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Red Eyed Daniel


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#1 Nonicks

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 07:18 AM

Hi guys, I really need your help to decide which opening is better:

 

Version A:

 

Blisters. Again.

My entire body was covered in them: pus-filled, bursting, itching boils. They could’ve attacked when I was at home. But no. Striking when I was sitting in the dermatology clinic, waiting for the doctor, was much funnier. Other patients had zits, warts, and strange-looking birthmarks, but I was different. One moment my skin was smooth, and two minutes later—all covered in blisters.

Air conditioning poured down from a vent above, but I sweated. I felt the blisters bursting, their pus mixing with the salty sweat that dripped down my back. I actually enjoyed playing with them, pinching the skin to see when the blister would burst. Mom was the only one who thought I was normal; everyone else thought I was gross.

Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t with me and people were staring. But this time I couldn’t run to a place with nobody around—I couldn’t miss my turn.

I’d already seen twenty-seven experts who ran tests for allergic reactions, blood abnormalities, and genetics. They plied me with pills and creams, chia seeds and kale, and other vegetables people don’t usually eat, but nothing helped. Maybe twenty-eight—Dr. Augustine, Artimonah’s new allergy specialist —would be my lucky number.  

When the door finally opened, the front desk lady announced that my long-awaited turn had arrived.  “Daniel Venture?” she asked, looking out above her glasses. She scanned a list of patients. “You can go in now. You’re in room seven, at the end of the hallway. You’ve been referred to a different doctor.

 

Version B:

 

Blisters. Again.

My entire body was covered in them: pus-filled, bursting, itching boils. They could’ve attacked when I was at home. But no. Striking when I was sitting in the dermatology clinic, waiting for the doctor, was much funnier. Other patients had zits, warts, and strange-looking birthmarks, but I was different. One moment my skin was smooth, and two minutes later—all covered in blisters.
I knew my condition could freak people out, so I did what I usually do when I break out in public—I ran to a place with nobody around: the clinic’s back parking lot. Adri followed.
“Wow, Daniel!” she said. “Did you come out here to call Mom and tell her that you’re covered in blisters? Again, in hopes that she’ll bake you another chocolate cake?”
“Wow, Adri! Did you figure that out all by yourself?”
She scowled. “Let’s go back in.”
“I can’t go in. Not looking like this.”
“It’s too hot out here,” she said, “I’m burning up!”
The temperature was already in the nineties, but Adri had nothing to complain about. My blistered body was sweating under my long-sleeved shirt and pants, while she was wearing a pink skirt and tank top.
“You’re gonna miss your turn,” she told me.
“No, I’m not. We’ll be exactly on time,” I glanced at my watch.
Dr. Augustine was the new allergy specialist in our city, Artimonah, and as soon as Mom heard about him she rang for an appointment. I had to wait four months to get into see him, but Mom said it was worth it for a genius doctor. I’d already seen twenty-seven experts who ran tests for allergic reactions, blood abnormalities, and genetics. They plied me with pills and creams, chia seeds and kale, and other vegetables people don’t usually eat, but nothing helped. Maybe twenty-eight would be my lucky number.


#2 Kat_A_Turner

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 10:07 AM

I like parts of A and parts of B. I'd think about combining them.

 

1. I prefer B because you gloss over the blisters more--the descriptions in A of Daniel breaking them, pus, etc. might gross some readers out. I read a writing book once that advised to hold back on extremely visceral descriptions of things that could gross people out. 

 

2. I'd say who Adri is.

 

3. I like that A is tighter and has less dialogue. I feel that we don't need all of this dialogue--I'd focus on setting the scene with Daniel's strange condition. 

 

4. Since your query letter emphasizes the supernatural element, I'd hint at this feature of the story more strongly in your opening scene. I get the sense that it's tied to Daniel's medical problem, but I'd make this link a little clearer if there is indeed one. 

 

Hope this helps!



#3 Nonicks

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 10:39 AM

Thank you, Kat_A_Turner! "-I'd focus on setting the scene" Can you elaborate? How would you do that?

Adri is not really important here, so if I cut the gross paragraph out, that will solve the problem, right? Because you said that version A was tighter...

#4 Anna Lissiman

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 11:41 AM

Version A is preferable. I prefer this because we establish a setting and we establish voice, which I consider important in an opening. Dialogue and names of characters makes (me, in this case) a reader scramble for orientation. 



#5 Kat_A_Turner

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 12:09 PM

That's my opinion, yeah. Get Adri and that dialogue outta there and focus on Daniel, his problem, and hint at the upcoming inciting event.

 

I think that version A already does a pretty good job of setting the introductory scene and Daniel's problem-he's in a medical clinic, frustrated that medical science can't figure out his problem.

