Monday, June 2, 2014

First Impressions - Butterflies

It's the beginning June, which means it's time for First Impressions, whereby author Dianne Salerni and I critique your first page. As of this writing we still have one slot left for the month which means you have the opportunity to have your first page critiqued by two authors. Interested? If so check out my sidebar for the FAQs. Meanwhile, today we have the first page of BUTTERFLIES, a YA scifi from Carey. My comments will be in purple and don't forget to head over to see what Dianne thought of this first page.


The morning sun slants through a gap in my drapes and hits me smack in the eyes. So much for sleeping in. I wish the cat would learn how to close them after he looks out the sliders to the great outdoors. It's not often that I get to sleep in and lolling about sounds like the best way to spend my morning.
“Rise and Shin e, Starr.” Who says this?
Apparently Jazz thinks I've been lazy for long enough. I take a quick peek at my phone. No texts, no missed calls, no emails and it's later than I thought. And who is Jazz?
I roll out of bed and try to avoid looking in the mirror. Not a morning person doesn't even begin to describe me and seeing my messy hair and eyes with bags under them never starts me out on the right foot. I think you could get rid of this sentence but that's just me...
Field trip day equals wardrobe crisis. Wish I'd looked in the closet last night instead of waiting until the last minute. It's a five hour drive to Miami and we leave right after lunch. My outfit needs to be comfortable yet fashionable and preferably something that doesn't wrinkle easily. Then I'll need shorts or a cool skirt for tomorrow and another outfit for the drive back home. Ugh.
It takes a while, but I'm pretty sure I've put together the perfect outfits for all three days. Plus, of course, a spare shirt and skirt to use as backup. Maybe I should take one more outfit in case we go out to dinner tonight or tomorrow. We didn't the last three years, but you never know. I grab a few more pieces of clothing and toss them into my suitcase. I'm not sure we need to hear all about her wardrobe - unless it's important.
By the time I finish, there's a parental figure standing in my doorway looking deeply irritated. “You haven't even showered yet.”
Jazz isn't my birth mom, but we don't even think about that after so many years together even though I've always called her by her first name. She adopted me when I was seven, after all, and is the only parent I've ever known. I might insert this bit when Jazz first speaks - assuming that was her earlier.
“Just going to do that now so I can pack my toiletries. We've got loads of time left.”
She just sighs and walks away.
I hop in the shower and take care of business. Hair washed, legs shaved, and ready for anything. Whistling, I start to blow dry my hair. It's long and a light brown with way too much frizz. (instead of telling us her hair is light brown and too frizzy, show us; does she use product on her hair to help tone down the frizz?) A little bit of makeup, including eyeliner and mascara to make my hazel eyes stand out, and I feel ready for the day. This is good; it sounds like the narrators thoughts.
This is my fourth and final field trip to the Coral Castle in Miami, but it's my first with a boyfriend. (Is she looking forward to going WITH a boyfriend? If so, why?) Will there be a chance for some alone time or will the chaperones – Jazz among them – keep us segregated? We're both 18, after all. Legally adults.
Now that I'm dressed and groomed, I take a good look in the mirror. The trip itself isn't very interesting – it never is – but it feels almost like a mini vacation with Micah. And 600 of our fellow students.
My thoughts: The one thing missing from this is character. I'm a pretty patient reader in that I'm okay getting to know the characters and world slowly and I don't mind a bit of description either as long as it's well-written. But I have to have a hint of character, something to give me a reason to care about following Starr (again I'm assuming this is the first name of our narrator). What's she's going to wear doesn't interest me, but Coral Castle does, along with the boyfriend she has. Is he something new and shiny? Is she head over heals? Unsure? Does Jazz know?  I want to know!
That said, the rest read like a typical day in the life of a senior. The question is, is that the intention?

Your thoughts?


  1. Ha! I just read and commented on this page at Dianne Salerni's blog, so I won't repeat everything I said. But I still think this is a very well-written opening and I would keep reading!

    1. I agree it is well-written :)

  2. Thanks to Carey for sharing her work here! Always a brave thing to do.

    I love the first line. It contains two totally opposing voices, which really drew me in. I agree with Marcy's assessment. My only other comment is that I think you need to intro your MC a little more clearly. There's not much of an identity given for your MC. Otherwise, the voice is great!

  3. The more information the better but well written.

  4. I concur with everyone.

  5. I perked up when I got to the boyfriend part! I'd have said, more of this dilemma to begin with maybe because for me going to this trip with your bf for the first time sort of nullifies the wardrobe side of things. Just my opinion! Thanks for sharing and all the best, take care

  6. I agree with Marcy's comments. And Old Kitty has a good point to bring the boyfriend in much earlier. An 18-yr old girl would think of him as soon as she awoke. And maybe be upset that Jazz interrupted those thoughts. I also think that besides the character not being too well-defined here, her voice sounds more adult than teen. Those two points go hand-in-hand. So use both of those to work toward the goal of making her unique. Good luck!

  7. Great feedback. I love reading over these. I didn't like the "Not a morning person doesn't even begin to describe me" I agree it could be strengthened by removing that sentence.

  8. love your new headbanner, Marcy


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