Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can you hook a teen? blogfest contest

Brenda Drake is hosting an awesome blogfest contest! Details:

The Rules
On September 21st and 22nd post the first 250 words of your young adult or middle grade manuscript on your blog (you may skip this part, if you wish), and then hop around to each others' blogs and give critiques. By midnight on September 23rd post your entry in the comments of the official contest post, which I will have up on September 21st so you can post anytime from then until midnight on September 23rd. It's going to be midnight my time (Mountain Standard Time). I'll have how you should enter your entry on the official post.

The Prizes
The winner will receive a $50 editing gift certificate and two runners up will receive a $25 editing gift certificate each from Teen Eyes Editorial Services. Check out all the cool services you can purchase here.

So here are the first 250 words of Elena's Pen, my MG Fantasy:

My feet dragged as I walked to my eighth grade English class. McMichaels hated me. Guess I couldn't blame him and his evil-eye glare. Not after he confiscated a story I wrote about a wicked goblin warlord. Named McMichaels.
You'd think an English teacher would appreciate a kid who actually liked writing. Not this one. I was lucky he only threatened me with detention.
The crowded hallway thinned out as students swapped classrooms. A kid slammed his puke green locker shut, wafting the scent of body odor and days-old sweaty gym clothes toward me. I gagged and hurried past.
"Elena?"
I turned and spotted Artex, the new guy, down the hall. He waved a piece of paper in his hand. His lopsided smile was so inviting that I smiled back. "Hi." Why was he talking to me? I forced myself to not shuffle my feet or play with my hair.
He jogged over. Dark hair fell across his forehead and made him look oh-so-cute. "I think this is yours." He handed me the story I had started during science.
"Thanks." I shoved it into a notebook. "I guess I forgot to grab it."
"Poor Roderick. Fighting without his armor and his horse against three bloody pirates. I'm not sure he can handle them." He fell into step beside me.
My cheeks grew hot. "You read it?" My biggest dream is to see my name, Elena Streaming, on the spine of a book, but it wasn't quite ready for the cute new guy—or anyone else—to read!

  Any and all comments/critiques welcomed!

18 comments:

KM said...

I like the little bits of humor throughout. I've never been able to write anything funny. lol

My only critique was that there was a lot of internal monologue that wasn't that necessary. Maybe cut out a bit of stuff like "Why's he talking to me?" Know what I mean?

Michael Offutt said...

Does hook a teen mean hook a female teen because I'm noticing a lot of these on the blogs today and they all seem to be female-centric. IN other words...I'm not seeing anything guys might be interested in...like AT ALL.

So yeah...I think this blogfest should be renamed to "Can you hook a girl between the ages of 13 and 17?"

Cheryl said...

I'm not a YA writer so I won't be taking part in this blogfest, but I thought I would make a comment anyway - since we're part of the same fantasy group in write campaign and all.

Overall I liked the humorous feel of it. It read very authentic for a teenage girl, I thought. As opposed to a poster above, I liked the internal monologue - it gave me a sense of her personality. I would have put direct thoughts like 'Why was he talking to me' in italics, though.

Just one point, you may or may not be aware of, Artex is a kind of stucco type wall covering in the UK.

I'd also agree with Michael in that it's definitely a girly start to the story and I couldn't see it appealing to teen boys.

Julie Daines said...

Great beginning. It reads nice and smoothly. I especially like the first paragraph, it's a good intro into the MC and her personality.

The introduction of Artex is perhaps a bit abrupt. And since it's first person narrative, I don't think you need italics unless the thought switches directly into 1st person present tense.

The sentence "I forced myself to not shuffle my feet or play with my hair." feels awkward.

Some really nice writing. I'd read on.

Lydia Kang said...

Aw, I like how embarrassed she was!

E. Arroyo said...

Apart from the shuffling feet line, i thought this read smoothly. I like the voice and would like to know more about her and what's going on. Girls rule in YA, not sure how to go around that. Overall, Nice!

Tanya Parker Mills said...

You've got the middle grade mindset down, but I have a feeling your real hook is still coming. You may want to pare some of this away to get to it sooner.

quidforquill said...

