|Photo credit: Cade Buchanan on Flickr|
As per usual, I'll start by posting the full first 250 excerpt, after which I'll share my overall thoughts, then my redline critique. I encourage you guys to share your own thoughts and critiques in the comments (because I'm one person with one opinion!), as long as it's polite, thoughtful, and constructive. Any rude or mean comments will be unceremoniously deleted.
Here we go!
Title: CONNECT THE DOTS
Genre/Category: YA Mystery
First 250 words:
"I opened my eyes, sat up, and immediately winced. Somehow I had moved from the Underworld to underneath the light board backstage. Plus I now had yet another bruise to add to my quickly growing collection of bumps on my head. I got out from under the light board and stood up. I started to reach for my backpack to get an ice pack only to realize that it was gone. Whoever had moved me had also taken my backpack for some reason. I reached into my pocket to check my phone to see what time it was. To my horror the screen of my phone was completely shattered. It must have been crushed when I was knocked out by the staff. My dad was going to kill me when I got home now. I walked out onto the stage and realized that the production was not going on. There was no one anywhere and it was pouring rain. Everyone must have been hiding in the museum. I decided to make a beeline over there so I pulled my cardigan over my head and ran to the door. I was soaking wet by the time I got across the museum courtyard. I pushed open the doors and saw the astonished faces of Xenia and Thanos look up at me from what looked to be a shipment of more pieces for the exhibit.
Xenia ran up to me, 'Nancy! Where have you been? Are you alright?'"
Okay! Interesting opener. The biggest thing I'm noticing right away is there's a lot of wordiness especially in the form of filter phrases, which is inflating that paragraph quite a bit and creating some distance between the reader and the protagonist. I'm curious about what's going on, but the writing could definitely use some condensing and refining.
Much of which I'll do next, so let's dive into those line edits.
"I opened my eyes, sat up, and
immediatelywinced. Somehow I'd hadmoved from the Underworld to underneath the light board backstage. Plus I nowhad yet another bruise to add to my quickly growing collection of head bumps on my head. I got outmoved away from underthe light board and stood up. I started toreached for my backpack to get an ice pack only to realize thatbut it was gone. Whoever had moved me had also taken my backpack for some reason. A lot of these changes so far are condensing. Check out my "How to Condense Without Losing Anything Useful" post for reasons why these changes help. I reached into my pocket to check the time on my phone to see what time it was. To my horror[Insert horrified description/reaction—what does this emotion feel like? How does she physically react? For more on this, take a look at "How to Write Emotion Effectively."] themy phone's screen of my phonewas completely shattered. It must have been crushed when the staff I wasknocked me out by the staff. Made adjustment to make the sentence more active.
[Insert paragraph break—your intro paragraph was too long and visually weighed down the passage.]
My dad was going to kill me when I got home now. I walked out onto the stage but
and realized thatthe production wasn't notgoing on anymore. Adjusted to remove filtering. There was no one anywhere and it was pouring outside rain. Added "outside" because at first I thought it was raining inside or the stage was outside. Everyone must have been hiding in the museum. I decided to make a beeline over there soI pulled my cardigan over my head and ran to the door. Removed the first half of that sentence to remove unnecessary filtering. I was soaking wet by the time I got acrosscrossed the museum courtyard. I pushed open the doors and saw the astonished faces ofXenia and Thanos looked up at me, astonished, from what looked to bea shipment of more exhibit pieces for the exhibit. Bonus: instead of "astonished" describe what that astonishment looks like on Xenia and Thanos.
Xenia ran up to me
,'Nancy! Where have you been? Are you all right?'"
So this is a really great start—I think plot and intrigue-wise, this opening is definitely on the right track. The main work it needs lies in the line edits, which is 100% doable. If I saw this in the slush, I'd probably pass because the line edits required are on the heavy side, but I'd certainly be interested if it went through more revision first.
I hope that helps! Thanks for sharing your first 250 with us, Emily!
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.@Ava_Jae talks condensing, removing filter phrases, & showing emotion in the 26th Fixing the First Page Feature. (Click to tweet)