Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First Kiss #31

TITLE: Collapse
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Melanie is a competitive swimmer who feels awkward out of the water, and Alec has his eye on her after his football practice:

Alec’s strong shoulders rolled forward. He held his big gym bag with one hand. I wondered if he could wrap that hand around the whole football.

“How wide is a football?” I asked. He squinted his eyes.

“Why?” he asked.

“You have big hands.”

“Yeah?” he said, starting to grin.

“And I wondered if you could fit a whole football inside your hand.” He smiled widely as his eyes squinted from the sun. He stretched through another big yawn. “Well, you seem pretty tired, and I need to get home,” I said.

“Wait,” he said, and I turned around. “I’m sorry, I always yawn when I’m nervous,” he said, looking down.

“Why are you nervous?” For a second, he didn’t say anything.

“Melanie, are you going to Homecoming?” he asked, and suddenly, everything got weird. I can deal with weird. I bring weird to the party, I know. But this was different. Uncharted territory.


“Do you want to go with me?” he asked. Before I could answer, he set down his gym bag. I didn’t get what was happening until he leaned down. His strong hand was warm on my back, and then, his lips were on mine. I laughed then, loudly and full of spit, like a freakish, quacking duck. He jumped away and wiped his hand across his face. My face turned completely red. He stepped back and looked at me, his head tilted. Like I was a weird curiosity. A fish out of water.

“Sorry,” I sputtered, “but why’d you do that?” He laughed.

“What? Kiss you?” he asked. “Because I like you, Melanie.”

“Well, that’s because you don’t know me,” I said.

“We’ve been going to school together since second grade,” he said.

“I just spit on you.”

“Yeah. That was…weird,” he said. “You wanna try again?” he teased.


  1. I love the contrast of confident jock vs. awkward girl.

    You have "said" twice in one sentence: "“Wait,” he said, and I turned around. “I’m sorry, I always yawn when I’m nervous,” he said, looking down." I think you can just say "He looked down" after the second bit of dialogue.

    This was probably my favorite line: "...and suddenly, everything got weird. I can deal with weird. I bring weird to the party, I know. But this was different. Uncharted territory."


  2. I really enjoyed this. You did a good job with the characters in a short piece. One thing jumped out at me. I don't know if it was a formatting problem, but you have several instances where you needed a new paragraph. When Melanie asks how wide a football is, you need Alec's action in a different paragraph. You can get rid of the dialogue tag by placing "He squinted his eyes" before the question "Why?"

    There are a few instances of this. I think once a character speaks, you need another paragraph when a different character acts. Otherwise, it's confusing as to who is speaking - especially in paragraphs where Alec's actions are sandwiched between two bits of dialogue from Melanie.

    But that's easily fixed. I really did like this. Loved that she laughed and spit like a duck when they kissed.

  3. Cute scene! Your MC's insecurity shows through, as well as her love interest's confidence.

    A few too many "he saids/he asked" but that's an easy fix. :)

    The kiss came a little too soon for me. The way it's written, he asks her to homecoming then immediately drops his bag and kisses her. My suggestion would be to have him ask then show her thoughts, that's she's stuttering...shocked...and then while she's collecting her thoughts he leans in and kisses her.

    POV problem with "My face turned red." Might change to "my cheeks turned warm" or somesuch. Or "I was pretty sure my cheeks were red."

    I was totally surprised when she spat on him! Cute twist! And I love how he handled it and that he wanted to "try again". Makes me think he's a classy guy and that he's interested in her as a person which gives him depth.

  4. i really loved the humor in this. I laughed out loud more than once (the spitting on him. so terrible and hilarious and they respond so awesomely).

    I think the writing could be cleaned up. Like tarak and spazfilly said, i would work on aligning character action with their dialogue and eliminating all unneeded dialogue tags. More than once i was pulled out because the action wasn't matched up with the correct dialogue.

    But outside of that, this was so much fun! Loved it!

  5. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comments! I'll clean it up!

  6. This is exactly my kind of thing, awkward and funny and honest. No-one ever mentions the spit side of kissing!
    Really enjoyed it. Hope to see more of this story.

  7. I really like this -- your mc is vulnerable yet strong, and funny! Nice combination.

    One tiny nitpick is to take out "he teased." If you must explain, do so with a physical beat: He grinned. "You wanna try that again?"

    Resist the Urge to Explain ("R.U.E."), it pulls the reader out of the scene, since the author is "telling" instead of showing. We know he's teasing, or expressing some other light hearted emotion. No beat or explanation is really necessary, the dialog already does the job for you.

    Great scene, wonderful characters. Best wishes!

  8. I liked this scene. It was cute, humorous, gave a good sense of character.

    That said, these lines should be removed.
    “Wait,” he said, and I turned around. “I’m sorry, I always yawn when I’m nervous,” he said, looking down.

    “Why are you nervous?” For a second, he didn’t say anything.

    I doubt a confident jock would say this, show a weakness so blatently.

    Also, the way the kiss is written feels too awkward and sudden. I would maybe hold off on his asking her to the dance until after the failed kiss.

    I could see the scene playing out like this (obviously just my opinion and written not as you might):

    "Wait, Melanie." I turned around, curious. "Are you going to Homecoming?"

    "Hadn't planned on it," I replied. And that's when everything got weird. Normally, I can deal with weird. I bring weird to the party, I know. But this was different. Uncharted territory.

    He dropped his gym bag and put his arm around me. His strong hand was warm on my back and then, suddenly, his lips were on mine.

    etc. - continue scene as written but, as others suggested, she wouldn't be able to tell that her face turned red. Maybe she feels it warm with the blush.

  9. Loved the voice here and the interaction. I feel for Alec after he has a girl literally laugh ON HIS FACE as he's trying to kiss her. She feels awkward? How about him? yikes! haha...

    Another commenter mentioned the formatting, there are some reactions from Alec that should be on their own line instead of mixed in with her dialogue. I hope Melanie realizes she's potentially crushed this guy :)

  10. Loved this. I did notice the need for new paragraphs, but that's been pointed out. Two other things jumped out at me.

    At the beginning, he squints, then grins. Then he smiles wide, then he squints. All within a few sentences. Mix it up a little - both for variety in the writing and so you don't have him with a super-awkward final expression.

    Also, when you say "then things got weird" I wasn't sure what was weird. It felt like telling. While I liked the following part about "I know weird..." the first part seems out of place. It jerked me out of the flow of the rest of the scene.

    I love the spit part. I had a similar first kiss with a high school crush, and I suspect many other people did too.

  11. Really enjoyed this scene. I would definitely read on as I already connect with both characters. My only nit pick would be the copious use of the word weird. It's used beautifully with the, "...everything got weird." section, but then you use the term again with, "...like I was a weird curiosity..." and then "Yeah. That was...weird." I'd just be careful of overusing weird. It loses its punch and becomes distracting (at least for me). Other than that, great job!

  12. I liked both these characters a lot. They're fun and awkward and cute, and it flies in the face of the perfect first kiss moment.

    Just a couple of suggestions. He says "Melanie" twice in the dialogue, and in general it's better to disinclude the names in the dialogue. I also thought the dialogue transition in the 5th paragraph was a bit rough. Try it without the intervening description: "I wondered if you could fit a whole football in your hand. Well you seem pretty tired, and I need to get home." Sounds jumpy that way.

  13. Okay, I really loved this.
    I agree with most the above comments, particularly watching all the stuff you have his mouth doing in the beginning and watching where your paragraphs break.
    That last sentence is great, but I think ditch the "he teased" - you don't need it and I think the line has great impact when you let it stand without telling us he was teasing (it's so flirty, confident, and funny).