Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ah...where to start? That is the question

We've all heard that the first words in our manuscripts are the most important. How many times have we gone into bookstores and libraries and been inundated with books on shelves pleading, screaming, and some silently hoping that we pick them? Almost like Donkey in Shrek bouncing up and down squealing "pick me, pick me!"

Covers, blurbs, and the first page may well be the choice factor in getting your readers to trust you and read.

No pressure, right?

Brenda Drake is having a Hook a Teen Blogfest. Check it out here.

Here's my entry of the first 251 words of Angel (working title), YA Supernatural Thriller/Romance.  I haven't quite leaned towards a genre yet.  ☺

Any words of wisdom to make this stronger?

It started with the beef noodles and ended with a flying baseball and a missile in the shape of a fork. Not a totally bad beginning to the summer break.  Almost the norm if it hadn't ended up with Angel sitting outside the nurse’s office instead of in the principal's office.   She was definitely in big trouble.
            "What happened this time?" Mrs. Margot asked, cracking an ice pack and setting it gently on Angel’s eye. Angel winced preferring something for her wounded pride but didn't mention it.
            "He started it," Angel defended, a part truth in the scheme of things.  
            Mrs. Margot raised a brow and cocked her head. "He? Did you already fight with all the girls in your class and now are starting with the boys?"
            Angel smirked. Her favorite person in Hell High. The nurse, counselor, and all around good gal when it came to kids with high emotional needs, Mrs. Margot calmed Angel...most of the time. "What kind of guy would hit a girl?" Angel retorted.
            "A guy defending his right to live, maybe?" Mrs. Margot stepped away and cocked a brow.  
            "That's an overstatement don't you think?"
            "Not when it comes to you." Mrs. Margot leaned her small yet solid frame against the wall opposite Angel and folded her arms in front of her. "Did he really hit you?"
            Matthew Tyler, jock extraordinaire, had whirled and threw Angel the baseball after she sent a fork careening towards his eye in an effort to gouge it out.  

Adding a shameless plug...I am looking for a critique partner/beta or two for this one. If you're interested shoot me an email at   Thanks for reading!


  1. I love your opening. It sums everything up and did make me smile.

    Everything else, in my opinion, flowed well except for the line: "Did you already fight with all the girls in your class and now are starting with the boys?"

    To me, there's something about it that just sounded awkward. It's not what she's trying to say, it's how she says it. Maybe you could try rephrasing???

    But then this is only my opinion. Others, including you, may see differently. Other than that, it was really good. Thanks for the read.

  2. Very interesting. I'd be curious to know the ages of the characters. I imagine them in middle school, since it started with throwing things at each other.

  3. I like this, too and agree with DRC's comment. The same line made me pause, too even tho I knew exactly what was meant. Definitely curious as to why she wanted to take someone's eye out!

  4. Thanks for reading! Will look at that dialogue line and I was worried about it sounding middle grade in the beginning. I wanted to start with a fight. Will continue to brainstorm. =)

  5. I love that opening line! It definitely made me want to find out what the heck was going on.

  6. Great opening line. I laughed and it drew me quickly in. I agree with DRC about the one line. Also, the last line of it. Did Matthew whirl around or did he whirl the baseball before throwing it at Angel?

  7. Hi,

    I liked this a lot, especially Angel's character. She sounds like a little spitfire.

    I did think the first few words of the second sentence were awkward - Maybe "Not totally a bad," instead. I also noticed you described Mrs. Margot twice with the same movements: about raising her brow and cocking her head.

    Other than that, I am hooked as to what Angel's story is, and Mrs. Margot seems to know more about it than anyone, and since she's in a power position, this creates some interesting pressures/conflicts with Angel.

    Good job.

  8. Love the beginning image! I'm all about setting up the opening image rather than jumping in with guns blazing and lives in peril. :)

  9. Great voice! Personally, I liked the line: "Did you already fight with all the girls in your class and now are starting with the boys?"

    When describing the principal, I'd just say "small, solid frame".

    I also felt this read more MG than YA. I'm not sure a teen would fight with more than snotty words and maybe a fist, especially if it's Angel. :0)

    Oh, and if it's summer break, why is she still in school?

    I'm also a campaigner, so I'm glad I'm finally getting around to more blogs! Christy

  10. Opening line is great. It makes me wonder what she did to get to that point.

    Most of the comments above already mentioned the things that caught my attention. It's a good start and I want to read more. I love characters with attitude.

  11. I think this is a strong beginning. I liked the voice. It didn't seem to try too hard to be snotty-sarcastic. It felt organic. I like the characters, they seem solid and real.

    I was aslo confused by the reference to it being summer break but then she's at the school. I first read nurse to mean at the ER or maybe an instant care clinic. Serious double take on that one.

    You'll also want to watch your dialogue tags. You've got a lot of "Angel defended," "Angel retorted," It's telling and not showing.

    Nice job. Good luck!

  12. Everyone else already voiced my concerns, so I'll just say that I loved the voice and I smirked several times while reading it. Great opening and good luck with the contest! <3

  13. This is not my favorite genre, but I loved this opening. The voice is great. It might be too abrasive for some, but I'm sure that the characterization later would hook them.

  14. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your first sentence!!!!!!!

    Great opening.

  15. Hmmm... I think you mean a fork was used AS a missile, not that there was a missile in the shape of a fork, right? Also, since it starts with one thing flying, it should end with one thing flying, not two, 'cause which of the two was the actual last thing thrown? The first line suggests it was the fork thrown last, but your very last sentence contradicts that since the baseball was thrown in retaliation for the fork.

    I liked the voice and the setup, but I found a lot of your sentences to be awkward... like, if you read the sentence "Angel winced preferring something for her wounded pride but didn't mention it." out loud, it feels kind of jerky. If you stopped after 'winced' it would help, especially since you're mixing 'ed' words in with 'ing' words.

    The dialogue tags felt awkward, too... 'Angel defended', 'Angel retorted'.Just using 'said' would be way smoother.

    I'm really curious to see where this goes! I'd turn the page :)

  16. Wow...thanks everyone. This was awesome. I got some more work to do but that's always a good thing. =)

    Thanks again!


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