A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

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95jean1801
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A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by 95jean1801 » February 21st, 2011, 12:00 am

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Last edited by 95jean1801 on August 8th, 2011, 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by LeeLKrecklow » March 6th, 2011, 3:51 pm

I love the test-taking hook, and you're writing is exceptionally clear, but overall, I'm sorry to say this fails for me.

My opinion is that this is a bit on the heavy side for a YA first page: information overload, and a bit tinged with exposition. In fewer than 300 words you've got your main character (who seems uncharacteristically self-aware), his age, a narrative catalyst (murder), and a very weighty political agenda. I think the density is pulling your opening down.

Lots of people want to know what they're getting into right out of the gate. I, personally, lose interest if everything comes at me too soon. The cards you don't show can be a strength. I know it's heavy material, but if you stretch it out, it might lighten it up and fly.

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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by hannah_dreamergirl_3 » March 7th, 2011, 1:33 pm

Hi there!
I'm 17 so perhaps fall into your target audience...

I really like this opening, though it confused me at first, the way you have the test there but of course once this was in a book, there wouldn't be that confusion. I was instantly interested.

You introduce a world I can't imagine, a one I am guessing newly out of apartheid and you give a new perspective on it as well, a boy uncertain as to whethr this is a good thing...all books I've read have instantly praised te end to apartheid as a good thing. With this there is a sense of not wantin that perspective, but not being able to look awat, you know?

I love the circle of the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, its very clever, connecting the political situation with the parent/child relationship.

Perhaps it is a little heavy but we can't see what comes next and if the next three hundred words are a little lighter it should level out the political ideas.

I think this is REALLY good and though-provking already, which is exactly what you want in both an opening and a YA a teenagers want new ideas and perspectives.

I personally think you're targeting your audience very well and this would definetly make me read on. I tend to read the opening page before buying and I would buy!

hope this helps,

Hannah
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DanielaTorre
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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by DanielaTorre » March 14th, 2011, 6:22 pm

95jean1801 wrote:An excerpt from my YA "novel," A Rainbow Divided, Still. Does it hook you/make you want to read further?

A) The Rainbow Nation
B) A Rainbow Divided
C) The Next Zimbabwe
D) In the land of the blind…
An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal and economic discrimination against nonwhites. This was the first thing that popped into 17 year-old Johan Steyn’s head each time he faced another question on his history exam. Whites only: Slegs blankes. This question however was different. It wanted his opinion. What the hell was his opinion on the not so new but apartheid free, democratic and what some considered improved South Africa? -This is a run-on sentence. It could be rephrased.
What’s happening in our country today is nothing more than apartheid against whites. How far had the apple fallen from the tree? Johan had opinions but unlike his father's, <----- Unless his father created the test Johan was taking, this throws everything off balance. [/u] his were on cars and girls, his next-door neighbor and death] <---- This line is ambiguous. maybe you should consider adding a comma after neighbor to clear up the fact that Johan's neighbor isn't the Grim Reaper. Did he have such a thing as an opinion when it came to anything that didn’t affect his life there and then? No, Johan was certain he didn’t unless—
Was his grandmother’s killer black? Poor? Was she murdered because she was white? Wealthy? Maybe his father was right after all. Johan reinvented the choices as follows,<---- Don't tell, show. In this case you're doing both. Perhaps you should simply continue with with the following questions to complement the test questions in the beginning. and imagined the killer’s response if he were questioned and was of each of opinion.
A) Natural Causes
B) White Skin and Wealth
C) Money Talks—
D) Suicide.
It had to be choice B. He did have an opinion and it did affect his life there and then.<--- ?? His grandmother’s death would affect him for weeks to come, but South Africa’s situation would affect him for the rest of his life. The apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree.
A bell rang and Johan knew his time, like his grandmother’s was up. He was free, she too, but she was free, forever.