 

Cut the pus/blisters part, then you have more words to play with. You could use those words to describe the waiting room in a way that engages the senses (does it smell like antiseptic, etc.) and/or hint at the supernatural/unexplainable element that's in play (if it fits your story). Something like: "and when the strange blisters started, so did the visions." Or something. 



#6 AngelS85

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 01:24 PM

I liked Version A better. The description was really good and it drew me in. The second version kind of lost me as soon as he started talking to someone else.



#7 perpetual

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 10:12 AM

I like Version A much better. It had my skin crawling, but at the same time sympathizing with your MC. And, enough intrigue that I wanted to keep reading.

 

For me, Version B felt a bit like a first-draft. You accomplish in Version A's narrative what Version B attempts, and in less words.


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#8 Nonicks

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 01:40 PM

Thanks guys! So here's version A with some changes. Is it better? Overall - is it interesting? And does anybody else think the description of his blisters is revolting and shouldn't be here?

 

Blisters. Again.

My entire body was covered in them: pus-filled, bursting, itching boils. They could’ve attacked when I was at home. But no. Striking when I was sitting in the dermatology clinic, waiting for the doctor, was much funnier. Other patients had zits, warts, and strange-looking birthmarks, but I was different. One moment my skin was smooth, and two minutes later—all covered in blisters.

Air conditioning poured down from a vent above, but I sweated. I felt the blisters bursting, their pus mixing with the salty sweat that dripped down my back. I actually enjoyed playing with them, pinching the skin to see when the blister would burst. Mom was the only one who thought I was normal.  

Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t there. In front of me was sitting a mother with her little girl who scribbled in a coloring book. The smell of her fluorescent yellow highlighter overpowered the stench of medication and even the smell of the freshly painted doorposts.

But then the girl stopped scribbling.

“Mommy,” she said, pointing at me. “Why is he so scary?”

I felt my face burning and looked at my sneakers.

“Enough, Linda. This isn’t nice.” The girl’s mother said.

“What about his friends?” the girl continued. “Aren’t they scared?”

What friends? I almost barked a laugh. Nobody wanted to be friends with a boy who sometimes turned into a pizza.

I wanted to jump to my feet and flee, but this time I couldn’t hide in a place with nobody around—I couldn’t miss my turn.



#9 Kat_A_Turner

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 04:31 PM

Blisters. Again. If you are doing first person POV, I don't think that you need italics. 

My entire body was covered in them: pus-filled, bursting, itching boils. They could’ve attacked when I was at home. But no. Striking when I was sitting in the dermatology clinic, waiting for the doctor, was much funnier Perhaps a different word would capture his thought better..."was a much crueler joke?". Other patients had zits, warts, and strange-looking birthmarks, but I was different. One moment my skin was smooth, and two minutes later—all covered in blisters.

Air conditioning poured down from a vent above, but I sweated. I felt the blisters bursting, their pus mixing with the salty sweat that dripped down my back. Avoid statements like I felt, I thought, etc. They distance us from the character. Just say what he thinks and feels. I actually enjoyed playing with them, pinching the skin to see when the blister would burst. Mom was the only one who thought I was normal.  I like this. Sets up closeness of relationship with mom.

Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t there. In front of me was sitting a mother with her little girl who scribbled in a coloring book. The smell of her fluorescent yellow highlighter overpowered the stench of medication and even the smell of the freshly painted doorposts.Yay for engaging senses!

But then the girl stopped scribbling.

“Mommy,” she said, pointing at me. “Why is he so scary?”

I felt my face burning My face burned and looked at my sneakers.

“Enough, Linda. This isn’t nice.” The girl’s mother said.

“What about his friends?” the girl continued. “Aren’t they scared?”

What friends? I almost barked a laugh. Nobody wanted to be friends with a boy who sometimes turned into a pizza.Inspires empathy for Daniel. A Good Thing.

I wanted to jump to my feet and flee, but this time I couldn’t hide in a place with nobody around—I couldn’t miss my turn.This sentence clunks, to me. It's unclear and I'm not totally sure what's going on. I liked the older one about hoping that the latest doctor was lucky number 28.

 

I think that you're improving with every revision. Tinker with sentences and word choice, but overall I'm liking this. Main character and his big problem are clear, setting is set, and we want to empathize with MC. 



#10 chellina216

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 08:52 AM

Hey Nonicks, the bit of dialogue added to the end makes it better.  I think you can tone down on the description of the blisters, unless it's important to the reader.  Overall, I get the sense that the character is a weird kid that likes to play with pus.  Although the topic is interesting enough that I'd like to know what's wrong with him, it's not enough to get me to keep reading if this sets the tone for the rest of the book.  I feel like the rest of the book will gross me out, and that's not something I'm interested in. 

