Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First 750 #8

GENRE: Upper MG Paranormal

I always thought books were boring and a waste of time, but not dangerous. I was wrong. Anything that caused Melissa to approach me was far from harmless.

"Have you read this, Mitch?" Melissa shoved a book in my face.

The paperback filled my vision, so close it blurred. Fantastic. An encounter with Melis-snob was the first item on my To-Don't list.

"Uh, no. I'm not really into books, Melissa." I tried to keep the annoyance out of my voice, hoping to avoid a confrontation. I just wanted to throw my stuff in my locker and head home. Instead, I was surrounded by Melissa and her snob-clan, about to pass out from the perfume-overload every time Melissa tossed her hair.

"Oh, but it's so amazing!" she exclaimed. "You really have to read it. Here." She thrust a paper at me. "I'm starting a book club. You should join." Melissa had a smile plastered across her face, but her eyes were hard--predatory.

Did she just ask me to join her club? I looked down at the book. Lure. The combination of the title and the way Melissa was acting creeped me out.

Kelly pushed forward out of the circle of Melissa-groupies surrounding me. "Yeah. I read the back, and it sounds awesome. I can't wait to go home and read it! I even got an extra one for Dane."

My mouth dropped open. She's delusional if she thinks Dane's gonna read that book.

"No thanks. It's really not my thing," I said.

Melissa's smile dropped, replaced by the more familiar lip twist. "You probably wouldn't understand it anyway, butthead." Her groupies laughed.

Knowing a comeback would only encourage worse insults (and really, butthead is pathetic), I pushed past the circle of weirdos, and headed to my locker.

What the heck was that all about? The last time Melissa had been nice to me -- well, I couldn't remember her ever being nice to me. And why was she inviting me to join her book club? She wouldn't even give me a piece of paper when I forgot my notebook in English, and now she wanted to hang out? Weird.

I finally reached my locker. I'd been lucky to get the same one as last year, so I didn't have to memorize a new combination. I stared at the familiar scratches as I twirled the lock. At least the weekend was here. Two weeks down, thirty-eight to go.

I looked across the hall and watched as Kelly handed Dane a copy of the book. He shook his head and tried to hand it back to her, but Kelly refused to take it. Shrugging, Dane stuck it in his backpack. As Kelly threw her arms around him, he looked over at me and rolled his eyes. I turned back to my locker, stifling a laugh. Dane was about as interested in reading that book as I was.

After shoving everything except my geometry book into my locker, I slammed the door with a satisfying clang. Yeah, I had other homework besides geometry, but I wasn't going to lug all of it home. I had a new system for all that other homework, and it didn't involve breaking my back. Besides being a waste of time, those other assignments involved oodles of reading, and I was not going to do it this year. If it couldn't be read -- translation: skimmed -- during study hall, it wasn't getting read.

"Hey, Mitch." Jen strolled up. "Two down, thirty-eight to go." She tossed her hair over her shoulder, hitching her backpack higher. My gaze followed the straight brown strands as they fell back across her hand.

"You took the words right out of my mouth," I said. "Let's get out of here."

"Let's," she said, falling in step next to me.

"You coming over? I'm gonna work on your bookshelf. I think I might actually finish it over the weekend."

"As usual."

We walked the first few blocks in easy silence, enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze.


  1. Reactions as I read:

    1) Interesting first line. Makes me think inkheart.

    2) Melis-snob felt forced, but I liked "to don't list"

    3) hard--predatory was weird. Maybe ellipses instead? "were hard... predatory..."

    4) is the book a lure, or was the tile Lure? confused.

    5) I totally skipped over the MC's name. Had to go back to find it.

    6) What's the MC's age/grade? Old enough to notice if Melissa is pretty (even if he doesn't like her, he should notice).

    7) Very weird about the book club. I liked it. Want to know more!

    8) "the same locker" detail was distracting.

    9) "read--translation--skimmed... it wouldn't get read". odd phrasing. Maybe just "If it couldn't get skimmed during study hall it wouldn't get read."

