Nathan Bransford, Author

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Page Critique Tuesday

I'm back in cold and foggy San Francisco, and not a moment too soon, as I understand New York has descended into "Ok this weather is really not funny anymore" territory. 100 degrees and 80%+ humidity? Yikes.

A quick reminder of how these page critiques work:

- If you're interested in submitting a page for a future critique, enter it in this thread in the Forums.
- I use a random number generator to select the winning critique.
- Please please please remember the sandwich rule when offering your thoughts: positive, very very constructive thoughts, positive. I mean it. Err on the side of being nice.

As of this posting there were 219 posts in the thread, and the number that the good machine at gave me was..........

132! Congrats to Erica, whose page is below.

I'll be back in a bit with my critique.

Title: A New Day
Genre: YA comtemporary romance

I slammed the car door and shouldered my way past the men scattered around the front yard. I spotted my mother and just about growled at her while waving my hands at the moving van. "This is ridiculous. Get my stuff out of there!" I tried not to stomp my foot, but apparently my desperation caused my body parts to take control over my brain.

"Child-like antics really don't suit you, Kenz," my mother replied with a voice that left no doubt that she was sick of me. "You have two nights left to mope around. They're only here for the big furniture this time."

"Fine, I'll sit on lawn chairs and sleep on the floor then. You need to give up this moving idea and stay here with me, because I'm not going anywhere."

"This life isn't for us anymore. We're going home." One finger went up as she saw my mouth open for another protest. "Spend tonight with your friends. Tomorrow's going to be busy and we leave first thing Sunday morning."

I did my best to throw the moving van workers an intimidating glare as I walked past again, but it just made them grin wider. The reference to home bothered me more than I wanted my mom to know.

The two months after my mom announced we were moving made me feel like I was losing my mind. Vespa, Wisconsin was the last place on earth I wanted to live. It was her home, not mine.


Jamie said...

Strong opening. I get a good feel for the main character's voice and already wonder what the story is.

And while her (i'm guessing HER because that's the vibe I'm getting and the nickname "Kenz" ... short for Mackenzie?) situation is somewhat comical (I almost imagine her handcuffing herself to the door of the house to make her point), we're already getting an emotional tie to this character because we can empathize. Everyone has had to leave home.

Good start.

Jamie said...

also: *ahem* FIRST! :)

Jill Elizabeth said...

Also a fan of the nickname for Mackenzie (if that is the case). And she seems like kind of a tough-girl character, which I always appreciate.

There's a bit too much exposition for me--by the end of the 250 words, it's been pretty beaten into the reader that the MC does not want to move. I think you could explore ways to do it with more subtlety. I assume by this point, this is an argument the two have had many times already. Perhaps by this point things have devolved to enough where the two are barely speaking--maybe Kenz simply walks over to the truck and starts pulling items off of it in silent protest, provoking the argument anew.

Small nit-picky comment: the first line "men scattered around the front yard" made me think of bodies strewn on the ground! But perhaps this was your intention since the MC is acting quite melodramatic in this scene :)

Thanks for sharing your work!

abc said...

Nice voice. It is good that we are thrown into the action.

On the other hand, I have nothing against a little bit of introduction and easing into things.

My gut says slow down. Maybe a little less telling (literally, with the dialogue) and a little more showing.

Also, Wisconsin is really a very a nice state!

But I enjoy your writing so I'd keep reading, for sure.

Maya said...

The author has a strong voice that I like right away.

I do see an over-reliance on gestures. Some of them are good; I thought this was funny: "I tried not to stomp my foot, but apparently my desperation caused my body parts to take control over my brain." On the other hand "while waving my hands at the moving van" seemed unnecessary.

Instead of describing everyone's gestures and expressions, I think the space would be better used grounding the reader. We learn that she is moving to Vespa, WI but we don't know where she currently is. I'm saying "she" but it would be nice to know the gender of the MC right away as well.

Finally, when we get to "the reference to home", I had to re-read what the mom said because this sentence was actually too far from the original reference. I do like the line "It was her home, not mine" but I think some rearranging so that all of those references to home are closer together would make it stronger.

Still, I think it's a nice start, funny dialogue and a good voice. Good luck, Erica, and thanks for your bravery!

The Screaming Guppy said...

I’ll start by saying I don’t read much YA, so this might bias my comments a bit.

I really liked the last two lines. I almost wonder if they would work better as the opening lines. It gives a good sense of conflict, beyond just not wanting to move. It shows conflict between mom and daughter, ways of life, etc.

