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After The Madness Workshop # B-8

Thursday, 29 March 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Welcome to day four 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-8 Ryann Jansen

I focused on the silver haired woman standing in her doorway in front of me. The craggy lines of her face sunk in around her eyes and mouth. She looked like somebody’s sweet old granny. She might have been someone’s granny, but right then she seemed far from sweet.

B’s note: I’d add something unique to this first line other than the ‘silver haired woman’. You do such a great job with descriptions, put some of that in your first sentence and make it shine.

“Please, Mrs. Golden. This is all I have right now.” I pulled a wad of crumpled cash from my apron pocket. “It’s everything I made today, okay? I work a double tomorrow, and I’ll give you whatever I make then too.”

My landlady sighed as she counted out the bills, clicking her tongue against her teeth as the money piled from one of her sandpaper hands to the other. They were all one dollar bills, so it wasn’t nearly as much as it looked like. The sound made me want to smash my head into the ugly mustard colored walls around me, and the apartment behind her was so foul smelling it made my nose itch. It reeked of soured food and must. Birds cawed in their cages, flapping their wings as they bounced around. Between the smells, the birds and the disgusting sound Mrs. Golden was making as she counted my meager earnings, it was amazing I didn’t start clawing at the walls.

“This is only forty-seven dollars, Audrey. Your mother owes me over a thousand! It would take you years to work it off at this pace, which is time I don’t have. I need a tenant who pays rent.”

B’s notes: The writing and descriptions are wonderful, and I’d keep reading because of it. Also, we see that Audrey has to take care of the rent because her mom can’t, which sets up conflict. With that said, I think you need a bigger hook to start with. Reel us in and then give us this scene.

I hope this helps! <3

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 agree with, B. From the “silver-haired woman,” I’d fire right into the smells and/or bird calls. The third paragraph is $$. Excellent set up/tension. This feels like the cusp of an inciting moment/crisis that won’t take us 4700 pages to get to. Good stuff, RJ!

    Buona fortuna.

  • Ryann says:

    Wow, thanks, y’all. Both of your comments made me smile! 🙂

  • I also love the third paragraph. I have a little less love for the repeated adjective/noun pairings throughout the other paragraphs. Not every noun needs a modifier . . . and I think isolating a few will give them more zing.

    I too, am interested to know the rest of Audrey’s story.

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