Wednesday, October 29, 2008

33 Drop The Needle TENSION

TITLE: Ballet Dreams
GENRE: tween

Jade is an 11-year-old dancer who dislikes newcomer Melissa, 10, because Melissa learns dance steps quickly. Their teacher, Miss Sylvia taught both a solo for the upcoming recital, but only one will perform it. This scene is the audition in front of the other students and Peter.

Jade stomped over to the record player table and stood, arms crossed, her mouth thin. For a second time, Melissa danced to the rhythms and melodies in the piece. The notes and tones surrounded her; they swept her body into the proper movements. On the last chord, Melissa came back to reality and smiled.

The children clapped with enthusiasm, while Peter added a whistle.

Melissa knew she'd performed well. When they switched places, Melissa smirked a little at Jade as they passed each other.

Jade took a spot in the middle of the room, composed herself into the starting pose and waited for the music to begin. When it did, Jade moved in the familiar patterns she and Melissa had learned over the past few weeks.

With reluctance, Melissa had to admit that Jade had a style and grace about her. She followed the tempo of the music to the beat. As Jade swept through the solo, Melissa's confidence slipped. Jade ended with an elegant stance. Maybe she deserves the solo, after all, Melissa thought, and her stomach clinched as she clapped with the others.

"Thank you, girls, for this difficult decision," Miss Sylvia said. "You both did an excellent job, and I'd be proud to have you both perform."

As Melissa pulled on her hands and bit at her lip, the teacher paced a bit in front of the mirrors; then she stopped and faced the two girls. "All right, I've decided."

Melissa held her breath.


  1. I love this! Great job explaining the conflict without being overbearing.

  2. This is nice.

    I really like the first paragraph, but I think you don't need both the "tones and notes" surrounding her. It's okay to just say one.

    The line "Melissa knew she'd performed well," could be either scrapped or rewritten to keep the reader in the scene. Maybe: Confident in her performance, Melissa left the floor.

    This is a great piece, though.

    Even though ballet isn't my thing, I'd definitely read more. Good job.

  3. Nicely done.

    The tension is: who will be picked? :)

    The tension would be 'upped' a little more if you were just in Jade's head, or Melissa's head (I'm not sure whose POV you use for the entire novel). As it is, you dip us into both girls' heads, and it's hard to feel the competition, or the need of one girl over the other.

  4. Prefect!

    Wonderfully written, and great tension!

  5. Good tension, good conflict. I'm dying to know who gets it! I don't know that I see head jumping as much as almost head jumping. We see Jade take the spot in the room, get in the starting pose, and do the patterns they learned. But we don't get her thoughts, etc. To make it a little further from almost head jumping you could add a "Melissa watched as..."- same thing in the beginning if Melissa sees Jade out of the corner of her eye and decides to perform really well to best her, or thinks that she won't allow Jade to intimidate her.

  6. This is good. There's evident conflict and tension. I wasn't sure who's POV we were supposed to be in, though (first para seems like Jade, the rest, Melissa.) And who is the MC, Melissa or Jade?

  7. I'd have to agree with Sponge on picking one girl's POV for more tension, but I did enjoy it. So who was picked? :)
    A nit-pick, "Thank you, girls, for this difficult decision," Miss Sylvia said.
    This sentence sounded off to me. Is she thanking them for both dancing well and making the decision difficult? Or is she thanking them, and telling them the decision is difficult?
    But I do enjoy the tension.

  8. I liked this and would read on to find out who wins.

    I didn't know who's POV is was. I think it would take me more into the story if it was just one POV.

    But I liked it.

  9. There's definitely tension here, but I agree that telling the entire scene from one girl's POV would up the stakes.

  10. With this scene I'm getting confused as to which girl is the MC - because you start with Jade, but we are more aware of what's going on with Melissa.

    But it is definitely a tense moment! And I can't help but wonder who Peter is, since it appears he is an important character lurking in the background.

  11. Not to be repetitive, but I wasn't sure what pov we were in and that kept me out of the story a bit. The tension worked nicely though.

  12. The scene is good, but I don't like the POV shift. I don't read 'tween books often though, is that omni/narrator POV common?

  13. Thank you for your comments.

    I wrote the entire book in Melissa's POV, but obviously, I didn't succeed yet in conveying that. Good to know what to work on.

    By the way, Melissa wins the solo.

  14. The POV is a bit unclear at the beginning, but there’s definitely identifiable tension in this scene. Maybe add a few names of dance moves just to add some additional world building elements?

  15. Great tension here! You're writing reflects the fluidity of the scene. Excellent job.