Welcome to day five 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-10 Elizabeth Rosenman
I didn’t know how much longer I could wait. I sat up straight, drumming my fingers on the desk. My tongue touched each tooth in turn.
B’s notes: This is an odd action to start off with. I’d come up with a different one. I can see being nervous and dragging your tongue back and forth across the back of your teeth, but not touching each one in turn. I could just not be that talented and someone else may disagree with me.
Dr. Shah wound her way through the rows of students. “Alexis,” she said.
B’s note: Maybe have her hand the paper to make it clearer.
A bright red B. Oh my God. My lowest grade ever.
I pinched my wrist as hard as I could and stuffed the English paper into my binder before anyone could see. I didn’t bother to check the comments—plenty of time to memorize those later.
B’s notes: Okay, maybe I’m just not getting some of the actions here. Why does she pinch her wrist? I could see her biting her tongue, seething, or swearing under her breath, maybe.
My throat closed up. My G.P.A. would sink. Miranda would pass me in class rank. One single B could ruin everything.
What would my mother say? She’d never forgive me.
The bell rang. I made it to the hallway, close to the bathroom now. Made it to the safety of a stall before the tears rushed out.
B’s note: I’d rework this paragraph. I know what you were trying, but it read choppy to me. And there’s an echo with ‘made it’ (ignore me if you wanted an echo).
Why didn’t I work harder? I didn’t deserve an A anyway. Dummy, lazy, fat moron.
I jerked my left sleeve up. A paper clip would do, one of those big ones in my English binder. I uncurled the clip, molding the metal into a straight line. I scraped the clip back and forth across my fat upper arm until beads of blood popped up.
It wasn’t enough. I took a deep breath. I scraped four more times, changing the line into an angular B.
The scratches would burn and remind me what I’d done. Exactly what I deserved.
B’s note: The writing is good here. This is one of the times where I don’t want to start right in the action. I’m not connected to the character enough yet to be sympathetic about them mutilating themselves. In a story like this, we need to get to know your character and feel for them before this action. There can be hints of it, maybe glimpses of hiding scars or a friend seeing them and asking what they are. Others may feel differently than me, so I hope they’ll comment and tell us what they think.
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.