Is the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance?

Antlers_WiFi_2011_5_13Hello All,

This is a long-ish post so apologies to those who like short ones! I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. And I have my own thoughts on this but I’ll share those further down, first how I came to thinking about this topic. A while ago I read on a Blog post about the 10,000-hour rule.

In 2008 Little Brown & Co published Malcolm Galwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success which, in a nutshell says that if anyone spends 10,000 hours on their preferred art-form, they will become proficient and successful at it. The book uses studies (namely the study of children learning to play the violin) to“prove” that if you practice your art, you will become something akin to a savant/genius at your chosen art.

Domonoks_7This got me thinking, is it really that easy and that hard?

Now, let me start by staying I am a FIRM believer in practice makes perfect. Whether you are a dancer, a musician, a writer, a painter (etc.) the more time you spend practising your art-form, the better you’ll become. However, I couldn’t help but question the logic.  After all, some people simply open their mouths and beautiful music comes out. Other’s put pen to paper and write amazing stories or brilliant symphonies, did they all spend 10,000 hours unbeknown to the rest of us?

Outliers doesn’t just touch on art-forms, it refers to pretty much every sort of profession, be that science, or business or web-design-genius’ such as Steve Jobs (etc.) So, given I love facts and figures as much as I love art (those that know me well will know I thrive on stats and graphs and all kinds of mathematical equations), I started looking into this. And it would appear many in the arts, sciences and business are questioning Malcolm Galwell’s “rule” as a, well… RULE.

2579886_5567648625_incon_by_ninjakato-d7r3bu2So what’s the truth? Is it a matter of clocking up the hours or is it raw talent or simply damn good timing?

Additional to reading the blog post, a few days ago I read a post on LinkedIn. The topic was the cost of hiring an editor. An author wanted to know what he should be paying and what he should be asking/looking for when hiring an editor. Most of the replies were a mix of other people’s experiences and freelance editors taking the opportunity to advertise their business. But there was one reply that had me re-visiting this TALENT vs HARD WORKquestion. Since adding their reply, they have deleted it so I can’t give you their word-for-word answer but it was along the lines of this:

…some people have natural talent, others don’t and no amount of work will change that, and people without talent should give up trying…

I found this reply really disheartening and also concerning. I don’t think the answer is to “give up” I think the answer is to work out what your motivation is and whether the drive comes from a deep passion. If it is passion then DO NOT GIVE UP.

Now I’d like to share my personal thoughts. I do not agree with that stand one little bit. However, I also do not agree with the 10,000-hour rule. I happen to think that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I also happen to think determination and perseverance play a MASSIVE part in an artist’s future, as does luck.

I’m going to ask you all to indulge me a little while I share my own life experiences as I believe this demonstrates my point.

let-me-love-you-sheldonI have been always been a duplicitous person. By that I mean, I’m constantly split between the Arts & the Maths/Sciences. And it runs in my family. My father writes poetry and sonnets (published) and paints a little. He is also a brilliant mathematician and worked as an Industrial Engineer. My mother is a wonderful artist and skilled at many hand-crafts. She won a full Fine Arts university scholarship and then went on to major in chemistry. My grandfather was a musician and singer, as well as having gone to university majoring in applied maths and physics. He worked for the government in the finance sector for a time and then (as he loved open spaces) became a forest ranger… but never stopped singing, playing and performing. There are many more examples in my family, (cousins/uncles/aunts), however you get the picture.

As for me, I have primarily worked in the finance and/or accounting sector’s but have also been writing and drawing/painting all my life. I was also interested in performing, having studied drama.

I had my first written works published when I was 13 years old (short story, local newspaper) and since then have had the odd additional thing published. I have never studied any formal writing or publishing subjects, I simply wrote what appealed to me (however, I have recently started a new BA in professional writing).

With regard to painting, although I studied the “greats” I have not had any formal art classes. This did not stop me from enjoying in indulging in sporadic bursts of painting energy.

