Prologue: YA Dystopian - The Underground

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McRouth
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Prologue: YA Dystopian - The Underground

Post by McRouth » October 11th, 2012, 12:29 am

I wrote this prologue to introduce world and develop the conflict for the MC, Oliver. I worry it's not as eye-catching as a first page needs to be. Any feedback is welcome! Also, the rest of the novel is in first person; is it cheating to have a 3rd person prologue?

The Underground: Prologue

Principal Finch and Ms. Ross faced each other as they often did. Finch sat behind his desk, enveloped in a large maroon-colored chair. Ms. Ross stood across from him, fingertips pressed against the desk’s edge, leaning in a predatory crouch.
They’d had the argument before.
“You have not given me full access to Washington Academy’s students,” Ms. Ross said. “Every time I recommend an evaluation you refuse to comply.”
“And yet you insist on making recommendations,” Finch replied, his sagging lips pressed together in a permanent frown. He was old enough to be her grandfather.
“I am asking for your cooperation on just one student.”
He clasped his wrinkled, age-spotted hands together. “Who?”
“Oliver McCray, junior class.”
Finch shook his head. “Absolutely not. Juniors can’t be distracted right now. They don’t have time to waste on psychological evaluations. They are taking their FACTS-2 exam in three months.”
“Yes, but—”
“The exam will determine who will be approved for college and which Tier they will be branded with for life. There is no more important time in their life than now. You want to jeopardize that?”
“I want Oliver to play by the same rules as everyone else.”
“What rules is he breaking?”
“He draws.” Ross scowled at the thought. “He draws instead of paying attention in my class.”
“Could be nothing.”
“Could be. But Oliver shows all the textbook markers: obstinate behavior, indifference to social hierarchy, solitary tendencies, daydreaming. If he’s drawing, he’s likely doing other dangerous things. Possibly dabbling in music.”
At such a serious accusation, Finch seemed to reconsider. “McCray?” he asked, tapping his finger on the desk as if trying to tap into his memory. “I don’t recognize the name. Who are his parents?” 

“I can’t imagine how that is relevant,” Ross said firmly, righteously.
Ignoring her disapproval, Finch turned to a filing cabinet, pulled open the drawer marker L-R, and withdrew a folder stamped PERMANENT RECORD. Scanning the contents, he decreed, “Oliver McCray goes untouched.”
“Why?”
“Does 1483 N. Manor Drive mean anything to you?”
Ross gave a tiny shake of the head.
“It is the address to the Biltmore Apartments. The director of FACTS lives there, along with some of the city’s most important people.” Finch threw the file on his desk. It splayed open, a photo of Oliver McCray visible. The boy’s dark eyes stared up at Ms. Ross. “Biltmore residents are off limits for evaluations. Do your research next time you want to anger one of Seattle's most affluent families.”
“That’s not how the system is supposed to work,” Ms. Ross answered. “School Administrator Tenet 35 clearly states, ‘Students who exhibit even the slightest hint of subversive activity should be immediately recommended for evaluation.’”
Finch didn’t answer. He put the folder back, and began to work on other things. “You can go,” he dismissed.
Ms. Ross had little choice but to comply with the direct order of a superior. Rising from her crouch, she headed for the door. When leaving Finch’s office, most people felt defeated. Ms. Ross walked to the door feeling something different: determination.

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klbritt
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Re: Prologue: YA Dystopian - The Underground

Post by klbritt » October 12th, 2012, 6:05 pm

I really like the story you've created in such a short excerpt - there's tension between the two characters and obviously some sort of 'almost' power struggle. I wonder though, if instead of a prologue, this could be a conversation possible overheard by Oliver or one of the other characters in your story? I feel like it would be a great addition to the first chapter possibly, gaining that tension you are looking for -- because, who doesn't like eavesdropping every now and then?

Anyway, I do have a few comments as written below BLUE=suggestion or comment RED=consider revising/removing.
McRouth wrote: I wrote this prologue to introduce world and develop the conflict for the MC, Oliver. I worry it's not as eye-catching as a first page needs to be. Any feedback is welcome! Also, the rest of the novel is in first person; is it cheating to have a 3rd person prologue?

The Underground: Prologue

Principal Finch and Ms. Ross faced each other as they often did [This first sentence is unclear - you obviously clarify it in the following sentences, but it may be better off fitted at the end of this paragraph and combined with the next sentence: They'd had the argument before.]. Finch sat behind his desk, enveloped in a large maroon-colored chair. Ms. Ross stood across from him, fingertips pressed against the desk’s edge, leaning in a predatory crouch.[Could you say something like: leaning in like a feline readying to pounce on it's unsuspecting victim...or something more descriptive?]