Not so much as a critique but just a friendly comment from a fellow campaigner. I adore this and wouldn't definitely keep reading. It reminds me a lot of me, or at least the opening does. I once lost a spiral that had one of my stories into it and was completely devestated. It was missing for about 2 weeks. One day I found a group of sophomores (I was a freshman at the time) reading it! They'd been keeping it in their lockers and passing it around to friends. Thankfully they gave it back and it was nice to hear they were interested in the story, but it was way way too early for someone to be reading it! hehe

Brenda Drake said...

Nicole, as you know, I've read this before when we were in a workshop together, and I have to say this has come along nicely. I love the humor and the voice. You really have taken this to a new level. Nice job! <3

L.M. Miller said...

I do like how developed this voice is, but for the start of the book it flows into this internal whining rather quickly. I can definitely relate to your character though (minus cute boys). I think this is setup wonderful for a largely female audience.

Which is sad since girls have read male-centric books for ages, but boys refuse to read them about girls (so I've seen).

donnagalanti said...

Nicole, this was so fun! Right off the bat we are drawn into Elena's world. I enjoyed her thoughts as a kid, especially on the evil teacher and the cute boy. I liked the descriptions used, ie. "A kid slammed his puke green locker shut, wafting the scent of body odor and days-old sweaty gym clothes toward me." I brought home school to me.

Your use of short sentences work too, brief to get from one vision or action to the other.

One note: the last sentence of the 1st para threw me off where you start with "Named Michaels." It was jarring.

Could it be one sentence:
Not after he confiscated a story I wrote about a wicked goblin warlord - named McMichaels.
OR
Not after he confiscated a story I wrote about a wicked goblin warlord. A warlord named McMichaels.

Marilyn Almodóvar said...

I love the voice of the MC, and you can tell a lot about her by this introduction. I like the short sentences, because it moves along quickly.

And like a previous poster mentioned, Artex is a type of wall covering in the UK.

Talli Roland said...

What a fantastic idea for a blogfest!

I loved your snippet - and the voice. It's very lively and humorous.

1000th.monkey said...

You did a good job conveying the voice of the character, but I think you could make this better... you used a lot of passive language ("My feet dragged..." instead of "I dragged my feet...") and I found it overly coincidental that the hot new guy is totally interested in her enough that he would pick up a story she coincidentally left on her desk, read it and hunted her down to deliver it...

I think if you trimmed it down and made it more active (yes, despite the fact she's a passive character) it would better draw in the reader.

jennifermeaton said...

Holy cow, this was good. Makes me want to re-write mine(again) The only thing I can suggest is changing the way you introduce the teacher's name. -- I wrote about a wicked goblin warlord. Named McMichaels. -- It doesn't flow well and I tripped on it a little. I know someone else gave suggestions on that. I'd really consider that change. Also the line -- I forced myself to not shuffle my feet or play with my hair. -- might be a bit too long. Maybe cu the shuffle the feet part and stick with the playing with the hair. I think that's a great image.

As far as the internal thoughts, I wouldn't change a thing. I really liked this a lot.

Your blog is beautiful too, by the way.

Good luck!

jennifermeaton said...

Holy cow, this was good. Makes me want to re-write mine(again) The only thing I can suggest is changing the way you introduce the teacher's name. -- I wrote about a wicked goblin warlord. Named McMichaels. -- It doesn't flow well and I tripped on it a little. I know someone else gave suggestions on that. I'd really consider that change. Also the line -- I forced myself to not shuffle my feet or play with my hair. -- might be a bit too long. Maybe cu the shuffle the feet part and stick with the playing with the hair. I think that's a great image.

As far as the internal thoughts, I wouldn't change a thing. I really liked this a lot.

Your blog is beautiful too, by the way.

Good luck!

jennifermeaton said...

Holy cow, this was good. Makes me want to re-write mine(again) The only thing I can suggest is changing the way you introduce the teacher's name. -- I wrote about a wicked goblin warlord. Named McMichaels. -- It doesn't flow well and I tripped on it a little. I know someone else gave suggestions on that. I'd really consider that change. Also the line -- I forced myself to not shuffle my feet or play with my hair. -- might be a bit too long. Maybe cu the shuffle the feet part and stick with the playing with the hair. I think that's a great image.

As far as the internal thoughts, I wouldn't change a thing. I really liked this a lot.

Your blog is beautiful too, by the way.

Good luck!

lbdiamond said...

Awww, nice opening scene!