Monday, October 14, 2013

Special Edition First Impressions - Gutter Girl

Dianne and I generally only do First Impressions at the beginning of the month, but we decided to do a special edition today for Robin Hall, who you can find at Robin Hall Writes. This is the first page of her YA Contemporary, GUTTER GIRL. If you want to see what Dianne thought of this first page, head over to her blog, In High Spirits.

I rip open a blue Pixy Stix—the same color as my lucky bowling ball and the streak in my hair—and dump all that sugary tartness on my tongue. Even though my world is going right, I don’t want to mess with our traditional night-before-school wish. V and I have been doing this tradition since sixth grade, and even though it’s lost some of its mystical power, I’ve convinced V we have to do it for senior year—the Pixy Stix, the elementary school swings, even the flying. As the sugar melts, I begin to swing. Note, this is just how I'd edit this if it were mine. I think it reads a little smoother.
“For my senior year,” I yell, pumping my legs harder, “I’m coming as confident Jules, no more Gutter Girl for me.” I swing higher as Veronica cheers. Hmm. Why does she refer to herself as Gutter Girl? What's the significance? I'm intrigued...
“It’s back-to-school night,” she projects in her best on-stage voice. “Can Jules make it? There’s nail biting in the stands”—I launch into the air—“and there she goes”—I fumble to the ground—“It’s too close to tell, folks, but there’s no instant replay, so of course her night-before-school wish will, I repeat, will come true. This year will be a new start for the lovely and newly boyfriended Julia Burkman. Monroe High won’t recognize what hit them.” V laughs. “You’ll bowl them down, Jules.” This is cute and it gives us a little info about Jules.
“Hardy, har har.” I spin in a slow circle, my arms out as if I’ve won Nationals. The twinkling stars are clapping for me, and that the great bowling ball in the sky is granting my wish.
V throws the pack of Pixy Stix at my head. “Enough already. Let’s get this over with before anybody sees us.”
“Like anyone is coming to the elementary playground after sundown besides Zach.”
“I’d like to have this ceremony over before he gets here, thank you very much.”
I fish a Pixy Stix off the ground and chuck it at V.
“Orange. Great, So not my color.”
“It is this year.”
V bites off the end and takes a long pull. “For my senior year,” she yells, moving to a swing, “I’m getting the lead in Antony and Cleopatra.”
“You won’t even have to change your eye makeup.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be commentating?”
I get serious. “Veronica couldn’t be higher, folks. Look at those long legs.” I whistle. “She’s about to jump. If she clears the line, she will not only have the best year ever, but also the lead role in the fall production.”
Well. Not much to comment or suggest. I like it! I especially like how much information is packed into this first page without it feeling the least like an info dump. For example, I quickly discover that these two girls have best friends forever, since before sixth grade. That's a long time so these two are close. The commentaries each girl gives tells me more about the other, that Jules has a new boyfriend and doesn't want to be known as Gutter Girl anymore, and that V wants the lead in the school play. The question is, are these girls going to get their wishes?
I have no I idea, but you can bet your boots I'd read on to find out. Not to mention the fact that I want to know the history behind the nickname!

Nice start :)


  1. The dialogue was a great place for the information without dumping it.
    And now I know why I never figured out girls in high school.

  2. I'm with Alex about girls anywhere!

  3. I'd save the melting sugar in the first paragraph :)

  4. Love the title. And, yeah, it's a great intro into these girls' lives.

  5. This is one of the best beginnings I've read here. I agree with the minor tweaks, in fact, might even consider removing "I begin to swing." The next line could be "...yell, pumping my legs hard." But regardless, this is fresh and fun.

  6. I like the rapport between Gutter Girl and Veronica and want some of this pixy stix too please! Thanks for sharing! Take care

  7. Thanks Marcy and all the comments thus far. I've been tweaking this little baby for almost a year, but it still could use more-isn't that the way it always is? Thanks for the polishing/smoothing suggestions!

  8. I read this several times. Each time, I liked it better. I don't have anything to add. Great job, Robin!

  9. I agree that you've done a great job in weaving the exposition seamlessly into the dialogue. Way to get what you need in there and keep the story barreling along. Nice work!

  10. Great title, and I really like Marcy's edits in the first paragraph, They're small but they make a difference. And I'm also intrigued :)

  11. Love this! Wish I could add something helpful, besides Marcy's tweaks, but I can't. I also like the bowling mentions.

  12. Hats off to Robin for bravely submitting for public editing!

  13. I really like this. And I agree with most of the suggested edits but I'd keep "As the sugar melts,". Taking it out throws the tempo off.

  14. I agree with Marcy - it's just about perfect. Great job Robin!


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