Wednesday, August 29, 2012

#1 First Line Grabber 500

TITLE : Into the Deep

GENRE : Young Adult Fantasy

I’ve always been afraid of water.

 When I was four, I almost drowned in the sea. Ever since then I can’t even take a bath, only quick showers. I’m not sure if it’s the repressed memories or the horrible, emotional way Mom tells it that scares me more. No matter how hard I try, I can’t remember.

Mom says I’ve blocked it from my memory. Apparently, a rogue wave washed me over the side of a boat and I had to be revived. There are no flashes or strange panic attacks when I think of being submersed in water. I only know something bad will happen if I get in it. Mom encourages my fear though I can never figure out why. Hopefully, one day, I can outgrow it.

Because I have a secret.

I am in love with the ocean. The fresh crisp smell of salt air, the mysterious creatures living beneath the surface, the many different colors it can change, even the sheer power; everything about the sea is a siren song tempting me to its shore. Only one problem. Even as it tempts me, it frightens me, because the pull is getting stronger. If I told Mom she’d just stare at me with that fretful look of hers that leaves me feeling as if a huge secret is hovering overhead, teetering on the edge of a precarious cliff.

Maybe it’s the fact I’ll be sixteen in a week. It’s supposed to be a magical age – or so they say.

The bell ending sixth period snaps me out of my thoughts. I glance around in a daze. I missed most of Mr. Romaine’s history lecture. I love his lessons because he puts a humorous spin on things, like how hot Helen of Troy was or why Hitler’s mustache was so small. He makes class fun.

I close my books, tuck my unruly hair behind my ears, and push into the throngs of kids out in the hall, tripping over my foot in the process.

“Watch it, klutz,” a senior snaps after he sets me back upright.

“Sorry,” I mumble.

At my locker, my best friend Charlotte bumps into me with her hip. “Zoey, my dear, ready for practice? Thursday’s game is huge.” Waves of sunny blond hair spill past her shoulders accenting her pert nose and inquisitive blue eyes.

“Yeah, it’s just Mission High though and they’re weak. I only wish they’d let me play.”

“Sure, you and your two left feet. I love ya, Zo, but sometimes you’re a walking disaster.” She tugs on my hair playfully.

It’s true. I’m blessed with clumsiness and frizzy hair, but I cling to the hope I’ll outgrow it one day and blossom. I’m 5’9” already and as much as I seem to fall, my long limbs love to move.

“Don’t remind me,” I joke and change the subject. “I totally spaced out in History. Mr. Romaine lectured about the Spanish Missionaries and I was daydreaming about the ocean again.”


  1. Hee hee, it's funny how in this line-up we have someone obsessively interested in the water and someone afraid of the water.

    I don't really care about Mission High and all that--the high school conversation wasn't unique enough for me. I REALLY liked the beginning, and wanted to continue with that theme. I'd have been more interested in a conversation with Mom, because it would have flowed better from the original premise. I don't like it when I'm way into an MC's thoughts, and they're suddenly interrupted with mundane things.

    Just saying! = ) Your descriptions are magical.

  2. Just more of a technical comment, but I would move the "rogue wave" sentence up right after "I almost drowned in the sea" and drop the rest of the third paragraph. On the whole, it's interesting and I would read more. (I especially like the description of the history class.) It just needs a little tightening up. Good job, though!

  3. I also think it's ironic that we have one story about a girl who wants to get into the water and another one who is afraid to.

    After the mc talks about what happened to her with the rogue wave, she says - I have a secret but then in the next sentence she talks about the mother and the fretful look as if there is a huge secret looming above. I'm assuming they both have secrets? I think I would omit the mention of one of them because the way it reads sounds confusing.

    I also don't understand what turning sixteen has to do with the thought she is having or the fact that she secretly loves the ocean.

    Is the writer trying to hint that something magical will happen when the mc turns sixteen? Something that invovles the water? Perhaps turning into a mermaid?

