GENRE: YA Fantasy
It's often advised to never ignore a cold tickle on the back of your neck, especially when it's felt when you're alone. But that's exactly what Aime Hirsch did. There was something else that begged her attention, not the lost, lingering sensations of unease, not the skipping of a single heartbeat, or the missed chance of breathing in the forgotten hum of a breath. A normal person would've sensed trouble from these small warnings, would’ve done something, anything about them. Maybe she should've.
Instead, she fiddled with her long, half-bleached hair while sitting on a stool in her kitchen, waiting for him to knock on her parent's front door. Staring through the window over the sink, she watched a crimson twilight through the naked, black branches of mountain maple trees and tangled brambles. It had been night for a long time. Maine's typical end of a mad winter day always ended so swiftly, she'd begun to think the daytime never began.
Waiting for her date to arrive for the past hour had been leaving her to time to develop some extreme realizations. He'd been her demise in high school and now, into her first semester at community college. She was the girl with the crush. That's what everyone knew her for. It wasn't a secret, not even to him, even though she wished he could've figured it all out earlier. It was Friday night and the fourth date she was able to set up with him.
You have a very sophisticated writing style and my interest is peaked. The only thing I might suggest is to whittle down some of the description in the beginning. Great job!ReplyDelete
I agree with Candyce, you could cut down on a bit of the description.ReplyDelete
The narration seems to almost have a "film noir" sound to it - which I like.
Also, I might question the word "demise." Overall, good job.
It's often advised to never ignore a cold tickle on the back of your neck, especially when it's felt when you're alone.--This is doubly passive voice ("it is advised" and "it is felt"), and it weakens your opening. Start with your protag, not some vague group of advisers: "Aime ignored the cold tickle on the back of her neck."ReplyDelete
There was something else that begged her attention, not the lost, lingering sensations of unease, not the skipping of a single heartbeat, or the missed chance of breathing in the forgotten hum of a breath.--This is passive ("there was"), vague (what "something else?") and overwritten ("breathing in the forgotten hum of a breath" in particular). Less is often more.
A normal person would've sensed trouble from these small warnings, would’ve done something, anything about them. Maybe she should've.--The would've/should've contractions here don't mesh well with the florid style of your prose, and once again you're focusing on some vague "normal person" rather than your protagonist. You're already one paragraph into your story, and I still know nothing at all about Aime! I don't think you need these lines at all.
Instead, she fiddled with her long, half-bleached hair while sitting on a stool in her kitchen, waiting for him to knock on her parent's front door.--This sentence is basically good, but I would clarify who "him" is (her date). I would also suggest changing "while sitting...in her kitchen" to "she sat on a stool in her kitchen and fiddled...," since you already hav another "ing" construction in this sentence.
Staring through the window over the sink, she watched a crimson twilight through the naked, black branches of mountain maple trees and tangled brambles.--There are far too many adjectives in this sentence, and she's looking "through" too many things. Perhaps: "From the window, she watched the twilight silhouette the naked branches of the mountain maples."
Waiting for her date to arrive for the past hour had been leaving her to time to develop some extreme realizations.--"Had been leaving" is weak construction (try "had left"), and "develop some extreme realizations" is vague. Since you spell out those realizations in the next few lines, you don't need to introduce them with a much weaker line here.
He'd been her demise in high school and now, into her first semester at community college.--I'm not sure what word you want to use here, but "demise" doesn't fit.
It was Friday night and the fourth date she was able to set up with him.--If she's on the fourth date, that sounds like a relationship, not a crush.
I still have no sense of who Aime is (other than the fact that she has bleached hair and a crush on her boyfriend, which isn't very unique), nor do I have any sense of where this plot is going. Give me less florid scene-setting and more conflict and characterization. As it stands, I wouldn't read on.
This is great. You have an interesting title and enough intrigue and unanswered questions that make me want to keep reading. Who is she waiting for? Why was he her demise? If he was her demise, why did she agree to go out with this guy? your prose like, "mad winter day" and "breathing in the forgotten hum of a breath" are really interesting and uniqueReplyDelete
@Princess Sara, must you really perform such a detailed dissection? This is not a workshop!ReplyDelete
I think you have a good beginning to your story. A little tightening would be good, a little less passive writing.
I'm interested to know more about her date.
I agree with White Gardenia .. princess Sara seems too harsh and dissecting. I love the beginning - a great start. I'd like to read more - MS please!!!ReplyDelete
I'm sorry, White Gardenia--I thought pointing out specific points of contention would be more helpful feedback than just saying "Your prose felt overwritten in places, so it didn't grab me as much as it should." My intention wasn't to slam the author. I apologize if I overstepped, and I'd be fine with Authoress deleting my comment.ReplyDelete
Not sure if anyone else pointed this out, but you have "Maine's typical end of a mad winter day always ended..." so you have the word "end" twice. I like it when people point out mistakes like that to me.ReplyDelete
That said, I think you have a good beginning of something here.