 

Hope the feedback helps. Good luck and keep writing!



#11 ViviMont

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 07:44 PM

(Hi! Thanks for commenting on my first 250, I'm here to return the favor :))

 

Blisters. Again.

My entire body was covered in them: pus-filled, bursting, itching boils. They could’ve attacked when I was at home. But no. Striking when I was sitting in the dermatology clinic, waiting for the doctor, was much funnier. Other patients had zits, warts, and strange-looking birthmarks, but I was different. One moment my skin was smooth, and two minutes later—all covered in blisters.

Air conditioning poured down from a vent above, but I sweated. I felt the blisters bursting, their pus mixing with the salty sweat that dripped down my back. I actually enjoyed playing with them, pinching the skin to see when the blister would burst. Mom was the only one who thought I was normal. (Although the discription here is greatly detailed-- I'm not sure about starting off with this. It's kind of off-putting right off the bat. Maybe a brief mention about the blisters after some other kind of intro to the MC?)

Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t there (wasn't there or wasn't here?). In front of me was sitting (sat) a mother with her little girl who scribbled in a coloring book. The smell of her fluorescent yellow highlighter overpowered the stench of medication and even the smell of the freshly painted doorposts.

But then the girl stopped scribbling.

“Mommy,” she said, pointing at me. “Why is he so scary?”

I felt my face burning and looked at my sneakers.

“Enough, Linda. This (That)  isn’t nice.” The girl’s mother said.

“What about his friends?” the girl continued. “Aren’t they scared?”

What friends? I almost barked a laugh. Nobody wanted to be friends with a boy who sometimes turned into a pizza. ( :( )

I wanted to jump to my feet and flee (maybe escape?), but this time I couldn’t hide in a place with nobody around—I couldn’t miss my turn. (So, I think you need to give us some more here in the beginning-- instead describing the blisters, give us another indication on why he would be so scary-- maybe about these "friends" the little girl sees. It's missing a bit of a hook for the reader to want to continue. Though it is good writing, just needs some added descriptions on the MC himself. Hope my comments are helpful! Best of luck!)


I hope I've been helpful in some way. If you have the chance, I'm currently looking for all the help I can get on my first 250 of Elementalist. Thanks so much and may the words be with you!
 
Look for me on twitter. :) @@AuthorVV_Mont
 
 
Beyond The North Star: First 250
Beyond The North Star: First 250 of 2nd Ch. (Different POV)

[topic='Beyond the North Star Query']http://agentquerycon...ar-revision-15/[/topic]

 


#12 Nonicks

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 05:25 AM

Thanks everybody! How about this? Not so gross this time?

 

Blisters. Again.

My entire body was covered in them: pus-filled, bursting, itching boils. They could’ve attacked when I was at home. But no. Striking when I was sitting in the dermatology clinic, waiting for the doctor, was much funnier. Other patients had zits, warts, and strange-looking birthmarks, but I was different. One moment my skin was smooth, and two minutes later—all covered in blisters. Mom was the only one who thought I was normal.

Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t here. In front of me sat a mother with her little girl who scribbled in a coloring book. The smell of her fluorescent yellow highlighter overpowered the stench of medication and even the smell of the freshly painted doorposts.

But then the girl stopped scribbling.

“Ewww, that boy is gross!” she said, pointing at me.

My face burned and I looked at my sneakers.

“Enough, Linda. That isn’t nice.” The girl’s mother said.

“What about his friends?” the little girl continued. “Don’t they think he’s gross?”

What friends? Nobody wanted to be friends with a boy who sometimes turned into a pizza.

I wanted to jump to my feet and escape, but this time I couldn’t hide in a place with nobody around—I couldn’t miss my turn.

I’d already seen twenty-seven experts who ran tests for allergic reactions, blood abnormalities, and genetics. They plied me with pills and creams, chia seeds and kale, and other vegetables people don’t usually eat, but nothing helped. Maybe twenty-eight—Dr. Augustine, Artimonah’s new allergy specialist —would be my lucky number.  



#13 ryankalford

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 09:01 PM

Almost two months late here, but hey--I always pay back a favor. ;)

 

 

Blisters. Again. Not my blisters again. Not here.