    The story breaks off and goes into a school setting which feels a bit like a tangent.

    Restructuring will make this story much stronger.

  4. I love that we both have water stories!

    Seeing as it's Fantasy, I'm assuming she's not crazy, she's special. I'm almost getting an "Of Poseidon" feel, so I either want her to be a mermaid, or have some sort of supernatural, water-based power.

    I'd keep reading, though finding out she was at school kind of snapped me out of the moment.

    Good Job!

  5. I think there's been a bit of revamping/rewriting from previous first line grabber iterations, and I think it's improved. I better understand the juxtaposition of loving the ocean and being frightened of it.

    I also love the comment about "Mom encourages my fear"--I'm not a parent, but it seems like that's a nonparental thing to do, and it creates interest.

    But I would've liked more of a connection as to why the MC is thinking about the ocean in history class. Even though it was well-written, it struck me as plain exposition. Was there something that triggered the MC's thoughts? Just wondering because people don't generally think in terms of "When I was four. . ."

    As Petre Pan mentioned, maybe a conversation (or argument; as Connie Willis has said, arguments can be fabulous for working in backstory as people tend to shout things they wouldn't otherwise talk about since they already know the facts) with Mom is in order.

  6. I really like the contrast between her daydreaming about the ocean (that paragraph has really nice use of language, a lyrical feel)and the mundane high school life. But I found myself skimming the high school conversation with her friend--maybe you can have the friend sharing some juicy piece of gossip (albeit typical high school gossip) to keep the reader's attention but at the same time, understand why this girl longs for the ocean instead of boring school and classes.

    Good luck!!

  7. There are glimpses of potential here, but it is just not there yet ("That fretful look of hers that leaves me feeling as if a huge secret is hovering overhead, teetering on the edge of a precarious cliff" is very over-written, and there are a lot of these. I think you could get to the same place in half the time, easily.

  8. I was really intrigued by the water bit, then felt like a whole new story started with the high-school stuff. I agree with others that something to link the two would go a long way. And if the MC isn't interested in the upcoming game, then how can we be interested?

  9. This is so interesting, and I love the edit you did to the start. It flows much better. I have a feeling the conversation was about to get really interesting past the 500 word break. I kind of lost interest during the high school part, but I'm not a fan of high school stories. The genre is YA fantasy, so maybe starting somewhere else and then easing into high school? An opening scene with her and the ocean might be interesting.

  10. I'd like to see a new opening, one that comes at this from a very different way; perhaps not using the word "water" at all, but make us really believe we're seeing this all from the main character's unusual perspective.

  11. I wish this were a bit less obvious. It seems clear to me that she's a mermaid, or some other water-based mythological creature. (If I'm wrong, then great job with the misdirection!) And I agree with Josh that parts of this are overwritten.

  12. Pass for me. Notice how similar this is to the other one? Whenever I come across things this similar in my slush I pass-- if I'm seeing two alike in a pile of 100 (or in this case, four) that means neither is thinking creatively enough to stand out.

  13. All I can think is "ugh another mermaid story."

    If it ISN'T a merm-narrative, please figure out how to differentiate this right off the bat.

    Actually even if it IS one, figure out how to differentiate it. What makes this a merm-narrative that has not been done before? Why does this story need to be told? What makes this heroine unlike all the others? If you can figure that out, LEAD with that, so the merm-weary reader doesn't sigh and set it aside.

  14. This feels very familiar to me. I feel like this is heading into mermaid/some other water-based paranormal critter territory and I have some fatigue in this area. Beyond that, I think the voice is also familiar and the school scenes and exchanges don't feel as vibrant and fresh as they need to be to stand out from the pack. I feel like we are all kind of dogpiling on you here and I don't want you to be discouraged. This just needs to be fresh. As Jennifer Laughran asked, how is this heroine different from all the others who have become so familiar (and now tired) in the market? Figure how the character and plot is different and unique and lead with those qualities.