Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First Kiss #1

GENRE: MG historical fiction

Patsy and her friends are in sixth grade in 1960. Gary has invited Patsy and two other “couples” over on Saturday to watch American Bandstand.

Patsy scanned the perimeter of Gary’s den. The bookshelves actually have interesting books on them, not just clutter and Daddy’s record albums like at my house. And there are lots of family photos of Gary. She catalogued pictures, baseball trophies, brocade curtains, and a door leading to what she supposed was the kitchen.

Just as her head turned towards Gary, that’s when it happened.

Gary snuck in for a surprise attack.

First, just a peck.

Then, a second kiss that lingered, and Patsy realized that she was making out with Gary Hicks—to the tune of Alley Oop, Oop, Oop-Oop from the TV—in front of Susan and Brian, Becky and Dennis.

Whoa, thought Patsy. Never even saw this coming.

Since Gary kept kissing her, Patsy thought about what it was like. Hmmm…soft, wet…a little salty…he’s sort-of wiggling his head aroundour glasses clicked. Gosh, I hope we don’t get stuck together. Patsy was afraid to stop kissing or open her eyes. So, she squinched her eyes shut and puckered, like the actors did on the soap opera As the World Turns, and waited it out. Thank goodness, no tongue. Maybe Gary doesn’t know how to French kiss? Patsy relaxed a little. I wonder how this would feel if someone else were kissing me? Would it feel the same? A face flashed into her mind, and Patsy quickly erased it. Finally, Gary pulled away, wiped his mouth with a sleeve, and took a long sip of his Co-Cola. Patsy concentrated on the TV. No one in the room spoke.

Well, boy howdy, thought Patsy. Maybe no one else noticed? No, I wouldn’t be so lucky. Becky will dial up Pixie as soon as she gets home.


  1. This is an interesting scene because, true to life as a tween, this isn't about true love, but a new experience.

    The first paragraph is just description and I like that you give Patsy's interior thoughts. "Scanned the perimeter" and "catalogued" sound like your narrator a little too much, rather than sticking with Patsy's opinion of the room.

    When the kiss happens and after that, don't say "Patsy thought," just write her thoughts, especially if you italicize them, we'll know it's her.

    I love "squinched" and her thoughts about the soap opera and waiting it out-reads very much like a true first kiss, not always fireworks.

  2. I thought you worked in details of the time and place really well! (Record albums, Alley Oop, Co Cola, boy-howdy.) A few thoughts:

    "The bookshelves actually have interesting books on them, not just clutter and Daddy’s record albums like at my house" is in italics as if the MC's thought, but it doesn't sound like how a 12-year-old would express it.

    Not a fan of body parts moving on their own: "Just as her head turned towards Gary..."

    I'd delete: Gary snuck in for a surprise attack, since you make that obvious.

    The thoughts Patsy has during the kiss seem awfully analytical. How does she feel? Embarrassed? Likes it a little? Grossed out?

  3. I like the scene overall, but I found all the italicized thoughts distracting and somewhat distancing. I think you could weave them more into the narrative with just a few tweaks. The first one becomes: The bookshelves actually had interesting books on them, not just clutter and Daddy's record albums like at her house, etc. That way we're not shifting back inside and outside Patsy's head -- we're there the whole time, experiencing everything along with her.

    I like how you do the pacing of the first kiss and the making out, and I like how Patsy decides to emulate soap opera characters to survive her first makeout session!

  4. The opening sounded like you were setting up background. I know writer's hear this a lot, but this is an area where show, not tell would help.

    Another area where that would help is in the kiss itself. You said, "Since Gary kept kissing her, Patsy thought about what it was like." We're going to get that just from her italicized thoughts. Telling us ahead of time pulls us out of the story.

  5. I enjoyed reading this scene, which is very true to life in that era. I was 11 when I went to my first "boy-girl" party, as we used to call them, and played spin the bottle and post office. And yep, it was the sixties. Late sixties, but we all loved American Bandstand. My first kiss was with a boy named Gary. I'll never forget it. :)

    Since you're already in Patsy's POV, you really don't need all the italics because they're distracting. We know she's the one thinking and feeling these things so it's not necessary to point it out. I like how you include how she feels physically, but I wanted to know her emotions, too. Does she even like Gary? Has she been hoping this would happen? Did she expect this to happen? Is she excited? Embarrassed? Shocked? Confused? All these very imported emotions are missing. I'd rather know the answers to these questions rather than her analyzing all the physical sensations and if it would feel different with someone else, unless she'd rather it be someone else. You have a lot of good stuff going on here, but not necessarily the important stuff.

    Great scene! Good luck with it. :)

  6. Thanks, guys. Great suggestions for revision. Appreciate the help.

  7. This was practically all told, so we don't get to see events as they happen. I also wondered why we need a description of the home/room. Is it important to the story? If it is, maybe rewrite it in the voice of a sixth grade girl. Scanned the perimeter is something a soldier or policeman might say.

    Instead of allowing the kiss to happen, you first announce that's about to happen. You could cut that. You don't need it.

    You could also give us more on the kiss. SHow us her surprise when he kisses her. Is she just standing there, or is she kissing him back? Why is she afraid to stop kissing or open her eyes? What does she think about the kiss itself? DOes she wonder if Gary likes her, or why he kissed her?

    Overall, give us more showing and less telling.