Monday, March 2, 2015

First Impressions - The B.I.M. - Basic Intelligence Model.


Wow, it's finally March. We still have a ton of snow but the temperatures do seem to be inching ever so slowly upwards. Thank goodness! And welcome to another edition of First Impressions, where author Dianne Salerni and I each critique someone's first page. Today we have the first page of Tonja's MG Sci-fi, THE B.I.M. - BASIC INTELLIGENCE MODEL  2.




A chicken flapped past the window. Then another. Daniel shoved the kitchen chair aside and pushed his nose against the dirty glass pane.
      Talk about a feathered frenzy! Outside, chickens flapped everywhere. Up and down, left and right, feathers thick as clouds. Dead in the center of it all, waving his arms like a bird brain himself, was Uncle Bob. (I get a great visual in my head - chicken chaos!)   
      "Dag nab it, chickens! Get back into that coop!" The old man's voice thundered in the squawking storm.
      Daniel pulled back from the window before the old man saw him. Any other day, he'd go out there and help, but today wasn't just any other day. In less than an hour, all the boys in the sixth grade...well, soon to be seventh...would meet at the swimming hole for the biggest event of the year--the crowning of the Cannonball King.(Is this a public event or a private one...?) For the first time, Daniel had a real shot at getting the title. No way was he going to let a bunch of chickens ruin his chances this time!
      Ignoring the little voice in the back of his head, which told him to get his sorry backside out to his uncle, Daniel snatched a towel from the hook between the stained work coats and pushed open the back screen door. As it creaked open, a menacing snarl growled in his belly.  
      Darn it. No cannonball king could rule on an empty stomach.
      Luckily, the chickens still clucked and cackled away outside. Uncle Bob wasn't done with those birds yet, which gave Daniel plenty of time to snatch breakfast, one fit for a king. He spun back around and rushed to the refrigerator. The rusted door hinges squeaked as it swung open. But instead of a royal buffet, emptiness stared back at him. Two slices of bread and a carton of milk--barely enough to qualify as food let alone a meal. Daniel snatched a slice of bread, jammed it into his mouth and grabbed the milk. 
“It walks! It talks! Well, I’ll be dipped. I think it’s alive!” The screen door slammed shut sending a vibrating rattle through the kitchen. Pieces of straw fluttered down from Uncle Bob’s wild mane of white hair. The old man looked a lot like Santa Claus, not the clean ho-ho-hoey kind, but one that had rolled in the reindeer's straw while fixing an oil leak underneath the sleigh.
 ***

My thoughts: My first thought is that this seems like a pretty clean first page. There's great description, good voice, and we learn what Daniel wants, to be crowned the Cannonball King. We also get a glimpse into his life with his odd uncle, empty refrigerator, and a bunch of chickens. My only question is, why is being crowned Cannonball King so important to Daniel? And if it is so important, why didn't he think about preparing (eating breakfast) before? Aside from those questions, which might well be resolved on page two, I liked this first page and I think kids would like it, too. Daniel is very likeable and I'm curious to learn more about him and his eccentric uncle and strange life.

Tonja, thanks a million for submitting your first page. I hope I've been helpful! Readers, what did you think of this first page? Any comments or suggestions for Tonja? Want to know more about Tonja? You can find her here:

 


Don't forget to go see what Dianne thought of this first page, especially as she's more of an MG expert than I am. You can find her here :)

18 days 'til spring...





13 comments:

  1. I thought it was a really clean start as well. And the chickens were a humorous touch. Way to go, Tonja!

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  2. Very clean. Great writing, Tonja. And Marcy, love your picture, too!

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  3. Thanks for your comments, Marcy! I definitely appreciate you and Dianne doing this.
    And thanks, Alex.My nerves feel calmer already.

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  4. I just left a long comment on Dianne's, so here I'll just say I love the voice and this first page does have great kid appeal.

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  5. You have to be a guy to understand why its so important to be crowned "Cannonball King"! :)

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  6. I loved this first page, and didn't have any of those questions. I would have kept reading, and I know my son would have too. Well done Tonja.

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  7. Thanks, everybody! All and any comments are so helpful. Thanks, Marcy too for letting me appear. It's off to the revision table now :)

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  8. I agree, this is a really good first page. The question I came away with wasn't why he wanted to be Cannonball King (I raised sons - that would be a given) but why he expected the fridge to be full and why wasn't it?

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  9. I loved it! I think the voice is great and getting the mc's goal out in front in the first page is the best way to go. Some of the lines are a bit long with a lot of clauses/commas going on (like Ignoring the little voice in the back of his head, which told him to get his sorry backside out to his uncle, Daniel snatched a towel from the hook between the stained work coats and pushed open the back screen door.). I'd simplify them a bit considering the age range. A few more suggestions:

    Up and down, left and right, feathers thick as clouds.
    Each feather isn't cloud-like. Try: feathers swirled in thick clouds.

    Any other day, he'd go out there and help, but today wasn't just any other day.
    I suggest deleting "just."

    And sleighs don't have oil leaks.

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  10. What a fun voice! Very MG sounding. I agree with the critique, as well as Lexa's remark about some of the lines being long. But it's still a great start to a story!

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  11. Nice assessment. Now with all this chicken talk I'm reminded that I'm having chicken for dinner and need to get it started cooking.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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