Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First Kiss #4

TITLE: Viola Jokes
GENRE: Women's fiction

Your friends want to meet this mysterious guy who sends actual in-the-mail letters and whom they sometimes scrawl notes to in the letters you write back, this Josh Galen who calls you Mrs. Galen. They don't know you both hid from the same bullies who called him Gay-gay-galen and had an even worse name for you. They just think you were friends. They've seen his stick-figure cartoons hanging in your locker, remnants of the days you used to draw in each others' notebooks at the rear of the classroom, and they don't know—you wish you could tell them but you don't—how on the last day of sixth grade before he left for a performing arts middle school, how he struggled to speak and couldn't get out anything at all while you sat on the swings, until finally he handed you a note that said, "Will you be my first kiss?"

And how when you said yes, he leaned forward and gave you a peck on the lips, a touch that burned a line all the way to your stomach. You saved the note in your grammar school yearbook.

Now you're both sixteen, and he says sure, he'll come to the dance at your school. That's how to screw up a relationship.


  1. Even without a lead in, I was able to be dropped right into the middle of this monologue. I enjoyed the voice of the narrator and the retelling of the first kiss.

    I would have liked a little bit more description of the kiss. Where were they? In the hall between classes? On the swings after school? We can imagine how the kiss felt, but we can't visualize where it takes place. Also, I'd love to know what the stick figure drawings are of. I don't know if that would interrupt the flow of the narrative, but it might give the reader insight into the kind of person josh is, if they haven't already read more in depth about him at this point.

    And I'm definitely curious to know how inviting him to the dance would ruin the relationship. I would love to read on.

  2. The last line made me laugh. I'm not sure how this is women's fiction-- it seems to be YA, since it's focusing on the dance at sixteen-- but this is a small excerpt with no intro, so you could ignore me.

    The line of heat is an interesting description, and I like how their relationship seems founded on notes.

  3. WOW!! Phenomenal writing. There is drawing a reader in and then there is DRAWING A READER IN! This is the latter.

  4. Without an intro sentence I was a bit lost, and also wondering why second person was chosen. All but one of the sentences in the first paragraph start with "they," which I feel weakens writing that otherwise has some great descriptions and characterizations.

    I do appreciate how succinctly you were able to catalogue the history of a relationship and give it so much life.

  5. "...and whom they sometimes scrawl notes to..."

    Put the 'to' in front of the 'whom'; "..and to whom they sometimes scrawl notes..."

    I think I am interested in the story, but I, personally, am put off by second person. It looks like you are quite in your protagonist's head, so you should probably use first rather than third, but it is my opinion that you ought change it to one of those.

    I also agree with the second commenter that this appears to be YA.

  6. I loved this. I do wonder about whether you continue second person throughout the MS. But you said so much in just a few words. As another poster put it - you really summarized the relationship perfectly.

    My only suggestion is to separate the last sentence into a paragraph of it's own. I think it would make it stand out more.

  7. I really liked this, and like the other commenters I love how you've gotten so much into so few words. But I also have trouble with the 2nd person. In a short passage it works, but for a whole novel, I wouldn't be able to get through it.

    Definitely an intriguing set-up and you've piqued my curiosity.

  8. I'm with Liz - I really like this, especially as a vignette it really packs a punch, but am not sure I could read an entire novel written this way.

  9. I loved this, took me right back to those rare lovely parts of high school.

  10. A great picture of a developing relationship! I love the notes and stick figures. I'd read more. And I kinda like the second person. I only have nitty suggestions:

    Either put "to" in front of "whom" like LurkingAtYou said or change “whom” to “who”. Bad grammar I know, but what teenagers would say.

    Add a time frame: “the same bullies back in elementary school...”

    Change to present tense and put in a stand-alone paragraph: “They think you are just friends.”

    Say “at the back of” instead of “in the rear of” the classroom, and “but” instead of “and” they don’t know—you wish you could tell them...”.

    I’d rearrange: “...how on the last day of sixth grade before he left for a performing arts middle school, you sat on the swings while he struggled to speak but couldn't get anything out until finally he handed you a note that said, "Will you be my first kiss?"

    The last line took me off-guard. Could you add more? "That's how you screw up the relationship you already have, hoping for a relationship that may never happen." (Or something like that.)