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After The Madness Workshop # B-15

Monday, 2 April 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Welcome to the final day 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-15 Crystal Licata

A bag of ice from The Quick Stop was the last thing I had expected to act as the catalyst in the return of some bad, and occasionally illegal, habits from my past. B’s notes: Great first line! I’m intrigued. But a bag of ice was a crucial ingredient for our end of summer bash and halfway through the party, we had run out. I volunteered for the ice run and had almost made it back to the barn when the V-dub quit on me. Sam had failed to inform me (that) it was a “smack” day. The V-dubs fuel gauge only worked every other day. The days in between required smacking it to get it functioning.

I climbed out of the rusty, banged up thing and kicked the tire because it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. It stunk horribly like paint thinner (comma) and I questioned whether gas was the only thing Sam fueled it with. I pulled out my phone and paced up and down the dirt sidewalk, calling everyone I considered ‘safe enough, intoxicated drivers’. No one answered, so I settled for walking. I hoisted the bag of ice on my shoulder then trudged down the dimly lit street. Resting it against my chest was out of the question considering my poor choice to not wear a bra. Hopefully, someone heading to the party would pick me up before I froze.

B’s notes: This is YA, so why isn’t she wearing a bra? Is she a hippie? All the teens I know wouldn’t be caught without a sexy bra from VS, even if they were flat-chested. I could live in the only place where this is the case, so ask around. 

After stepping in an ankle-deep puddle, two dogs scaring the hell out of me, and having to hide behind the Penswood Winery sign when the Sheriff drove by, I finally dropped the bag.  

B’s notes: I really like the voice here. I’d definitely read more. If you’re having issues about getting requests, you might consider moving quicker to the event that makes the bag of ice the catalyst to her demise. If you’re looking to cut something to get to the inciting event faster, I’d cut the last four sentences in the second paragraph and work in the details you need into the third paragraph.

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.


Filed: Misc, Workshops

  • I LOVE the voice and imagery. From the beginning, I got old-soul, granola girl out of this so the VW and wardrobe choice didn’t set off bells with me. I love the evocative promise of bad habits and corner stores that are never as close to home as they are to trouble. Good stuff, CL.

    Buona fortuna!

  • Meagan says:

    I have to disagree about the bra thing — I know plenty of teens who don’t need bras and don’t wear them when they don’t have to.

    This is a great beginning, and it’s something I’d read more, of too. I do think that first line is a little long and meandering for it to pack the punch it could, though. A simple edit could be:

    “A bag of ice was the last thing I had expected to act as the catalyst in the return of some [of the?] bad habits from my past.”

    I know that the “sometimes illegal” part could potentially be important, but it’s something that could be elaborated on in a few sentences, or further on.

  • I agree, the first line is interesting, but I had to re-read a couple of times to get it through my head . . . so maybe it could be tightened a few words.

    I also think what actually takes place in this scene could be summarized in three sentences – ugly ones, with no love – so, that tells me you could move things along a bit more rapidly.

    You could lose a descriptor or adjective here and there and avoid listing those items in the last paragraph. I’m never a fan of lists, but maybe you were trying to fit those things in under the word count.

    I also am interested in her story, where she’s going, and the question in my mind was, is she alone or is someone with her now?

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