Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Hooked? #9

TITLE: Counting Perfect
GENRE: YA Contemporary

There’s no such thing as luck. As far as I see it, life happens one way no matter how much you wish it would turn out another way. If it does take your side on certain days, then that’s how it’s meant to be. But everything evens out, so you can bet the next day, things won’t be perfect. You can count on it.

My brother badumpthumps over every gap in the pavement riding solo on my skateboard. “Stop!” he shouts at me. “You’re gonna crush him.”

He jumps from the board, letting it glide to the grass, and engages in mini acrobatics to protect yet another insect.

I resist a close inspection. Bugs and I don’t get along. They crawl through their own poop, and I’d rather not mix with anything covered in insect feces.

Alex has different standards when it comes to the world of gross.

“Look, Z, he’s so soft. Feel him.” He strokes the fuzzy orange and black critter.

“I’ll take your word for it.” I walk over to retrieve my board then freeze. “Where’s his family? I don’t want to step on them…as gross as he is.”

“Caterpillars are loners. Like you. The mother butterfly lays eggs…then she just flies away, I guess.” His finger barely touches it. I’ve never seen Alex so gentle.

I lean over his shoulder. “And the father butterfly?”

“Oh he’s probably dead by now. They don’t hang around long after getting the female pregnant.”

Thanks for the replay of my childhood.


  1. I'm not sure I'm completely hooked. The opening paragraph feels like one person's voice while the rest of the scene feels like a different one. I like the interaction between Alex and the mc, but there is a lot of focus on Alex. The reader gets a better sense of who Alex is rather than the mc. Add more details about what the mc thinks and feels in regard to Alex. You give a tiny bit, but I'd like to know about him/her.

  2. I like the opening paragraph about luck. It sucked me in, made me want to read on. I'm not sure if the mc is male or female. I think that's something that should be established early on. We know from the mc's brother, the mc is a loner and the mc's father left shortly after the mc was born, all good info. to read further. I agree with Sheryl we need to have more of the scene in the mc's voice and not so much in the brother's. I think this would tighten it up. Good luck!

  3. I like the intent behind the first paragraph, but I'm afraid it was a bit confusing. I'm not sure you need the last 3 sentences of it, actually. It might be stronger without them. I did like the bit about the caterpillar and the exchange between the two brothers(?). The last line of this piece is great!

  4. Provocative intro with an interesting perspective. The relationship with brother is endearing. I like this scene, but not for a beginning one. This has lovely writing, but is missing a few essential elements.

    First, is this a male/female MC?
    Your first mention of a character is not the MC. I’d trim the brother part and make the focus the MC. I don’t know anything about the MC: description, age, name,
    Give us a bigger hint of what the teenage issues are your MC is dealing with.
    Dialogue is well-crafted.
    For these reasons, I Don’t know that I’m hooked yet.

  5. I enjoyed the overall tone of the page. There's good use of language and I like the MC's voice. I'm uncertain of what's going on action-wise, though. I can't picture it, and that's keeping me from feeling hooked. Beginning in the second paragraph, on first read, I was confused about who's riding the board, the brother or the MC. If it's the brother, as the next paragraph clarifies, then why did he have to tell MC to stop? I think what's missing is some description of what the MC is doing -- is he/she also riding a board? Walking alongside brother? Etc. Also, this is minor, but I think I'd name the brother right off, eg. "My brother, Alex." The intro of the name later was a little confusing for me. I do think MC has a great voice, you're setting up some interesting questions to answer later, and I like the relationship between brother and MC.

  6. I enjoyed the tone and voice of your piece. I think you can tighten up the first couple of paragraphs by letting the reader know who is riding the skateboard and who our mc is. I likes the dialogue between the sibs and thought the use of the caterpillar's "family" description was a great way to show us their family situation. The last line was great.

  7. I liked the scene between the two siblings, and I thought the dialogue was great. But in the end, I don't know who the mc is, and I was confused about who was doing what in the same way as KMD was. And after finishing the page, I don't know what the story is about. Could be about luck, or fate. Or maybe two brothers. Or growing up without a father. Or the value of life. I just don't know.

    Perhaps consider a different opening in which your mc is center stage, and where something is happening that gives us a clue as to what the story is about.

    But save the scene with the siblings and use it somewhere else. It's a very nice scene.

  8. I didn't care for that first paragraph, it didn't feel related at all to what comes next. It just kind of sits there as a pretty piece of fluff. I do like the character of Alex, and the mc seems like a decent person too, though we don't know much about her/him yet.

    Personally I didn't care for the "thanks for the replay of my childhood". It just a little too punch-liney. As if the whole insect thing was just a set up to get that line in. It's a great line I think it just have been presented more organically.

  9. Thank you for all of these great critiques! Unfortunately, the day this blog posted, we went on vacation. I'll try to comment on everyone's now.

    I appreciate your time and ideas!!

  10. I doubt anyone's taking a second pass through, but in case...I pasted a new opening that I think starts in a better place.
    Thanks for everyone's input!

    One can never have too many erasers, which is why seven pink ones line the top of my desk. I’m all about the pencil and its handy rubber tip. Mine’s typically worn to the metal--thus, my precious collection of erasers. My brother, on the other hand, can’t rave enough about the magic of a blue ink pen. I’d tell him that magic of permanent ink will wane in middle school where mistakes happen all the time, but I don’t want to take away his optimism.

    Mine left a long time ago.

    Brushing back a layer of curls, I feign attention at morning announcements with the rest of my bleary eyed classmates. Over the intercom, the principal spouts a laundry list of events for the week...club meetings, club cancellations, volleyball try-outs, spirit days.

    The speaker crackles as he fumbles to turn off his mic, so I adjust my erasers in preparation for note-taking.

    “Settle down, take out your lists for possible research topics.” Our teacher likes to partner us based on interests not friendships, which means I actually get a partner.

    That is, if anyone else finds the town library as interesting as me. It’s my number one choice.

    “I believe Miss Watson has a special bulletin about an upcoming eighth grade-only event.” Our teacher claps his hands to re-capture our attention. “Straighten up for your student body activities chair, and count yourselves lucky to hear her announcement before the rest of the school.”

    Isabella Watson is never one I count myself lucky about. Ever.

  11. I like the intent behind the first paragraph, but I'm afraid it was a bit confusing. I'm not sure you need the last 3 sentences of it, actually. It might be stronger without them. I did like the bit about the caterpillar and the exchange between the two brothers(?). The last line of this piece is great!