I couldn’t really get into your character, though. Since Kenz is getting out of a car, I made the assumption that she can drive, which puts her at 16 at the youngest. But the entire scene strikes me as really immature. Stomping her feet, her dialogue. I wouldn’t keep reading – but I might never pick this type of novel up in the first place because of genre, so I’d be interested to see what other writers/readers of YA adult think about Kenz’s personality/maturity.

Also – would the moving men really grin at her? I think they would be more inclined to ignore her or give her dirty looks regarding her behavior.

Overall – if Kenz is going to start immature and grow up, maybe we need a slower acclimation to her current state of being. I’d like to see some of her good traits – why should I like Kenz? I might be able to sympathize with her situation, but I don’t see anything about her character besides being angry about moving. And she’s known about this move for two months – maybe we can back up a few days to set up the “normal” world she’s going to be taken from? Maybe if I knew what she’d be leaving behind and why it’s so important to her, I’d be able to better relate to her actions on the day of the move.

But again – not my normal genre or character taste, so take my thoughts with that in mind!

Good luck and thanks for sharing!

reader said...

I liked the voice and thought it was well suited to YA. Loved it that WI was "her home, not mine."

I think there's a tendency to overwrite, if just a bit, and if it's in the first page it might worry it'd be all the way through. (?)

EXAMPLE: "Child-like antics really don't suit you, Kenz," my mother replied with a voice that left no doubt that she was sick of me.

From the (child-like antics)dialogue, we already know her mother is sick of her, so to say it again -- "replied with a voice that left me..." -- is overkill.

Overall good job, though. Sounds like a real teen, and she's upset without being whiny, which is a big plus for YA, imo.

Good luck!

Bane of Anubis said...

I liked the latter half of the piece, but the first half gave me the impression that the character is younger than I imagine she actually is (tantrumish actions make her someone I'm not gelling with). Would have liked more subtle reaction to show her resentment/frustration, though that's hard to do and grab the reader's attention from the get go.

And I'm w/ abc about the dialogue telling. Felt a bit forced in places.

Really liked the last paragraph, particularly the last two lines.

Melissa Gill said...

Oh, I like, I like. Lot's of good comments in here already. I think you're off to a great start. The only thing I would change was to ditch the !. When you have someone growling, waving arms, and making a statement like 'that's rediculous' it's pretty clear that she'd amped up. No exclamation point needed. But fantastic start really

Terri Tiffany said...

I was impressed and thought it moved along really well. Some very nice writing and especially liked the last line. Some grounding would be good but overall--nice opening.

Anonymous said...

I personally disagree with the others who say that she's acting too immature. Perhaps because when I got really upset I used to throw tantrums myself. As a teen, what else can you do? Your mom has already made up mind and you know that no matter what you say, no matter how reasonably you say it, she isn't going to listen to you. There's a real sense of having no control/hopelessness that goes along with that that leads to temper tantrums. Sometimes that's all you can do.
I would get annoyed, however, if she was like this the WHOLE novel, but for me, it's okay for her to get upset about something that is really important to her.

You've got some good ideas in here, but it does feel overwritten to me. I get bogged down in all the words, and sometimes it makes your ideas less forceful. At a writing class I went to somewhere, I heard that after you've edited your manuscript as best as you can, you should take a word count and then reduce it by 10%. I think that would really help you here, just go through and see what extra words you can take out, see how you can more concisely express your words. (And don't take my comment as an example--I am really bad at overwriting, but I don't want to take the time to edit) I do like a lot of your ideas, but I think they are hidden in too many words.
"I spotted my mother and just about growled at her while waving my hands at the moving van."
The "just about" kinda threw me off. Why couldn't see just growl here? Or glare?
"I tried not to stomp my foot, but apparently my desperation caused my body parts to take control over my brain."
I like this line!

Jolene said...

I feel like your writing suited the mood of the moment. There's been a few comments on how we're aware she isn't happy to be leaving, and it doesn't need to come up so often. I would like to say that at that age, what else would you think about when you're not happy about something?

MJR said...

I don't read YA and being a mom, perhaps I'm reading this too much from the "mom" perspective. But Kenz seems bratty to me and that distanced me from her character. Perhaps some sadness mixed in with anger might draw me in more. Also, it might generate more interest and more of a hook if you said where her home is now--to contrast to the small town in Wisconsin she's moving to, ie "I couldn't believe I had to leave Beverly Hills for that hick town," or whatever.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Some good comments here and I'll be interested in NB's critique. I like the voice and I like that we get that she's moving without ever being "told" they're moving.

