TITLE: Sweet Jane
GENRE: edgy YA Contemporary
Being invisible was an art I perfected.
"It was more than being a wallflower," I said. "More than being picked last in gym class. More than shrinking like a violet. And for what it's worth, violets don't actually shrink. They are hiding in the leaves." Their petals so inconspicuous and dainty they almost disappear. That was me; quiet, small, and hidden in the crowd. Like I wasn't there at all. Just waiting to be seen.
Detective Hereford dragged a handkerchief across his sweaty forehead and banged it on the table between us. Coffee spilled over the side of his roll-up-the-brim to win cup from Tim Horton's. His eyebrows pinched together to form one big unibrow. He mopped up the spilled coffee with his hankie and set the cup down gently. The brim had been unrolled. The look on his face told me he hadn't won.
His partner, Detective Bryant, was a good foot shorter than him and didn't have any hair on top of his head, just two inches of wild grey curls circling around the back from ear to ear. They reminded me of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. I half wondered if they'd count paperclips and announce the letter of the day. Today's police investigation was brought to you by the letters J and C and the number 8.
There were eight of us still left in the game at the end. The rest went quietly to their graves. Metaphorically, of course. No one actually died. It just felt like it.
Wow!!! powerful. I love how you describe how she is feels invisible. I often like to be unnoticed and would follow this character through hundreds of pages. I like the unibrow but my favorite part was the sesame street reference especially the part where "Today's police investigation was brought to you by the letters J and C and the number 8" Well done I think this is great.ReplyDelete
The only thing I'd maybe tweak is the spilled coffee. I don't think you need it, and if you condense that paragraph, we get to the Bert and Ernie comparison sooner, which I love. But that's such a minor thing, and the voice is great here. I definitely want to read more of this.ReplyDelete
I agree with the first comment. I love the Sesame Street reference. Very clever. While this seems like an interesting start, for me the sample felt disjointed. I don't see any connection between her opening soliloquy and the detective scene. Connect the two. Perhaps he slams down the coffee mug and it forces her to focus on what he's been saying while she's been daydreaming. Something like that. Also, how can you bang down a handkerchief? And in the context of a cop, I wouldn't call it a hankie. Take a closer look at some of these details. Good luck!ReplyDelete
There's a game in my novel too so this intrigued me. I agree about the spilled coffee line. I like the Bert and Ernie reference too. If this is an investigation I'm not sure why the detectives would ask her about being invisible. It feels too much to add in the shrinking violet line. Maybe start with the invisible line, saying it to herself and then starting with the detectives. Just a thought. Good luck!ReplyDelete
The Bert & Ernie reference is genius. I love it. I do think the early paragraphs need to be tighter, get to the officers quicker, otherwise it works.ReplyDelete
I liked the Bert and Ernie reference as well, although I do think it could be trimmed. (It felt like that last line about "today's police investigation is brought to you by" was going a bit over the top.)ReplyDelete
I also agree that the section about being invisible didn't seem at all connected to what was happening in the present. Does she wish she could turn invisible right now? Or is her ability the reason that the detective isn't getting anywhere? I think I line or two could connect these easily.
I laughed out loud at the Bert and Ernie shtick. Perfect. I agree with the others about losing the coffee lines for tightening purposes. Other than that, i love it. Sets the scene and tone up nicely. Good luck!ReplyDelete
I definitely want to know more! The descriptions are great, and I love the opening line. I agree that her spoken lines don't seem connected to the investigation--I want to know why she's telling them this.ReplyDelete
The first two paragraphs seem a bit disconnected from those that follow. Perhaps start with the detective in Paragraph 3? I think you waste a little too much time on your descriptions--of the coffee and the detectives--when you could be building momentum. I, like others, like the Bert and Ernie reference. But, for me, the reference was enough without the rest of the description--I could already see them with the simple reference. I like the last paragraph, which feels more dramatic. Good luck!ReplyDelete
I agree with others. The first two paragraphs feel separate from others. The transition left me feeling jarred and a little confused. The fact that your MC would say those words aloud didn't feel like they belonged in a police interrogation. But here's the thing...I love them. They're so beautifully written. I wonder if there's a way to transition between the two.ReplyDelete
Not that I watch a lot of Sesame Street, but do they still do "brought to you by..."? Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it might be "and that's the word on the street." Or maybe they do both?
I loved the opening and closing line of this sample! While the detective descriptions are strong, I'm not sure how they connect to what else is going on based on this informational alone. I'm sure it gets explained more later, though :)ReplyDelete
I like the voice but I had a very hard time following what was going on. I know 250 words doesn't allow you to get much info out there but I just didn't get how the entire sample is related. I'm not sure why the cops are asking her about being invisible and what the last paragraph has to do with anything. I don't typically read YA so maybe that's part of my struggle. I also don't know what a "roll-up-the-brim to win cup from Tim Horton's" is so that part was lost on me. I love the Bert & Ernie bit and feel like the writing is strong. I'd be interested in reading more to see how it all fits together.ReplyDelete
This could be stronger if you start with the detective part and leave the invisible wallflower speech out. Teens who feel invisible or are shrinking violets isn’t anything new to the genre, so it makes the start of your story not feel quite unique. The letter of the day Sesame Street joke is great—make sure to maintain moments like that throughout to have your voice continue to shine through.ReplyDelete