GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy
Luke’s broad frame filled the small porch, blocking the way down the stairs and to my car. I was already late for cross country practice and really didn’t have the energy to rehash his need for me to quit for the millionth time. But the expression on his face made it clear. We were in for another fight.
“Don’t go, Emma.” Luke wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close to snuggle my neck. “I have counseling later. I need you when I get back.”
“I’ll be back.” I tried to remain firm and pushed lightly against his chest. “I have practice every day.” I knew counseling was rough. An hour of dredging up all the reasons it wasn’t your fault your life sucked. Running was my way of dealing with my crappy life. Iwas Luke’s way. Every day he held me and told he needed me. That he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. He scared me when he said those words.
“Then why do I have to ask you every day?” His voice had an edge that confirmed it— he wasn’t going to let me go easily.
I stood on my tip toes and kissed his cheek in an attempt to lighten his mood. “I’ll be done at five and we’ll go eat.”
Luke voice was rough. He fingers brushed against my throat, playing with a small turquoise pendant he’d given me earlier in the day. “Stay.”
I'm not sure where the story is going, but all I can think in my head is that Emma is an idiot! Punch him! Run away! Don't you dare put up with that!
If you want the reader to relate to your main character, we need to see a reason why she'd put up with this behavior (a boyfriend physically restraining her?) or make his behavior a bit more subtle in the beginning. Maybe he eases up in the next sentence. I hope so or I'd be done with your main character.
A few suggestions:
You've got a typo in the sentence "Every day he held me and told [me] he needed me."
I'd rather Luke just says "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you." And then have Emma think: It scares me every time he says this, rather than telling the reader that he's saying it. Just show us and then you can delete "Every day he held me and told he needed me." We get to see it happening instead.
That said, you've done a great job of invoking some emotion in me, the reader, since I already hate Luke a lot. I'd absolutely keep reading!
I also thing the very end has some errors, unless I'm missing something.ReplyDelete
"Luke voice was rough."
I think you mean "Luke's voice was rough"
"He fingers brushed against my throat, playing with a small turquoise pendant he'd given me earlier in the day."
I think you want "His fingers..."
Just some small things to tidy up, otherwise it is a good start, athough I do agree I already can't stand Luke. If that was the intent, that mission accomplished!
I think this excerpt is intriguing with the genre of urban fantasy. The first 250 def. reads as contemporary.ReplyDelete
I love the tension you've set up!
I can really feel the tension! I'm already wary/hating Luke and cringing in preparation for the argument. I want Emma to get to her car and go running!ReplyDelete
It's only 250 words, I know, but I feel like I need to know Emma isn't with a jerk for no reason. I'm also curious how old the characters are. At first glance it doesn't sound like urban fantasy, but I don't think that's a problem.
I've worked a lot with kids and I think you've captured both the tone and the topic that captures youngsters: Learning how to be loving.ReplyDelete
I'm totally curious about who has the bigger problems - Luke or Emma - and who is the bigger (temporary) jerk. I would read on...
Reminds me a little of Louis Sachar.
I was taken out of the story immediately because of the reference to Luke's broadness and the smallness of the porch. EIther Luke is huge or that porch is tiny. Maybe reconsider that phrase.ReplyDelete
Parg four - Then why do I have to ask you everyday? What is Luke responding to? This sentence doesn't relate to anything Emma said.
I'm not seeing where the urban fantasy comes in, but I don't think it has to be on the first page, either. A hint or clue should come soon though.
I'm not liking Luke, but I'm guessing I'm not supposed to, so that works. I'm just hoping you don't allow Emma to be his doormat.
First I'd like to echo Barbara's comments. She nailed it.ReplyDelete
Having been in an abusive/manipulative relationship myself, I can sympathize with Emma already. Relationships like these are never black and white. People who say "she should just leave him for treating her like that" are quite often people who have never experienced this type of thing. It's not that easy. It is never that easy. You did a good job with showing Emma's conflicting thoughts realistically.
That being said, the writing is still rough. I caught more than a few typos, and in such a short piece I will forgive only one typo before it annoys me.
I'm also not sure this is starting in the right place. It feels more like setup than a first page should. There is tension between them, but not necessarily a conflict presented, or hinted at, that makes me believe something terrible is about to happen. She says she knows a fight is coming--if this is old territory for her then she knows how to prevent it from happening, so I'm not sold on this as a good starting conflict. It might lead to something bigger, though, so I would still keep reading to see if that happens.
I'm also curious as to when the fantasy part is introduced. Hopefully soon.
Great writing. With just a few words you portray the dynamics of the relatonship - a needy, manipulative guy and the the girl torn between her own needs and his.ReplyDelete
And you make me wonder what event precipitated this - why does he need counselling? Why does she need to run daily (what is she running from?). I guess that's where the fantasy element comes in. I just hope it's nothing to do with vampires.
Lots of questions in a good way - which is what an opening needs to do. I'd totally read on.
As others have pointed out, there are a lot of typos for a short sample, so make sure that you polish this up. I think that you may want to start at a different point, perhaps earlier in the day when he gave her the pendant. I assume that the pendant has something to do with the fantasy element, but so far, this reads contemporary abuse story. I like my fantasy grounded in reality, so that could be okay. I’d also like to see the abusive relationship be portrayed more subtly, particularly right at the beginning. I feel like, wham, you hit us over the head with this right away. It also makes both the characters seem unlikable and unsympathetic (despite the fact that you tell us that they both have crappy lives), which isn’t a good way to start out. For these reasons, I’m not hooked.ReplyDelete
Hi! I remember this from the workshop, and I think it looked better there. I agree that you've added a bit too many details pointing out the abusive element of the relationship, so that we feel hit over the head with it. I really loved how you had it in the workshop, where it was all romantic and lovely and then bam! A cruel smile in response to her falling. That was so subtle and surprising and made the MC more likeable, because if Luke could surprise the reader, he could surprise her too. Here he just seems consistently mean, which makes both of them less likeable. I think you could easily tighten this back up.ReplyDelete