Author Topic: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)  (Read 1666 times)

Offline Plain_Jane

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Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« on: November 14, 2009, 11:51:24 PM »
I'm trying to rewrite the opening of my YA novel to make it slightly darker (I don't want it to read like middle grade), and to introduce the characters differently. Also, I'm trying for more of a hook. [Here is the original chapter: http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=24311.0]

This portion is in it's early stages, so it's pretty rough. I know I have a lot of editing to do, but I'm looking for feedback on the concept and whether or not this is interesting. Does the story hook you? Would you want to read more? If not, why?

Thanks so much for reading!


   He was a bad omen. Everytime I caught this boy following me, strange things happened. I gritted my teeth as I heard his feet crunch the gravel behind me. There was still a five minute walk before I would reach school and I doubted he would let me ignore him.

   “What do you want this time?” If he gave me one more cryptic message, I’d pummel him.

   “Who says I want anything?”

   I turned to glare. The sun made a bright halo around his lanky frame. He stood with his hands in his pockets, flicking his head to move dark bangs from his eyes. He had to be a foot taller than me. That was the perfect height for a good punch in the gut.

   “I’m not in the mood for this.” I spun around and kept walking.

   “Melanie, wait. I need to give you something.”

   He knew my name? I couldn’t get him to tell me a damn thing about himself or why he chose to stalk me all summer. Instead he disappeared and reappeared into my life at random and provided unexplained warnings designed to screw with my head. He had some nerve using a name I never gave him.

   I clenched my fist and quickened my pace. “I don’t want anything from you.”

   He grabbed my arm and twisted me around. His grip was tighter than I expected. He must have some muscle on him after all.

   “You’re going to need this.” He grabbed a bottle of blue gatorade from his bag and thrust it into my free hand.

   The blood left my face. I stumbled as I tried to back away. “Why am I going to need that?”

   “I don’t know.” His eyebrows furrowed. “Are you okay?”

   I yanked my arm away from him. “I don’t want it.” I threw the bottle, clipping his left leg.

   “Ow!”

   I hoped it hurt. I ran down the empty street wishing I had tied my hair back today. It swished behind me, rhythmically swatting my backpack.

   Why would I need the gatorade? I already had one in my bag. I was only going to school to pick up my books before classes started tomorrow. I didn’t imagine I would be doing anything that would make my blood sugar drop. And what did this guy know about my diabetes?

   “Mel,” the boy panted, “stop.”

   I rounded the corner. It was only one small hill before I reached the school grounds. I took longer strides to make it up the hill faster.

   “Mel.” A hand gripped my shoulder.

   “Get off me.” I darted to the side, but he was still running forward. His foot caught my leg and we fell to ground. I rolled backwards over him. My toe caught on his shirt and he came tumbling down the hill with me.

   When we reached the bottom, my face smashed into his arm.

   “Sorry.” He dropped his arm. “I was trying to catch you.”

   I was sprawled on top of him with my back arching over his knees. He groaned as I dug my elbow into his stomach and pushed myself up.

   “Thanks.” I tried to dust myself off, but it was a lost cause. I settled for removing the pebbles imbedded in my skin.

   The boy held out the gatorade bottle. “Please, just take it.”

   I didn’t want to trust him. I wanted to hate him, actually. Everytime I looked into his eyes, my hatred washed away. There was something very familiar about his eyes. Something that made me trust him. But I had never seen brown eyes like his, I was sure of it. They weren’t even all that special:  a clear, generic, dark brown. It made absolutely no sense to me.

   “I’ll take the bottle if you tell me your name.”

   His eyes flashed in a menancing way I had never seen before. “No.”

   “You know my name.” I held my hands behind my back so he couldn’t shove the gatorade into my hand again. I was getting his name.

   He stared at me for a long time. So long, I wanted to ignore him and start walking to school again. I refused to make the first move though.

   “Joel.” He pushed the bottle toward me. “And watchout for skateboards.”

   What?

   Joel was half-way up the hill and clearly done with me.

   Seriously? Skateboards?