I agree the end of this section is the strongest.

I agree the character seems wildly immature for what I picture to be her age (16/17 based on the "out of the car")

I also think you have a tendency to try and rush through description to get to the "good stuff." The opening is really weak starting with the confusing opening sentence. "Shouldered her way through scattered men?" Sounds like she's on a crowded soccer field or something. How many movers are "scattered"? Generally there are 2 or 3 movers for a residence and I don't think of that number as a "scatter" (besides the fact that if there are more than 2 then two would be in the house while two are outside the house).

The "I spotted my mother" is a bit of lazy writing. It's from your character's POV so we don't need to know she's seeing, if she's describing it, she's seeing it. Besides, that space is lost with us not having any clue what "mother" is. Is this an old hag who had a daughter late in life? Is this a 34 year old mom who had her daughter at 16 or 18?

The whole "fine I'll stay cuz you're not moving" paragraph does more harm than good for your character. It's unrealistic and it's unrealistic dialogue. A teen might threaten that to her friends, she's not going to make a scene like that in front of strangers.

I like the mom's calm voice and reaction.

I like that final line.

Roza M said...

Like many of the comments here, I do like the MC's voice.

I wish there was a little description of the mother, or maybe a roll of the eyes when Kenz starts complaining about moving, maybe right after the sentence she says how her mother stay there because she isn't going.

Other than that Good job! =)

Anonymous said...

First of all, I thought that the writing was good. I understood the basic conflict right away (even if I couldn't understand details). I knew that she didn't wand to move after the first paragraph (although I don't know why)
As a teen myself, I thought that the character was very immature. I also thought that the dialogue sounded kind of stilted. I've never met a mother who would say "child-like antics really don't suit you." The mother sort of seams like a stock character who's only characteristic is that she adds to her daughter's frustration. I would try to flesh her out a little bit, maybe explain her side of the move along with reasons that the MC is so against moving, because I don't really understand why she's throwing such a fit. Also, I was confused as to the very begining. She leaves her car and seems surprised that her mother has hired this moving van. Was it a surprise? How could she not have known, and where had she been for so long that all of the furniture could already be in the moving van without her knowing?
I thought that overall, it was a really good start with a cleary defined conflict. I guess that since I don't really know what the entire novel would be about, I couldn't make any crit about how well the begining leads into the rest of the novel. I saw that the genre was contemporary romance, but it didn't seem that "contemporary" to me (since I've seen this same conflict many times before), but since I haven't read anything else, I can't judge. I thought that the MC was interesting, but I'm not sure if I would pick the book up off of the shelf.

Emily White said...

I loved the voice! I got an immediate sense of your MC's personality and that's a very good thing (especially on the first page).

I do have to agree with others who said something about the overwriting. You're dialogue already depicted perfectly the actions you went on to explain. And with the "just about growled," I've found you get more punch when your characters go ahead and do it, rather than coming close to doing it.

Great first page!

Oh, and Nathan, I sincerely apologize for what I said last week about you somehow ruining the New York weather. I'll take 70 degrees over 100 any day.

Krista V. said...

I was immediately intrigued by lines like "This life isn't for us anymore" and "It was her home, not mine."

But then I tripped over a few other lines. For instance, when the mother says, "You have two nights left to mope around. They're only here for the big furniture this time," those two sentences didn't seem to go together. After reading through it a few more times, I think I figured out what you mean, and adding "still" between the first "You" and "have" might make the connection a little clearer.

And there's something about the first line in the last paragraph that rubs me wrong. Maybe it's the abrupt shift to two months before. Makes me wonder if this should be in past perfect tense (or something). Also, I'm pretty sure you need a comma after "Wisconsin," as you should always include a comma after a city-comma-state (no matter where it appears in the sentence).

On the whole, though, you've got a good start. The voice really shines through, and the genre is one that will always be a strong seller. Best of luck.

Deniselle said...

An interesting opening that says a lot. I like the dialogue, it has a natural flow. I also like that it isn't written in an overly teeny style.

The first two sentences felt a little clunky with so much information, though. You might want to simplify that bit and tie the two sentences together for a better flow.

What I liked best is that it leaves me wanting to know more. It seemed short for a first page, which is probably a very good sign. Your style is pleasant to read. Good luck!