Psychadelic-animated-gif-coloursIn 2004 I started taking my writing more seriously and began writing poetry, again, for my own benefit and without any real plan to have others read it.

In 2006 I began painting more often and in 2007 & 2008 I held exhibitions in Melbourne. In 2009, after sending jpeg’s of my artwork to several galleries in Paris & London, I was asked to exhibit in Paris – and I did, in October 2009…

The timing could not have been worse. The Global Financial Crisis had just hit, the European economy was flushing down the toilet and there was pretty much no hope my exhibition would be a success. However, I’d already booked my flight, paid for my accommodation, left my job and sent my artwork on its way to the gallery. So I was stuck with having the show and consoled myself with the fact that I’d be in Paris.

Here’s the thing. I DID sell pieces. In fact I sold enough to allow me to stay in Paris for almost 6-months. It’s also the place I started writing my first manuscript (but that’s another story).

Did I spend 10,000 hours on my artistic skills throughout my life? My best estimate 4,000-hours. Am I the most wonderful artist on the planet with an awesome talent? Hardly! Am I gifted with genes that have blessed me with a raw talent? Who knows? Personally I think my gift was the encouragement of my parents and these sage words by my father:

Remember, no one is better than you, but remember also no one is worse than you.

If you remember that you are as good as anyone but no better than anyone, you can achieve what your passion and perseverance drives you to achieve.

So how did I sell works of art, enough works of art (remembering galleries take between 40-50% from each sale) to allow me to live in Paris, without finding any other work, for six months, and also pay the rent on my place back in Melbourne?

Again, honestly, I’m not 100% sure. But I will share with you what I did, perhaps differently, to others and also what those who bought my pieces said.

First what I did to make the exhibition a success, (FYI I knew no one in Paris and my French was pretty much no existent)6af0d44337bd206bb42bfc8c47bb2636576da5f66679533e1b9329a498113b7c

(i)                 Almost 12-months prior to leaving I started forming contacts with other Aussie’s living in Paris.

(ii)               Prior to arriving I printed flyers of my artwork and my exhibition date.

(iii)             As soon as I arrived I met-up with as many people as I could from my contacts.

(iv)             Every free or super cheap event that was on in Paris, I attended. I didn’t care if they all spoke French or not, I needed to get my face and name out there.

(v)               Every single café and restaurant I visited more than three times I told the waiters about myself and my exhibition.

(vi)             At every art supplies, or workshop that would allow me to, I left flyers.

(vii)           I attended the opening nights of all three exhibitions prior to mine at the gallery. I got to know the artists and mingled with potential buyers and whoever was interested, I offered them a flyer. It was in the same gallery so there was no conflict of interest.

(viii)         A week before my gallery opening, I walked into every single shop, café, business on The Avenue des Champs-Élysées and offered any of their staff a 15% discount on any artwork they wanted to buy, all they needed to do was bring in their special flyer (I signed them) and offer it at the time of purchase.

(ix)             And this one was a bit sneaky I left random numbers of flyers at bank and post office counters all over Paris.

Wh9jLIn other words I worked my butt off getting word out. It’s called marketing. And it’s vital, no matter if you are launching your novel, your play, your bands gig or your exhibition.

As for why I sold artwork, a relative unknown in a city full of artists? Aside from literarily flooding the city with my flyers, it was my artistic style. It didn’t “fit” any label. It was uniquely me. I wasn’t trying to paint like anyone else, though naturally I was influenced by many wonderful artists. So, my work was unique in a city that was filled with hungry artists trying to recreate the masters.

So what’s my point? My point is, don’t believe everything your read and only half of what you see. The world is made up of magic and illusion. Do your own thing. Make it unique to you. Don’t try to copy or emulate others, you’ll never succeed unless you are you.

Art doesn’t lie. Sure it fakes and misleads but it does so openly, whether it’s fiction-writing or an artistic interpretation of a seascape. Be it a photo-shopped image of the Grand Canyon, manipulated for the sake of art, it openly fakes the truth and therefore it is not a lie. Don’t dishonour this concept by trying to be someone other than who you are.