Maybe with the blurb on the back giving me a hint of what's to come, a beginning like this wouldn't bother me. As it is, we're barely in and I'm ready to start skipping ahead. I would cut out some of those descriptions or move them to slightly later in the scene.ReplyDelete
I like the feeling this generates, mysterious, suspenseful, and chilling. I do agree that some of the passivity and descriptions could be pared down a bit, but I'd read on.ReplyDelete
A quick comment first: I HOPE that Princess Sara critiques my entry. Why anyone would ever complain about constructive, detailed feedback is beyond me. I don't know about the rest of you, but I would much rather someone tear up my manuscript than pat me on the back. Praise always feels good, but doesn't make you a better writer and there's ALWAYS something to critique.ReplyDelete
Anyway :) I pretty much agree with Princess Sara's comments. Try switching to active voice as much as possible. I think the strongest thing you have going for you here is the mystery of who her date is. I felt myself looking forward to the doorbell ringing. Focus on the MC and the anticipation of her date arriving and the opening will shine :) By the way, I really like the title. Good luck!!
Thank you all for the helpful feedback. I do appreciate people taking the time to provide constructive criticism. Going to art school helps toughen you up for it :)ReplyDelete
To start out with, I want to keep reading, I'm curious and want to know what happened next. However, I do think some of your descriptions are too long, and I was a little confused about what exactly was going on. The first paragraph focuses on the "cold tickle at the back of your neck," but the second and third paragraph almost completely ignore that tickle. I assume it is going to come back later, and 250 words is so short, but I would have liked the same thread to be carried through the second and third paragraph. What exactly is she ignoring besides a feeling of unease? Maybe you could condense her waiting for the date to one paragraph and move on. I do love your title, though!ReplyDelete
Beautiful scene-setting and the writer's voice is engaging.ReplyDelete
Community College seems a bit old for YA. I found it very hard to situate myself in what was happening. I had no idea what "demise" referred to and why it would provoke more crushing after this guy. I found the prose murky and overwritten. I think, in this case, more simple sentences expressing a clear thought would elevate the excerpt.ReplyDelete
This didn't really capture me. Nothing happens in the first paragraph, and I felt you illustrated the warnings a little too much.ReplyDelete
I also didn't connect with her gazing out a crimson twilight. It's more setting and flowery description, and I want things to be happening and a character I can interact with.
In the last paragraph, we get that she's waiting for a boy (who might stand her up?). This is more what I was looking for, but it's still not characterised -- what makes her different to any other girl waiting for their date? It doesn't fulfil any of the crazy warnings you laid in the first paragraph or up the tension.
I don't know what 'demise' means in this context.
Ultimately, I think there's something here, but I felt distanced from it by all the description. I'd like to see more character, less setting/warnings.
I agree with a lot of Princess Sara's comments. I enjoyed this, and I'd probably keep reading, but I'd need to see something to really grab me soon. One thing I think you could do is maybe show us a little more. This seems like it might fit into that (possibly) emerging new adult bracket.ReplyDelete
There was some intriguing information here, but it would be helpful if you "beefed up" the intrigue a little. Given the tone of the writing, I'd revise some of the writing to make it active tense, tight, and clean. Also, are there a lot of YA books with college student-age protagonists? Just a thought: I've read some YA but not a lot.ReplyDelete
Princess Sara -- Your comments were fine. Very detailed, yes, but that was obviously on your heart to do, and there was nothing unkind or inappropriate.ReplyDelete
You spent a lot of time on this comment, and time is a precious gift.
You are not required to leave this level of detail, but any author looking for solid critique will certainly appreciate the intentions of someone who poured so much time into the feedback.
No worries here. :)
Thank you, Authoress. And Kate, thank you for taking my comments as they were intended (and yay for art school!)ReplyDelete
I thought Princess Sara gave a great critique. I've had work posted here before, and while sometimes it can be hard at first to read a detailed, constructive critique, I know it certainly improved my first page.ReplyDelete
Anyway, Princess Sara covered the passive voice issue I was going to point out. I'm also not sure that this is the best place to start your novel. Your MC is just sitting and thinking. The tickling on her neck that she ignores is promising, but then we don't hear about it for two paragraphs. This is magnified by the fact that we only have a short excerpt to read - maybe it wouldn't bother me if I had the whole first chapter in front of me - but I can only go by what is here. I'd suggest perhaps condensing this down so we return to the tickling sensation and the arrival of her boyfriend. These are two interesting elements that I'm keen to read more about.
People should leave the Princess alone. Getting that kind of a critique for free is rare. I, for one, would love for someone like her to review my novel.ReplyDelete
I'm afraid I got derailed in the 2nd paragraph, trying to figure out the time of day--if it'd been night for a long time, how could it still be twilight?ReplyDelete
Would definitely make the character younger--if this is YA, Aime should not be in community college.
And I didn't think the "extreme realizations" mentioned in the 3rd paragraph were then revealed--at least, not by the details in that paragraph, or I didn't recognize any of those thoughts as significant realizations.