Monday, February 6, 2012

first impressions - Manifested

 Out third and final submission for February comes from Margo Kelly. This is the first page of her YA Adventure. Dianne's thoughts on this piece can be found at her blog, In High Spirits and mine will be in purple. Yours, should you choose to give them, can be left in the comments. And in an effort to encourage comments (remember, my words aren't written in stone and I'll wager the author would love to hear other opinions) I will offer any commenter a bookmark (see sidebar, scroll down to bottom) made by yours truly. So don't be shy!

Luke Michaelson sat alone at the small desk in his bedroom and methodically spun a closed pocket knife with his index finger. A family camping trip in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho sounded like a stupid idea to him, but Mom and Dad insisted this next week it would be a great adventure. Dad expected him to help pack today, but Luke needed a few minutes alone. I wonder why?
With his thumb and index finger, he tugged at the stubborn blade of the pocket knife. Unable to open it, Luke reached across his desk and dragged the lamp closer. He gripped the casing of the knife tightly with his left hand and yanked with his right. When the blade flipped out suddenly, it surprised Luke, and he let go. As it slipped from his hand, the blade slashed the skin between his thumb and index finger.
            Luke groaned, shook his hand, and then tried sucking the cut to alleviate the pain. Nausea swelled in his gut, but he refused to panic. (Is it that bad of a cut? If not why would he panic? Just asking...) When he withdrew his hand to examine the damage, no slice remained. He leaned forward and held his hand under the bright lamp. Light glinted off the opals he wore around his wrist, (whoa! wait a minute, what opals around his wrist?!) making him squint momentarily. But no cut remained. Nothing. He studied the alarm clock next to his bed: 10 a.m. Dad shouldn’t miss him for awhile yet. So, he hopped up, locked his door, turned up the volume on his music, and sat back down at his desk. He picked up his pocket knife; blood glistened on the edge of the blade. Luke examined his hand again where the cut should have been. Nothing.

Overall I liked this and I would be curious enough to turn the page but I can think of a couple things that might* make it better: One find a way to make this scene a little more tense. Maybe shorten up some of the sentences, because this is a definite wow when Luke discovers he either wasn't injured as he thought or miraculously healed in seconds. Two I'd like to see more of Luke's emotional side. I'm not sure how old he is but I'd be willing to wager a discovery like that would warrant a "Holy Shit!" Or something like it. More emotion from Luke means a better connection with the reader. Three, I wonder if there could/should something more about that interesting/curious bracelet he's wearing, a hint of its significance, because that's another hmm, moment. Boys don't usually wear bracelets like that.

Those are my thoughts, anyone else want to chime in?

*I say might because I like to remind authors that ultimately they are the best judge for what will work and what won't.


  1. Interesting premise! Yes, needs a little more tension so the scene isn't just matter-of-fact.

  2. Thanks for the comments! If you're interested in reading the entire first chapter, visit my website:

    Thanks again for the great feedback! :)

  3. I commented over at Dianne's blog. I thought the opening description was good but I agreed with Dianne that the story starts with the cut healing miraculously in seconds and perhaps should begin there. Great piece.

  4. I already commented on Dianne's blog, but I'll add one more comment here about that bracelet. My grandmother used to insist it was "bad luck" for anyone to wear an opal unless it was that person's birthstone, so I immediately wondered about the significance of that opal bracelet. And I'm definitely intrigued at the possibilities. You got my attention!

  5. The opal bracelet threw me a bit as well. I could picture it on a girl, but on a boy it felt out-of-place.

  6. I like the made me think and want to know more. I agree that I would like to read more emotion. Very good, Margo!

  7. I'd like to see more imagery of what his hand looked like when it was cut (without being gory) and after it healed. The author tell us he cut himself, then tells us it healed, but but we don't see it. And while we are at it, what did the pocket knife look like? Was it a Swiss Army knife or was the handle made of ivory. What did his room look like? Engaging the senses and sharing them produce the kind of details that pull a reader into a story and make them live it.

    That said, this is a cool premise!


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