Author Topic: A teen/girl book  (Read 2353 times)

Offline Mini

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A teen/girl book
« on: January 30, 2006, 09:58:29 AM »
Hi all,

I have written a book for teen girls, and thought I'd ask for your opinions before I try to edit it properly. Last time I did this i got some very useful feedback, so I'm hoping for more of the same, please. Here are the first 500 words.

Susan abandoned me outside room 1-01. Apparently I was to have French. What was the point of a ‘mentor’ who was not even in my first class, I wondered. I mean, a ‘mentor’ is supposed to show you around and introduce you to everyone. Mine was practically mute. Feeling anxious, I inspected the kids around me. One boy, in particular, drew my attention. He had a shock of red hair and the worst attack of freckles I have ever seen. He was stood hunched over the banister. I think he was trying to look down girls’ blouses as they walked up the stairs. Mind you, I am not sure how well he could see through his glasses, they resembled the bottoms of dirty milk bottles. I later found out the boy was called Ashley Pugh, and was he collectively ignored by the majority of the school, kids and teachers alike.

For as long as I can remember I have had a really bad habit, eavesdropping, and that day was no exception. I tuned into one group of girls who’s conversation sounded intriguing. They were gossiping about a teacher called ‘Beaky’. According to the girls she had a mean streak a mile wide. One of their mother’s had complained to the head about her verbal abuse. This ‘Beaky’ sounded like she belonged in a horror movie, not a boarding school. Hoping that I would not be in any of her classes, I continued to listen in as I thought about situation I found myself in. I was  just a new girl who arrived three weeks late. And I was beginning to think I was invisible, because nobody approached, or even acknowledge my existence.

I suppose I was suffering from a bit of a culture shock, I had spent my entire life at home cosseted by my parents. I hadn’t even been to a sleepover. Now I was at boarding school. “Brrrrr!” The bell interrupted my thoughts. I entered room 1-01 with the throng of children. Looking around the class, I decided a desk right in the middle might be less conspicuous.

“Oi! That’s my place. Move!” A very tall, solid looking girl evicted me from my seat. I rose silently and searched for another. Everyone else was sat down chatting. There was only one space left, a solitary desk, in a row all of its own. It was in the dreaded row, the front row. Disheartened I sat down all alone, with my head hung very low so that I could just see the children behind me.

Suddenly there was a chill in the air and the classroom grew dim. Silence descended. Then the classroom rumbled as twenty chairs scraped across the floor. I stood too. Inquisitive, I looked up. A teacher stood in the doorway. She was an elderly, stoutly built woman, who wore a scowl and bright pink lipstick. She sneered over her pince-nez unwelcomingly at the class. The pince-nez was perched precariously on the end of an enormous nose. My heart sank. Instant recognition. A nose like that could only belong to someone called ‘Beaky’.

“Bonjour, les enfants.” Her voice was high pitched and abrasive.

Offline ChipTee

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Re: A teen/girl book
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2006, 01:16:54 PM »
As I'm neither a girl nor teenager, my reaction may be off beam! Nor am I an editor, I struggle enough with my own grammar and tense, so no comment on that score.

I feel a good picture was painted of 'a new girl that arrived three weeks late'. The reader can identify with her and her isolation. Will she find a friend in Ashley Pugh?


Offline Mini

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Re: A teen/girl book
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2006, 07:27:44 AM »
Thanks Chip,

Umm, ... you made me think, I didn't introduce any of Chantelle's friends/allies, into the first chapter.

I've written it in the first person, but feel I should change it to the third.

I think I have done too much telling and not enough showing.
On the whole my grammar should be OK.

I've added the rest of the first chapter to see if you could give me a little more imput.

“Bonjour, Mademoiselle Haynes.” The class retorted in unison. Not knowing her name, I remained silent and listened. ‘That figures!’ I thought. From what the girls had been saying, I was not surprised she was an elderly spinster. As soon as Beaky indicated the class and I sat.

She looked directly at me, or perhaps, she merely looked through me because she failed to notice me. She must have chosen to ignore me. I thought that a new child sat all alone at the very front of the class would be highly noticeable. But it would appear I was wrong. Turning her back to the class, she pulled at the rotating board until the black board faced front and proceeded to write the date in French and a list of instructions and exercises that she required the class to complete.

Her voice ricocheted off the board as she ordered the class to turn to page 42. The rustle of paper meant that everyone behind me was looking for the required page. I looked round. Nobody offered to pass a book forward. Contemplating the situation I decided that my best course of action was to inform Miss Haynes that I did not have a book. Reluctantly I put up my hand, but her back was towards me. Aware that she was highly unlikely to see my outstretched arm, I had to gain her attention somehow. I tried the clearing throat approach. Surprisingly it took several attempts before she turned around to investigate the noise I was making.

“Oui!” came the screech.

“Er, I-I-I haven’t got a b-b-b book Miss.” I stammered under her malevolent gaze.

“En francais!” she ordered.

“Je ... n’ai pas ... une livre.” I tried hesitantly. She peered at me over the top of those silly looking half spectacles things and corrected me:

“Je n’ai pas un livre.” She emphasized the word un to make sure I understood that the book was masculine. Unsure what was expected of me next, I repeated the phrase in her corrected fashion. She scowled at me and proceeded to talk at me rapidly in french. It was more like a machine gun than a conversation. I stared at her feeling very stupid. I did not understand a single word that was being fired at me. Suddenly a thought entered my head. ‘She’s a witch.’ That pink lipstick and pince-nez were a poor disguise. Her hooked nose and gnarled features screamed witch. All she needed was a black pointed hat and a broom.

