Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First Kiss #6

TITLE: Melanie + Kalith
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Melanie’s sent to California after a night involving her boyfriend Kalith and bad decisions, goes epically wrong.She’s there with new friend Grant, taking in the view from the deck of her Aunts beach house.

"I'm not like you. There are things in my past..." I pause not knowing the right way to explain "...I've got some issues."

"So does everyone," Grant says.

"Not you."

"Give it time."

"Yeah ok Mr. Perfect," I joke giving him a shove.

"You think I'm perfect?"

I don't want to give the wrong impression, but yeah, I do.

"Well nothings perfect." I decide to throw in a little honesty "But you’re the closest I've seen in real life."

He searches my face, probably trying to figure out if I’m being serious . I am instantly embarrassed by my words. Finally he turns away.

"What about all this?" he says pointing out to the rocky cliff, the waves methodically crashing against the shore, the sky that’s just turning to the orange purples of a setting sun.

I joke. "You Californians, so obsessed with the view. This…" I say mimicking his gesture "is overrated."

It isn’t though. It’s perfect too. He laughs and then smiles right at me. The direct eye contact makes me fidget. This is the part where you lean in for a kiss. Unconsciously, I’ve already moved closer to him. Just a little closer and it’s a done deal. We hang midway between just friends and something else. I don't want to like him like that. Not right now, maybe later, if there is a later for me here. But not now. Right now I want Kalith, to be seconds from kissing him not Grant. Kalith’s the noun I fill in the blank with. There’s no build up, or awkwardness, or possibility of rejection, or any bit of the unknown. He’ll take my kisses. I don’t have to offer, he doesn’t have to ask. It’s safe and predictable. Its home.


  1. Like that this is an almost kiss. She obviously has a lot of baggage to deal with before kissing another guy.

    Would change "Well nothings perfect" to "Well no one's perfect" since you are referring to the guy.

    The entire piece could use a few more commas.

    The final paragraph would work better broken up a bit. I wanted this part extended so that the reader experiences the tension between them for longer.

    Some of the wording in the final paragraph holds the reader away from the experience. "The direct eye contact" could be phrased "His piercing eyes drive me to chip away the paint on the railing." Something more specific as well as heated.

    Not sure that I would state "this is the part where you lean in for a kiss." Instead, describe that she can feel the heat coming off his skin or something more physical. Imply that a kiss could happen; doesn't need to be stated.

    Really like that she's jolted back to thinking about Kalith, so that stops her from acting on this spark between them. If you put that part in a separate paragraph, it will emphasize the change in her thoughts. Or rather, she's trying to convince herself that she shouldn't be kissing this guy.

  2. I'm curious what happened to send her to California! (and where was she before?) Anyway, the conflict is front and center here which is great.

    I see quite a few punctuation issues; missing stuff that I'm sure you can catch on a revision. The elipses can be tricky, I would suggest googling Grammar Girl to check how and when they should be used (I recently did this and it was eye opening). If you use the elipses, you don't also need to say she paused since it implies. Then you don't need to lead with the ... again when she starts talking, which isn't necessary.

    This line is great: We hang midway between just friends and something else.

    I like her hesitation and that this is an almost kiss moment.

    The name Kalith. I debated mentioning this because it's petty, but given we commenters are sort of beta-reading this, I thought I'd just say it. If this was fantasy or dystopian, I wouldn't bat an eye. Contemprorary though... it would grate on me. It'd make me wish for a Joe. If there is history behing the name, or cultural heritage etc, I could buy that. It's unusual enough that I think the name deserves a reason in the story.

    As always, take what you will from the comments. We are an opinionated bunch but it's your story. :)

  3. I like the way you show her ambivalence, through dialogue and interior thought. And that they didn't actually kiss. (Yet)

    Show don't tell: I am instantly embarrassed by my words.

    "Smiles right at me" followed by "The direct eye contact" makes it seem as though the smile made the direct contact. Could delete "Smiles right at me" and "show" the direct eye contact: Then he stared right into my eyes (or) I fidget under his quiet gaze (or something).

    I agree there could be more commas. Ex: I pause, not knowing... // Yeah, okay, Mr. Perfect... // It's perfect, too.

    "Methodically" doesn't say perfect for me. Maybe rhythmically??

    I agree about the name Kalith. I read it as Keith the whole time, so I didn't get her comment at first.

    I'd delete "if there is a later for me here. But not now" to tighten last paragraph.

    All small fixes. Liked it overall!

  4. I really enjoy your protagonist's voice, and you narrate her inner conflict well. Perhaps too much of her inner monologue is included in the last passage? Or, at the very least, it should be broken up by some action.
    I'd like it to feel more tense, more suspenseful. Basically, I'd want to feel more of the "oh my god, she's going to cheat on her boyfriend," feeling.

  5. I kind of love this. I had an immediate emotional response. The dialogue felt so genuine and even though Kalith isn't in this scene, you made me like him. That's not easy to do!

    The first half was stronger than the last half. I've read that last paragraph several times now and I think it has a lot of beauty and truth, but if you break it up into two paragraphs, it'll be easier to read.

    Also, the following phrase didn't work for me, "...the waves methodically crashing against the shore, the sky that’s just turning to the orange purples of a setting sun." It's close, I got the mental image, but it was awkward enough to pull me out of the story.

    Good luck, I thoroughly enjoyed this!

  6. Thanks for all the feedback! Very helpful comments that made me itch to rewrite all day at work. Now I’m happily working on your suggestions.

    Kalith is Indian, he was born and lived in India for several years before being adopted by family friends. Melanie is one of the only people who uses his actual name, mostly he’s referred to as “KJ” (for Kalith Jai). Don’t know if that helps or hurts? I don’t realize the name was distracting, cause you know… I named him.

    I had some giggles cause I actually have a line early on about people calling him “KJ” because it’s more Americanized. I didn’t want to go generic generic or generic Indian. Maybe I swung too hard in one direction. I’m totally open to non-generic Indian name suggestions. The book is told in part from his perspective so I don’t want people stuck on the name.

    As for Melanie, she’s from DC and is sent to live in Santa Cruz with her Aunt. I’m still in that “I don’t want to say what happens to get her sent to Cali and spoil it phase”, it’s a big plot point, my “inciting incident”. It’s not a car crash or teen pregnancy or anything like that. But long story short she needs more supervision than her Mother is able to give, to keep her out of trouble and to overcome the trauma of what happen that night. (Now I feel like it sounds like she was assaulted. She wasn’t assaulted!) Sorry for being cryptic. I hope to be over this phase soon.

  7. I'm so glad I returned to this! If Kalith's name has cultural significance I think it would be beneficial to describe that somehwere in the story. There's so much you can do with culture and characters, that's definitely a strong point. It's hard to tell these days with so many babies getting made up names with "yooneek" spellings ;) that it was initially distracting without knowing the background.

  8. I really enjoyed this. It came off as genuine, the dialogue felt real, and that last parg had some great lines -

    We hang midway . . .
    Kalith's the noun . . .

    And I could feel Kalith as a presence, even though he's not there.

    There were a few little things, but others have already mentioned them.

    Nicely done!