TITLE: Unearthly Beginnings
GENRE: Paranormal YA
Charlie Wilkins sat alone, and dejected, watching longingly as his classmates rushed past him laughing, and playing. Worriedly Charlie scanned the happy faces for Tom, or Carl's all too familiar countenances, dreading another run in with the two.
From the second they'd stepped out onto the blacktop playground, away from the view of any adult, Tom had started in on Charlie. Recess had only just begun, and already Tom and his friends had tripped, teased, and pushed him. It was always bad, but today Tom had seemed especially eager to bully, and punish Charlie.
Tom had wasted no time, running behind him and snatching off Charlie's thick glasses. He'd stuffed his sweater into his shirt, put on the heavy lenses, and then turned to face the other kids with a maliciously exuberant grin on his face.
"Check it out guys! I'm the four-eyed fatso!" A flurry of laughs and giggles followed, making Charlie's face and ears burn with embarrassment.
"Come on Tom, gimme back my glasses!" But before he could reach Tom, Carl had stepped in.
"Let me try!" Carl boomed. Shoving Charlie aside he put on the glasses. "Whoa! How do you see in these things?" Carl asked as he spun around dramatically. To Charlie's horror, he tore them off, stretching the legs and smudging the lenses with his big sweaty fingers.
"No, you're gonna break them!" Charlie had pleaded in a voice that sounded pathetic even to his own ears.
This does not sound like YA. It sounds more like MG.
I was distracted by all the adjectives and adverbs. Cut and simplify them.
Good luck with SA!
I have no way of knowing how this progresses, but the beginning sounds a bit youngish for YA. Maybe things change soon, though.ReplyDelete
I think you would do well to get rid of a few of your adverbs. They aren't necessary.
On the plus side, this sounds totally realistic in the bullying, and in poor Charlie's response. Good luck with it!
Oh, poor Charlie! I have to say, I pity him, but I'm not sure I could read a whole story from this viewpoint if he continues to be so miserable. Maybe if he's able to grow a backbone as the story progresses. I'm guessing he might acquire some sort of power, from the paranormal category.ReplyDelete
This does seem to have a lot more of showing than telling. Rather than saying Charlie is dejected, show it - maybe by describing his posture as slumped, something like that. It would bring the reader deeper into the story, into the feel of it, whereas now I can't help feeling kind of detached.
Recess seems more like something from elementary school, hence the middle grade feel as opposed to young adult.
This sounds more like MG to me. That said, I do feel for Charlie and can't help but wonder what the outcome will be.ReplyDelete
This has some interesting images and events. I always enjoy reading someone's take on bullying. I find myself tripping over some comma usage and the clash of -ed and -ing verb tenses, for example: "had wasted ... running .. snatching." It may be tighter to say: "Tom was wasting no time, running ... snatching." I would also suggest doing a "find" (or control F on my Mac) to search for the word "had." Do you really need those? They just weaken your verbs and make them sound passive. I would delete them: had started, had tripped, had seemed, had wasted, had stepped, had pleaded.ReplyDelete
This didn't sound like a YA to me. Definitely more MG. (I think it's the info about the playground.) I like how you opened with Charlie sitting alone, wondering if he was going to be bullied again. Good tension! The bullies seem a bit stereotypical, though.ReplyDelete
Thanks everyone for the input. I knew I was going to get the MG comments, and you're all right the first chapter does have that feel. However, I assure everyone that the rest of the book shows Charlie as a teenager. Maybe I should have sent in the start of chapter two, but the contest said first 250 words. "Shrug" Matril you're absolutely right about Charlie acquiring supernatural abilities.ReplyDelete
Maybe you should just start the book with chapter two, if this chapter one isn't grabbing people? I am intrigued by the paranormal genre, so maybe you could give a hint of something out of the ordinary here to pique the readers's interest. The bullying scene seems a bit cliche and young to me. Maybe these bullies come up with a less obvious way to torture Charlie. To make it seem older, they could be texting rude messages or something like that. Just a suggestion. Best of luck!ReplyDelete
It definitely has a MG feel, and it doesn't matter if it changes in chapter two. Chapter one is the first thing an editor/agent will see, so you have to make chapter one work or else they may not read as far as chapter two.ReplyDelete
The bullying scene has already happened and now he's telling us about it. You may want to have it happening at that moment, so we see it as it occurs, rather than as a past event. Writing almost always comes off stronger when you're in the moment. And perhaps ditch as many adverbs as you can and watch the comma usage.
