Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can You Hook a Teen?

That's what we are striving for isn't it?  Well, maybe not all of you guys, but a good handful anyway.  Well this week we get the chance to find out if our writing can hook a teen's interest enough to want to read our masterpieces.  Brenda Drake is hosting a contest.  click over to see the rules and play along.

Rules:  Post 250 words of your manuscript and on September 21st and 22nd.  Then Post it in the comments on the 23rd of you blog.  Doesn't sound hard and the prizes are pretty darn good.  So, here is my first 250 words.

Lightweight (working title)

I never saw it coming. The impact sent lighting bolts of pain through my jaw. I saw stars as the tunnel vision blocked my sight. Then I felt my body smashed against the brick wall behind me. I needed to defend myself. I lifted my arms to block my face. I knew I couldn't stand much more. I thought about how I got here. It was stupid really, if you thought about it. All I did was try to do something right for once.

Flash back#
Jose was bothering this girl, Michelle who was sitting with Mary outside by the steps at lunch reading a book. I told him to leave her alone, she was minding her own business. I saw no need to cause trouble that day. I wasn't in the mood.
You're not needed here Tony, get out of here. Can't you see I'm busy talking to Michelle?”
I saw Michelle hunch her shoulders trying to ignore Jose and go back to her book.
She doesn't look like she wants to talk to you.” I got up and stood between them.
Come on Michelle, put the book down and let's go for a walk.” Jose said reaching past me. Jose tried to take the book out of Michelle's hand.
I'd rather not.” Michelle bravely looking up at Jose.
That's enough Jose.” I was getting upset.
Come on Michelle, let's go to the parking lot.” Jose pushed me out of the way, grabbed Michelle's arm and pulled her along.
Get off of me.” Michelle stood up to him. I had never seen a girl stand up to Jose before. 

Your turn to join in on the fun.  Let me know what you think and post your 250 words! 


  1. I just found out about this today. I'm too late to do the blogfest, but I think I might just enter the contest.

    Good luck!

  2. That's a great excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Brings up a lot of questions. Great piece!

  4. Hello, Cynthia. I'm doing my rounds, critiquing as many other entries as I can before I pass out.

    I like this. I'm into stories that start off with action, but a few things you need to be cautious of. This is what publishers consider a "false action beginning" It's similar to a prolog that starts off with action that's not really the start of the story to try to hook the reader in. Generally, I've heard it's frowned upon. Your first chapter is supposed to be a "promise" to the reader about how the rest of you novel is. Now, if all of your novel is like this, then this will probably fly. However, if you are just trying to make your beginning more interesting than maybe it actually is, you may want to consider starting somewhere else. (I had to do this myself--like ten times)

    Anyway... general stuff.

    Cut the word "flashback" unless you are going to do this throughout the novel. I think it's obvious what's happening.

    "I felt my body" -- general tell words. Show us what she felt instead of telling us she felt it.

    "I needed to defend myself" -- classic tell. Show us. What's going on? Why? If you just want to say it, make it an inner though instead.

    "I knew I couldn't stand much more" Much more what? Is she being blown by a twister? Shot by a gun over and over? Beat up?

    "I thought about how I got here," -- "if you thought about it". Two "thought abouts" too close together. I'd drop the "I thought about how I got here." It's too telly anyway.

    The entire beginning of the flashback is a tell sequence. You are telling the reader what happened instead of showing them. Write it out if it is important, or cut it completely.

    Punctuation: walk,” Jose said

    I think you're missing a word here: I'd rather not.” Michelle bravely looking up at Jose. (Is it supposed to be "Michelle said?")
    If so, comma after not. not," Michelle said, bravely looking up...

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

  5. This has a great voice. The beginning grabbed me in and then I was pulled out of the action and into the flashback. I agree with Jennifer suggestions above. Show us the action, instead of telling us. You might want to streamline your sentences. Such as this one -> “You're not needed here Tony, get out of here. Can't you see I'm busy talking to Michelle?” --> would be better like this --> "Get out of here, Tony. Can't you see I'm busy talking to Michelle?"

    The story is intriguing and I want to know if Tony is going to come through in the end or get his butt kicked. I love that he wants to help out Michelle, it shows his compassion, which is great character development. Wonderful and good luck with the contest! <3

  6. A quick note to say thank's for the advice. I'm editing it now, and trying to decide how to handle my first scene because I know I need to fix it. Thanks, for the idea of making it a prologue, it's a good one. The Flash Back# note is actually for me only, it's how I know where I am in the story as I write and edit. I should have taken that out. My bad.

    I won't have time to fix for this contest, but if anyone is interested in my round two edit for this scene, I'd love to get your feed back! Thanks!

  7. I really liked the beginning paragraph. I was totally hooked but then the flashback pulled by away from that a little. I think there could be more action there.

  8. I liked the action in the first section a lot, but some of the wording felt a little cliched (lightning bolts of pain, seeing stars). Try to find your own unique way to describe things rather than relying on other peoples' words.

    In the flashback, the tension and reaction seems overly dramatic for the situation. But maybe that's just because we don't know the characters enough to know if there is any real threat.