As for 10,000-hours make you a success, in my opinion its a load of CRAP. There is no FORMULA written in stone for success. There are things you can do to help achieve, but they vary in style and aptitude and attitude for every single individual. What works for me will not work for the next person.anigif_enhanced-buzz-14927-1382223438-15

Yes hone your craft. Practice your art. Get involved with groups and mentors and fellow artists and learn from them, but don’t think… “OK, so I’ve worked it out, I have done 7,892-hours, I’m almost there…” because if you do get to 10,000-hours and have not achieved what you call success, you’ll feel a failure. And you are NOT. As much as it would be great to believe there is a magic number, there is not. Timing, luck, persistence, patience, positive attitude, respecting others and hard work is all part of the equation. Some people write their first novel and it’s brilliant and becomes a best seller and is made into a movie and they live happily ever after. Others may write ten novels before they break through. And still other’s many never reach the best seller list.

anigif_enhanced-26837-1398300220-21As for natural (born) talent, I’m still of two minds on this one. I truly believe everyone can draw and paint however we become conditioned to believe we cannot because when we were eight, or ten, or twelve someone was better at it than us and we began to believe we were not good at drawing or painting. Having said that, great singers, in my opinion, are born. You can improve your voice with 10,000-hours, but I don’t think you can be truly great (and I’m not talking famous, I’m talking brilliant voice) if you were not born with the right vocal cords.

I started this post asking if the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance? The truth is, I believe, it’s both, but it is the part in our genes that doesn’t allow us to give up that makes the difference not our skill with a quill or brush or ebony & ivory keys. And it is the willingness to go the extra work, the marketing, self-promotion, mingling, learning, studying the greats while maintaining our individuality that will make us stand out, not the number of hours clocked.

Devil-wears-Prada-gifs-Miranda-Priestly-Emily-Blunt9_zpsb87dd4b3Yes do the hours. But no don’t do them as you would a class, something to “over-and-done-with” but rather as an avenue to achieving your personal objectives.

And do not let ANYONE tell you to GIVE UP because frankly, they are wrong, wrong, wrong.

Failure and rejection is part of success. I’m serious. The more times you fail, the more likely you are to know what success is. And while we are on the subject of genius and 10,000, I’ll leave you with this quote by Thomas Edison regarding inventing the light bulb:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

How to Get a Book Review – or the Art of Launching without becoming a Nuisance!

nestpitch:

Thought this had some great reviewer links & overall useful information

Originally posted on Lost Lynx Publishing & Media Blog:

imagesReviews – Getting what you want!

I have a confession to make. I’m a bit of an internet snoop. I troll, stalk, errh check-out dozens of author blog sites, and when I say AUTHOR I mean that in very context, traditionally published fiction & non-fiction author’s, self-published, aspiring, New York Times and Major Prize Winning author’s and the little guys.. In other words, I’m interested in everyone from traditional to hybrid, to self-published to as-yet-unpublished.

All of these sub-groups of authors have numerous things in common, especially “getting-word-out” marketing needs. And lately I’ve been seeing a lot of“How do I get my book reviewed” tweets, questions on LinkedIn and on Blogs. And it’s a fair enough question. If you don’t have an agent, and/or a medium to larger publisher, you’ll need to do a lot of marketing yourself.

Let me repeat that. Even with a publisher behind…

View original 2,068 more words

Brenda Drake’s #Pitchwars is back – & 3 of the Nestpitch team are Mentors!

tumblr_lhjnfsdULm1qzp85mo1_500Hello All,

Well as many of you know, the tireless Brenda Drake has once again put together an awesome team of Mentors for #PitchWars 2014.

