Thanks again to Erica for being one of the brave souls to offer up their work for public critique!
There is an immediately apparent personality on display here, and I think we get a good sense of the conflict. There is an engaging hook (kid having to move away, doesn’t want to), and let’s face it, the prospect of moving to a town named after an Italian scooter couldn’t be appealing to any teenager.
I broke my thoughts down into two main sections:
Balancing showing and telling
I’m afraid I didn’t feel that the balance between showing and telling is quite working itself out in this page. On the one hand the author demonstrates mood through gesture, which is an example of showing, but I wasn’t quite sure that enough was gained from the gestures. On the other hand, there are other moments that are a bit too tell-y.
Let’s start with the showing. My reservation with the gestures is that they are a bit too what-you’d-expect-from-a-teenager-who-doesn’t-want-to-move. Glares, footstomps, anger at parent… pretty much exactly what you’d anticipate. While I think we do get a basic sense of the narrator’s personality, I’m concerned she doesn’t quite feel unique enough, and that there could be more gained from some unique reactions and perspectives.
And also cutting against the narration, there are moments when we’re told precisely what the protagonist is thinking (“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”), and I wanted to see those effects in action and for those feelings to be shown.
I’ve tackled showing vs. telling before, and my basic rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t “tell” universal emotions – instead it’s better to show how a character is reacting to those emotions. Better still if that character is reacting to those emotions in a unique fashion. We all experience the same basic emotions – how we react to those emotions is what makes us unique.
Dialogue does not have to sound precisely like real life, but it has to give enough of an impression of real life dialogue that we believe it. I’m afraid I just didn’t believe all of the dialogue here. The mom’s first line especially (“Child-like antics really don’t suit you, Kenz”) feels stilted. Would someone say “Child-like antics?” or would they say something like, “You’re acting like a child?” Then again, I love the line, “You have two nights left to mope around.”, which reveals more than anything else in that paragraph.
The stilted dialogue is symptomatic of a bit of overwriting in general – the paragraphs feel like they could use some streamlining, which I’ll try and pinpoint in the redline.
Still, I feel like there is some promising writing here. Like many of you I really liked the last line, and I’d be curious to see where this goes.
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 Can you shoulder your way through people who are scattered? Don’t you normally shoulder your way through a crowd?. I spotted my mother and just about growled at her Do people consciously just about growl? 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 this feels overwritten, and a bit too self-aware. She tries not to stomp her foot, does, and then reasons that her desperation is causing her body parts to take control of her brain? Couldn’t she just stomp? .
“Child-like antics really don’t suit you, Kenz, not sure I believe this” my mother replied with a voice that left no doubt that she was sick of me we know how it sounds from the dialogue. “You have two nights left to mope around I like this, and it conveys everything in the last dialogue/tag far more effectively. They’re only here for the big furniture this time.”
“Fine, I’ll sit on lawn chairs and sleep on the floor then feels stilted. 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 threw 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 show this.
The two months after my mom announced we were moving made me feel like I was losing my mind the two months make her feel like she was losing her mind? Or the announcement? Precision! . Vespa, Wisconsin was the last place on earth I wanted to live. It was her home, not mine really like this.