Monday, July 7, 2014

First Impressions - Ninja Squirrels of the One Hundred Acre Wood


Our second First Impression comes from Mike Hays.
You can find Mike here, and to see what author Dianne Salerni thought of this first page, head over to her place. Here is page one of Ninja Squirrels of the One Hundred Acre Wood, Book One, an MG fantasy.


“The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.”
-Japanese Proverb

I. The Wood, Bees, and a Bear
Chapter 1
     It was one of those beautiful days when all seems good in the world. The sun filtered through the trees and, in the open meadow, the rays danced along the waves of grass. Two black squirrels ran down a gravel bank toward a lazy creek, one chasing after the other. The leader's tail swished and bounced in the bright sunshine as it bounded to the edge of the creek and jumped to a gray stone several feet off the bank. The squirrel hopped from stone to stone over the water until it reached the other side.
The second squirrel followed across the smooth stones of the creek bed and onto the opposite shore, where both squirrels raced toward a thick wood. They spiraled up a tree trunk and jumped to a branch of the adjoining tree, racing in the branches across the canopy. The second squirrel matched each twist, turn, and leap with near perfect precision. From tree to tree, they moved with grace and ease until they reached the last tree at the edge of the wood.
The first squirrel dove down the trunk and bounded into an open field of tall grass. It stopped just past the edge of the tree's shadow line and hid in the thick, deep grass. As the bushy black tail disappeared into the grass, its black head popped up and scanned the open ground. The squirrel looked across the meadow at a grove of pine trees with a single oak tree in the middle. The second squirrel move alongside.
“By the way, I’m Konran, Kon to my friends,” the lead squirrel said, swinging its tail around and tapping the other squirrel on the shoulder.
The second squirrel repeated the tail tap. “I’m Kuji.”
Kon looked Kuji up and down. “Master Jonin says you’re the one,” he said with a wary look.
Kuji shrugged. “I don’t know nothing about any of that. This is where I was told to go at the Academy. ‘Meet a black squirrel at the creek crossing around midday’ was all they told me.” He looked toward the pine grove. "Is that it?" he asked.
Kon nodded his head. "Yep, that's it, headquarters. Kuji, welcome to the One Hundred Acre Wood."
"Whoa!"
"Better close that mouth of yours before a bug flies in there." Kon jumped into the grass and bounced in the direction of the pine trees. "Race you there!"
"Hey! Wait!" Kuji yelled, chasing across the deep grass. "I have no idea where I'm going." 

***

First impression: for an MG fantasy, it takes too long to get to the two squirrels talking - imo. There's also some awkward phrasing which confused me, some of it caused by the use of the pronoun it. If eventually the squirrels will be referred to as he/she, I might start now. Overall, I think if the first three paragraphs could be condensed so we get to the meeting sooner, that way we get to meet our main character sooner.

On the positive side, I LOVE the first line. I can feel what kind of day it is. I also love how the squirrels are described and any revising of the paragraphs must include all those great adjectives like swished, bounced, ran, raced, etc. I really got a sense of them acting exactly like squirrels - and I happen to like squirrels! Lastly, I would definitely read on because I want to see how the bees and bear come into this chapter! 

What do you guys think? I'd especially like to hear from those of you who read MG as I don't read enough to consider myself an expert by a long shot. Plus, you know we love comments and comments help authors get better!

See you Wednesday with our last First Impression for July :)

15 comments:

  1. Maybe flip it so the conversation is first?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alex. I am thinking about weaving the conversation, particularly the introduction in after they cross the creek. It's like putting a puzzle together.

      Delete
  2. LOL, Marcy! I said the exact opposite about the first line!

    I always wonder what writers think when we give opposite suggestions. Scratch their heads and wonder, "WTH should I do now?" It just goes to show how subjective this whole business is!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great minds think...completely opposite. It actually makes sense to me, it means there's something good that is just not right. Thanks!

      Delete
  3. I had the same reaction to the first line. Super good. But the rest had me backtracking to see if the squirrels were, um, squirrels or what.
    IMHO, the action needed to start quicker with less descriptions. The first line was a winner, loved it. Build from that moment. Let it speak for the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I think the pieces are there, it just needs some rearranging.

      Delete
  4. The title alone is enough to drag you in and read a few pages.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear that Francis. The title came before the story as I was mowing the lawn and getting barked at from all my "pet" squirrels. Then all the "what if's" started.

      Delete
  5. I hate when it takes to long for the squirrels to start talking. That line just cracked me up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know squirrels, Stephanie, they rarely are well behaved or cooperate.

      Delete
  6. A huge THANK YOU to Marcy for the opportunity. I can't tell you how much this helps me get this story off the ground. Grateful for all the comments and suggestions. I will definitely like to come back next time I have a first page ready (or think I have ready).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Congrats, brave Mike, for submitting your work for critique!

    ReplyDelete
  8. good luck to Mike with his work!

    ReplyDelete
  9. i agree with marcy. it's cute, but it has flow issues. the dialog is slang and formal - ...Kon, to my friends vs ...don't know nothing. I like their names and seeing a squirrel story, tho! good luck!

    and marcy, thanks for supporting my BBF blog tour!

    ReplyDelete

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