Thursday, March 10, 2011

Drop the Needle: REVELATION #46

GENRE: Middle Grade

A story about ten-year-old Victoria, a quiet girl trying to win a spelling bee to get the money she needs to buy a guitar, and become a famous song writer. She's up against the other best speller in the school, Preston Murray. He's also the class bully and has done everything possible to make her lose the first round. This is a scene in the school cafeteria, after she discovers he cheated to win, and she's not being quiet anymore.

Preston pulled his spoon back. Great. It was mashed potato catapult day. Preston and his lunch table followers had contests to see who could throw the potatoes the farthest. They were pros at not getting caught.

"I hate him," I said. Then I felt the plop. Another. A third. I touched the top of my head. Thick, warm, grainy mush. I had become the potato target. I whipped around toward Preston's table and saw a glop of food flying at me. It slammed onto the left side of my forehead. Potatoes, corn and gravy slid down my face.

That was it. I stormed over to Preston's table. In his face I saw the guitar I wouldn't have. I saw my stolen Dictionary. The paper airplane. The word villain. Throwing up on stage.

"Preston Murray you are the meanest, most horrible person in the whole world! You're a cheater. And a big fat liar!"

"Well, you're a loser Vick-EEE," he said. Everyone at his table laughed. "Want some dessert?" Preston flung chocolate pudding at me. I ducked. It hit Sarah on the arm. I didn't know she and Juliette were behind me.

"You're the loser," I yelled. "You cheated!" I spun to face the cafeteria. Sandwiches were suspended in mid-air. Even the chewing stopped.

"Preston Murray cheated. He stole my list and gave me a fake one!" I turned back to him. My voice sounded like rolls of thunder. "And I know you stole my Grandfather's Dictionary. Give it back. NOW!"


  1. love this! The imagery is great and her anger is believable. I also love the name Preston. Kids are idiots!

  2. Wow, I was so enraged on her behalf! Great emotion here, and I feel like you've really immersed the reader in what's going on with just this tiny snippet.

    Good job.

  3. I liked this, even though I'm not particular fan of MG. I especially love the line "In his face I saw the guitar I wouldn't have." because, having worked hard toward a much-wanted guitar myself, I can relate to that desperate feeling of "I'm never going to get this." Well done!

    One other thing is I had a bit of a problem with the "my voice sounded like rolls of thunder" -- Vicky is ten. It doesn't feel believable.

    Otherwise, I did enjoy. :]

  4. I really loved this. :) Just wanted to say.

  5. I guess there's a kid in all of us. I'm 54 and yet this put me there--I was IN the cafetia, rooting for Victoria. In fact, I WAS Victoria! Congratulations #46!

  6. Awww, this was adorable. Although I'd replace "Stormed" with "Stomped" seems to fit the age better. :)

  7. vickirubin@earthlink.netMarch 10, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    Terrific imagery and believable voice. The writer plopped me into the scene and kept me there, rooting for Victoria's success and Preston's comeuppance. Great job!

  8. While this wasn't strictly where she learned the revelation that Preston cheated, I really like it. The voice was awesome!

    Sounds like a book with a great premise, great stakes and a great voice.

  9. Love the voice. I can picture everything.

    However, I cannot imagine mash potatoes flying in the cafeteria without the kids getting caught and reprimanded straight to the principal's office. Or for the MC to cause a scene without an adult/teacher/lunchroom monitor stepping in.

    I've volunteered at my son's school, and lunch periods were well supervised. The kids are young, after all. Perhaps there are schools that are more lax, but in this day and age, I doubt it. Even during my grade school days, and that was eons ago, this would not happen. Just my experience, which of course color how I see this. But I just wanted to point it out.

    I do like your MC and cheered for her to give it to he bully.

  10. This one was probably my favorite, but I see so many cafeteria food fight situations in middle grade that it didn't feel new in any way. I wanted it to take place somewhere else for a new twist or spin on it. But I was definitely cheering for your MC. Likely because I was one of those quiet girls, too:)

  11. I agree - sucked right in to the action with the imagery delivered in weedy details necessary here. The choice of words make it fun too...plop, mush, etc...makes me zapped right back into school cafeteria.

    I like how this brief section tells us so much behind the scenes with so little - we get it right away ; In his face I saw the guitar I wouldn't have. I saw my stolen Dictionary. The paper airplane. The word villain. Throwing up on stage.

    Teeny note - "spun to face" - I think is a cliche, and perhaps you can creatively change this up for same effect

  12. Excellent job! I could feel Victoria's anger. Even with such a brief passage, I'm mad at Preston too! I couldn't help but root for Victoria. You really conveyed a significant amount of information in only a few words. Looking forward to reading more!

  13. I like it! So she would be in fourth grade? I like the fact that Victoria has goals and dreams and will inspire her readers to do the same!

  14. I was really feeling her anger and pain! Good job. The only thing that I would change is the "mashed potatoes smashed into my...." When I think of mashed potatoes I don't think of smashing, I think of splatting, or something like that. I hope that helps!

  15. Hello Everyone,
    It's the author. Thanks so very much for your thoughts and ideas! I really appreciate that you took the time to read and critique Victoria. Also, a quick note to Rhea. You're absolutely right, but the next couple of sentences has the lunch monitor rushing over. It explains, they were short staffed (not in those words :) ) and the monitor there had been in the back refilling the ketchup. My vision is that it all happens really fast, in the time it takes for Mrs. P to get the ketchup. Victoria's in 5th grade. Deni, I also agree that the cafeteria has been done before, but it had to happen there, because a few scenes prior is where the paper airplane, made out of a page from her grandfather's dictionary, lands by her lunch table. They certainly wouldn't be able to fly paper airplanes anywhere else. THese kids know how to get around the monitors. I know a kid just like him (though not as mean) -- who is truly a pro at getting away with cafeteria mischief! Spun to face, and smashing will be changed because of your help! Thanks again everyone. That includes Authoress for holding these sessions!

  16. Well done. I didn't mind that it happened in the cafeteria and I know how quickly things can get out of hand at school. Seconds really and a lot longer to stop once it starts. So I really loved it. I want Grandpa's dictionary back NOW too!
    Good luck with it.

  17. Well done, I was cheering for Victoria too! Only two things bothered me, and I don't read much middle grade so feel free to ignore. Victoria's narration voice sounded a lot older than her dialogue, and I don't think you need to capitalise 'dictionary'. Apart from that, I really liked this.

  18. I thought this worked overall. Vicki is a strong character who stands up for herself and takes action. I also thought the scene was pretty true to life. A few nits --

    She's describing what Preston is doing (bending back his spoon) and then we learn she has her back to him, so how does she know what he intends to do? She can't see him, which means she can't describe his actions.

    ANd she's ranting at him with gravy all over her face. Wouldn't she wipe it off first? And if she didn't, wouldn't Preston make some remarks about that?

    I liked her announcement that he cheated but I can't comment on whether it works or not because that would depend on what happens next, which we don't see. Be sure to get in the general reaction to her news.