If you haven’t heard of #Pitchwars or Brenda Drake, I recommend you follow her blog here: http://www.brenda-drake.com/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/brendadrake

You’ll also find information aplenty on her blog about pitchwars & other comps she hosts, about Brenda and lots of little tips and helpful hints on sharpening your writing.

When I started #Nestpitch, my intention was to make this blog

  • Home base for information on #Nestpitchtumblr_mf8yzcCvsM1rwiv0vo1_250
  • A centre for general writing information and links
  • A place for good and great news
  • a reference point for other competitions I know are run by exceptional people.

Which is why I’m recommending #Pitchwars.

Now, it would be best if you read Brenda’s blog posts for the complete run-down, but basically #Pitchwars is for MG, YA, NA & Adult (completed) manuscripts. Those authors/manuscripts selected will have one-on-one mentoring for the next 10-12 weeks to make their manuscript shine even more brightly, at which point, they will be let loose on a selected and extraordinary group of agents – who will then make their requests.

But there’s another reason why this years Pitchwars means so much to me. Three of my #Nestpitch team are Mentors. We have:

Sharon Johnson: – twitter – https://twitter.com/S_M_Johnston – Blog: http://downunderwonderings.blogspot.com.au/

Dannie Morin: – Twitter -  https://twitter.com/Dannie_Morin - Blog: http://dcmorin.blogspot.com.au/

Stacey Trombley:- Twitter -   https://twitter.com/Trombolii   Blog: http://www.staceytrombley.com/

Plus there’s more than 70 other Mentor’s to pick from!

So, time to check out Brenda’s list of Mentors and her rules and guidelines… and folks, please follow the guidelines. Setting up, coordinating and hosting comps is hard, it helps a lot if everyone follows rules and guidelines.

Best of luck to everyone  :)

Friendly-Fire-Feedback no3. YA Contemporary – Comments Welcome

First Page Workshop – no.3Twin_Scythes___Fire_Circle_by_MattTheSamurai

Today we have the last of our three blog posts under the Friendly-fire-feedback banner. Please note, I am in Australia so we are (currently) 14-hours ahead of the USA EST, so, depending on where you’re located, you may see this on the evening before.  Below you’ll see the fist page without my notes and then with my suggestions beneath that. This way you can read the 1st page without my notes interrupting your rhythm.

And of course, comments are most welcome, in fact I insist! (lol) – please note, comments will be moderated, so play nice! 

28th July

Category/Genre:  YA Contemporarytumblr_mzsnmcm69L1sner72o3_400

Word Count: 60,000

Last night, someone accused Gabbie Vanhout of having sex with Mr. Stevenson.  It allegedly happened backstage after the drama club meeting on Thursday. It’s all over Trumbullconfessional.com.   It’s an anonymous gossip site made by a couple of seniors from back
when the Internet was still dial-up. Mostly it’s just bullshit, people looking to score drugs, find the latest party, or just spread lies.  But sometimes you hit confessional gold.  Gabbie always has hair that looks like she stuck her finger in an electrical socket before coming to first period.  She wears steel-toed combat boots, all black clothes, and barely speaks to anyone.  There are rumors she drank bleach after taking finals last year.

The gossip is intriguing is because she likes to flirt with Mr. Stevenson.  You can only catch it if you’re paying attention.  She’ll stay at his desk a little too long—sometimes she’ll drop a piece of paper, a pencil, and fumble to grab it in a short black skater dress.  Of course online, the conversation quickly veered towards the obscene, but the fact that someone else noticed what I had known for a while was interesting.

I brush foundation on my face, sweep blush over my cheeks and bronzer in the hollows of my neck and on my forehead.  Sometimes I am so pale I worry people will think I’m albino.  My vanity lights don’t help anything either.  Gold eyeshadow, black eyeliner, and black mascara make me look somewhat more presentable, and concealer covers the dark circles under my eyes.  I skip drying my hair and braid it into a fish thing I read in one of my sister Steph’s old magazines.  I shimmy into jeans, a fitted tank top, and grab a granola bar- I never really was a breakfast person. GYBeiUq

I pour myself the last bit of coffee from the pot my mom made probably two hours ago, and nuke it in the microwave.  My shiny white phone bleeps.

