Wednesday, October 29, 2008

36 Drop The Needle TENSION

Title: Michaela’s Gift
Genre: Middle Grade

Michaela’s family is on their yearly visit to the grandparents, when her estranged Aunt Sharon unexpectedly shows up. Aunt Sharon and Michaela are making a run down the mountain to get groceries for dinner.

“Your mother’s afraid of your gift.”

Michaela forgot about the road. “What do you mean? What gift?”

Aunt Sharon down-shifted and swung around a tight curve. “Your artistic gift, for one,” she said. Her eyes met Michaela’s briefly. “And then there’s the other one.”

Michaela studied her aunt. “What other one?”

“The one we’re going to talk about this visit.” Aunt Sharon smiled at her. “That’s why I’m here. Normally I bow to your mother’s wishes and disappear during the week of your visit. But you’re twelve now, on the verge of becoming a woman, and it’s time you found out about your gift.”

Michaela felt her cheeks pink at her aunt’s words. She glanced down meaningfully at her boyish body. “I think I’m a ways off yet from becoming a woman.”

Aunt Sharon reached over and squeezed Michaela’s hand. “Don’t worry about that,” she said. “You come from a long line of late bloomers, but you’re going to be a beauty once your body catches up with your mind.”

Michaela considered her aunt’s words. “You really think so?”

“Hey, I know so; I’m an artist. Speaking of which, why don’t we talk your mother into letting you stay here and study under me? Our town is small, but we have wonderful schools. And since I teach classes at the middle school, I’ve seen all the boys. There are some real hunks.”


  1. I'm rather lost and don't feel any tension at all. Does Michaela have magical powers? If so, why isn't she more disturbed by her aunt's knowledge of it? There's a lot of questions this scene brings up, but not questions-that-MUST-be-answered-so-I'll-keep-reading. Try to clarify what's going on and cut some of the adverbs. They were distracting from the description.

  2. I like the hint of the story (am a sucker for coming of age type magic gift stories).

    But I don't really feel the tension here.

    I kinda zeroed in on one line:

    "But you’re twelve now, on the verge of becoming a woman, and it’s time you found out about your gift.”

    Instead of changing the subject to her body and boys... I wondered if Michaela would be more prying about the gift.

    Heh. I certainly was. :)

  3. Well, I like the scene, but I don't see the tension too much in this.

  4. I agree - I like the scene and it intrigues me, although I don't find it particularly tense. I'm curious about her gift, and I can see a lot of future tension.

  5. I sense discomfort or shyness but not tension.

  6. If she misunderstands what her aunt means about "gift," does that mean she doesn't know about it herself? I think we're probably suffering from lacking the rest of the conversation for context. But if Michaela does have an inkling about a gift, she ought to be more fixated on how her aunt knows about it instead of being sidetracked by her aunt's offer to let her stay, etc.

  7. I want to know what the gift is. Does she know she has a gift? I would read on to find out.

  8. I really like this! The voice is delightful and seems perfect for this age group (from what little I know about the age group). In addition, you've given us a nice sense of the two characters in this very brief snippet. The dialogue "feels" real, too.

    Here the tension appears in the form of Michaela's obvious discomfort. Nice job!

  9. I'm not sure if this is tense, but I think it probably has a lot of potential in text.

    Good characterization :o)

  10. The one question that I had, other than the "other gift," was why the aunt "disappeared" during the week of Michaela's visit before.

    I sensed curiosity, disappointment but not tension.

    Maybe Michaela (she is the POV character, right?) could hold her breath? gasp? feel her palms sweat? or some other physical manifestation of tension?

  11. I like the scene though I don't think it's that tense. The hint about magic (or what I assume is a hint about magic) does grab you and make you wonder what the heck is going on.

  12. Good conversation scene, and good dialogue to paint their characters. But I wasn’t really feeling tension here. I didn’t feel like there was anything at stake here. There was temptation about the “gift” part, but I thought Michaela seems to shrug it off so much that it wasn’t important to me as a reader.

  13. I can feel great characterization beginning in this scene.

    I felt tension in this scene, but not the type of tension I'd expect in a Middle Grade novel. Michaela needs to display more angst at her aunt's knowledge. Perhaps this comes later in the scene?

    Great dialogue, though!

  14. I liked it. Very Harry Potteresque. However, not sure it should be posted in an area focusing on tension. I didn't feel any nail-biting tension. Definitely some intrigue though. Very strong writing.