Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Adorable Editors Winners #2

TITLE: FutureShock
GENRE: YA Time Travel

"They can take our freedom, but they can never take our French fries!"

If there had been a desk in front of me, I would have smacked my head against it. Repeatedly.

The auditorium erupted into cheers, a decidedly uncommon occurrence for Dresden High's student council candidacy announcements. Usually, students simply said what position they were running for and why people should vote for them, to weak applause or the occasional overzealous "Yeah!" from the stoner kids in the back.

Apparently, all it took was a twinkly-eyed quarterback running on a French fries platform to get people enthusiastically engaged in student government.

I had to use all my strength to unclench my jaw. My fists, however, I kept balled at my sides, so that I wouldn't try and wring anyone's neck. I wasn't usually this tense, but there was something about pretty-boy jocks reducing student government to a popularity contest that seriously irked me.

Said jock extraordinaire, Jake Carlson, gesticulated wildly at the crowd to keep cheering. Then he ended his brilliantly puerile campaign speech with, "So if you vote for me, everything will be awesome, and you can have all the French fries you want!"

Head. Desk.

Before I could engage in any more imaginary stress relief, the student council adviser, Ms. Jefferson, nodded at me to go up to the podium despite the fact that the crowd was still whooping, catcalling and clapping. Jake, for his part, was encouraging them by way of a dramatic reenactment of last week's game-winning catch.


  1. Hooked! And generally am not a fan of school stories, but this is well-written and the voice is really great - snarky but not whiny. I can also picture the scene well.

    My only notes would be that from this beginning, I'm presuming that Jake the jock is going to be an important character in the story. If, by any chance, he *isn't*, then I think you shouldn't be focussing on him so much on the first page.

    And am not sure you need the 5th paragraph, or perhaps it could be shortened a bit - it's a bit repetitive. We get from the rest of the page what sort of person Jake is and what the MC thinks of him.

    Nicely done :)

  2. Sounds like a fun read. The voice was spot on - this character pulls the reader into the story. Seems Jake is the foil, so I'm picturing a studious MC who wants other students to think for themselves.

    I do wonder how any of this relates to time travel. I wish there were a hint or two in the opening. But overall, I am hooked and would read on to see where this goes.

  3. Yes, it's sounds like fun! You've already set up the conflict in a great MC voice. I especially like the "Head. Desk." line.

    Strong writing overall. The second line seemed out of place, though. I had to think a moment whether the "I" had just said the French fry line. I'd put it at the end of the fifth paragraph with the MC's other thoughts.

  4. Hi, there! I liked this, mostly! There were a couple of parts I had to re-read, but overall, the voice is likable and I'm curious about what will happen next.

    I really like the first two sentences—I had to re-read the next paragraph, though. I think this is mainly because it wasn't immediately clear that this was an election, and because the sentence that does clarify that is full of multisyllabic words. Not that I can't read them, of course, haha—it's just that your first two lines were so expertly paced and witty, I had to slow my brain down to process what was actually happening in that next paragraph. :)

    Love that next line, though (the "apparently" paragraph).

    Is there any way you can *show* us how tense he is, rather than so plainly describing his jaw/fists? (Thinking mainly about those first two sentences—I really like "I wasn't usually…" through the end of the paragraph!)

    Love the "Head. Desk."

    In the last paragraph, it feels like you could possibly carve away at it to make it cleaner.

    Overall, great job! Hope this is helpful, and if not, just remember how subjective critiques are! When in doubt, trust your gut and your most respected critique partners. :) Good luck!

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  6. Such a fun opening page! I really like the snark of this and am curious to read more.

    I would say that parts of this voice feel maybe a bit too sophisticated for teen readers. I realize that the MC is smart and cerebral, and that's why he's looking down on the jock so much, but the voice has the potential to alienate a teen readership if it's too sophisticated. Words like "gesticulated" or "irked" or even "overzealous" seem unnatural for a teenager to use.

    It also wasn't clear to me until the last paragraph that the MC is also running for student council, so I didn't understand his/her disdain for the jock until then. Establishing that conflict upfront might help ground the reader in the story.

    And, like others before me, I was curious how time travel is going to play into this. It might not be natural to add in to such a short excerpt, but I do hope it gets established soon after if you can, since that is really the hook of the story.

    --Stacy Abrams

  7. This is so funny, cleverly written. Main character is a brilliant and qualified candidate who finds himself running against the football jock who hasn’t a platform other than to promise what can never be delivered. A true and smarmy politician. I love the MC’s head banging response and the way he presents it. The only thing that you might look at is that the first sentence isn’t tagged. At first I thought the MC said the line and it wasn’t clear until a bit later. Perhaps if you put the second sentence, If there had been a desk, after The auditorium erupted, then follow with the rest of the paragraph, Usually, students. You could still isolate the second sentence as an independent paragraph but it would make more sense.
    All in all, a nice set up for what promises to be an engaging story.

  8. I agree with Heartfelt's suggestions for tweaking the very beginning. I especially hope you'll add a dialogue tag. I have kind of a thing about starting with unattributed dialogue.

    The rest of this is very strong. The MC is likable (I'm assuming female, but I know I could be wrong.) and smart. My only other concern is that the jock seems like kind of a stereotype. If he turns out to be an important character, I hope the MC discovers layers or subtleties to him that make the MC rethink his/her preconceptions.

  9. Solid, fun tone.

    It would be nice to know if the MC is a male or female.

    Good start.

  10. Good beginning. I really felt the MC's frustration. It's also a situation a lot of teens can identify with.
    It would help to know if MC is a boy or girl. I pictured boy but I noticed another commenter thought girl.
    Also, I would suggest shortening this part just a little. I love the "Head. Desk" but would suggest moving it up. You've already established his frustration in the second line so the fifth paragraph, though great imagery, seems repetitive.
    I would read on.

  11. I liked this. I didn't realize the MC's sex wasn't specified until looking at the above comments. That should probably get mentioned. Other than that, I thought it was a great opening. Good job & good luck!

  12. I would start with the line; If there had been a desk in front of me,... It's more compelling and I would read on to find out why.

  13. For me, humor is a favorite element, so you've definitely hooked me. I'm completely sympathetic to the MC, who has to follow the jock.

    I might fall out with the MC if she (or he) remains this condescending for long. You've started on solid common ground, but I'm wary. The MC might next shred me. The title and genre tell me that the tables may soon be turned with a bit of time travel.

    This is an engaging start. Best wishes with the story.

  14. Love the voice from the beginning. I agree that some of the word choices read very cerebral (decidedly uncommon occurrence, enthusiastically engaged, gesticulated, puerile). If this is part of the MC, I would use a sprinkling instead.

    I wanted to know if this was a boy or girl; assuming a boy? Could the adviser go to the mic and announce the MC so that we get his name?