Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Words Workshop

The response to my post last week: An Analysis of First Pages was great, and I received a few entries to critique.

My CP, STINA, who definitely helped shape this workshop, will offer her two cents too!


Here is the first (anonymous) entry. I'll show it first in it's entirety:

This is the wrong part of town for a teenager to be skulking around at midnight. But I'm not wearing anything valuable, just my Joe's Diner uniform and beat up flip flops. The high school quarterback once told me I had a face only a mother could love, so I'm probably fine. But just in case any crazies from the ghetto are creeping in their low riders thinking of mugging me, I tighten my jaw and walk like I'm some kind of deranged psych ward escapee.
*******

My comments are in red:

This is the wrong part of town for a teenager to be skulking around at midnight (I'm not sure if a teen would identify herself as such, so I'd skip the word teen. Also, show something in her surroundings to help reader understand why it's the wrong part of town-what does she see, smell, hear?). But I'm not wearing anything valuable, just my Joe's Diner uniform and beat up flip flops. The high school quarterback once told me I had a face only a mother could love, so I'm probably fine (I like this line and would want to move it up). But just in case any crazies from the ghetto (when from the ghetto is used my stereotype radar goes off--I'd cut it) are creeping in their low riders (hmm... if this is how the MC talks I'd keep it, but if it's to establish teen type of lingo, I'd cut it) thinking of mugging me, I tighten my jaw and walk like (show what the legs/walk looks like)I'm some kind of deranged psych ward escapee. I also want her to show what she's feeling inside straight from the beginning so the reader identifies with her.
*******
Stina's comments are in blue:

This is an intriguing start. I would like to see some sensory description to show us why this is the wrong part of the town for a teenager to skulk around at midnight. Are there hookers standing around? Drunks passed out in the opening of the alley? Wasted teens? Drug dealers? Are there sirens in the distance? Music blaring? What’s does the place smell like? Paint a picture, but make it brief. One or two sentences could show us so much.

How’s the character feeling? She’s trying to show the world she’s tough, but inside, how is she feeling about the situation? Is she scared? Give me a reason to care about her, especially since you make it sound like she’s up to no good.
*******




SO, maybe something like this instead:

My feet crunch over some broken glass as sirens wail in the distance. This is definitely the wrong part of town to be walking in after midnight. The high school quarterback once told me I had a face only a mother could love, so I'm probably safe. Besides, I'm not wearing anything valuable, just my Joe's Diner uniform and beat up flip flops. Even still, I lock my jaw and stiffen my legs like some kind of psych ward escapee, in case any crazies want to mug me. But my hammering heart threatens to give me away.
*******

Now you've got a mix of introspection and action, with a sprinkle of feelings and setting. Just an opinion, so take it or leave it, okay?





If anyone else wants to pipe in, feel free. And if you want to send your 50-75 words for analysis, email me!

11 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I like the new version.

It's tough editing someone else's beginning when you know nothing about setting and the character. You can see how lost we were about where the story takes place. Of course, I'm positive the writer had sensory description after this point. :D

Kelly said...

I love the sensory details added!

Christina Lee said...

BTW: Problems with Blogger today? Unclick 'keep me signed in' box when you sign in. It solved the problem for me. #bloggerFAIL

Matthew MacNish said...

Excellent advice, ladies! I'm glad I didn't miss this.

Emy Shin said...

I really liked your advice & the details added. :)

storyqueen said...

This is an interesting idea. I like that your snippets are small...it's nice for those of us without a lot of computer time to still get the gist.

Very thought provoking.

Shelley

Pk Hrezo said...

This is such a great idea. And I love the way you reworded it. It makes a huge difference. That showing and not telling thing. ;)

Theresa Milstein said...

Good start, but the comments helped you bring it to life. So much better! Excellent.

Lourie said...

Wow! I have been thinking about doing this...and forgetting and remembering. Def going to shoot you an email now.

Christina Lee said...

Lourie, I'm waiting.... *taps foot*

:-)

Rebecca Kiel said...

This is a great post! Looking forward to reading more from you.