Thursday, March 3, 2011

Drop the Needle: REVELATION #4

TITLE: A Pocket Full of Grace
GENRE: Contemporary Middle Grade

Grace has just ruined a found art sculpture--in the form of a crane that her mother made--in order to get at something inside of it. The crane belonged to her estranged grandmother, whom she has just moved in with after the sudden death of her mother.

I paced back and forth trying to think of what to say next, Grandma watching me like I was a slow motion tennis match. Then her eyes stopped on the canvas bag I'd thrown down. She walked to it, slid the bolt cutters out, and touched the plastic bags I'd hacked out of the crane. She held on to the one with the jeans inside.

"What did you do?" Almost a whisper.

How was I supposed to tell her that Mama, who had supposedly passed along, was hovering near, like that wavering heat coming off the freeway asphalt on a hot day? That she was leaving me signs? Grandma would think I was worse than crazy. Maybe I was.

"What did you do?" Her shout was a slap.

"What does it look like?" I shot back. "Are you going to send me away now, too? Or do I need to get pregnant first?"

Grandma stood tall. "Is that what you want, Grace? To leave?"

The shame came over me in a wave. A nauseating, suffocating wave. What had I done? Seems I'd wrecked something Mama made, something beautiful Grandma loved, for a few trinkets she probably would have told me about if I'd just asked her.

"Yes. That's what I want."

But it wasn't true, and the sudden knowing would have knocked me into a chair if there'd been one close by.


  1. I really like what I read, but don't see the revelation.

  2. I agree with Amy. It's good stuff, though.

  3. Really like this and the tension here. Great writing.

  4. There's definitely tension, and th writing's good, but I don't see what has been revealed.

    And I'm a little confused about the sculpture. Is it a crane as in a bird? Or a piece of construction machinery?

  5. I had some questions, too, about what exactly was happening--but that's not surprising, being dropped in the middle of the story.

    I like the voice, here. I liked the pace and the tension. I'm guessing the 'sudden knowing' at the end is the revelation, but I wanted a clearer definition of what that was, exactly.
    (More of a 'punch in the gut.' Sudden, and standing in place.) The MC knows immediately, but the reader is left waiting for the confirmation.

  6. Excellent build of tension.

    I was a little confused about Grace's reaction. She seems to jump from confident to ashamed in the space of a few seconds. I think you should tell us more about the thought process that leads to her shame.

    One other point: your voice sounds more YA than Middle Grade. Most MG kids aren't worrying about pregnancy yet, and the feel was just more grown-up. But maybe that's just me. (Consider making this a YA? After all, you seem to be dealing with identity as a theme)

  7. Yeah, I totally agree about the pregnancy comment. This just doesn't belong in MG. I'm guessing that this comment is supposed to imply that the grandmother kicked out the mother when she got pregnant but you still can't have a MG character think of it like it's a possibility.

    Otherwise, the writing is fine, but I don't understand the "sudden knowing" at the end. The sudden knowing of what?

  8. I agree with the comments above regarding MG or YA and the 'sudden knowing' issue.

    This is a bit of over writing. Paced means to walk back and forth so you can cut: 'back and forth'

    I paced back and forth trying to think of what to say next, Grandma watching me like I was a slow motion tennis match.

  9. I really liked this, and want to read more. Don't really have anything to offer criticism wise - it all reads really well for me.

  10. At first, I thought you started too late, that the revelation was what she found inside the crane. Then I learn at the end that the revelation is that she wants to stay at Grandma's. She doesn't want to leave. But there's nothing in this excerpt that says she didn't want to be at Grandma's. If it's made evident earlier in the story and we're reminded of it in earlier bits of this chapter, this could work, but if you haven't laid that foundation, then I think what you have here doesn't work. It's hard to say for certain without knowing what has come before it.

    Perhaps add a line of two of her thinking about why did she have to be here, etc. to make the later revelation a bit bigger.

    Apart from that, the writing is good, the dialogue worked, and I didn't have a problem with the pregnant sentence. If the reader is aware at this point that Mom was thrown out for getting pregnant, then it's a legitimate retort, and you're not dwelling on it. Again, it all depends on what has come before.

  11. I wanted to thank everyone for their very thoughtful comments. It has helped me immensely in re-writing this revelation. Thank again Authoress!