Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First 750 #2

TITLE: THE PRACTICE OF WEARING SKIN
GENRE: YA

I am so going to Hell for this.

Glancing behind me as I pull out of the parking lot, I see a huge pair of caked-on red lips and caterpillar eyelashes in my side mirror. Eden said it would make me look older, but dang, I never expected this. She's somehow added wrinkles to my otherwise smooth face, and huge muddy-blue bags under my eyes.

I guess it worked; I have two pony kegs in my backseat and I'm only sixteen.

My iPhone beeps. It's a text from Eden.

Half of Jared's soccer team is here, where R U?

It went well, Eden, thanks for asking, I type back.

Did you doubt that it would work?

I kinda look like a hooker.

LOL

Ten minutes later I should be well on my way back to Cedar Falls, but with the sky darkening, I swear I've passed this gas station three times. Where the heck is the freeway?

"It's all right, Sofia, you can do this," I say to myself. "You just have to find I-95, get on it, and head east. And stop talking to yourself."

I turn the radio on to some pop station they get here in Naperville and the bass heartbeat calms me down.

"GPS, stupid," I say as I pull my iPhone back out of the caddy beside me, punch in 'Current Location,' and steal glances at the road while I wait for the map to load. The little blue dot that is me zooms in on a tiny road just two streets over from the freeway.

"Ah-ha!" I mumble and look up. Then I scream.

Freaking A, there's a guy in the road!

I slam on the brakes and veer to the left, but it's too late. I'm going to hit him. I see a blur of what must be his blue shirt as I swerve, and one of the kegs hits from behind, knocking the wind out of me. The car screeches to a halt and I see stars. The radio turns off and there is a hand on my forehead. Did I crash? Oh God, I've killed someone. I might as well die now. My life is over. I'm going to be arrested for murder, for underage drinking and then for using a fake ID and I'm going to be raped in prison by some woman named Big Mama.

"Sofia, open your eyes," a man's voice says from the passenger seat.

I turn my head and look at him. He's got great big grey eyes and black hair that curls just at the ends. He's smiling at me, not in a Creepy McCreeperson way, but in that lopsided amused way. Is he an angel? Did I die? I can't die yet, I'm still a virgin! And I was about to throw my first party!

"Sofia, you're not dead. You've still got thirty days." He brushes my dark brown hair from my face.

"Who are you?" I ask, voice faltering.

"I'm Theo. Please, get out of the car." He turns and climbs out of the passenger seat. I'm not going to lie; I like the view as he climbs out and ti startles me for a second. His dark jeans look very worn in, those comfy ones every girlfriend tries to steal from their boyfriends. If he still has his pair, he must be single.

Is he a plain-clothes cop? I wipe my lips with the back of my hand and watch as he walks over to my side of the car.

I don't want to be arrested looking like this, so I quickly rub my eyes and when I glance in the mirror, I see streaks of black and brown smudged sideways. Shit, it's even worse than before.

When he arrives at my door, he opens it, staring at me with grey eyes completely devoid of color and it's like I'm watching a black and white TV in them. The blue shirt he's wearing matches perfectly with those eyes.

Oh God, he's the man I've hit! Here I come, Big Mama!

"You didn't hit me, Sofia, get out of the car. You need to walk around."

He grabs my arm and lifts me out.

"How do you know my name?"

He ignores my question and pulls a square of fabric from his back pocket. "You look terrible."

"What's that for?" I ask, pulling back from him and bumping into the car. "Is that chloroform? Are you going to harvest my organs or something?"

11 comments:

Michelle said...

Great opening line! Who wouldn't want to read more after that? Love the "caterpillar eyelashes." I love the voice and the humor (lol several times, esp on the Big Mama line) and I like the immediacy that present tense gives.

You get so much in: character, conflict, and setting. I already feel like I know this girl, and I want to know more. The "seeing stars" line kind sounded a little cliche to me--but I'm not sure how else you would say it. My only other crit was "voice faltering." That sounded out of character to me. And you've got "it" inverted in there, somewhere, but that's all I caught.

Have to say the boyfriend jeans is SO right on (my teen has a couple pairs :) And I love the way we go through her thoughts toward the end with her--harvest my organs :D

I would love to read more of this and I know my teens would. Fabulous!

S. Kyle Davis said...

Notes as I go along:

1) loved the first line
2) oh, we're in first person present. Interesting.
3) woah, random guy in the passenger seat. Confused, but I'll go with it.
4) creepy mccreaperson. Ha!
5) "you're not gonna die". Can he read her mind? 30 days?
6) Nice description of the eyes. very clear.
7) oh yea. He can totally read her mind.
8) terrible place for the 750 WC to cut. grrr.