Malia Sutton said...

The Queen of England is in NY today...poor girl, in all this heat. It's not fun!

S. Kyle Davis said...

First, since everyone else is doing it, I'd like to say that I am an avid YA reader. I'm a definite fan of the genre and pretty aware of the expectations, etc.

Ok, I am definitely intrigued by the end of this. I actually agree with Screaming Guppy's suggestion of moving the home bit a little earlier, because I reallly liked it, but perhaps not right to the beginning. Easing into it a little bit is good. Going for the "bang" in the first line seems to heavy handed. The "home" thing almost feels mysterious, and you don't want to hit me over the head why the mystery. I like how you ease into it just enough.

My one main critique is something others have picked up on: the maturity level. I tend to be a little in the middle on this. Your MC is assumedly around 16 as it's YA (much younger would put it in MG). As such, she (?) is prone to temper tantrums. It happens. That's perfectly fine.

However, we don't need to be told she's having a temper tantrum by her mother. Handle it a little more easily. Perhaps her mother could be a little more exasperated in a way we can see. In fact, we could move more into action than just dialogue. Not all action though, because, as other have said, you don't want to overdo it on the gestures.

Still, all in all, I'd definitely read more. I want to know about "home." Is it just a small town? Or is there more to this mystery?

Holly said...

First, thanks for being willing to put your work up for critique. We all learn from the reviews.

Your basics are all there -- spelling (except for one word), punctuation, and so on. I enjoyed the energy you put into your writing.

My suggestions:

First paragraph:
I would add a dialogue tag to make it clear that the MC is talking and not the mother.
Then I would vary the sentence beginnings so they don't all start with I.

Second paragraph:
Childlike is one word.

The MC slams a car door, almost growls, stomps her foot, and gives the movers an intimidating glare. Tone this down and it will be way more effective. Seriously, one slam or one glare will get the character's mood across to us.

Scene believablity:
Something about the scene seems strained to me. It almost feels like an explanation in disguise.

Surely the mom and kid have talked about this before, maybe even a bunch of times. The kid knows the movers are going to show up. Why the big temper tantrum at this point? It almost seems like you are using the backdrop of the movers standing there while the MC has a temper tantrum, so you can explain what the novel is going to be about.

If this was my story, I would step back in time. I would write about the night the mom puts down the phone or the dishrag and annnounces, "We're moving to Wisconsin." Then when the MC has a fit I would go along with it.

Good luck! I enjoyed your writing.

Anonymous said...

Immediately, I was drawn in. I don't usually like fast paced openings, but this got me.
It can slow down later if need be, but this works.
The only place I got thrown "out" of the story was here:

"The two months after my mom announced we were moving made me feel like I was losing my mind."

Something about that sentence just didn't make sense to me. I'd rewrite it simpler.

Other than that, changes would just be preferences and there is no need–in my opinion–to change anything else for someone else's preferences in how it was written.

You've got voice.

Good job and congrats on being brave enough to go on this forum with your opening.

Dave F. said...

I think there are too many sentences beginning with "I" in the first paragraph. They caught my attention and bothered me.

As for the rest of it, Kenz didn't sound like a kid but maybe that's just me.

Davy DeGreeff said...

It seems like you're developing a strong voice, as others have mentioned, but the first paragraph took me right out of it -- five sentences in the first paragraph and three of them start with "I"? It kinda killed your rhythm at a time that's essential for developing one.

Erica75 said...

Yea, it's my page! I just logged on and will definitely take more time to read through these, but thanks so much to everyone who took time to comment! I see by skimming that "scattered" wasn't my best word choice and I actually changed it two days ago. Thanks again and on to see what Nathan said!

k10wnsta said...

I could go into a long winded assessment of the piece or just say 'go back and read The Screaming Guppy's comment again'. Soooo...
Go back and read The Screaming Guppy's comment again.

I will reiterate that the last two lines are gold. In 17 words, they express almost everything about setting and circumstance that the preceding 5 paragraphs were trying to establish.

John Jack said...

On the virtues side of the ledger, Kenz' dilemma is noteworthy and rapport worthy. We've all had to move when we didn't want to, most of us anyway. The moving van and front yard say suburbanites in suburbia, great how a few well-chosen details stage a scene. Grass and trees and a white picket fence in an idlyic residential neighborhood pop unsummoned into mind.