Offline Jazmin

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2009, 05:23:37 AM »
Hey Jane,
I enjoyed reading this, and think it is looking to be a much catchier beginning than the last chapter. I definitely want to read on. Melanie is a strong character, and I think you portray the YA mindset/attitude well through her. It didn't feel quite dark enough for me though... I think this might be largely due to the fact that I instantly began to like the boy - do you still want the writer to be creeped out by him? You did well to explain his creepiness through Mel, but I think that his actions and dialogue here prevent her opinion from totally affecting my own. He seems a little too well-meaning (pleading with her to do something that he clearly thinks will help her - perhaps too emotionally involved?), while Mel seems overly harsh in the way that she treats him.
If you could show more of the creepiness/darkness that has lead to the way that Mel feels about him, it would be better...?

I liked the ideas in the old chapter too, I hope you're still keeping them for Chapter 2.

Hope this helps/makes sense...
The correct usage of an ellipsis...is for the removal of greenfly from a rosebush.

Offline Michelle. V. Thorpe

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2009, 08:14:15 AM »
I really enjoyed reading this. I am looking forward to reading more.
well done! :D
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Offline Plain_Jane

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2009, 12:01:42 PM »
Thank you so much Jazmin and mvt09. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Jazmin, I understand what you are saying about the creepiness. I actually want the reader to feel as if they like Joel. (Sidenote:  Joel is not the same person as the creepy skateboarder in the original chapter.) I may try to demonstrate Mel's frustration a bit clearer though, so the reader is able to see both sides. Also, I definitely plan on using the first version of chapter one. Last night, I was thinking about combining the two chapters. Maybe I'd have Mel walking to the soccer game instead of to school. Then, I'm going to make some changes in the original chapter and have her meet the creepy skateboarder.

Thanks again for the comments. They were very helpful.

Offline Jazmin

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2009, 03:33:48 PM »
Ohh I'm glad he's not the skateboarder (I really should've realised that when he was warning her about them...?) and that we're meant to like him. This you have managed well then; I liked him despite Mel's opinion - though it would still be good to see a little more of both sides.  I think that combining the other chapter with this would work nicely, make sure you post it if/when you do!
The correct usage of an ellipsis...is for the removal of greenfly from a rosebush.

Offline Opus

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2009, 12:49:46 AM »
PJ,

I am not into YA, but I would like to encourage you nonetheless.

This is a very interesting passage that makes us want to know who Joel turns out to be, why he thinks she will need the Gatorade, and what happens to her after they go their separate ways.  I love your dialogue.  There are not a lot of "he saids" and "she saids".  Maybe you do need some, but there is a natural flow to your characters' interaction that works well.

BTW:  I am a grammar fiend, and I always try to offer a few tips when I provide thoughts on a passage submitted for review.  "Every time" is two words and not one as is also "watch out".  "Gatorade" should be capitalized because it is a proper noun.  In the third sentence of the seventh paragraph, "instead" should be separated with a comma.  I would offer more, but I don't want to discourage you--especially in light of your later post on your frustration with editing.

Kind regards,
Opus

Offline Plain_Jane

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2009, 11:36:28 AM »
Thanks, Jazmin. I'm glad this clears things ups for a bit.

Opus, thanks so much for your thoughts and encouragement. I appreciate your comments on the grammar too. Like I said, this is very rough, so I'm sure I have tons of errors. Actually, I even corrected a few of yours last night during my last read through.  ;D  I'll get right on those other ones now. Thanks!

Offline booklover214

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2009, 07:52:43 PM »
I really enjoyed reading your story.  I will be waiting for more.  We are never to old to enjoy YA stories and books.  I like the mystery.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2009, 04:24:44 PM by booklover214 »

Offline TaraLC

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2009, 09:16:11 PM »
You say the boy is a bad omen but this passage leads me to think he's more troubled than anything. I like the dialogue and you have some great action sentences here. There is also some rather passive language and I've made a few suggestions.

   He was a bad omen. Every time I caught this boy following me, strange things happened. This is something I'm famous for and learning how to correct. This sentence "tells" us but doesn't "show" us why he was a bad omen. Tell us what strange things happen.I gritted my teeth as I heard his feet crunch the gravel behind me. There was still a five minute walk before I would reach school and I doubted he would let me ignore him.This sentence would be stronger and carry the ominous tone more if it was more active than passive. I couldn't ignore him and I did not think he would let me. The five minutes to get to the school suddenly seemed much longer and I picked up my pace.

   “What do you want this time?” If he gave me one more cryptic message, I’d pummel him. I said turning to challenge him.

   “Who says I want anything?”