I like this. It's very en media res without being too confusing. I learned as I went (as you can see) and was only thrown once, but that was ok. The "look in the mirror" thing is a bit done, but I think you made it work. All in all, I liked it a lot! :)

Sheila said...

I really enjoyed reading this, well done. Humor, interesting story questions, a fun character, I would definitely read on.

The one thing that threw me was the description of his eyes. You say they're grey, then they're devoid of color, then they match his blue shirt. I knew what you were trying to say, grey is kind of colorless, but it just sounded a little off to me. That's just a tiny nit-pick though. I really loved this.

Corinne said...

Most my comments here are terribly nitpicky, but that's good, because, er, it means I didn't see any huge issues! That said, I think even nitpicky comments have their place; especially so early on, you really don't want to throw people out of the story.

The start threw me: if she glances behind her, she's not looking in the side mirror. She could see a flash of herself, maybe, but most people tend to look away from the side mirror when checking the rear window.

As a side-note, I'm not a huge fan of the "I see" construction; there's usually a more direct way of putting it that doesn't require filtering it through your character. "a huge pair of caked-on red lips and caterpillar eyelashes dominate my side mirror", or... something like that... might work better. It's a "I hear the dog bark" vs. "the dog barks" kind of thing. You have a few more of these later on, in the almost-crash, and especially in an action scene like that, you want to speed things up.


It's a text from Eden.
You could probably do something similar here; "a text from Eden flashes onto the screen", or whatever. Versions of 'to be' have their place, but I don't think it's necessary here.

(Also, I'm totally jealous of your MC. I want an iPhone!)

Even nitpickier: if Eden is the type to use 'R U' instead of typing things out, her second text seems kind of stilted. Maybe just the word 'that'?

You've got a lot of dialogue tags going on when she's talking t oherself - you don't need at least half of them. Just skip to the action where you can. You can do some similar line editing elsewhere: for example, you don't need to say that she wipes her lips with the back of her hand. It's not important then, and it's not a detail that really adds to the narrative. Just have her wipe her lips and move on.

Not sure if you need her talking to herself, either - we're deep in her head with this PoV anyway, so it might be less jarring if you just had it be internal monologue? It just risks coming across as gimmicky.

I'm not a fan of the rape joke, but that's just me. It probably works for your MC.

You've got a typo in the paragraph where Theo introduces himself 'ti' instead of 'it'.

I'm also questioning if she'd really take the time to check him out, let alone his jeans, when she's still recovering from a near-crash. I'd be a lot more freaked out by a) almost crashed! and b) there's a strange guy in my car, brushing hair from my face! Get off me, creep! How do you know my name? How did you get in my car? What do you mean, I have thirty days?

Also, please don't hate me, as I think you have a really fun voice, but she seems a little young for sixteen. I'd sooner peg her at fourteen.

You linger on the grey eyes a lot - even taking out whether she'd really focus on that given the situation, would it even be that noticable in the dark? I'm assuming it's at night, given the party and the beer parts.

You've got a lot of funny lines in here, and the situation is definitely intriguing, so I think this could be a great opening. Just needs some tightening up to make the voice flow smoother and not make the reader question her priorities. Good luck!

Barbara said...

I remember this from a Secret Agent contest and I'm glad I got to read more. It is not the story I imagined it to be from the first 250 words.

My guess is the guy is an angel and he's giving her thirty days to either mend her ways, or accomplish some mission. Nothing stood out to me as being a problem in the story. It works well. The writing has issues and Corinne has already pointed them out. You might get her age in another way. She knows she's sixteen, so she wouldn't say I'm sixteen. I would have liked her to be a bit more worried about the person she might have hit, but you're going for humor here, so that probably wouldn't suit it well, and she is a teen, with all the self-absorption that comes with it. Overall, I think it works. Good luck with it!

C.A. Marshall said...

Barbara, no, there are no angels in my story. The guy is a grim reaper, and he tells Sofia that she has 30 days until she dies and she has to make a choice between dying normally and being remembered by those she loves, or becoming a grim reaper and being forgotten.

Barbara said...

So both times I guessed wrong! But I do like him being a grim reaper more than an angel.

Thank goodness we get pictures and blurbs on the covers of books!

rhea said...

Great voice. I really enjoyed this.

Kelley Vitollo said...

I LOVE the voice in this. Great job. You have me intrigued and I would want to read more!

Jemi Fraser said...

Nice voice :)

I like her self-absorbed panic - realistic and fun. Nicely done.

TKAstle said...

All I have to say is, I LOVE this. So many things that are perfectly teen girl. I definitely want to spend a whole novel with this funny girl and your calm, mind reading Theo.

I hope to see this on bookstore shelves before too long.