Anything interesting on the tangled web last night Birdie? Jack Stewart always calls me Birdie even though my real name is Melissa. He says it’s because it’s always good to have a little birdie tell you secrets.

Just Gabbie Vanhout drama I answer.  Pouring milk into my coffee I quickly scroll through morning status updates. “Ugh Halzer’s comp sci test.” is the only one I identify with.

Debrief at lunch? Jack asks and I roll my eyes.  Sometimes I think he thinks we’re like detectives or something, trying our hardest to find the juiciest school dirt.  And in a way we are.  Jack likes to be in the know on everything, even though he doesn’t run with “the core” the popular crowd’s self-imposed nickname.  Jack’s a Junior too.

I answer Jack: kk.  I swallow my last sip of coffee before I hear Delilah laying on the horn.  I grab my backpack from the front door and race down the sidewalk. She has a cute boxy Jeep to go with her small frame and big personality.

 hunger-games-katnissWith my Notes:

Last night, someone accused Gabbie Vanhout of having sex with Mr. Stevenson.  It allegedly happened backstage after the drama club meeting on Thursday. It’s all over Trumbullconfessional.com.   It’s an anonymous gossip site made by a couple of seniors from back when the Internet was still dial-up. Mostly it’s just bullshit, people looking to score drugs, find the latest party, or just spread lies.  But sometimes you hit confessional gold (love this line!).  Gabbie always has hair that looks like she stuck her finger in an electrical socket before coming to first period.  She wears steel-toed combat boots, all black clothes, and barely speaks to anyone.  There are rumors she drank bleach after taking finals last year.

The gossip is intriguing is because she likes to flirt with Mr. Stevenson.  You can only catch it if you’re paying attention.  She’ll stay at his desk a little too long—sometimes she’ll drop a piece of paper, a pencil, and fumble to grab it in a short black skater dress.  Of course online, the conversation quickly veered towards the obscene, but the fact that someone else noticed what I had known for a while was interesting. (have you noticed I’m not making many comments? That’s because this is working for me. It has voice and cheekiness and it has a direction; I already trust the author)

I brush foundation on my face, sweep blush over my cheeks and bronzer in the hollows of my neck and on my forehead.  Sometimes I muttationsam so pale I worry people will think I’m albino.  My vanity lights don’t help anything either.  Gold eyeshadow, black eyeliner, and black mascara make me look somewhat more presentable, and concealer covers the dark circles under my eyes.  I skip drying my hair and braid it into a fish thing (again, this is great, I can totally imagine this – great showing!) I read in one of my sister Steph’s old magazines.  I shimmy into jeans, a fitted tank top, and grab a granola bar- I never really was a breakfast person.

I pour myself the last bit of coffee from the pot my mom made probably two hours ago, and nuke it in the microwave.  My shiny white phone bleeps.

Anything interesting on the tangled web last night Birdie? Jack Stewart always calls me Birdie even though my real name is Melissa. He says it’s because it’s always good to have a little birdie tell you secrets. (again, I’m convinced that Birdie is a great nickname, given
what I already know)

Just Gabbie Vanhout drama,” (don’t forget this is Dialogue) I answer.  Pouring milk into my coffee I quickly scroll through morning status updates. “Ugh Halzer’s comp sci test.” is the only one I identify with.tumblr_m37r81Cvbu1qbojrlo1_400b

Debrief at lunch? Jack asks and I roll my eyes.  Sometimes I think he thinks we’re like detectives or something, trying our hardest to find the juiciest school dirt.  And in a way we are (I’d remove this, it’s telling, and it’s kind of obvious & it’s not needed).  Jack likes to be in the know on everything, even though he doesn’t run with “the core” the popular crowd’s self-imposed nickname.  Jack’s a Junior too.

