Monday, November 25, 2019

First 50 Critique - YA Contemporary #4

Thanksgiving in 3 days!
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 entry.

First 50 Words - YA Contemporary #4

Dear future Chelsea,

I know there’s a break-up waiting for everyone. The girl standing outside the theater, waiting in line to buy a ticket, or the boy sitting on the bench, sliding his thumb continuously over his phone screen. They’re all an arm’s length away from heartache.


  1. Good first line! It had me waiting with baited breath to read what comes next. What will be revealed after the but...? And is there going to be a romantic twist that turns into a love story in the end?

  2. That's an opening that slams a reader with all the feels. Very powerful.
    Everyone though? Some people actually don't break up. Probably not relevant here. Just a thought.

  3. Cute voice. Nice intro that makes me want to read on to see what Chelsea's heartbreak is going to be, as alluded to in this beginning.

  4. It feels like a little bit of a downer opening and in some ways, that turns me off, but it's also intriguing. I want to know if her specific examples are part of this breakup and how and I want to know about her Dear Future self. LOL

  5. This is a really intriguing opening; it really pulled me in. I want to know how and why Chelsea is writing to her future self, and why she's so pessimistic about relationships.

    But I also wonder: who are we going to hear from? Chelsea-who-writes-the-letter or future Chelsea? If it's future Chelsea, is this essentially a Dreaded Prologue?

    Anyway, for my 2c worth I'd revise like this:

    Dear future Chelsea,

    I know there’s a break-up coming for everyone. The girl waiting to buy a ticket outside the theater, or the boy on the bench sliding his thumb over his phone screen. Everyone's an arm’s length from heartache.

    Why like this?
    >People on benches sit. People in queues stand. You don't need those extra words in order to visualize them.
    >"Away from" and "from" mean the same; you don't need two words to say what one can.
    >“They all” doesn't seem to fit with the girl and boy, or relate nicely to “everyone” so I changed it to “everyone's” to make it more obvious as a link back to that previous sentence.
    > You had two “waiting”s in two sentences so I changed the first one.

    I wondered about the opening, "I know that..." phrase. It felt clunky, and it took me a while to figure out why. Normally when someone writes a letter it's because they want *someone else* (in this case future Chelsea) to know something. So it's weird to have a letter starting "I know..." (Unless it's meant to be threatening: "Dear Joe, I know where the bodies are.") Is this what you intended, or is it something *future Chelsea* needs to know? So it would be better to start, "I want you to know..."? Just a thought.

    Great job, I want to read this!! :)


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