Beaky’s shrieking continued for ages. From her tone I presumed I was being told off for not having a book, but at last she stopped and pointed to a bookshelf. Now signing, that I could understand. Then she turned her back to the class once again and continued to write on the board. Walking across the class to the shelf indicated I silently half lifted someone’s book to see which one I needed. The girl smiled sympathetically at me. Later I discovered her name was Jade Wilds, and she was to play a major role in my teen years. Correction, she was to become a life long friend.

I grabbed a book from the shelf and I returned to my seat. Now I had another dilemma. Should I ask for an exercise book, not do the work, or do the work on paper and copy it out later? The first two options required courage, so I sensibly opted for the third. Doing the work twice seemed was so appealing. As quietly as I could, I bent down and excavated a note pad from my bag praying that Beaky could not hear the noise. Mission accomplished, which was more than I could say about the french I attempted that day.

The class was silent as they worked on the exercises that Miss Haynes had set. She sat at her desk, on it’s raised platform, and got on with some work. Every now and then she looked up to inspect the class. I avoided eye contact with her for almost half an hour. Then she noticed that I was a stranger. She began to mutter on about the incompetence of the secretary. She was berated the manners of children. Obviously I should have introduced myself. ‘But what about her inability to notice new kids who ask for books.’ I wandered. ‘Nah,’ I thought, ‘Since when do witches ever admit to being wrong.’ I tried to concentrate on the page in front of me.

“Toi!” I looked up to see her staring at me. When I did not reply immediately she pointed directly at me. “Comment t’appelle tu?”

“Je m’appelle Chantelle.” I replied nervously in the best French accent I could muster. The thought of being corrected again by ‘the witch’ made feel physically sick.

“Non!” She screeched. Then switching to English she continued, “I want your real name, your English name.” Unsure exactly what she meant, I tried again hesitantly.

“Chan...” Yet again she interrupted me. Some of the class began to snigger. My heart sank. I had barely opened my mouth and I was already the laughing stock. ‘I hated starting new schools. I hated this school.’

“No!” She moved in for the kill. “What - did – your - parents – christen - you?” Miss Haynes spoke very slowly and deliberately, as if I were a deaf toddler. Wanting to sound confident I stood up and took a deep breath and said,

“I was baptized Chantelle.” I emphasized the word ‘baptized’, not because I was Catholic, but because I did not appreciate her condescending tone.

“Oh.” The sniggers were increasing. “Surname?” she snapped. “What is your surname?”

“French, Miss.” I replied simply. Her frown intensified.

“It might be french dear, but what is it?” She was patronizing me again. Absolute uproar erupted from the class. It was so embarrassing. I turned the colour of beetroot. Fortunately, the class could not see this; all they saw was the back of my head. ‘Was this some sort of evil initiation ceremony?’ I asked myself. The whole class is jeering at me, and it was all her fault. ‘Witch.’ I accused silently. My frustration suddenly escalated.

It was her turn to turn a peculiar shade of red. She inclined her head towards the rest of the class, and glowered over the top of her spectacles, “Silence!” Her voice echoed around the room. And indeed silence reigned once again. “The entire class will remain in my room for mid-morning break. Everyone, that is, except the new girl. Is – that – under - stood?” She barked. The class remained silent. Beaky meant it, and they knew it, even I knew it. But being left out of any class punishment would make me very unpopular with them. What a brilliant start to a new school.

“I cannot understand a word you are saying. Are you stupid or just trying to annoy me?” She stopped and took a deep breath and continued. “Now, kindly write your full name on the board for the benefit of these imbeciles.” She pointed to the class with a piece of chalk. Then she held it out as if it were a of piece offering.

I stood up tall, squared my shoulders and took a deep breath. I took the proffered chalk and walked slowly towards the blackboard. I glanced at the board, then at Miss Haynes, and then back at the board again. I knew she was going regret this. I tried one last time, “Please Miss, my name…”

“The board! Or can’t you write either?” That was the last straw. She deserved everything she was about to get. Anger at her attitude bubbled within. I felt brave. I sensed twenty pairs of eyes boring into my back. I, too, would stay in for break. Why should they suffer for her stupidity? They had done nothing wrong. Holding my breath, I reached up and printed my name in very large, bold, capital letters.
C H A N T E L L E    F R E N C H
Without looking at the teacher, I marched defiantly towards my seat. Before sitting down, I grinned at the class and took a barely discernable bow. They, in return, applauded me. Now it was my turn to chuckle. I exhaled my breath. Something had changed. I was going to enjoy my new school. Well, most of it.

Offline ChipTee

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Re: A teen/girl book
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2006, 01:58:04 PM »
Mini, better late than never, I hope. Sorry for the delay getting back to you.
As I said I'm not well qualified to comment on this genre, but I have a daughter, now grown up, and know neigbouring children.

As an introducing chapter I like it, it certainly gets the story started and I feel I know your protagonist, her first day at the new school and how she is working herself into the group.

I'm not certain whether first or third person will serve you best. (I find first person hard to write).

If, as I think it is very much Chantelle's story, then first could be your best bet. If others have a significant input to the plot, or sub plots, you may want to use third person.

It would be possible to use other POVs, also first, but that is quite a challenge.

The only other thing I would say is don't be afraid to edit down - no particular instance - but cutting , in my experience, usually sharpens a piece.

I like your Chapter One,
All best, Chip