The dalogue also sounded MG, but it was good dialogue. It sounded very natural.
I have to agree that this sounds more like MG than YA. Also, I think it would be more powerful in the first person. Charlie has the potential to tug at our heartstrings, so let him come through as the narrator.ReplyDelete
I agree with the adverb and adjective attack, and the word "had" seems to be present too much. Not sure I'd read on.ReplyDelete
I'd try to minimize comma use, perhaps going with several shorter sentences. The adverbs were also a distraction.ReplyDelete
The bullying scene was in both past and present tense, which was difficult. "Tom had seemed," "Tom had wasted," "Carl had stepped in," are all past tense, but that paragraph that starts with "Let me try! Carl boomed" is in present tense, then it switches to past again.
I think the scene of the bullying would be more powerful and effective if you showed it to us, rather than telling us about if after the fact, so I would put it in all present tense. Look for the word "had" and find ways to eliminate it! :)
I agree that the bullying seems stereotypical, and since this is in the past, I'd definitely advise you to find an alternate way to incorporate it/how far the character's developed since then because this misrepresents the plot to your readers.ReplyDelete
You won't be able to tell readers to wait for chapter two when the story really begins, and you want to give your novel a fair shot.
The use of adverbs and lack of pronouns made it a difficult read. Also, it's definitely more of an MG.ReplyDelete
And I just read your comment....(I rather put my input and then read other's comments rather than risk being influenced :) ).ReplyDelete
If it's a YA and this is a flashback, you're better off starting the story in the present tense so the reader has a sense of time and place. As it stands, it reads as though it's an MG, which would definitely confuse the reader.
I agree with the comments that you should consider starting with your chapter two - or at least somehow show us your MC as a teenager before you go into this as a flashback.ReplyDelete
Aside from that though, this didn't pull me in because the voice sounds too adult and detached. Really get inside your character's head, make your word choices reflect how someone that age would think/speak, and this will be much stronger.
All the names in the beginning kind of blurred together and made for a lot of confusion. I got that someone was being bullied, but had no sympathy for a main character I didn't know yet.ReplyDelete
I agree that this reads like MG.ReplyDelete
What about beginning the chapter with the final paragraph (in regular past tense)? I think I'd be more interested, perhaps, to see the bullies more through Charlie's eyes. He knows these boys. He has experience with them. He has opinions about them. Knowing those opinions might help us know him and sympathize with him more.
I have to agree with the MG comments. It's not bad, but it doesn't read like YA.ReplyDelete
Also, watch your adverbs (especially in first paragraph). Those are generally a dead give-away that you're telling now showing.
I got some great suggestions, and will take it all into account as I revise. I'm so glad I had this opportunity. A million thanks to Authoress, the SA, and everyone who gave me the wonderful feedback.ReplyDelete
I think you could be stronger with this opening. Sitting feeling dejected is pretty inactive for an opening. There's lots more action later, but it's all "had pleaded, "had wasted" etc. Why not start there?ReplyDelete
I had the same issues with my first chapter. I re-wrote it probably 20 times plus, so I understand the comments about skipping the first scene and making it more of a flashback. You need to set the tone of this as YA right off the go. I had trouble following it, too . . . It seems forced and a little overwritten. Stephen King said in "On Writing" . . Adverbs are not your friends. I would lose some of those extra words and get right to the meat. Best Wishes!ReplyDelete