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After The Madness Workshop # B-16

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-16 Linda

My name is Jimmy. Like a boy. Except, I’m a girl. I’m named after my daddy Jimmy Lee Johnson, Jr. My great-aunt Millie says my name is stupid. And if my mama hadn’t been so crazy about that boy (meaning my daddy), I might’ve at least had a decent name. If nothing else.

B’s notes: Great voice here! The first sentence isn’t spectacular, but with the rest of the paragraph, it definitely hooked me.

She says when a gum-smacking nurse laid me on Mama’s chest and asked, “So, sweetie, whatcha gonna call her?” Mama smiled and foolishly answered, “Jimmy. Just like her daddy.”

Aunt Millie grunted. “Jimmy? What kind ‘a name is that for a girl?”

Aunt Millie says Mama stared at her like she’d just swallowed a pickle and turned green.

“Why can’t you call her Jenny?” Aunt Millie then asked. “Now that’s a pretty name for a girl. And it’s close to Jimmy.”

Mama rolled her eyes at Aunt Millie then turned her attention back to the nurse. “Her name is Jimmy,” she said, smiling proudly. “Jimmy Lee.”

Aunt Millie says the nurse winked at Mama and said, “What’s in a name, right?”

But Aunt Millie said, “Don’t be a fool, Darlynn. You can’t have that gal going through life with a boy’s name.”

“Her name’s Jimmy Lee Johnson,” Mama told to the nurse, flat out ignoring Aunt Millie.

Aunt Millie says the nurse looked at Mama real funny then cleared her throat and said flatly, “You can’t name her that, sweetie.”

“Can’t name her what?” Mama asked. Aunt Millie says she all of a sudden dropped that cocky smile like a can of hot grease.

B’s note: I love the writing and the voice here, but the whole name thing drags on too long. I do love the scene, so I was torn about this one. I think the first paragraph about the name is all you need. This bit about fighting over Jimmy’s name doesn’t move the story forward. Get us to the inciting event sooner. Where does your story truly begin? If you keep this, you might want to replace some of the ‘Jimmys’. (Example: Mama rolled her eyes at Aunt Millie then turned her attention back to the nurse. “Well, that’s her name,” she said, smiling proudly.

I could be wrong about this, but it was my first instinct as I read. Hopefully, others will chime in here so we can get some more opinions about it. 

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

  • Thank you, Brenda! Yes, your comments are definitely helpful. And thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my first 250. 🙂

  • SueJay says:

    I agree with what Brenda said. The voice is wonderful, and it’s interesting backstory, but it doesn’t feel like we’re moving along into what’s really going to happen to the girl named Jimmy. I’d just keep the first paragraph, and if the rest is somehow vital to the story, I’d put it in late after something happens.

  • Thanks, SueJay. 🙂

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