I answer Jack: kk.  I swallow my last sip of coffee before I hear Delilah laying on the horn.  I (comma) grab my backpack from the front door and race down the sidewalk.  (consider removing the extra “I” – you’re going to have a lot of “I’s” because of the present tense, remove wherever you can. Plus this becomes a more active image) She has a cute boxy Jeep to go with her small frame and big personality.

B0nJldxNOTES:

Well, I don’t know about others, but I’d pick this up and keep reading in a heartbeat! Yes there are changes I’d make and the author will likely do more work after feedback, but, if this turned up in #Nestpitch, I’d be voting for it!

Friendly-Fire-Feedback no2. Adult Psychological Thriller – Comments Welcome

ImageProxy.gif 20jun

First Page Workshop – no.2 Today we have the second of our three blog posts under the Friendly-fire-feedback banner. After this there will be one more in the 28th, another YA (contemporary). Also please note, I am in Australia so … Continue reading

Friendly-Fire-Feedback no.1 Young Adult Magical Realism – Comments Welcome

catfightFirst Page Workshop

For those of you who submitted their first pages and/or those that didn’t but are following this blog, you’ll know that today is the first of three blog posts on 1-pages feedback. There will also be one on the 21st and the 28th of July. Just a quick reminder, I am in Australia so we are (currently) 14-hours ahead of the USA EST, so, depending on where you’re located, you may see this on the evening before.  I have selected 2x YA and 1x Adult, all in different genre’s, in this way I hope more people will get something from the feedback. I have included the 1-page without my notes and then with my suggestions below. This way you can read the 1st page without my notes interrupting your rhythm.

21st July will be an Adult Psychological Thriller  &  28th July will be an  YA Contemporary

And of course, comments are most welcome, in fact I insist! (lol) – please note, comments will be moderated, so play nice :)

14th July

 Category/Genre: YA Magical Realism

Word Count: 77,000

Colton ditched me for his girlfriend when we got to the party. I pulled down the service trail we used to sneak into the beach at Hanna Park, and I’d kept my headlights on to keep from scraping my car on the palmettos. The low beams swept across the row of cars and the tree line to land on her short, tanned legs.

She dragged Colton out of the car the second he opened the door, and they disappeared before I even cut the engine. That feeling of abandonment burned. Now I had to show up alone. People only invited me to these parties for two reasons: 1. Colton was my best friend, and 2. I came in handy as a designated driver because my liver’s shot from this genetic disorder.

I headed down the wooded path toward the yellow-orange glow of the bonfire. When I topped the dunes, my feet sank into the dry sand. Hanna Park was protected from the condos farther south, making it a refuge for locals, and the memory of coconut sunscreen clung to the breeze. Off to my right the party raged, a jumble of bodies around the fire and a bad playlist blaring from mini speakers. But to the left the night was all black water and white moonlight catching on the breakers.

I kicked off my shoes and walked to the shoreline, but my toe caught when I crossed onto the hard-packed dampness. I pulled a thin red ribbon from beneath my foot. It slipped from my fingers and caught on the wind, swirling toward a girl sitting alone on a rental chair.

I should’ve gone to her. Taken my chance to talk to a girl one-on-one. But a jab of knuckles hit me square in the back as Jake Morgan jogged past. I gritted my teeth and tried not to flinch.

“I thought I felt my gaydar going off! Glad you could make it, Evan Evans.” Jake’s high-pitched laugh rang in my ears as he pulled a piece of driftwood toward the fire.

“I’m gonna punch you in the ovary, Morgan.” It was a quote from the movie Anchorman, and a fair comeback, but some girl shot me a dirty look.

Anger knifed its way through my chest. I shoved my hands in my pockets and stared at the crashing waves. I don’t know why I thought senior year would be different, but two weeks in and it was all the same. I had no real friends except Colton. I’d never had a girlfriend. No wonder people thought I was gay. It was time I walked out of the shadows. Before the night was over, I had to ask a girl out. A little liquid courage seemed like a step in the right direction.