On the vices side of the ledger, the voice is a little formal in diction for a young adult protagonist, perhaps a precociously well-educated person?? which could spoil reader affinity for Kenz. An edgier teenage voice might be less formal.

Eight instances of "my" in the first paragraph. "my way, my mother, my hands, my stuff, my foot, my desperation, my body parts, my mind." Repetition isn't necessarily a vice, but recasting into a less self-centric voice and excluding as many possessive adjectives will be stronger writing.

On the other hand, frequent usage of "my" says a lot about Kenz' personality, self-centered. Though I think showing her personality through action, thought, and conversation rather than through her diction would be stronger and more entertaining.

All in all, the sample introduces a deft foreshadowing of the kind of story it is. A rebellious teenager unwilling leaving a happy home setting for the unknowns of Timbuktu-Vespa, Wisconsin.

Erica75 said...

So, with no posts from Nathan yet, I wasn't distracted and read all of yours. Thanks again! The interesting part is, I've been through several critique partners who all apparently hate backstory, took my first chapter, and condensed it into basically this first page. If anyone's interested, on the next page Kenz (yes, she's a girl, and 17) stomps off, cools down, regains control, and we find out she spent her first 10 years in Vespa and they moved after her dad overdosed on meds and died. And I grew up in small-town Wisconsin, so people who don't live in the Midwest always say the mom talks weird. But really, it's just the whole state :)

I'll definitely give this more thought and get out my scissors again if needed. Or, perhaps, put some back in. Time (and Nathan's critique) will tell...

And everyone - you've been very nice. Nathan will be proud.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Hi there! Thanks for putting your work out there for critique. You open with a strong voice; I really feel that I have a sense of the character and who she is, her determination (even in the face of insurmountable adversity), her tenacity, and a little bit of emotionality. Great job setting that up.

My main issue with this excerpt is the believability of the situation. Her mother has decided to move, and while I can empathize with Kenz's not wanting to move out of their house, the reality is that no amount of refusing to go by a teenager will change things, especially once the moving van has arrived. If Kenz were in elementary school I would understand her behavior, but for a teenager to behave this way is, I think, asking for a fairly large leap from the reader. Ultimately, I can see that her objective in this moment is to prevent the move, but I can't see her tactics working, and I don't know if a teenager would even believe that such tactics would work, which means that I don't believe that she would really behave this way.

So my biggest piece of feedback would be to experiment with toning down her reaction a little bit to a level that might be a little more believable from a teenager, and that might also work better to achieve her end. She doesn't have to actually achieve her goal, but I need to believe that she thinks she could by doing what she is doing.

You leave us with some good questions at the end: I want to know why Vespa, Wisconsin is so abhorrent to the MC, and I want to know what her mother means by, "This life isn't for us anymore." I want to know how the life they've been living is different from the life they are going back to. So, there's a lot of good here. Keep it up, and good luck with this!

Sheila Cull said...

One out of 219, at a shot to win? That's in the "really not good chances," territory.

Nathan, you say query widely. I have a completed manuscript and last week I began offering myself for representation to three (researched) literary agents a day. So is that, too widely?

Can anybody hear me?

Evelyn Skye said...

Erica, thanks for sharing your page with everyone. Since I'd been lucky enough to read your first few chapters a while back, I just wanted to pop in to tell you it's exciting to see how the first page has developed. Good pace, good setting and strong character. And like everyone else here, I love those last two lines. Hope all's well!

Anonymous said...

The last line is powerful. Up until then? Generic character. Generic setting. Generic dialog, with a short excursion into stilted, info-dump territory. I'd love to empathize, but I need a good--and specific--set of reasons why.

JC Phelps said...

Let me begin by saying I'm a beta reader for the full manuscript and I enjoyed it very much.

It's very hard to get more than just a fleeting glimpse with only 250 words.

I've read the other comments and I agree with a lot of what was said, except I'd like to point out that it's hard to flesh out the full set of characters in the first 250 words.

Personally, I appreciate that she sets up Kenz's character here instead of the mother because that's who the book is about.

However, that being said, I think Erica did a great job setting up the opening scene.

We know that she's moving "back" to Wisconsin, she can be prone to some childish behavior but is aware of it (as most 17 year old teens are) and it gives a cursory insight to her relationship with her mother.

Overall, the excerpt relays a lot of information in a short time. I'm glad to say I noticed some edits after I'd read it before and it really adds to the balance of the book.

