Tuesday, April 15, 2014

First Line Grabber Round 2 #11

TITLE: Cadence
GENRE: YA Thriller

The first of the plain black SUVs arrives at one thirty. I’m studying with Mira and a mob of other juniors before our sixth period chemistry test. Through the warped, floor-to-ceiling windows of the Cartwright Institute for Young Women’s drafty old library, the SUV’s tinted windows reflect sunlight and barren branches.


  1. This one feels like it's so, so close. I still like the promise of the opening line, but the next sentence doesn't build up the tension any more. I think dropping the school's full name (we know s/he's in school; we can find out the name later) would pick up the pace and get to the exciting stuff faster.

    You might want to re-structure the last sentence. Something is going through the warped windows. In reality, it's the MC's attention (s/he's the one looking through the window), but right now it reads like it's the SUV's tinted windows that go through the windows (and that's a lot of windows in one sentence). Rearranging the clauses would make it clearer.

    But I still want to know what the deal is with the SUV's and how many there are, so I'd keep reading.

  2. I'm not sure where this is going and it's a bit clunky, but I would give it another paragraph or so to pull me in.

  3. I agree with Abbe about ditching the full use of the school's name. It'd make it faster.

    Another ways to speed things up:

    - Already mention its 1:30, so not sure we also need to know its before 6th period. That detail doesn't add much for me.

    And another thought:

    - What's missing for me here is emotion. What is her reaction to the SUV's arrival? Is this a good or bad thing? Unexpected? Ordinary? A reason for concern? Or just a distraction from studying? This is one of those instances where showing her reaction can go a long way.

  4. I agree with Jennifer above that this excerpt is missing emotion and reaction. You've spent a lot of real estate on description, but I don't know who our narrator is at all. The details about the time, the school, and who's with us in the room should take a backseat, I think, to injecting the paragraph with emotional tension and voice. I'd probably read on for a few more paragraphs (I'm a big fan of YA thrillers), but if I didn't get a believable sense of reaction from the narrator, or a hint of something to grab on to about her character, then I'd likely be done.

  5. I need a second bit of action. The SUVs arrive at a precise time. The MC is in the library with a lot of other kids. Then there's a nice description. Could be creepy, could be lovely. It doesn't do as much for me as letting me see what makes the MC notice. Is the MC the only one who sees them?

    I happen to love old wavy glass--a bubble in a pane showed me a doughnut hole in a police car as it passed my house. But I'd recommend saving the description for later. Good luck1

  6. For some reason, the word "mob" following the mention of plain, black SUVs took me straight to an image of the Mafia. LOL.

    I agree, leave out the full name of the school, and add some tension and emotion. Is the MC feeling any fear at all or just curiosity. I do like the image of warped windows in the drafty library.

  7. This one works well. I originally thought government, when I read the 'black SUVs'. But the little word, mob, opened another vista. I also liked the conflicting image of reflected sunlight(a happy thought) and barren branches(a dismal thought) on the car windows.

    For three lines, it does a great job of setting the scene. We know the main character is female. We know she is junior year. We know she is in a school. We know she has a friend named Mira. We know she's studying chemistry, which adds some interesting possibilities to the plot.

    I like the setup and would like to read more. Well done.