    10) Liked Jen. Could tell he liked her without having to say it.

    11) the two down 38 to go thing was completely baffling.

    12) Bookshelf line was awkward. Had to reread several times.

    I really liked this. There was enough to keep me interested and reading without too much backstory. I am very intrigued about the book club thing, and wish there were more to read! Good job overall. :)

  2. I really liked the opening line but the first thing I thought of (without reading the genre) was a fantasy type never-ending story with the book itself being dangerous. I learned after a second quick read along with the second sentence that it isn't anything like that.

    I am intrigued as to why the main snob wants him to read this book. I also think its weird that his friend (I assume Dane is his friend) is going out with a snob.

    I thought maybe he didn't like girls in general with the way he looked at the pack with distain but it seems his best friend is a girl. So our main character is quite an enigma.

    You seem to pack a lot into the first 750 words but besides the book thing, I haven't come to the main conflict or promise of conflict ahead. I'm wondering if his new studying method is relevant to the story or not.

    Basically, I like your writing style but I'm left wondering what kind of story this is and what the conflict is. I would try and bring it to the forefront.

  3. I liked the hook but wish there was a little more meat to it.

    Some of the sentences need a re-write. Example:

    “…Instead, Melissa and her snob-clan surrounded me. Every time she tossed her hair, passing out from the perfume-overload became a real problem…”

    And I like the thought behind this sentence; “If it couldn't be read -- translation: skimmed -- during study hall, it wasn't getting read…” but cleanse the colon, er, um, well you need to get rid of it and the passive phrases in this line.

    Avoid clichés like ‘you took the words right out of my mouth’. Come up with something original instead.

    This submission leaves me semi-hooked. I would like to know more.

  4. Hmmm...I like the humor and voice of this piece, they really show. But I agree with Creepy Query Girl. There's a hint at a conflict with Melissa here, but I'm not seeing enough of a main conflict. The first part with Melissa ends with minimal conflict, then it moves on to Jen, but nothing here hints at trouble. Or at least, not ENOUGH trouble.

    Keeping that in mind, I'm wondering if this story is starting in the right place. It just feels like the equilibrium of the protag's life has not been broken yet, which usually happens in the first couple pages of books nowadays. I could be wrong, but it seems like the story is heading toward a book club meeting or something to do with the book club. If so, then you can start the story there, and layer in the backstory of Melissa inviting him to join and their history and all that. Just a thought, if I'm on par at all.

  5. I liked this. I thought it was clean and straightforward and to the point. You introduced the book which I believe will be the catalyst for the ensuing problems, you've introduced the MC and his best friend, as well as his dislike for books and reading.

    Since the title is 'Lure,' and the book to be read is "lure,' and it's paranormal, I assuming that book is going to lure him into something. Maybe the girls are asking the boys to read it because it will get the boys liking them, like a love potion? It could be anything, really, and I'd read on to find out.

    So while not a lot happens in this submission, I'm seeing the potential. I see how you're setting it up, and I have faith that you'll follow through.

    She's delusional if she thinks Dane's gonna read that book.

    This sentence is in present tense and everything so far is in past tense. Might want to change it.

    I didn't think most of the locker parg was necessary. Perhaps just say he opened it then go into 'the weekend was here.'

    Good luck!

  6. I really like this premise (I have the advantage of having seen the query) and the voice I love.

    In particular, I love the perfume/ hair description and for some reason the line about giving him a piece of paper somehow stands out as something I think a kid his age would say. I, too, like how he sees Jen and the hair over the hand detail is nicely done.

    I really get the sense (the whole week thing didn't bother me) that this kid hates school, and reading in particular.

    My only suggestion is that you don't echo "dropped" (mouth dropped open/smile dropped), And I actually kind of like the locker detail--it's another example of him not wanting to put forth effort to learn something and I feel it lends "grounding" in the real world, which is good to have when you've got supernatural things about to happen.

    Best wishes, I like it a lot!