They’ved had the [this? makes it sound more specific to the topic at hand] argument before.

“You have not given me full access to Washington Academy’s students,” Ms. Ross said. “Every time I recommend an evaluation [by who?] you refuse to comply.”

“And yet you insist on making recommendations,” Finch replied, his sagging lips pressed together in a permanent frown. He was old enough to be her grandfather [does the character think this in his head or is this your way of showing us how old the two people are?].

“I am asking for your cooperation on just one student.”

He clasped his wrinkled, age-spotted hands together. “Who?”

“Oliver McCray, junior class.”

Finch shook his head. “Absolutely not. Juniors can’t be distracted right now. They don’t have time to waste on psychological evaluations. They are taking their FACTS-2 exam in three months.”

“Yes, but—”

“The exam will determine who will be approved for college and which Tier they will be branded with for life. There is no more important time in their life than now. You want to jeopardize that?”

“I want Oliver to play by the same rules as everyone else.”

“What rules is he breaking?” [Try "What rules has he broken?"]

“He draws.” Ross scowled at the thought. “He draws instead of paying attention in my class.” [I assumed Ms. Ross was almost like a guidance counselor, but here you say she's a teacher - my impression could be wrong, but you could clarify this in the first paragraph.]

“Could be nothing.”

“Could be. But Oliver shows all the textbook markers: obstinate behavior, indifference to social hierarchy, solitary tendencies, daydreaming [These are great!]. If he’s drawing, he’s likely doing other dangerous things. Possibly dabbling in music.”

At such a serious accusation, Finch seemed to reconsider. “McCray?” he asked, tapping his finger on the desk as if trying to tap into his memory. “I don’t recognize the name. Who are his parents?” 


“I can’t imagine how that is relevant,” Ross said firmly, righteously.

Ignoring her disapproval, Finch turned to a filing cabinet, pulled open the drawer marker L-R, and withdrew a folder stamped PERMANENT RECORDS. Scanning the contents, he decreed, “Oliver McCray goes untouched.”

“Why?”

“Does 1483 N. Manor Drive mean anything to you?”

Ross gave a tiny shake of the head.

“It is the address to the Biltmore Apartments. The director of FACTS lives there, along with some of the city’s most important people.” Finch threw the file on his desk. It splayed open, a photo of Oliver McCray visible. The boy’s dark eyes stared up at Ms. Ross. “Biltmore residents are off limits for evaluations. Do your research next time you want to anger one of Seattle's most affluent families.”

“That’s not how the system is supposed to work,” Ms. Ross answered. “School Administrator Tenet 35 clearly states, ‘Students who exhibit even the slightest hint of subversive activity should be immediately recommended for evaluation.’”

Finch didn’t answer. He put the folder back, and began to work on other things. “You can go,” he dismissed.

Ms. Ross had little choice but to comply with the direct order of a superior. Rising from her crouch,[Sounds like she's been squatting in front of the desk, not a pleasant image] she headed for the door. When leaving Finch’s office, most people left feeling felt defeated. Ms. Ross walked to the door feeling something different: determination.
Overall, like I said, I really liked this excerpt! Is the novel finished - I want to read it!! Hahaha!
~Kristie

-: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read - Groucho Marx :-

http://www.BKRivers.blogspot.com

McRouth
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Re: Prologue: YA Dystopian - The Underground

Post by McRouth » October 12th, 2012, 10:47 pm

@klbritt: Thanks for the feedback! I love the idea about an overheard conversation. I've been going in circles about what to do with that scene, and I'm going to try your suggestion.

Yes, proudly, the novel is done! I'm in editing/feedback mode right now, so I'd love you to take a look at it if you really want to. You can email me at mcrouth(at)gmail.com and I'll send you the .doc. I'd love to take a look at any project you need a fresh pair of eyes for, too. :D

CFraser
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Re: Prologue: YA Dystopian - The Underground

Post by CFraser » January 16th, 2013, 9:11 am

I agree with the changes Kristie has suggested. The main point I love about this excerpt is the fact that you made me instantly feel as if Finch is instantly the bad guy, but then do a 180 and make Ross seem like she has an air of 'asshattedness' where she's playing everything too much to the book. Makes me want to read more - will Ross' journey make her change her mind? Is Finch the hero? Is Ross the villain?

Good job.

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