Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Rigby trots into the room, ears flopping with each step. I stop breathing and my legs go weak. I close my eyes, heart pounding, then look again. My dog grins at me, mouth open wide and tongue hanging out.
            This is impossible. How can Rigby be alive? I held her head while the vet put her to sleep under the maple tree two weeks ago.
            None of this makes sense. I was outside with my family raking leaves and came in for a drink. All of a sudden, colors blurred and the floor fell away. Now I’m here, in a room that mostly looks like my bedroom, but is the wrong color with different furniture. And Rigby in front of me, wagging her tail so hard her whole butt shakes.
            I collapse to my knees, wrapping my arms around her. She whips her tail and covers my face in slobber as I hold tight. With Rigby’s wet nose pressed into my shoulder, I stare around this cream-colored bedroom. The desk is new with huge, heavy books neatly stacked next to a super techy looking tablet. The polished wood furniture all matches and the poster taped to the closet door isn’t my skateboarding poster, but a long math equation.
            “Rigby,” I say, my tears soaking her brown and black fur, “how are you alive?”
            I bury my face in her neck and suck in deep, slow breaths like you’re supposed to do when you’re so scared you might completely freak out. If I were the type to get out-of-control scared. Which I’m not. Or at least, would never admit. I cling to my dog, afraid to let her go. Afraid she’s not really here.
             Rigby twists to lick my face, her brown eyes steady on mine. I stand with one hand resting on her back, my eyes darting around. More books are piled on the bed stand where a framed photo of Rigby as a puppy should be. On the desk, a chunky pen with a gun trigger and a thin screen on the side lies near a notebook.
            Then I see it. Held down by a corner of a heavy book is a page of notebook paper.

I am YOU from a parallel world.  I know this seems irrational, but it is accurate.
I must investigate your world, as I have no record of it.
I will switch you back home in a few minutes.
In all truth,

            Another me? I sink to the floor, my back against this bed. Rigby curls up practically in my lap. I rub between my eyes and read the letter again. How can there be another me? And where is the other Amelia—is she in my world right now?
            She wrote that she’ll switch me back in a few minutes. Back to my world where Rigby is dead.  

I jump up. Before that happens, I have to find a way to convince her to let me return to visit Rigby.


  1. I like this, but I wish you would consider presenting the opening in chronological order. Start with her coming into the house for a drink and go forward from there. Having to flash back and explain how she got to this point after only a few paragraphs disrupts the flow of the narrative. But the concept is good and I would give it a few more pages.

  2. This is a variation of "waking up from a dream" for me and is too common of a place to start - which makes me question your scene choices going forward. Plus it's a bit confusing.

    With a novel like this - I think you need to start with the family and how things are before they change. You can take a few pages to set this up, the loss of the dog, the family dynamic - good or bad - so we get a hint of the MC's arc, hints of things not being quite right so the reader gets a sense of the story to come. What you have here reads more like chapter two.

  3. I agree with macoronipants. I think you may have started in the wrong place. I would love to see Amelia in her world and get a sense of who she is, before I see her in the other world. You do a lot of telling us how Amelia’s regular world is different from the current world she is in, and as a result I don’t really feel anything along with her.

    I was also a little confused at the way this excerpt left off. Amelia seems to accept the idea of other worlds and another Amelia a little too easily. She questions it for a minute, and then all the sudden she’s already trying to think of ways to come back and visit her dog, which I didn’t completely buy into. But I still absolutely love this concept!

  4. I agree with those who said the story starts in the wrong place. It's too sudden for me - the dog is returned before we even know Amelia is in mourning over it's death.

  5. I agree with everyone above. I *think* you were trying to start in the action, because everyone's been told to do that too many times. Like others have said, I haven't built up any sympathy for Amelia to care about her dog coming back.

    I want to experience the mystery and the journey with Amelia as it happens, that way it will pack the most emotional punch.

    Love the idea.

  6. Yeah, usually people start too early, but I think you're starting too late. I can't say for sure since I don't know how the story plays out and I don't know MG, but I actually think you may even need to start as early as the dog's death/burial (though it may be tricky to open with a sadder scene). Alternately, if there is a distinct moment of "crossing over", that's another option. I think the key here is to pinpoint an exact moment of change or the one event everything else snowballs from. (i.e. if the stuff with the dog is all preliminary, then pushing the opening back even later might work too. But it really depends on what you're doing with the rest of the story and what kind of tone you're going for.)

    Otherwise the pacing right now overall feels off. Like everyone else has said, it's not emotionally convincing and doesn't give me any confidence that the rest of the story will proceed smoothly, especially given such an intricate premise! It's a story that I expect will require a delicate balancing act, and I'm not seeing that here.

  7. Thank you everyone for the great comments. I had critiquers suggest I start with Rigby alive again, but I'm going back to rework. I appreciate your input very much.

  8. Don't back up too far, and don't forget to add some foreshadowing. That can create conflict for the initial scene and help you to get into the flow.

  9. I don't think you should start with Rigby alive again - I think that's backed up too far. the farthest I would go would maybe be visiting his grave, which would say it all.

  10. Thank you for taking the time to respond. Great ideas and I'm already working on it :)

  11. I love this, even though I must agree that it's not the proper starting place.

    And does Rigby have to die? Sniff, sniff!

    I'm not a fan of starting with burial scenes, even if for a dog. Too cliched, too sad, not sure if it's the best way to hook the young'ens. Would starting with Amelia's jump into time work? Maybe a rough landing? Her reason for wanting to time travel or the discovery of?I don't know. Just make it work so I can read the darn thing, 'cause I like it!