Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Hooked? #6

GENRE: YA Contemporary

     Crisp October air sweeps inside as I pull the front door open. I take a deep breath and bristle with anticipation. Bailey, my yellow lab, waits patiently by my side.

      My grandmother steps into the foyer, her flowered robe cinched tight, the one Mom gave her last Christmas. She tucks the morning paper under her arm. “You two heading out?”

     “Yeah, it’s perfect running weather.” I tug at my sleeves, pulling them over my thumbs.

     I need to lose myself for an hour and clear my head, push away the bad feelings that darken my mind. Running is the only thing that makes me feel good in my skin, when I don’t have the urge to hurt myself.

     “Are you okay, Alexandra?” Gram touches my sleeve and I wince, the bandage underneath rubbing against my raw wound. 

     “Yeah, fine.”

     “I’m always here to talk,” Gram says.  Her eyes linger on my face.

     “I know.”

     “Have a good run.”

     I step outside and head to the bottom of the grassy hill, wet with the morning dew. Lying to Gram churns my stomach, but I need her to believe I’m fine. She’d be disappointed if she knew I’m cutting again. But it’s the only way I can cope with the isolation at school and Jess, the girl who’s making my life hell. It’s the only way to deal with my insecurities, the voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough.
     When I reach the curb, the mailbox door hangs open. Wait, mail on Sunday?


  1. Love! Already I feel for Alexandra and the pain she is enduring. It's a very poignant topic for YA. And who doesn't love an adorable dog? I'm definitely intrigued to see what's in the mailbox. Well done.

  2. I would keep reading! But there are a few things I think could be improved upon. Show the reader, don't tell about her plight. You do a great job of showing when she winces. This lets the reader know she's a cutter or at least something happened without telling us. Save the voices in her head for later because again you can show this when she's alone and fighting not to cut. With a little rework, you're golden!

  3. I'm hooked, would definitely keep reading. You've done a nice job of weaving/layering description, dialogue, action, and her inner thoughts. I'm interested in the things you've raised but not answered (is Mom dead?), but not distracted/annoyed by what I don't know. The mail on Sunday line is a great cliffhanger.

  4. I think this is a good opening; I feel bad for her because she's (apparently) being bullied at school in some fashion. Grandma comes across sweet and caring. The hook at the end though really worked. I'd keep reading to find out why the box was open.

  5. Yes, the mail on Sunday was a great cliffhanger for sure. Nicely done.
    I would agree with dropping the voices in her head at the beginning. I didn't really get hooked until the wince. Beinging that scene in instead of the voices would bring more suspense.

  6. I thought you had a nice opening here. It didn't grab me, but it worked. Each parg pulled me in a little more.

    Perhaps end parg 4 after 'darken my mind.' Telling us she hurts herself so quickly could cost you those readers who don't want to read about someone hurting themselves. If you get them interested in your character first, you have a better chance of holding on to them. And it raises suspense as we wonder what's going on.

    Parg 5 is great. You give us the bandage which hints at what's wrong, and raises suspense, but doesn't give any answers if you make the above suggested cut. We wonder who hurt her, and why.

    In the second last parg, perhaps cut everything after she needs grams to believe she's fine. Again, suspense is raised, because that tells us she isn't fine, and we wonder why.

    Then you get to the open mailbox on Sunday, and that's the real grabber. What do we know? The mc's arm is bandaged. Grams is worried about her. For some reason she is lying to grams, and hiding the wound from her. And someone has been messing with her mailbox, maybe leaving something inside. Lots of mystery to entice a reader on, abd enough info to have them imagining scenarios in their mind.

    I wouldn't mention the cutting at all until she actually cuts herself, and then you let the reader see it. You don't tell them.

  7. I don't feel hooked here, I can't shake the feeling I have seen many openings similar to this...and I don't like present tense. I do think the idea of something in the mailbox on Sunday is a neat one.

  8. I'd start with: Running is the only thing that makes me feel good in my skin, when I don’t have the urge to hurt myself.

    It's voicey and plotty. Nice.