Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Hooked? #2

TITLE: Unbecoming Bea
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Six months ago, when Momma turned her kitchen into a no-fry zone, a little piece of me died. But then I asked myself, WWED, what would Emeril do? And BAM! I found a job as a fry cook thirty miles away in Macon. One thing led to another and soon enough I worked my way up to head chef, even though it’s only on the weekends. But Momma wouldn’t approve, so for now, cooking is my secret love affair. Except if I get this big catering job, all that will change. Taking one last peek inside my backpack, I reassure myself for the umpteenth time I packed my knife-roll. Satisfied, I open the kitchen window.


The tops of a row of yellow rose bushes bend down and back up like performers taking a bow. Not something the wind could do so I know she’s in the garden.

“Momma!” I yell louder.

“Sugar.” Her boiled-peanut-cotton-candy hair appears above the top of the roses as she stands up.
“I’m going over to Zander’s. To study. We have a calc test.”

She tugs on the ends of her hair, a sign something’s bothering her. Probably one of her roses sprouted a weed or attracted the wrong insect. She worries over those roses more than Daddy and me combined. “Again? You’ve been spendin’ every weekend there for goodness knows how many months now.”

When she’s quiet for much longer than normal, a familiar flutter bubbles inside me. Don’t ask me more questions.


  1. The opening is all catch-up. You're telling the reader 'this is the sutuation so far.' Perhaps start with her checking her bag, then yelling for momma. Work the previous info in through action and dialogue later. You create a bigger hook by not filling in the back story. That way the reader is wondering why she's lying, and why doesn't she want Momma to ask questions. They are reasons to turn the page. If we have all the answers, the only question is "Do I want to read a story about someone who wants to be a cook?"

    Don't explain your story. Just let it play out, and trust that your reader will get what you're saying.

  2. I think, as Barbara mentioned, you should start with your mc (male or female? It wasn't clear to me) checking his or her backpack then popping their head out the window to Momma and lying about where he or she is going. This creates suspense and makes the reader wonder why the mc is lying. Weave the backstory in later in the chapter.

  3. I have to agree with the comments above. The first paragraph lost me at first. Too much info and not enough suspense.
    I think within the story you can do "show don't tell" your backstory. It doesn't all have to be told at once. Little drops to help move the story forward and keep the reader turning pages.

  4. I agree. Most of the first paragraph read more like a synopsis than the story. If you eliminate most of that and get to the action more quickly, I think you'd have more of a chance to catch the reader's attention.

    I really like the comment about the "no-fry zone". I'd definitely keep that, but place it a little bit later in the chpater.

  5. I was hooked by the first line, but I fell off the line during the rest of the page -- perhaps even by the end of the first paragraph.

    Maybe you could focus on his current challenges of getting the catering job. But don't just tell us, throw in dialog with some co-workers to set the scene and the stakes. Then once we're interested you can up the tension with the fact that his Mother doesn't even know about the job. But I think you need to focus on getting us to care about the MC before dumping all of the backstory on us.

  6. Allthough I did like the Emeril reference, followed by a BAM (clever lol), the first paragraph felt out of place to me. I didn't like the telling in there, and would rather it start with the story as it is happening.