Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First 50 Words #13

TITLE: Goodbye Tree
GENRE: YA contempory fiction

I was 15 when my dad walked out of our life and my mom walked in to the looney bin.

Talk about bad timing. I mean, it's hard enough to be the socially backwards, red-haired freak who's just trying to make it through the day without your parent's losing their minds.


  1. I like your first line. I would use caution with having a red-headed misfit protagonist - it's overdone.

  2. Your pronouns are confusing. He's "my" dad but walks out of "our" life. It would flow better as "my life". The mom part is implied. Also, the last line makes it sound like the dad has lost his mind but only the mom went to the looney bin. This made me have to re-read the beginning to see who actually went to the looney bin.

  3. Love the first line! It's either 'our lives' or 'my life'. Maybe the MC thinks dad's looney to have left them?

  4. You start with - I was 15, - which means she isn't 15 now. Maybe give us a line that says how far removed she is from this story. Is she just 16 now, or 22, of 50?

    And the last parg made me not like her much. There's no compassion for her mom at all. It's all about your MC (poor, pitiful me) But then I'm thinking, that's how 15 year olds are - self centered - so maybe it's not even an issue. Still, maybe she could be a little less flippant?

  5. I agree with Mary on the red-head comment.

    I like the first sentence. Not really sure where it's going with that, but just the way it's all phrased gives me an idea of the voice. I'd keep reading.

  6. Thanks everyone. When I went back and read it myself I was concerned about "I was 15". Maybe it would be better to present it in present tense or recent past.

    Barb: I agree, the next sentence makes her seem VERY self-centered which is exactly what I was going for. Nothing as ego-centric as a 15 year old girl. However, having her unlikable is not the aim so I appreciate your crit about making her less flippant.

    Thanks again for your help everyone :-)

  7. I like the beginning because it's snappy and to-the-point. You introduce the character and give us a little bit of information about her. She seems like a no-nonsense sort of person, which I liked. A couple nitpicky things: I believe that it ought to be "into" instead of "in to"; also, "looney" threw me off a little bit because I usually see it spelled as "loony." (Both spellings are correct, however, so whichever you prefer. =)

    I liked her less in the second paragraph; like Barbara and the others said, the MC could have been a little less flippant in regards to her mother. Also, I don't know what the time period is, but "socially backward" is a little bit old-fashioned. Maybe try "awkward" (or "socially awkward," if you'd prefer) instead? One final thing: you say "without your parent's losing their mind." I'd suggest re-wording that; "your parent's" is singular but "their minds" is plural; I also don't think you need "parent" to be possessive. Maybe think about "without your mom losing her mind" or something to that effect.

    The first paragraph had me hooked, but you lost me a little bit in the second paragraph. I think the premise of the book is interesting--from what I can tell from the three sentences--so I'd probably read on.

    -A fifteen-year-old girl.

  8. I like the premise, but I am a little worried that it seems like you are giving up a lot of backstory early in the game.

    Hopefully, something happens in the "here and now" right after this.

    Also, I am very impressed by commenter are 15? I think you know more about grammar than I do and I am twice your age (when did I get so old?) And your comments are incredibly thoughtful :)

  9. Thanks, Marewolf. And yes, I am fifteen; I'm just a grammar geek. =)

  10. I like this start. Great voice.

    You've got a typo. It should be parents not parent's. I'm assuming you meant both of them are losing their minds because the second part was plural.

  11. I struggled with the last sentence, especially the last phrase:

    I mean, it's hard enough to be the socially backwards, red-haired freak who's just trying to make it through the day without your parent's losing their minds.

    It sounds like each day, she tries to avoid having her parents lose their minds. I think you're saying "my parents losing their minds, on top of this other stuff, is just too much." The placement of that last phrase makes the meaning of the sentence ambiguous. Am I the only one confused by it? Maybe. But if you ended after "day" and put the other thought into a separate sentence, it would be clearer.

  12. Watch grammar: It should be parents' losing their mind - you have the apostrophe in the wrong place - but parents losing their mind is better. (I THINK you can make mind-losing possessive, but most of us wouldn't, so just skip the apostrophe.)

    And I think you might be able to get hookier and more poignant than "losing their minds" - as only one parents went into the looney bin, and the other one just left.