Author Topic: Coming of Age  (Read 178 times)

Offline jessywrites

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Coming of Age
« on: June 13, 2020, 07:42:33 AM »
Hi,

I have written the first two drafts of a coming of age psychological thriller (I think, the more I read about genres, the less I am sure what genre I have written!) and I would like to start querying agents soon. My word count is 65 000. I am looking for beta-readers. I would be happy to beta-read the work of others, especially if it is a coming of age novel or if it is a manuscript exploring topics like mental health and trauma. I'll post a small excerpt from the third chapter here. It's a day in the life of the second protagonist, a 17 year old girl. Please critique it as a stand alone - or ask me for more details and I would be happy to discuss different forms of cooperation.

“Tell me about your father. Is he treating you well?” Adéla stroked her daughter’s wrist.

Sara, who sat on the bedside, turned her head to look out the window. The snow gently enrobed the grounds. The white, winter sun cracked through the clouds. She turned back to her mothers’ tired, puffy face. Sunlight bounced on the crisp, sterile linen.

“He’s alright…” her voice trailed off. Women, Money, Vanity. Three subjects she must always avoid when trying to keep conversation with her mother from derailing. She had to find something non-political to say. Even in this state of being, controversy and outcry loomed behind even the vaguest response.

“He’s got a new girlfriend?” Adéla’s brows narrowed. Her mother could always sense it when her father met another woman. “Tell me about her, will you?”

Sara hesitated. “She’s alright. She’s a dentist. She said my teeth are yellow so she’s going to bleach them.” She immediately regretted the part about the bleaching and the part about Bahar’s education.

“What? Child don’t be a narcissist!” Adéla looked disappointed. “The Lord created you in his own image.”

Sara decided not to tell her how Bahar advised her to get a boob job when she turned 18.

“Alright, so tell me more about her. How old is she? What’s her name? Is she pretty?” Adéla narrated each question by counting three fingers.

“I guess she’s in her forties” Sara knew her mother would automatically subtract 10 years. “She’s alright for her age.”

“What’s her name?” Code for where is she from?

“Bahar.”

“I knew it!” Adéla exclaimed triumphantly. “First the Slavic and now the Orientals.”

“I don’t think we say Orientals.”

“Nonsense, back in Hungary we say whatever we like.” Adéla waived her hands dismissively.

A nurse knocked twice and walked into the room. Tray full of pills.  “Ms Novak, time for your afternoon medication.”

Sara jumped off the bed and walked over to the windowsill. She watched a shirtless man run out on the lawn. He plummeted into the snow and started making an angel pattern with his arms and legs. Two nurses ran out after him.

“Voila, Ms. Novak. I come bearing your benzos, your Risperdal and your SSRIS. Let’s make you a productive member of society again.”

I don’t think she’s ever been a productive member of society. In her head, Sara could hear what her father would say, if he were in the room. Are you sure that child is mine? She doesn’t even look half Aryan. She looks like the Genghis Khan swept through your village! One of her favorite worst daddy quotes.

“Visiting hours ended five minutes ago, Fräulein.” The nurse addressed Sara briskly.

Thank You. Thought Sara as she grabbed her purse off the chair. “Mama, I’ll be back Sunday.” She squeezed her mothers’ hand and left the room with urgent strides.

She almost ran through the hallway and pushed the elevator bell five times. A pink haired lady who had sunk and blended into an armchair observed her.

“You, you came for me!” She jumped out of the chair with juvenile élan.

“No, no. I didn’t come for you.” Sara backed away.

“You’re going to get me out of here. See, they’re holding me captive.” The little old lady grabbed her arm and nudged her to the opening elevator doors.

“And where do you think you are going?” A large male nurse came out of nowhere, swooping in the pink haired lady and leading her the other way.

“Next time. Next time you will come for me.” The lady yelled at Sara as she entered the elevator, pushing in the closing door button determinedly.

Sara rode the tram back into the city. She couldn’t focus on anything. Her minds eye danced from her mothers’ puffy face to the lady with the pink hair, to snow angel man.


Offline PIJ1951

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 102
Re: Coming of Age
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2020, 08:46:25 AM »
I'm also a YA/NA writer so I'm curious about your reservations. Labelling a book so it neatly fits a particular genre is what publishers tend to do to help with marketing, but the truth is - a well-written book can appeal to a wide range of age groups whether the main characters are of a certain age and/or demographic or otherwise. The same goes for writing style. YA readers are just as demanding as 'grown-up readers' (!) so it's not a case of dumbing down to make life easier for them. But it's important that you don't get carried away trying to impress them with clever words or poetic imagery at the expense of a good story.

You skilfully managed to maintain the momentum of the plot while at the same time injecting background information about your characters so well done for that. I'll comment as I read through if I may.

'Sara, who sat on the bedside, turned her head to look out the window'.
A minor point maybe, but this comes across as if it's an important fact - as if it's how Sara made her living for example. It would read better if you wrote 'Sara who was sitting on the bedside. . .'

'The snow gently enrobed the grounds.'
And here it looks as if a Victorian romantic poet has taken over the story.  When's the last time you used the word 'enrobed' in a conversation? This would jar with most readers.

Thankfully, I soon stopped reading with a writer's eye - a good sign when something is well-written and engaging. The more I read, the more I learned about your characters and the set-up (although I did mistakenly think Sara was the patient to begin with - maybe it could be made clearer a little earlier).

Other than that, it's a promising start. Thanks for sharing.

Offline Remotely

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: Coming of Age
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2020, 08:46:38 AM »
It looks well written and not over-the-top with descriptive language.

Good job so far!

Offline jessywrites

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Coming of Age
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2020, 08:36:39 PM »
Thank you - very useful advice, I highly appreciate it!
I'm also a YA/NA writer so I'm curious about your reservations. Labelling a book so it neatly fits a particular genre is what publishers tend to do to help with marketing, but the truth is - a well-written book can appeal to a wide range of age groups whether the main characters are of a certain age and/or demographic or otherwise. The same goes for writing style. YA readers are just as demanding as 'grown-up readers' (!) so it's not a case of dumbing down to make life easier for them. But it's important that you don't get carried away trying to impress them with clever words or poetic imagery at the expense of a good story.

You skilfully managed to maintain the momentum of the plot while at the same time injecting background information about your characters so well done for that. I'll comment as I read through if I may.

'Sara, who sat on the bedside, turned her head to look out the window'.
A minor point maybe, but this comes across as if it's an important fact - as if it's how Sara made her living for example. It would read better if you wrote 'Sara who was sitting on the bedside. . .'

'The snow gently enrobed the grounds.'
And here it looks as if a Victorian romantic poet has taken over the story.  When's the last time you used the word 'enrobed' in a conversation? This would jar with most readers.

Thankfully, I soon stopped reading with a writer's eye - a good sign when something is well-written and engaging. The more I read, the more I learned about your characters and the set-up (although I did mistakenly think Sara was the patient to begin with - maybe it could be made clearer a little earlier).

Other than that, it's a promising start. Thanks for sharing.

Offline jessywrites

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Coming of Age
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2020, 08:37:02 PM »
It looks well written and not over-the-top with descriptive language.

Good job so far!

Thanks!