Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drop the Needle #6

TITLE: Darcy Towers
GENRE: MG Mystery

Lauren, age eleven, discovers that her older brother is her real father. Having already lost her mother, really her grandmother, she feels her family is out of control. She runs away, but later is found in a burning building. While being treated for smoke inhalation her friend, a cattle veterinarian, visits her.

“You’re not excited?” Dr. Hunter asked. “I thought you always wanted a dad.”

“Not this one.” I wrote on my white board.

“Why not?” She didn’t understand. No one did. “I bet Lorry will be a great Dad, even better than a big brother.”

I shook my head ‘no.’ He was the last one I wanted. I tried writing that out to her, but she stopped me.

“You know, what Lorry did for you so long ago was huge.”

I didn’t want to hear it. I’d heard it over and over from nearly every social worker and nurse who came through my room and listened to my tears. No one was on my side and I blurted that out in my rough, croaky voice.

She patted my leg, like that would make the years of lies better. “Lauren, I’m not on anyone’s side. If anything, I just think this is an amazing thing.”

I scribbled a question mark on my white board.

“Lorry loves you so much he was willing to give you the gift of a mother eleven years ago.” She explained. “He was young and in school and knew he couldn’t provide for you. He was willing to give up his spot in order for you to have the mother he knew you’d need. Did he tell you that she tried offering you back a few times over the years?”

I shook my head no.


  1. Hi

    I want to be in Lauren's head a bit more. I want her anger and fear to be more direct.

    I wonder if you've simplified reality a little. Everyone being so happy about Lorry being Lauren's dad seems surreal in this small section.

    For the technical aspects...

    Having Lauren's thoughts in the middle the of the Dr. speaking is unusual.

    Be consistent with the shook my head 'no' -- although the 'no' is redundant I realize you might want it for voice.

    'on my white board' isn't needed the second time. Unless you state otherwise the reader would assume she's still writing on the same item.

    Lots of relationship rebuilding to come, I guess. Must be quite a story :)

  2. You totally had me with this premise and scene until the whole "offering back" line. I get you are trying to set up that the brother/dad wanted her back but knew it was best she stayed, but it comes off as neither of them wanted her :(

    Hopefully that is clarified?

    Still, such an interesting premise!

  3. I think this is a really interesting premise, and one that will be really intriguing to middle graders. They're in a time of transition with their relationships, especially family relationships, so they'll be able to relate. I also like the whiteboard, it changes things up nicely.

    I agree that saying that everyone is happy with the situation is a little unrealistic, but maybe that's just how it seems from her perspective.

    I thought you did a nice job of showing us how the MC feels about the whole situation. I think it's easy to make middle grade characters sound like teenagers when dealing with emotional drama. I think you handled it well.

  4. Great premise, but this scene feels rushed, even at the MG level. It's too important, I think. It proceeds in maybe too much of a straight line as well, but given the subject matter, you can expect and upper-MG readership to follow a more complex throughline in the scene, I think.

    Writing on the white board is a great touch. It's also one you can do more with, I think. What about the smell of the markers, for example?

  5. This is a great touching moment with lots of powerful emotions. The only nitpicky issue I saw was the line "No one was on my side and I blurted that out in my rough, croaky voice."

    I'm not sure why you didn't actually give the dialogue - I find it ends up flattening the exchange, and pulls me out of the story. Generally when someone is speaking, but you don't give the actual dialogue, it's because what they're saying has been said before, or they're recapping something that's already been told in more detail in the story, filling in another character on things that have happened, where putting it in dialogue would just be exposition, and it indicates something of a scene break, or step back from the story while the author gets something out of the way that would be repetitive to put in dialogue. That's not the case here, and not putting this line in dialogue steals drama from the scene.

  6. Thanks everyone for your very helpful comments and suggestions! I really appreciate it. Happy Holidays and good luck to all with your writing. May 2014 bring us all good punctuation, dialogue and cheer. :)