I cut through the crowd of the party, fished a can from the cooler, and cracked it open before my conscience could stop me.

“Dude.” Colton appeared from nowhere and grabbed my arm. “What are you doing?” 

With my Notes:

Colton ditched me for his girlfriend when we got to the party. I pulled down the service trail we used to sneak into the beach at Hanna Park, and I’d kept my headlights on to keep from scraping my car on the palmettos. The low beams swept across the row of cars and the tree line to land on her short, tanned legs.

She dragged Colton out of the car the second he opened the door, and they disappeared before I even cut the engine. That feeling of abandonment burned. Now I had to show up alone. People only invited me to these parties for two reasons: 1. Colton was my best friend, and 2. I came in handy as a designated driver because my liver’s shot from this genetic disorder. (I’d recommend not telling us everything instantly, by finishing on Liver’s Shot, it has the reader thinking and making conclusions. It doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong at this point, only that they become invested)

I headed down the wooded path toward the yellow-orange glow of the bonfire. When I topped the dunes, my feet sank into the dry sand. Hanna Park was protected from the condos farther south, making it a refuge for locals, and the memory of coconut sunscreen clung to the breeze. Off to my right the party raged, a jumble of bodies around the fire and a bad playlist blaring from mini speakers. But to the left the night was all black water and white moonlight catching on the breakers. (nice line, very good imagery)

I kicked off my shoes and walked to the shoreline, but my toe caught when I crossed onto the hard-packed dampness. I pulled a thin red ribbon from beneath my foot. It slipped from my fingers and caught on the wind, swirling toward a girl sitting alone on a rental chair( I have no idea what a RENTAL CHAIR is?)

I should’ve gone to her. Taken my chance to talk to a girl one-on-one. But a jab of knuckles hit me square in the back as Jake Morgan jogged past. I gritted my teeth and tried not to flinch.

“I thought I felt my gaydar going off! Glad you could make it, Evan Evans.” Jake’s high-pitched laugh rang in my ears as he pulled a piece of driftwood toward the fire.

“I’m gonna punch you in the ovary, Morgan.” It was a quote from the movie Anchormanand a fair comeback, but some girl shot me a dirty look.

Anger knifed its way through my chest. (Why is Evan angry? I got lonely, frustrated, irritated, but I didn’t get angry?) I shoved my hands in my pockets and stared at the crashing waves. I don’t know why I thought senior year would be different, but two weeks in and it was all the same. I had no real friends except Colton. I’d never had a girlfriend. No wonder people thought I was gay. It was time I walked out of the shadows. Before the night was over, I had to ask a girl out. A little liquid courage seemed like a step in the right direction.

I cut through the crowd of the party, fished a can from the cooler, and cracked it open before my conscience could stop me.

“Dude.” Colton appeared from nowhere and grabbed my arm. “What are you doing?”

1303815445_bunny-noseFinal thoughts:

If you mix this up a bit then you can finish with Evan ignoring his *medical advice* of never drinking… opening the can and having Colton come over.

Over all, I liked this. I liked the MC and the way you were weaving him through the crowd of people, but I’m a little worried it does sound like “the lonely outsider with the most popular kid in school best friend” which is why I’d recommend taking out the genetic thing in the beginning and adding it later on. I know it might seem it should be the other way around, but think of it this way.

That first para or two should be the meet&greet of the MC. Let the reader invest in them and/or the story (each genre dictates different things). Once you get to para 3/4/5 there should be a hint of what’s to come, or who else might have a stake in this story. By the time you are on page 2, the reader should get a feel for what makes this MC different/believable/interesting enough to care.

If you give too much in para 1-2, it can be information overload, and the reader may well forget something vital. But if you give nothing by page two that makes the MC unique and/or interesting, the reader may think the story is a rehash.

It is a balancing act, and it is also very much individual taste/personal opinion – it’ll be interesting to see what other’s think.