Monday, October 14, 2019

First 50 Critique - MG #3

NASA's 50th Anniversary
For all the details of how this works, click here.  We are NOT accepting entries this week.  But if you want to enter when we DO open the entry period, you must post a critique on at least TWO previous entries before you'll be able to submit.

Reminder: Be nice, but be honest. [Comments that are not polite/respectful will be deleted.] What would YOU like to know if this was YOUR first 50 words? Do you think it's a good opening line for the category/genre? Does it have a hook? Does it pull you into the story? Do you want to read more? Why or why not? Be specific, so your critique helps the person who wrote the entry.

Here's this week's awesome entry! 

First 50 Words – MG Entry #3

For a whole month, well, almost, I’d done everything I’d been told to do. I popped some gum in my mouth watching the other kids laughing and goofing off, acting like nothing was weird here. Yeah, right. I wanted to ditch lunch. Sneaking out wasn't easy. Unless I yelled "fire."

5 comments:

  1. I'm a little confused by what's going on here, and I think it's the style that's throwing me off. Cleaning that up would help a lot:

    "For a whole month - well, almost - I'd done everything I was told. I popped some gum into my mouth as I watched the other kids laughing and goofing off, as if nothing was weird."

    How would yelling "fire" make it easy to sneak away? Wouldn't that draw attention? I could see creating a diversion, but yelling "fire" when there's no fire is also illegal.

    I do like the feeling of disdain the MC has for the other kids. It's not something you see a lot in MG, and I think it's a fresh take.

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  2. I'm also a little puzzled, I agree with Amren - re-wording it would help a lot. That said, this opening does intrigue me, I'm wondering if it is an ordinary school or not. The 'nothing was weird' line makes me think there is more going on.

    A bit of re-wording and you're off to a great start, good luck!

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  3. >>For a whole month, well, almost, I’d done everything I’d been told to do.

    I expected the next sentence to build from this. What has this character done that s/he'd been told to do? Or conversely, what was the "almost" about? For example, the next sentence might be "I'd done my chores and finished my homework on time." Or conversely, "Except when I stole my brother's lunchbox." But the next sentence doesn't logically follow, at least not to me.

    >>I popped some gum in my mouth watching the other kids laughing and goofing off, acting like nothing was weird here.

    Something is weird here. I like that idea, but now I'm asking what's weird. The next line should give some kind of hint. Also, in my area kids aren't allowed to chew gum at school, FYI.

    >>Yeah, right. I wanted to ditch lunch. Sneaking out wasn't easy. Unless I yelled "fire."

    Why does s/he want to ditch lunch? Is it related to what's weird? Most kids like lunchtime. The reason why this MC doesn't like lunchtime is intriguing. Is s/he bullied? That's a common reason.

    Maybe changing the order of the sentences might help with the cause-effect flow. Plus add some additional thoughts so we get a hint of what has changed that the MC apparently isn't doing what s/he's supposed to do any more. And what's weird.

    Good luck!

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  4. You've received some great advice so I won't repeat those. I, too, was confused but you can easily fix.

    Perhaps you can say who told her/him to do things in your first sentence. Ex: For a whole month, well, almost, I'd done everything Principal Roberts told me to do.--- This would ground us right off that she’s talking about school. I agree with Dena that your next sentence jumps and really doesn’t build on your first sentence.

    Also, is it necessary to say “well, almost”? At first read, I wasn’t sure if she is referring to it being almost 30 days or she almost did everything she was supposed to do.

    The “weird” part could be built on so your reader understands or left for another paragraph.

    Finally, the last four interior thoughts just need more focus. I’d leave off the “Yeah, right” because you already said the kids were acting like nothing was weird so we get that your MC is thinking this already. Then perhaps, have more of a deeper thinking going on. Ex: “Gawd, I need to ditch lunch, get outta here. But sneaking out won’t be easy…unless I cause a mad rush by screaming fire.”

    Of course, these are just suggestions but at least you get to see how your first few lines affected your readers. I love the characterization with your MC that you have portrayed. Good “bones” here.

    Good luck!

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  5. Thank all of you for your great ideas. Really appreciate the suggestions!

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