   I turned to glare. The sun made a bright halo around his lanky frame. He stood with his hands in his pockets, flicking his head to move dark bangs from his eyes. He had to be a foot taller than me. That was the perfect height for a good punch in the gut.He stopped abruptly, his hands jammed in his pockets. Sunlight created a bright halo around his lanky frame which towered a good foot or more over me. The perfect height for a punch in the gut I thought strategically.

   “I’m not in the mood for this.” I spun around and resumed walking.

   “Melanie, wait. I need to give you something.”

   He knew my name? I couldn’t get him to tell me a damn thing about himself or why he chose to stalk me all summer. Instead he disappeared and reappeared into my life at random and provided unexplained warnings designed to screw with my head. again telling. What did he do to mess with this characters head?He had some nerve using a name I never gave him.

   I clenched my fist and quickened my pace. “I don’t want anything from you.”

   He grabbed my arm and twisted me around. His grip was tighter than I expected. He must have some muscle on him after all. He grabbed my arm forcing me to face him, the surprisingly tight grip revealing an unforeseen strength.

   “You’re going to need this.” He grabbed a bottle of blue Gatorade from his bag and thrust it into my free hand.

   The blood left my face. I stumbled as I tried to back away. “Why am I going to need that?”

   “I don’t know.” His eyebrows furrowed. “Are you okay?”

   I yanked my arm away from him. “I don’t want it.” I threw the bottle, clipping his left leg.

   “Ow!”

   I hoped it hurt. I ran down the empty street wishing I had tied my hair back today. It swished behind me, rhythmically swatting my backpack.

   Why would I need the Gatorade? I already had one in my bag. I was only going to school to pick up my books before classes started tomorrow. I didn’t couldn'timagine I would be doing anything that would make my blood sugar drop. And what did this guy know about my diabetes?

   “Mel,” the boy panted, “stop.”

   I rounded the corner. It was only one small hill before I reached the school grounds. I took longer strides to make it up the hill faster.

   “Mel.” A hand gripped my shoulder.

   “Get off me.” I darted to the side, but he was still running forward. His foot caught my leg and we fell to ground. I rolled backwards over him. My toe caught on his shirt and he came tumbling down the hill with me. Great action and showing!

   When we reached the bottom, my face smashed into his arm. We hit the bottom in a tangle by face painfully smashing into his arm

   “Sorry.” He dropped his arm. “I was trying to catch you.”

   I was sprawled on top of him with my back arching over his knees. He groaned as I dug my elbow into his stomach and pushed myself up.

   “Thanks.” I tried unsuccessfullyto dust myself off, but it was a lost cause.I settled for removing the pebbles imbedded in my skin.

   The boy held out the gatorade bottle. “Please, just take it.”

   I didn’t want to trust him. I wanted to hate him, actually. Every time I looked into his eyes, my hatred washed away. There was something very familiar about his eyes. Something that made me trust him. But I had never seen brown eyes like his, I was sure of it. They weren’t even all that special:  a clear, generic, dark brown. It made absolutely no sense to me.

   “I’ll take the bottle if you tell me your name.”

   His eyes flashed menacing and cautiousin a menancing way I had never seen before. “No.”

   “You know my name.” I held my hands behind my back so he couldn’t shove the gatorade into my hand again. I was getting his name.

   He stared at me for a long time. So long, I wanted to ignore him and start walking to school again. I refused to make the first move though.

   “Joel...it's Joel” He pushed the bottle toward me. “Please take this andwatch out for skateboards.”

   What?

    Joel was half-way up the hill and clearly done with me.Ignoring me Joel mounting the hill in long effortless strides.

   Seriously? Skateboards?


Tara -
-------------------
Although taking risk does not guarantee success,
avoiding risk does guarantee failure.

Offline Plain_Jane

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Re: Young Adult novel opening (725 words)
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2009, 03:23:51 PM »
Sorry for my lateness...school has kept me away for the last week. :)

Booklover, I'm glad you enjoyed this. I posted the next section earlier (except, I thought it was going to be the opening, then decided to add this scene first). I'm hoping to present a revision that ties the two sections together sometime in the next day or so. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and I completely agree that we are never too old for YA stories.

Tara, thank you so much for your detailed critique. I've already started revising this, so some of your suggestions are already being taken care of. I will consider your other comments as I continue to revise. Thanks again!