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The Teenaged Nitpick Critique: 8

Thursday, 27 September 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

 Genre: YA contemporary
In the green room, she’d be herself again. [Nice first line!]  
Away from the cymbals clanging in her ears and the bass throbbing in her belly [“throbbing in her belly” is a weird phrasing to me… Maybe just say “the pulse of the bass”?], she’d be Charlie the dork. Charlie the siren,  That girl who shimmied and gyrated and crooned like she knew how to string sentences together, would be dead, because the real Charlotte [stick with “Charlie.” It’s a little odd to use variations of the names when we’re still trying to get acquainted with the MC.]usually fumbled through basic conversations. She was the one who wanted to lose. She was the one who wanted it all to be over. [She wanted to lose? She wanted it to be over? I don’t know what you mean by that. No one wants to lose. If you’re trying to say she’s introverted, we get that sense from the “conversations” line.]
Charlie clamped the mic back onto the stand, turned her back on the applause and hurried off the stage and through a badly lit corridor. Hands trembling [why are her hands trembling?], she staggered into the green room and sunk onto the couch, careful to avoid the scrubbed-out stain that was once dirt or vomit or something more sinister. Safety. Finally.
Then she forced herself to smile, ready to lie to her best friend, who was heading inside with her guitar slung over her shoulder.
Roxanne claimed the cushion next to Charlie and hugged her blue Ibanez to her lap. “Well. We were fucking awful,” she said, dragging her lucky pick along the E string she’d re-fitted earlier that day. “Weren’t we?” she asked.  [Don’t need this.]
“Hey—um—don’t say the f-word, okay?” [No one would say this, or at least not this awkwardly. I’d just say, “Layla’s listening, remember?” to get the same point across, but in a more believable way.] Charlie said. Her hands shook and she gulped the cool air like she’d never breathed before in her life. [Why is she so freaked out? I still don’t understand. Is it post-performance stress?] “Layla’s listening.”
“‘Fuck’ and I are well-acquainted,” [Don’t ever get rid of this line. It totally won me over. ;-)] Layla said, as she entered the room, towing [I’d stick with “pulling” instead of “towing,” personally.] her amp across the weirdly dampcarpet. “TV. Movies. The door of the second stall of the girls’ bathroom in the BHS gym.”  [This sentence after ruins that perfect line of dialogue you have.]
Overall, I really like this, especially that last line of dialogue. You’ve set up an interesting situation here, the writing is easy to get into, and you have me wanting more. My one critique is to make clearer why Charlie seems so nervous. Good luck!

* Comments are welcomed. Each critique comment you make on the entries’ posts, is an entry into the drawing to win one of five 500 word critiques from me (Brenda). It can be ANY 250 words — your query, the first page, or a page any where in the manuscript that you want a second pair of eyes on.

One Comment
  • Meagan says:

    Bass to me doesn’t really hit the stomach, but more like the chest? Whenever I’m close to it, I definitely feel it, but it’s always in my chest.

    The first paragraph got me a little confused too, actually. I think it’s mostly word choice that sticks out.

    I’d replace “how to string sentences” with “how to string WORDS” together, because you don’t really think of music in sentences, but definitely words.

    “She was the one who wanted to lose. She was the one who wanted it all to be over.” I definitely don’t get what she wants to lose, or why.

    I think clarify this, and it’d be much smoother reading! Good luck.

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