Monday, December 3, 2012

first impressions - Dream Thieves



Welcome to December and our first submission of the month from Christine Danek. This is the first page of her YA Paranormal, DREAM THIEVES. Sounds interesting already, eh? Anyway. My comments will be in purple and do go see what Dianne thought of this piece.

  
     The eyes I sketch on my notebook send chills up my spine. Those eyes are the only thing I remember from my sleepless nights. I glance down at my mangled arm. (Mangled? How mangled?) The hideous bruise and cuts are souvenirs from last night. I rub my elbow and pain shoots up to my shoulder. Thanks to my ex-boyfriend, Graham, these nightmares have invaded my life for the past three months.  This first paragraph is both intriguing and a little confusing. I'm not sure if the injuries are from the boyfriend or from in the dream or maybe both or something else I haven't figured out. I also wonder how parents could not notice a mangled arm but I suppose there all too many parents caught up in their own lives/worries that don't notice what's right in front of them.
     I wince as I pull my hair up in a loose knot and crack the window. Everything is quiet except for a lone cricket and an owl. It seems a little warm for May, but it means school’s almost over. My bed creaks as I sit on the edge. A large stack of papers topped with a yellow Post-It stare back me from my nightstand. There's nothing wrong with the part I cut; I just think you need to pick up the pace a little. You could easily keep the part about the weather instead and school being almost over, which might be more important.

     Sadie,
Go through these applications and think about a major. We need to visit more schools when I return. Your father and I want to see what you got on your English exam. I set up a tutoring session on Saturday at 1:00. Keep in mind, if your grades and attitude don’t improve, there’s a spot at a boarding school for you next year. (Now me, boarding school doesn't sound so bad - in fact, if my parents had sent me away I would've been thrilled! I'm curious as to why Sadie doesn't feel this way. Why does she want to stay where she is?)
Mom  
     I pick up the large pile of college applications and drop them on the floor, rustling up a ton of hidden dust. The pressure to pick a major is annoying. I have no idea what I want to do. Of course, my brother knew he wanted to be a doctor, like my dad, since he was five. Of course he got into Yale for undergrad. Of course he got accepted to USC for medical school. He’s the child that paved the way and I’m the pothole growing in the middle.  
     This weekend was for me to breathe. No parents to drill into my head how worthless I am. Nothing like adding more pressure--a study session with probably some nerd. (I see possibilities here) Crap. And the threat of boarding school. Double crap. My relaxing weekend has turned into anxiety hell. Somehow a weekend without the parents and a possibly nerdy tutor doesn't seem as bad as the ex-boyfriend and the bad dreams. It feels like Sadie's focus isn't on what's really bothering her, which is what I would think she'd be dwelling on. Plus boarding school sounds like an escape to me (and possibly a good one, depending on the boarding school), an escape from her parents, the ex-bf, and possibly the dreams. But that's just my take on it. Someone else might think very differently. Nevertheless, I'm very curious about what's going on and I'm beginning to care about Sadie. I want to know more about these bad dreams she's having and what's going to happen to her.

Now, what about you guys? What do you think of this first page? How could it be better?

    

18 comments:

  1. I just love seeing the different takes on these pages here and at Dianne's.

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    1. It is interesting, isn't it? And it illustrates how important it is to get more than a single opinion.

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  2. I'd want to know which was the focus - the dreams and boyfriend or the boarding school.

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  3. It's hard to say without seeing more, but the topic of boyfriend abuse is intriguing to me. It's something that a lot of teenage girls experience, so it's a worthy subject to dive into deeper.

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    1. I agree with you there, LG.

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  4. You ask good questions. The title "Dream Thieves" does make you question as to whether the injuries are from dream or reality. It's a very "Nightmare on Elm Street" scenario that I'm envisioning. But there isn't enough to go on here.

    Dream fiction needs to be handled with care. It can easily turn into something that frustrates a reader.

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  5. I already commented at Dianne's, so I'll keep it short here. It never occurred to me that her reaction to the threat of boarding school was unusual. When I was growing up, boarding school was reserved for the "rich kids", and being sent away usually meant they weren't particularly wanted at home.

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  6. Thank you so much, Marcy. Your comments have been so helpful. I can't thank you enough. Also, thank you to all who have commented. Your feedback is appreciated and helpful.

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  7. From a reader's perspective, I liked the title "Dream Thieves" and I agree w/ LG about the boyfriend abuse. To me what hooked me was this sentence: "Thanks to my ex-boyfriend, Graham, these nightmares have invaded my life for the past three months." At that point I wanted to know more about that vs. her everyday life. Make sense?

    Either way, I enjoyed what you've got. Best of luck Christine.

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  8. thank you everyone for commenting :)

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  9. I commented over on Dianne's blog, so I won't say much here. But I did want to say I think you're very brave to put your first page out there, Christine! Best of luck with this. Great potential there.

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  10. I just read this over at Dianne's! I knew it wasn't de ja vu. Christine's writing was fun to read!

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  11. I think Marcy has some really great advice. I commented on the item on Dianne's blog. Good luck, Christine! :-)

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  12. I have nothing more to add. Thanks for sharing this. =)

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  13. I'm not a YA reader - -
    But I think there is too much going on in these first few sentences.

    ......dhole

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  14. Excellent work and critique, you two! :)

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  15. The use of mangled didn't bother me, and then it did, and then it didn't. This all happened in the space of 1 second.

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