Good job Erica and GOOD LUCK!


gae polisner said...

I enjoyed this brief excerpt and it held my attention.

I think when we're asked to critique as writers we do so (I mean, this is called "Page Critique Tuesday").

Having said that, I dont think when we pick up a book for a real read we are quite as nitpicky, so it's hard to find a balance in an exercise such as this.

I agree that the excerpt would sing even more with the tiniest bit of tweaking and what the author can do here is take the comments that work for her and do that minor tweaking (sparingly cutting IMHO to make sure the protagonist reads unhappy teen without reading whiny/annoying because we want the reader to like her up front -- often a hard balance in YA). But all in all, I enjoyed the start and was a little bummed when it ended without us learning why she so didn't want to move -- the author does a nice job of letting us know this reason is going to be "bigger" that the normal reason no teen usually wants to move without actually saying so.

Good work!

Rowenna said...

Thank you for sharing this! I love how you draw us into the emotional conflict right away--nicely done. My nitpick is that I felt a touch lost in the first paragraph--the only indication that they're moving is the reference to a moving van (and if they're really going a long way, wouldn't it be one of those big trucks?). When I read "men scattered around the yard" I thought there was some sort of emergency--that they were gawkers or, literally, scattered victims (overactive imagination, here). Maybe use "Happy Home Moving Company employees" or something. Also, the last paragraph--the two months couldn't make her feel like she was losing her mind, could it? It's just time...what about it was so difficult? Mom? Saying goodbye? Accepting the move? Really nice job inserting, subtly, the enormity of the move--"this life isn't for us" and the reference to what I can only assume from a name like Vespa is a tiny town were really illuminating.

Najela said...

I enjoyed reading this story and I thought you did a good job showing characterization through dialogue and action. I didn't really get a good feeling of the characters, what they look liked and who they were. I feel like the story actually could begin at the last paragraph. That's the most compelling part of the part that's posted. After that point we can go into the character's and who they are and why they should care.

As it stands, I enjoy reading this part, but I didn't get a sense of character. Most importantly, I would like to know why they were moving within the first few sentences so I can understand Kenz(Mackenzie?) and her situation. Someone else mentioned that she seemed bratty and I kind of agree. Perhaps putting the move and the reason behind it earlier on can give the reader more insight to her behavior.

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Waterfall said...
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Missives From Suburbia said...

First, thank you for sharing this with all of us.

I think, as some of the other comments have suggested, a bit more showing and less telling is in order. I don't think you're over-writing, although some shifting of words and strategic editing here and there could definitely give your writing more punch.

I know you're getting a lot of comments about giving the mother more dimension or providing more information about the move, like where they are now. I really think that's unnecessary. Your first page is a hook. You've hooked me. I assume I'll get more from the mother and more about Kenz's current life as we go along--you've hinted at both of those things with various lines in this page.

All in all, I think it's a strong first page. I'm not typically a YA reader, but I wanted to read more. In fact, I was so interested in reading it that I thought, "Gee, I'd like to edit this manuscript." (I do freelance editing.) I rarely think that based on a first page.

Anonymous said...

Probably a minor detail, but the name "Vespa, WI" jolts me straight out of the narrative. The name doesn't feel authentic to this cheesehead. Our places do indeed have lots of strange names, but this be Harley country ;)

I do apologize & stand corrected if there is a place named that around here somewhere. (With places like Pound, Verona, Altoona & Mukwonago it can be hard to generalize... but "Vespa" doesn't have quite the right feel to it)

Erica75 said...

To the last anon - you're right about Vespa. It's sort-of a funny name (I think Italian Scooter, a friend of mine thinks Spaceballs) that I assume will be changed if it goes to publication. And considering a grew up in Beaver Dam, lived for 2 years in Altoona, and now live in Strum (yes, really) I think odd names fit in fine around here!

Okay, one more time to thank everyone if they're checking back. I see two things had to be removed, so I'm glad my family decided to go out to eat last night and I missed them.

One comment to all of you who wondered about whether she was a girl and what she looked like. There's a balance of "show vs tell" here according to Nathan. Fitting in more descriptors, IMHO, would be more telling. It is only 250 words, after all. I will definitely be giving it more thought. Thanks again.

Nicole Marie Schreiber said...

I think a stronger and better opening line for the whole piece would be

"Vespa, Wisconsin, was the last place on earth I wanted to live."

The conflict and voice are apparent from the get go, and I am drawn into the name of the town right away.

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