Apart from those concerns, you're cold open was awesome and pretty clever. The opening quickly sets up what the story is going to be, introduces the MC's personality, and gives us some perspective of his struggles. I absolutely love the title "A Rainbow Divided. It reminds me of Lincoln's "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand" speech which oddly enough is sort of an allusion to the apartheid in your book. Friggin' brilliant!!!
A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South
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Falls Apart
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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by Falls Apart » March 21st, 2011, 12:21 pm

Intersting hook. Very good setup for a world. One word of caution, although I can't say whether or not it's accurate, not having read further in the book, considering that this is a seventeen-year-old boy whose priorities involve cars and girls and he is only just beginning to question the world around him, his vocabular, and voice in general, doesn't seem to match. But that could just be a misconception on my part. Also, I don't think it's really necessary to metnion that he's seventeen in the first paragraph. But, again, that's just me. Overall, very interesting :)

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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by Chantelle.S. » April 5th, 2011, 8:22 pm

I can't give much concrit on the grammar and sentence structure, but I can give you some tips on the content.

It doesn't make sense to me why the question 'what is your opinion on the new South Africa?' would be posed to him, unless in a political survey during elections. Realistically, they wouldn't ask that in a history test for a high school student. Logically, they wouldn't be able to grade that answer. Unless you reiterate the question to something along the lines of 'compare the new rainbow nation to the old apartheid/highlight improvements in the new government/how do people today benefit from the new ways', etc etc. And even then it's a very fickle question to ask in a simple exam, considering his answer might provoke racial backlash, whether it's a positive or a negative answer. Unless he goes diplomatic, which would be the safest bet.

My advice would be to thoroughly research the country you're using as your backdrop, especially where it concerns politics as a major plot point. Speak to locals, get their different points of view on how things are going, research exactly what the citizens are experiencing instead of blindly eating up whatever the media tells you. The last thing you'd want is to have your book cause outrage from the people of that country because you didn't do a proper research. I'm only saying all of this because politics and story-telling don't always go hand-in-hand very well. Write what you know, and if you don't know, research, research, research.

Unless you're from South Africa. In which case I'd suggest you write like you're walking on egg shells.
"Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s." -Stephen King

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95jean1801
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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by 95jean1801 » April 6th, 2011, 11:55 pm

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sonyablue
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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by sonyablue » April 11th, 2011, 9:01 am

95jean1801 wrote:
A) The Rainbow Nation
B) A Rainbow Divided
C) The Next Zimbabwe
D) In the land of the blind…
An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal and economic discrimination against nonwhites. This was the first thing that popped into Johan Steyn’s head each time he faced another question on his history exam. He glanced over the choices again. This still confuses me. What pops into his head? The definition of apartheid? Is that part of the test question or something else? These are the answer choices - what is the question? I'm still just kind of confused about what's going on here About as diverse as if he had asked his family’s opinion, he thought to himself.
The Next Zimbabwe. Johan could hear his father already, ranting about how the oppressor is now the oppressed, that South Africa’s current situation is nothing more than apartheid against whites. What was his opinion and how far had the apple fallen from the tree? Johan had opinions but his were on cars and girls, his next-door neighbour, and death. This has so much promise too, but then I get confused again. First I am thinking, oh OK, Johan is a typical teenager whose mind is mostly on cars and girls, but then wait, death?? Where does that come from? Are you telling me that he's a typical teenager removed from the political situation or not?
A Rainbow Divided. It might as well have been a line from one of his grandmother’s poems. For the umpteenth time since her death, Johan thought about the possible circumstances preceding the gunshot. What had been running through his head, for he never ceased thinking about it, was often in line with his father’s opinions. His grandmother was shot because she was wealthy and because the colour of her skin was white. The apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree.
Johan couldn’t help thinking it, but he couldn’t bring himself to circle choice C. What kind of a question was this? He glanced up at the clock; there wasn’t much time left. He scanned he choices again.
A Rainbow Divided. Johan circled this answer several times, and by the time he laid down his pen, he was drained. He was overwhelmed, but more importantly he was free. As Johan let out a breath of relief, he smiled first at the irony of apartheid South Africa’s flag carved into the corner of his desk, quite out of place amongst several hearts, and then quickly stole a glance at her. Micyla. Is Micyla her name? I'm assuming it is, but the way it's set off by itself, I wonder. It would be clearer to me if there was either a comma "stole a glance at her, Micyla" or went on to say something else about her "Micyla. That luminous skin, those mesmerizing eyes" (a mediocre example off the top of my head! but you get the picture, I think).

