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.

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3 thoughts on “Friendly-Fire-Feedback no.1 Young Adult Magical Realism – Comments Welcome

  1. Great start! I can’t offer much in the way of critique, but here are a few things:

    I’d like a better sense of whether the MC is male or female right away, and maybe a name (unless it’s Evan Evans, but the double name implies joke, so I’m not sure). Maybe you could insert it in the first few paragraphs when Colton is dragged from the car by his girlfriend. Colton could say something like, “later dude,” or “Evan, get out there, have some fun” (or whatever Colton might say. Colton silently leaving the car came across odd to me anyway, and it might be nice for him to speak. Wouldn’t a best friend say bye, or thanks for the ride, or whatever?)

    I love the imagery in your first 500. The “memory of coconut sunscreen clung to the breeze,” and the “black water and white moonlight catching on the breakers” are particularly nice. Excellent.

    Like Nikola said in her critique, leaving off “this genetic disorder” creates a nice hook in your first few pages.

    The “anger knifing through the MCs chest” should come right after Jake speaks, since I assume it’s a reaction to the gaydar comment. Where it is right now, it implies it’s in response to the girl shooting the dirty look. Also, is Jake female? Not sure how someone named Jake has an ovary, although it could be I just don’t get the joke.

    All the best this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, great imagery! The descriptions were vivid and love the setting of a high school beach party on the dunes. Lots of opportunity to learn about MC and possibly get him into trouble.

    I also had a little trouble knowing the gender (I thought it was a girl for most of it). I think it’s an easy fix by adding a line or two from Colton and possibly more of a reaction from the MC (does he think Colton’s girlfriend is hot, is he a little jealous of Colton and/or her getting his best friend’s time / attention). Would he actually say something (“I thought we were going to hang out”) and maybe that’s why he’s so upset and down on himself?

    Just a few ideas for a well done opening!

    Like

  3. Thank you guys so much for your feedback! Your comments all really resonated with me, and I revised and condensed those first three paragraphs into one. I hope that will help awkwardness of him getting to the water and with the gender confusion, too.

    This issue of how much to include of Evan’s disease has been a tough one. I did cut the “genetic disorder” part, though I’ve wondered if I should leave out the liver part completely at the beach. I don’t know if it creates a sense of wanting to know why he shouldn’t be drinking, or if it just seems confusing that way.

    I also did cut the rental chair line! I did’t think about that not being familiar to other people. In Florida we have semi-permanent, wooden lounge chairs and umbrellas on some beaches. The owners (from a resort, park, etc.) charge a daily fee to rent them so you don’t have to drag your own stuff out.

    Thank you all again so much!

    Like

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