Welcome to day three of After the Madness Workshop! Shelley Watters, Erica Chapman, the writers at YAtopia, and myself will critique the first 250 words of two brave writers’ manuscripts per day for the next seven to eight days. There are four blogs joining in to offer up suggestions. Click on my partners’ sites in my sidebar to view the other critiques.
And next up is …
B-6 Marisa Kanter
People say that Mom was a totally different person before. B’s notes: This first line doesn’t hook. Start your story off with a first sentence that zings. She was alive. Vibrant. Happy. She made home cooked dinners on a regular basis. She was spontaneous, packing up the van and driving everyone down the Pacific Coast Highway, for no other reason other than because she could. She hummed along to Beatles tunes while vacuuming. She was trendy, in both style and lifestyle. She used to go out for martinis on Tuesdays. Met with a book club on Thursdays. Mom could never sit still, she always had to be doing something.
They say that her smile could light up a whole room.
I’ve never seen my mother smile.
I knock twice on the hollow wood door. The thin as paper door. I hear the cries. The screams. They keep me up at night. Doors are meant to keep things out. This door keeps my mother in.
The response, a long sigh, means that I’m allowed in. I tread carefully over the heaps of clothes that cover the floor. Mom lies in the middle of her bed, arms sprawled out at her sides, all the twisted sheets off in a corner. With her head in a pillow, all I can see is her matted brown hair that’s streaked with gray. She hasn’t changed her clothes since last week.
“Lunch time,” I say, my voice peppy and fake. The way it always has to be around her.
She raises her right arm and points, indicating that I should place the food on the night table. I place the turkey and cheese sandwich down and leave, knowing that when I go back in for dinner, the sandwich will still be there, untouched.
B’s notes: This is written well, but I’m not hooked. Is this where your story truly starts? You stated this is YA in your email, so most teens would put this book down if you open with this bit about her mother. Start with the inciting event. The event that propels us into the story. You can work her checked-out mom in later, when we’re invested in your main character.
I hope this helps!
Remember this is subjective and others’ may feel differently. So I’ll now pass it on to the readers to critique. Please leave your comments, and remember the rules of critiquing … be nice, which I’m sure you all will be, but I have to say it … you know.