P.S. I was born in South Africa :-)
I am very much interested in the story though - it seems like a fascinating setting, and I'm already wondering what happens to this kid.

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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by AllieS » April 21st, 2011, 5:49 am

A) The Rainbow Nation
B) A Rainbow Divided
C) The Next Zimbabwe
D) In the land of the blind…

An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal and economic discrimination against nonwhites. I agree with sonyablue about how confusing this line is. I still don't quite get what's popping into his head. This was the first thing that popped into Johan Steyn’s head each time he faced another question on his history exam. He glanced over the choices again. About as diverse as if he had asked his family’s opinion, he thought to himself. I don't like how fragmented this thought is. I think it'd flow better if you say, "They were about as diverse...etc."

The Next Zimbabwe. Johan could hear his father already, ranting about how the oppressor is now the oppressed, that South Africa’s current situation is nothing more than apartheid against whites. What was his opinion and how far had the apple fallen from the tree? Johan had opinions but his were on cars and girls, his next-door neighbour, and death. Why death? Where does that come from?

A Rainbow Divided. It might as well have been a line from one of his grandmother’s poems. For the umpteenth time since her death, Johan thought about the possible circumstances preceding the gunshot. What had been running through his head, for he never ceased thinking about it, was often in line with his father’s opinions. His grandmother was shot because she was wealthy and because the colour of her skin was white This could get to the point quicker if you just said "she was wealthy and white.". The apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree.

Johan couldn’t help thinking it, but he couldn’t bring himself to circle choice C. What kind of a question was this? He glanced up at the clock; there wasn’t much time left. He scanned he choices again.

A Rainbow Divided. So he did circle that one anyway? I think you could make his decision clearer. Johan circled this answer several times, and by the time he laid down his pen, he was drained. He was overwhelmed, but more importantly he was free. As Johan let out a breath of relief, he smiled first at the irony of apartheid South Africa’s flag carved into the corner of his desk, quite out of place amongst several hearts, and then quickly stole a glance at her. Micyla.

I like the format of this one much better, and I think Johan sounds more like a teenager. Good changes!

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Re: A Rainbow Divided, Still - First 300 Words...?

Post by Chantelle.S. » May 31st, 2011, 10:25 pm

95jean1801 wrote: A) The Rainbow Nation
B) A Rainbow Divided
C) The Next Zimbabwe
D) In the land of the blind…
An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal and economic discrimination against nonwhites. This was the first thing that popped into Johan Steyn’s head each time he faced another question on his history exam. <-I know what you were trying to do there, but unfortunately I'm clueless on how to suggest it should be done. All I can say is that you'll need to revise those two sentences so they flow together more naturally. As it is at the moment, the reader gets kind of lost. Maybe starting the paragraph off with the character's thought right after the list of exam choices is the issue? He glanced over the choices again. About as diverse as if he had asked his family’s opinion, he thought to himself.
The Next Zimbabwe. Johan could hear his father already, ranting about how the oppressor is now the oppressed, that South Africa’s current situation is nothing more than apartheid against whites. What was his opinion and how far had the apple fallen from the tree? Johan had opinions but his were on cars and girls, his next-door neighbour, and death.
A Rainbow Divided. It might as well have been a line from one of his grandmother’s poems. For the umpteenth time since her death, Johan thought about the possible circumstances preceding the gunshot. What had been running through his head, for he never ceased thinking about it, was often in line with his father’s opinions. His grandmother was shot because she was wealthy and because the colour of her skin was white. The apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree. Watch out for repetition.
Johan couldn’t help thinking it, but he couldn’t bring himself to circle choice C. What kind of a question was this? He glanced up at the clock; there wasn’t much time left. He scanned the choices again.
A Rainbow Divided. Johan circled this answer several times, and by the time he laid down his pen, he was drained. He was overwhelmed, but more importantly he was free. As Johan <- since you started the paragraph off with his name, and he's the only character in the scene up to this point, using 'he' will smooth the sentence out better let out a breath of relief, he smiled first at the irony of apartheid South Africa’s flag carved into the corner of his desk, quite out of place amongst several hearts, and then quickly stole a glance at her. I'd suggest you revise this sentence since it seems very long. Micyla.

P.S. I was born in South Africa :-)
LOL, so was I :)
"Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s." -Stephen King

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