into his chest.
4. Present tense: As wordranger said, writing in present tense is hard because of the sheer urgency surrounding the words. So, in the beginning, you could start it like this:
Catherine wakes to the sound of thunder crackling against the purple-black sky. Startled, she reaches across the bed for her husband. He is not there. She sighs, sits on the edge of the bed, and places her head between her hands. It's happening again.
As you can see, the paragraph feels very urgent but it's hard to keep that urgency going throughout an entire book. At some point, the reader wants a break from the urgency which is difficult to establish when written in present tense.

All that being said, I like her confusion and his insistence. It makes you wonder what's going to happen next.

AllieS
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Re: Young adult fantasy - first page

Post by AllieS » April 17th, 2011, 10:51 pm

Catherine is awoken by the sound of thunder. I agree with what akila said about the passivity of "awoken." I also think you could make this beginning more gripping, because you start off with something that immediately catches my attention. Why is Scott not in bed? What is happening again? All good questions. Startled, she reaches across the bed for her husband, Scott, but realizes he is not lying next to her. She sighs. It’s happening again.

Walking down the hallway from her bedroom, Catherine enters the kitchen. This line is ordinary enough that I'm pulled out of the mystery. I think you could combine it with the next sentence and say something like, "Catherine enters the kitchen and finds Scott . . ." etc. She finds Scott there, standing at the table and stuffing dark clothes into a blue Is the color important? The way you say it makes me think the color has a special meaning. duffle bag. He looks tired, with a couple days growth of slightly graying beard and eyes that haven’t seen much sleep.

“I know,” he says with an embarrassed frown. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.”

Catherine steps toward him. “Scott, just tell me what is going on. Please. I’m not—I’m not going to allow something like this happen to us. Whatever this is, let me help you.” I also wish I had more insight into what Catherine is thinking and feeling during these parts.

Scott shakes his head as he jams a pair of black boots into the bag. “I know,” he sighs, “but it’s not that easy, Cathy. I don’t have enough time, I just…I just need you to be patient.”

A rumble of thunder shakes the house and a gust of wind batters the windows with rain. Catherine arches her head toward the ceiling, feeling her breath leaving her.

“Please, Scott,” she says, “just tell me where you are going. Just tell me.”

He moves to her. “Look,” he says, pulling her close and pushing her blonde hair away from her face. “It’s still me. I’m here, just like always. I know this is terrible and completely unfair, but I promise you there is nothing to worry about. I just need you trust me on this. Okay?”

Catherine pulls away. She looks to the floor. The both of them are silent as the rain falls down angrily outside.

“When I—when I get home,” Scott stammers after a moment, “I’ll explain it. Everything. I will—it’s only going to make you think I’m even more insane, but when I get back, I’ll tell you every last detail. As long as you promise not to be mad at me.”

Overall, I'm interested enough to keep reading. The dialogue has a lot of mystery to it.

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Falls Apart
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Re: Young adult fantasy - first page

Post by Falls Apart » April 18th, 2011, 6:09 pm

I agree that the present tense sounds unnatural. I don't know why, but I've only ever been able to read it when it's written in first person. Maybe because of a subconcious perception that nobody should be able to tell what another person is doing/feeling at the moment it happens? I dont know, though. Also, I'd like to see a bit more on what they're doing, body language and the like. I was having a lot of trouble visualizing the scene. I've found that a good rule of thumb when it comes to narration is to mention something if and only if the narrator would notice it. So, if it's from this woman's point of view, wouldn't she be seeing what her husband is doing, not just what he's saying? The look on his face, his posture, the single drop of sweat that made its way from the edge of his hair to the collar of his wrinkled shirt? Too much description is boring, but too little makes it feel like the dialogue is taking place in the middle of nowhere with two characters who don't move anything but their mouths.
That aside, I absolutely love how you keep the reader guessing. One thing that always keeps me reading is when a good portion of the characters know something I don't and keep teasing me with it. Keep up the aura of suspense :)

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