Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tiny Drop the Needle #10

TITLE: Working
GENRE: Middle grade

[This is an encounter with Molly (the MC) and her crush Alex. It takes place in the elementary school lunch room, as she and her friend, Sarah, clear their lunch trays.]

Just as I was using my fork to scrape the corn off my tray, Alex came up on the other side of the trash can and threw in his brown cold lunch bag. I wondered if maybe I should start bringing cold lunch. I kept my head down like it took a great deal of concentration to get every last bit of lasagna. And then I realized he was looking at me. I felt the blood rush from my toes up to my cheeks and I summoned up the courage to meet his beautiful brown eyes.

Alex leaned over the trash can and used one finger to turn his nose up like a pig. "Look into the future, girls!" he yelled. And then burst out the door to the playground.

I didn't know what to think. He had said girls, plural, but had looked directly at me, not Sarah. It didn't surprise me a whole lot, I guess. Sarah was round like a bowling ball, and always wore Winnie the Pooh sweatshirts. She had long pretty blonde hair, but she always wore it pulled back into a tight bun at the nape of her neck. It only made sense he was talking to me.

Look into the future. He must have seen me in his future. He must have meant our future together!


  1. I love this. What in the heck was he talking about? I'm as confused as the MC, which is good! Great job bringing the reader into the story.

    I did think that the MC felt a little older than middle school though.

    Good luck.

  2. "Brown cold lunch bag" threw me for a moment. I'm not sure why, but I had to read it again to get what you meant. I think deleting "cold" might help.

    I liked the weirdness of Alex's line and that he left right away. That moment definitely made me want to find out what he meant.

    Molly's descriptions of Sarah after "round like a bowling ball" did not seem to fit with why it made sense that Alex was talking to her. My assumption was that she thought this because of the pig face he made. I am not sure how Sarah's sweatshirts and hair relate to Alex's comment or the face he made.

  3. Sorry. I was confused by the ending. I think that grade school girls do have crushes, so that doesn't make the MC sound too old, but I am not sure back then if I described a boy's eyes as beautiful. That sounds a little more mature than grade school/MG.

  4. I agree, I had to read "brown cold lunch bag" again, so just get rid of the cold part in that sentence and it will be fine. Also "summoned" seemed too old. I was a little confused by the MC's reasoning too. Didn't really follow her thinking. On a positive note, I did like how the crush made his statement and left abruptly. Guys always do that crap!

  5. Fun voice! I love the blood rushing from toes to cheeks bit, and Alex's immature behavior--and how opposite it is to her gushing admiration.

    Maybe the voice is a little more middle school, but kids like to read up. "Nape" is a little grown-upish in my opinion, but overall, I really like it!

  6. I might add that I assumed you were from a local that says "cold lunch bag," and kids in your area would understand, although it threw me at first.

  7. I know this is from the middle of the story, but it actually confused me a little bit. Why would he turn up his nose like a pig? I thought at first he was making fun of them or being mean. But then she thinks he saw them together in his future? Is he psychic? Maybe these are all questions I'm supposed to already have the answer too :) Either way, I thought the voice was really good, but be careful not to use too many "adult" words.

  8. I liked this a lot. I, too, thought the voice seemed a little too old for MG, especially in the first paragraph, but Alex brought it right back to elementary school:)

    As for the "brown cold lunch bag," I knew exactly what you meant. Kids these days are split into hot lunch and cold lunch at school, and you usually can't sit with the kids in the other crowd. That said, "brown cold lunch bag" is a bit of a mouthful. Maybe you could try getting rid of "brown" instead of "cold," though. It's a toss-up. Your call, of course.

    Best of luck.

  9. I liked this and I was curious about Alex's comment, although I was thinking that his pig face and comment might be insinuating that they were eating too much and might get fat.

    The MC's description of Sarah made me think she already was fat.

    And the last parg seemed so perfectly girly - reading things she wants to hear into something a guy says, when what he really means isn't even close.

    I did think the writing, while good, was not on a MG level. The dialogue was, but the narrative seems older. You might bring it down a bit. Look at word choices and sentence structure.

  10. I may be wrong, but I got the impression he was being mean to the girls, suggesting they would be getting fat(ter). If this is the case, then I think it's fabulous how the MC takes those words and runs in an entirely different direction.

    I agree that some of the description reads a little too old for MG, but the dialogue is great.

    I also stumbled over the phrase "brown cold lunch bag," and while I think I get it, I had to reread it before moving on.

    Based on my interpretation (that the crush is being mean, but the MC is blind), I would love to keep reading to see what happens next. ;-)

  11. I'm getting two different vibes from opposite ends of this excerpt. At the beginning, Molly's descriptions make her seem like she's in middle school. But at the end (which, by the way, is completely adorable), I can totally see the little girl in her. Really, a middle schooler wouldn't assume something like that.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, your word choice at certain points is too mature for her, but her thoughts and personality are spot on.

  12. I was also confused by the intentions of Alex and the interpretation of them from the MC. It seemed mean, but she thought it was something else...that didn't work for me. I like the description of the lunch and I think you could do more with it...sounds, smells, etc.

    The MC has a good internal voice, I was interested in her thoughts and descriptions.

  13. Maybe it's just me, but the MC comes off as a little pretentious and mean towards the end when discribing her friend. She says she isn't really surprised that the boy didn't look at Sarah, because Sarah was as big as a bowling ball. This is what it seemed like to me. A selfcentered girl assumes that the guy had to be looking at her, because her friend is so frumpy. I know that's not what you intended, but that's what I got from it. Like I said this is just my opinion, and maybe I'm way off.

  14. I liked the voice and would definitely read more.

    This has great descriptions and I am placed right in the middle of the scene - a great place for the reader.

    I would read more.

    One small crit, '...then burst out the door...' gives the impression he burst the door outward, as if behind the door and coming toward me.

    Loved the submission, though. Good Job.

  15. Thank you all so much for your comments. They were very helpful and I definitely know how to edit this to make it a lot better. I am a newbie so I have a lot to learn! It's weird how sometimes when you write, you get so much in your head and it all makes sense to you. It is nice to have other people read it and see which parts make sense to them, and which parts definitely do not! Thanks!