Friday, February 1, 2013

The Blinded Gardener

It's time for first impressions again and today we have Michael Di Gesu's YA Contemporary, THE BLINDED GARDENER. I was lucky enough to have actually met Michael in person last year in Florida, and I can tell you he is one of the nicest people ever. My comments will be in purple and when you have a moment, go see what Dianne Salerni had to say about this excerpt. Oh, and if you click on the pic, it will take you to Michael's blog :)


One moment I’m Dad’s personal punching bag, and the next, well, I’m a pawn in his maniacal master plan. That was, until Danny entered the picture and discovered my secret ... I wonder if this information might work better as a show after the mc and Danny meet?

Once again, I found myself at a new school, the third in two years. It sucked having to live by Dad’s starched and mind-numbing military code 24/7. How much more could I take? No honorable discharge was in my future. Not until I turn eighteen. That is if I live that long. I’d actually prefer this as the beginning but show the setting first – the school – and then the mc’s weariness at being at yet another school and under his awful dad’s thumb.
As the son of a Marine Corps Captain, I had little choice in the decision making of my life. Dad used his usual tactics (I want to know what his usual tactics are. Did he get custody in some underhanded way?) to persuade me to leave my mom and San Diego to move across the country with him. Needless to say, life in Beaufort, North Carolina wasn’t anything like I had expected. 
The warning bell rang for first period. Lockers slammed and the halls cleared. As I wandered about searching for my classroom, someone approached me from behind. Long bangs fell over his eyes as he loped past me with a kind of natural ease. If he’s approaching from behind it would be hard for the narrator to see his bangs. A little rewording could fix this: “…someone approached from behind and as he loped past I caught a glimpse of long bangs falling over his eyes.” You can probably reword it better :)
Didn’t he see me standing here, screwing around with this frickin’ map?
“Hey, dude. Could you tell me how to get to room 305?”
A slight curl formed on his lips as he faced me. He tossed his head. (I think you mean hair, yes?) Platinum fringe shifted to the side and revealed freakish blue eyes that glanced toward me, unfocused.
Holy shit! Is he blind? Or is he stoned?
“I’m heading that way.” His deep voice (words rather than voice, I think) held a trace of a southern accent. 
            He glided toward the stairs. I envied his height: well over six feet and me just an average dude.
“You better move. Connors has little patience when you’re late.” He never looked back once, not even when he spoke. Is this info important? If not I'd cut it.
I rushed to catch up to him. His hand overshot the dented metal banister. On the second swipe, he made contact and climbed the stairs. 
“What’s your name?” he asked, with his back to me. I don't think you need this.
He turned the corner and rammed his shoulder into the side. “Damn!” He shook it off and coasted down the hall, stopping abruptly. “Here you are.” A glint of blue shot at me from under his bangs. “By the way, I’m Danny,” he said, low. He did an about face and slipped down another corridor. 
            Strange. I wonder what his deal is?

Interesting! I'd be curious about this person, too, especially if he's blind and not even using a cane to find his way. The one thing that might make this first page even better is a bigger glimpse into Aiden's inner life. How is he feeling at being at yet another school? Is he angry? Weary? Frustrated? Can you show this in his body language? Maybe if you have him rub absently at a sore spot or pull his sleeves down to hide a bruise then you can show some of what you tell in that first paragraph. And what a perfect friend a blind person would be for someone like Aidan. He might feel safe with someone like that, might think he won't see what he can't. I'm not sure if that's where you're going but it's what occurred to me. I also think that adding a little more about how Aidan is feeling will create more sympathy for him and, as we all know, readers love characters they can sympathize with. 

Now, what do you guys think about Michael's first page?


  1. Interesting. I'd say your comments are spot on, again. I too would start with second paragraph and maybe add just a touch more detail - name of the school, for instance or state to give more of a visual. Schools in Florida are laid out differently than schools in the north east: open courtyards versus closed and confined interiors. It might help with clearly defining the setting without a long description.

  2. You had me at Florida. That sounds nice about now.

  3. I want to know more!
    Think you made some good suggestions. A little rewording will make things clearer, like the approaching from behind part.

  4. Great excerpt, and I'm definitely intrigued and wanting to know more. I like the idea of having the mc try to hide a bruise or something as a way to show rather than tell.

  5. oooh, we do love us our dear blogging hunkster Michael!

  6. Yeah, I agree the first couple of paragraphs are a little too telling. Nothing wrong with taking a little time to show why his life is difficult. It would actually help us sympathize with the mc more and realize why this new person in his life is such an important event.

  7. Hey, Marcy! Michael...

    Left my thoughts over on Dianne's site.

  8. Oh you can tell that Michael is a former model. Just look at that pose. He looks damn fine. I should ask him if he's single...

    I love the voice that Michael puts into this particular piece.

  9. I already commented on Dianne's blog, but I forgot to mention that I was also a bit confused at "usual tactics" in the third para. It it his physical aggression, blackmail, threats? I do like that when the action starts, nothing's overwritten or overemotional. Good "boy" voice. :-)

  10. Thanks Marcy,

    Those are great suggestions. I can't believe I missed the behind visual.... DUH! LOL.

    I appreciate your comments everyone!

  11. I agree with your suggestions! It's an intriguing first page, and I like that the relationship between the two boys is established at the beginning of the story.

  12. I already commenting on Diane's blog. Just wanted to say Hi! :)

  13. I like both characters and I'm intrigued enough to turn the page. I really like Marcy's suggestion to start with the second paragraph and let us meet Danny when the MC does.

  14. Great characterization, and the pace really picks up once we have some action.


If you're interested in my blog I'm interested in your comments.