Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tiny Drop the Needle #9

TITLE: A Scorpion's Nature
GENRE: Middle Grade

This is the opening of my novel.

Ryan pressed back against the headrest when he saw the crazed grin on the counselor stationed beneath the summer camp's entrance sign. Neon streamers cascaded from her glittery tiara. Ryan considered asking his mom to throw the car into reverse instead of stopping beside her. Clearing his criminal record might not be worth a week with nut jobs like this.

"Welcome home." The bubbly counselor zipped up to his window. "I'm Button. What's your name?"


"Nice to meet you." The colorful ribbons swished as she bobbed in place. "It's gonna be an awesome week. Are you excited?"

I'd rather chop wood with my spleen. He said, "I guess."

"You guess?" Button scrunched down to Ryan's eye level and whispered. "Do you have any clue how excited I am to be at camp?"

Ryan gazed across at his mom for an answer to Button's question, and whether she suspected the chick was insane.

She tilted her head to the side.

He took the gesture as uncertainty on both counts. Ryan turned to Button. "No."

Button squealed and leapt into the air. She twirled in circles, limbs and streamers flailing, until her feet tangled and she crashed to the ground.

Ryan peered over the windowsill. Peals of laughter erupted below him.

Button got up and dusted herself off. "You can't tell anyone I wiped out. Swear you won't."

"I promise."

"Good. Keep going and the next counselor will show you where to park." Button waved as they pulled away.


  1. I like the title.

    The first sentence hung me up. It felt like a run-on, even though it isn't. I'm also having a hard time picturing her tiara. Neon streamers -- like I'd use to decorate for a birthday party? So does it look more like a headdress? That last sentence of that paragraph might read better if you said "a nut job like this." He's only described one nutty person after all.

    Her name is rather odd. I would think that Ryan would pick up on that an make some sort of joke about it (at least to himself.)

    How does one bob in place? In place seems to say that she's not moving.

    I like the line about chopping wood.

    The line about him looking to his mom for an answer also didn't flow well.

    Windowsill makes me think of a house. Is that the correct term to use in a car?

    I like how she wiped out, and I wonder if he'll keep that promise.

    You have interesting characters, but I think this still needs some tightening.

    Good luck.

  2. I think this is great and made me laugh! What a funny and interesting character.

    I think Ryan needs some sort of thought process when she says her name is Button.

    Bobbed in place-- can you describe that better? Jogged maybe?

    The Ryan gazed at his mom sentence is a little unclear.

    I like the uncertainty sentence.

    I love the tone and humor, good job!!

  3. I love this! It's a great middle grade voice. The only thing I noticed is that Button gets a little too silly for me--I think she's absolutely perfect until she leaps in the air and twirls in circle. It's a great mental picture, but just a teeny-tiny bit too goofy for a counselor at (what I assume is) some kind of camp for troubled youth (you mentioned clearing his criminal record). I think the colorful ribbons swishing and her enthusiastic "it's gonna be an awesome week!" is sufficient, otherwise it borders on cartoonish, which ruins the setting a little. But overall, I think your excerpt is hilarious and well-written. GREAT JOB!

  4. I could really picture all of this happening. You used great descriptions. I agree Button got a little too goofy up front and I started to wonder if she was high.
    I agree with window sill; I understand what it means, but I'm not sure if it's the proper term. I think they're just called car door frames.
    I loved the humor. I'd keep reading.

  5. Button! Love it! Great voice and set-up. We already know quite a bit about Ryan, we want to know more, and we sympathize with him having to deal with this whacko chick.

    Great job!

  6. I think Ryan should have something to say about her name too. I don't think Button's goofiness is overdone...She does exist several times over in the world, but her name just might not be Button. I love the voice here. Good job.

  7. Very nice voice (although it does seem a little too old for MG), and a great introduction to the MC. But like folksinmt, I stumbled over the first line (holy prepositional phrases, Batman!). You might try something like, "Ryan pressed back against the headrest when he saw the counselor's crazed grin."

    Also, I think you could ax "He said" in the fifth paragraph and improve the flow.

    On the whole, though, nice job.

  8. I liked this - very good images. I did stumble over the first sentence like some of the others. Button is a bit over the top, but defintley makes a memorable first impression - I did have a hard time figuring out her age based on her behavior. Also I had to re-read the "Peals of laughter erupted below him." bit to figure out what it meant - I'm assuming it was Button.
    But overall it was a good beginning!

  9. I thought this worked pretty well. The humorous tone works nicely as does the contrasting play between him and Button.

    I liked Button but I did think she was a bit cartoony. She comes off as a kid, but I'm thinking she's supposed to be an adult counseler? If she is an adult, she can still be kooky, but in a more adult way. If she's a kid, or perhaps an older teen, this would work, I think.

    I got bobbed in place-going from flat-footed to her toes? And you could just say window instead of windowsill. And that first sentence is a mouthful. If you rewrite, you might start with "the crazed grin" which is a stronger opening, I think, than him leaning back against the headrest.

  10. At first, I made the assumption that Button is an adult, but as I read on, I began to doubt this and thought she may be much younger. A sentence or two clarifying her age would be helpful.

    Also, while I don't know much about MG, I feel like Ryan's personality is more fitting of a teen.

    The humor here is nicely embedded and the imagery as well. Good job! :)

  11. Nice humor and tone. Button is a fun character. I agree with previous posts that age would help. I also liked how you brought in details to push the story...he is there to clear his record, etc.

    More about the mother's reaction would be great.

  12. Well, I am hooked. I like the voice very much and would continue reading.

    This needed some tightening but it is subjective opinion.

    One example: Ryan gazed across at his mom for an answer to Button's question, and whether she suspected the chick was insane.

    I would change it to:
    Ryan looked at his mom and wondered if she suspected the chick was insane also

    Good Job. I really liked this.

  13. I was just reading The Virgin of Small Plains. The guy drove his car and put his arm on the doorsill. I thought I would mention and it fit. I had to stop and come and tell you before I forgot. Of course you can call it anything you like but thought you might like to know what someone else called the door.

    I like how you've changed this. And I think there are a lot of "adults" that are nutjobs. Keep her, she's fabulous.