Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drop the Needle #21

TITLE: Music = Love
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Hayley had a mental breakdown after colliding with a student soaked from the rain - she has a phobia being wet. To stave off panic attack, she hid out in the girls bathroom and SOS messaged music obssessed cutie Lewis for music help.

The next morning, I woke up with sounds in my ears. They were different than the music I usually fell asleep to. I jolted up, sitting straight in bed. My mp3 player is low on battery, I usually manage to wake up just before dozing off to shut it down. I don’t immediately recognize the music on this playlist, wondering why this isn’t II, until I see the title of the playlist and everything comes rushing back.


I smile a little. Okay, definitely a lot more than usual when I first wake up. Lewis.

I grab my phone, the bright screen tells me its nine-thirty. Guess Mom let me have my day off, which was really nice of her. We’ve been down this road before with my anxiety, so I guess she learned from last time.

I padded around the quiet house, making breakfast and staying in my pajamas since I couldn’t leave the house until after school. Mom left me a note on the kitchen table.

Thought I’d give you the day off. We can deal with it on Monday. I’m going out tonight, so here’s some cash if you want to go out with Lindsay or get something nice for dinner. We need to talk tomorrow about what happened, though.

I took the cash and left it by my keys. Pizza and movie night is so happening tonight. Anything to pretend like yesterday didn't happen.


  1. This was cute. The phobia seems odd to me because the first thing I think of is how does she shower? But the scene itself was well told, and we get a glimpse of her personality. Yet, if her anxiety attacks are so debilitating the day after and is unable to go to school, we're not seeing it here. Perhaps all this is explained through out the novel.

  2. Thanks for the feedback!

    It's something that gets explained in the story - showers, dishes are tolerable because you have to do them. It's more the rain (like when your bag gets wet because it's sticking out of the space under your umbrella).

    The anxiety is more the fear of something getting wet that shouldn't be (like running into a soaked student in a dry, covered hallway).

    Hope that clarifies things!

  3. There's too much minutia here for me and not enough action or reaction to what happened. I do realize some scenes are quiet transitional scenes and her mom is giving her a gift. The scene does make me wonder exactly what the conversation between the girl and the mom will be like. I'm also curious if she and Lindsay will discuss the incident when they go out. Sounds like an intriguing phobia for a teen.

  4. It looks like you have an interesting concept and this could be a very poignant story. But you have a big problem here with tense -- you're jumping back and forth all over the place.

    It seems it wasn't that long ago when no one wrote in present tense except for a few literary writers trying to be avant-garde. Now we see it more and more, particularly in YA, but I think it's difficult to do well.

    Because we're used to reading fiction that's in past tense, it's hard to maintain, so I would really recommend just sticking with traditional past tense in this story -- the sense of immediacy will come from relating the character's intimate feelings and thoughts; using present tense isn't necessary to bring that out.

  5. I felt there was a lot of "telling" and repetition in this small excerpt. I don't need you to tell me "Guess Mom let me have my day off - we've been down this road before" and then Mom's note say "Thought I'd give you the day off - we can deal with this on Monday" and "we need to talk tomorrow about what happened, though".

    Then Mum's note says "cash to get something nice for dinner" and then the MC thinking "pizza is so happening tonight" Things like this slow the scene down.

    I would like to see more thoughts and emotions coming through. Your character seems very flat and one dimensional as I have no idea of what she is thinking or feeling.

    Might be just me - but I was confused in the first paragraph - couldn't place where I was, or what was happening. Do I really need to know they usually manage to wake up before dozing off (hmmm is this even possible - to wake up you have to be asleep) to shut off the mp3. I suggest you think about what information here is important - what moves the story along - and what is just filler and unnecessary. A good edit would cut this down by half.

  6. I agree with KayC. It took 250 words to say she woke up to different music and went downstairs and found a note.

    Instead of telling us things the MC already knows, because you want the reader to know, show it. For example,

    I grab my phone, the bright screen tells me its nine-thirty.

    Could be - I grab my phone. 9:30. The rest of the parg could be cut.

    ALso, at the end, she says she wants to pretend like yesterday didn't happen. Perhaps we need to see her remembering it a bit when she first wakes, that way she can forget about it here.