Wednesday, January 2, 2013

first impressions - Keep Away


Today we have our very first first impression of 2013. A big thanks to Joanne who is submitting the first page of her MG contemporary/mystery, KEEP AWAY. Her blog is My Brain on Books and you should definitely go over and say hi. I'll be commenting in purple (my favorite color for those who don't know) and Dianne Salerni is critiquing this same first page on her blog so don't forget to pop over and see what she had to say.

Chapter One - Chicken
                                                                                          
          Jake never expected to be standing on this bridge again. Not after what happened last year. (Nice hook.) The rough cement scraped his bare feet. He clung to the wire fencing behind him and shivered in his swimsuit. Luckily for him, the August sun was playing Hide and Seek behind thick clouds. Maybe he could pretend his goose bumps were from the weather. Notice all the active verbs?
          Next to him, Flip Farrell balanced on the narrow ledge as lightly and easily as if he were standing on solid ground. He didn’t even need to touch the high fence behind them. “Kankowski, are you nervous?” Flip laughed. “I thought you grew up here. I thought everyone did this. I figured it was some sort of Pocono Mountains rite of passage.”
          Jake shook his head. Half the time when Flip talked Jake didn’t understand him. “If my parents knew we were jumping off the Ledgedale Bridge, I’d be grounded for life.”
          Flip shrugged. “Aw, who cares about parents?”  
          Far below the two boys, the choppy water of Lake Wallenpaupack looked almost black. Murky. It made Jake think of horror movies, of drowning and death and pale limp bodies. No. Not that. (ooh, was that hint of what happened before...?) A strong breeze carried the high-pitched whine of boat motors and the bitter fumes of their exhaust. He swallowed hard. The three cinnamon rolls he had wolfed down for breakfast were threatening threatened to come back up. He choked back the acid taste and wondered why he’d said yes to Flip’s idea. Hmm, yes why did he?
          A guy’s thirteenth summer was supposed to be more fun than this. 
          A car rattled over the bridge behind them and a deep voice yelled, “Go for it!” Jake shuddered but didn’t release his tight grip on the wire. His palms were starting to hurt.  
          Flip laughed softly. “You’re chicken, aren’t you? Come on, Rock, Paper, Scissors. Loser jumps first.”
          


This is a pretty darn good beginning, imo. We've got an excellent hook with the first line which strongly hints at some past unpleasantness plus Jake's memory prompted by the murky looking lake which reminds him of 'death and pale limp bodies.' I can't help but wonder whether this is something he's seen before, which would be pretty horrifying for a thirteen year old. Flip strikes me as your typical sassy does what he wants boy, the sort who manages to talk other people into doing what he wants whether they want to or not. And Jake, for reasons we don't understand yet, is trying to impress him. I would definitely read on to find out what happens next AND what happened before. Nice job. 

Now, what do you think of Joanne's first page? Any suggestions? Comments? You know we love comments around here so don't be shy!

17 comments:

  1. smooth read! definitely tempted to read more!

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  2. Yeah, I didn't see anything wrong with it - flowed and was intriguing.

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  3. Nice job, Joanne! Best of luck with KEEP AWAY :)

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  4. Thanks so much, Marcy and everyone. I really needed to hear this right now.

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  5. I agree with everyone. It was good. She used active verbs, and she set the scene, background and characterization well. We already have a feel for each of the boys.

    One thing I didn't get is why he didn't understand half of what Flip said. Did it not make sense? Did he have an accent or speech impairment? No one else had the same question, so I probably just missed something.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. Thanks, Shannon. I thought the phrase "rite of passage" might be a little advanced for Jake (who has trouble in school, although you wouldn't know that here!), but if it's confusing, that's an excellent reason to change it. Every bit of feedback helps, so thank you!

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    2. Joanne, Most of my 5th graders would give me a blank stare over the phrase "rite of passage." So I think it works.

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    3. Ahaha, Dianne! Thanks.

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  6. I agree. I liked it. It felt dark and yet really intriguing. Well done.

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  7. Wow! It reads great, and I'm really interested in what happened before and what happens next (plus I want to kick Flip - sorry, gut reaction to bullying).

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    1. Yes! You totally get my character. Thank you so much, Tyrean.

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  8. great hook and a wonderful job with characterization.I can really feel personalities of both kids through the dialogue. great job!

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  9. Wow! I concur. Pretty clean read, I think. Nice place to end it, too. I wanna know the outcome! :)

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  10. I think this is a great first page. There's an emotional connection to the character along with a bit of action, as he's by the edge of the bridge.

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  11. Thank you so much for the encouragement, everyone. And thanks again Marcy.

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  12. I liked it - it did what it needed to do...got me wanting more!!

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