My entire body was covered in them.: pus-filled, bursting, itching boils. They could’ve attacked when I was at home. But no. Striking when I was sitting in the dermatology clinic, waiting for the doctor, was much funnier. The Other patients around me in the dermatology waiting room had the usual zits, warts, and strange-looking birthmarks I'd grown all-too=accustomed too seeing, but I was by far the worst. different. One moment. my skin was smooth and clear, the next and two minutes later—all covered in blisters. Off and on. On and off. Like when my annoying sister played with my room's light switch while trying to finish school homework or watching tv. If only my Mom could put an end to it the same way she did with Sis. But alas. Mom was the only one who thought I was normal.

Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t here. A little girl scribbled in a coloring book with her mother besides her in front of me. In front of me sat a mother with her little girl who scribbled in a coloring book. The smell of her fluorescent yellow highlighter overpowered the stench of medication and even the smell of the freshly painted doorposts. Great descript!

But then the girl stopped. She looked up at me with a pout. scribbling.

“Ewww, that boy's gross is gross!” she said, and pointed. pointing at me.

My face burned and I stared down looked at my sneakers.

“Enough, Linda. That isn’t nice.” The girl’s mother said.

“What about his friends?” the little girl continued. “Don’t they think he’s gross?”

What friends? Nobody wanted to be friends with a boy who sometimes turned into a pizza. I like the "boy who turns into a pizza part, but the additional dialogue from the little girl feels uncessary, and I can't quite work out the logic behind why she would randomly muse about his friends unless they were with him. Maybe try another piece of dialogue?

I wanted to jump to my feet and escape, but this time I couldn’t hide in a place with nobody around—I couldn’t dare miss my turn.

I’d already seen twenty-seven experts who ran tests for allergic reactions, blood abnormalities, and genetics. They plied me with pills and creams, chia seeds and kale, and other vegetables people don’t usually eat, but nothing helped. Maybe twenty-eight—Dr. Augustine, Artimonah’s new allergy specialist —would be my lucky number.  Nice ending line.

 

So I went through and used some creative license to try to illustrate what's mainly lacking to me. Namely a consistent POV intimacy and a sense a clarity. The couple bits I noticed really shine, and you do have an interesting setting for a starting scene compared to before that aroses curosity and where this might be going, but it doesn't feel fully fleshed out in the writing. The flow isn't quite polished and smooth yet. Either awkward phrasing, unecessary info, or info not in the optimal place, or still a dash of too much passive verbing or repeat words/description (particularly the boils).

 

However, this is a definite improvement from before. Honestly, it's hard to really give any particular advice on how to re-adjust this to get it where you want it to be . . . but I think you'll just have to play around with it some more and dig deeper in sharping your voice until the hiccups finally disappear and the piece comes alive with it's own ticking heartbeat.You have a good foundation for the 250 though. It's simply comes down to the details, words, and arrangement. As it is, I feel like I have one foot in your POV's head, but not the other yet.

 

Keep tinkering, and best of luck (as always).


RECODED <250 EDITING FEEDBACK + ADVICE

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#14 SRPasternack

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 01:40 PM

Thanks everybody! How about this? Not so gross this time?

 

Blisters. Again.

 

My entire body was covered in them: pus-filled, bursting, itching boils. They could’ve attacked when I was at home. But no. Striking when I was sitting in the dermatology clinic, waiting for the doctor, was much funnier. Other patients had zits, warts, and strange-looking birthmarks, but I was different. One moment my skin was smooth, and two minutes later—all covered in blisters. Mom was the only one who thought I was normal.

 

Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t here. In front of me sat a mother with her little girl who scribbled in a coloring book. The smell of her fluorescent yellow highlighter overpowered the stench of medication and even the smell of the freshly painted doorposts.

 

But then the girl stopped scribbling.

 

“Ewww, that boy is gross!” she said, pointing at me.

 

My face burned and I looked at my sneakers.

 

“Enough, Linda. That isn’t nice.” The girl’s mother said.

 

“What about his friends?” the little girl continued. “Don’t they think he’s gross?”

 

What friends? Nobody wanted to be friends with a boy who sometimes turned into a pizza.

 

I wanted to jump to my feet and escape, but this time I couldn’t hide in a place with nobody around—I couldn’t miss my turn.

 

I’d already seen twenty-seven experts who ran tests for allergic reactions, blood abnormalities, and genetics. They plied me with pills and creams, chia seeds and kale, and other vegetables people don’t usually eat, but nothing helped. Maybe twenty-eight—Dr. Augustine, Artimonah’s new allergy specialist —would be my lucky number.  

 

I like it! I suggested cutting the part about the vegetables, because it just seemed clunky and unneeded to me.

 

I read some of your previous versions to see what was so gross about them, and yeah, those are pretty gross descriptions! But they're good and accurate. I saw some patients with stuff like that when I worked emergency med. Nothing quite like inspecting someone's boil to have it pop right in your face! I can smell them now... :barf:


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