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Accidentally Cursed YA retelling New Version in post #5


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#1 sarahaspen

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 10:40 PM

New Version in post 5. Thanks!This is the first 250 words of my YA novel, a retelling of The Red Shoes with a paranormal twist. It is #own voices with a dyspraxic protagonist. This is from the opening (a prologue of sorts) which is actually a "flash forward", and the first chapter starts about a week earlier. The timeline catches up by the first quarter of the book, after the inciting incident, and proceeds in a linear fashion from that point. I want to know if this is engaging, making the reader want to continue, as well as any other advice that could make it shine. Thank you in advance.:

 

 

Walking in heels is never advisable for a dyspraxic. Walking down a dark, deserted street was a gold-plated invitation to trouble. Doing both after seeing a ghost in my bedroom mirror—an all-around bad idea.

    Not a ghost. A stress-induced nightmare.

     I cringed at the memory of the gory phantom. Thin to start with, my rationalizations crumbled in the pressing shadows. I focused on the steady clicks my new shoes made against the pavement and shuttered my mind. She wasn’t real.

     My mom would’ve driven me, but she had to work. Before leaving, she’d given me money to take a cab both ways, but enough things could—and probably would—go wrong at the dance without showing up in a canary yellow car, reeking of stale cigars. Now I had second thoughts about walking alone at night. Not to mention third thoughts. And fourth. Perhaps there were worse ways to die than from sheer embarrassment.

     Streetlamps cast wide, empty rings of light at even spaces along the sidewalk. Bright pockets in the darkness. The September nights grew cool, and goosebumps quaked along my skin in waves. I rubbed my arms and walked faster, wishing I’d taken Mom’s advice about bringing a cardigan. I rounded the last corner from school, the rooftop visible over a line of trees, and . . .

     The next light ring wasn’t empty.

     I froze and did a double take at the scruffy man hunched against a lamp pole on the sidewalk. The way his body slumped suggested he might be sleeping, but I couldn’t be sure.



#2 slbynum3

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 10:03 AM

Your very first sentence is in present tense (the word "is") while your second is in past tense (the word "was"). And then you start going into past tense for most of the excerpt, so it was a little jolting. Maybe you should change the first sentence.

 

I like that your character is dyspraxic, which is different. I had to look it up because I'd never heard of it before. You do a good job introducing your character and showing her voice.

 

Maybe you could give more details about this phantom she saw? Was it the night before, or right before she left the house that she saw it? Maybe you already go more into detail later in this chapter, I don't know.

 

But this sounds interesting to me so far. It captured my attention and I would read more.


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#3 Constantine Singer

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:12 PM

Hi Sarahaspen,

 

You have a nice opening here -- your voice is strong and you have a nice diction that lends itself to rhythm which is something I enjoy when I read.  

 

Only a couple of thoughts that might help here:

 

  1. I had to look up dyspraxia -- find a way to define it en situ, or find a way to put off using it until you can.  Agents and teenagers don't have patience for words they don't know in the first sentence of a story unless the story is obviously Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  An unfamiliar Latinate just reminds us that we're not as smart as we wish we were.
  2. Tenses -- you're trying to halve the baby with your tenses -- attempting to access the immediacy of present tense while maintaining the safety and reflection of past tense.  Choose one and make sure you stick to it.  Most YA seems to be done in present tense (possibly because teenagers aren't known for their reflective abilities), but some of the greatest stories are past tense.  Either is a valid choice, but you will have to choose.

Best of luck to you!  Again, your voice is beautiful and I would keep reading.

This is the first 250 words of my YA novel, a retelling of The Red Shoes with a paranormal twist. It is #own voices with a dyspraxic protagonist. This is from the opening (a prologue of sorts) which is actually a "flash forward", and the first chapter starts about a week earlier. The timeline catches up by the first quarter of the book, after the inciting incident, and proceeds in a linear fashion from that point. I want to know if this is engaging, making the reader want to continue, as well as any other advice that could make it shine. Thank you in advance.:

 

 

Walking in heels is never advisable for a dyspraxic. Walking down a dark, deserted street was a gold-plated invitation to trouble. Doing both after seeing a ghost in my bedroom mirror—an all-around bad idea. "Bad idea" doesn't escalate the stakes high enough to fulfill the triplet.  Think of something worse -- "impending disaster," or something of the like.

    Not a ghost. A stress-induced nightmare.

     I cringe (keep your tenses straight)  at the memory of the gory phantom. Thin to start with, my rationalizations crumbled in the pressing shadows. I focused on the steady clicks my new shoes made against the pavement and shuttered my mind. She wasn’t real.

     My mom would’ve driven me, but she had to work. Before leaving, she’d (you're using the past perfect here she had, we had -- consider going with straight preterit for ease of flow) given me money to take a cab both ways, but enough things could—and probably would—go wrong at the dance without showing up in a canary yellow car, reeking of stale cigars. Now I had  ("Now I have" or "Then I had" -- you're mixing tenses) second thoughts about walking alone at night. Not to mention third thoughts. And fourth. Perhaps there were worse ways to die than from sheer embarrassment.

     Streetlamps cast wide, empty rings of light at even spaces along the sidewalk. Bright pockets in the darkness. The September nights grew (grow) cool, and goosebumps quaked along my skin in waves. I rubbed my arms and walked faster, wishing I’d taken Mom’s advice about bringing a cardigan. I rounded the last corner from school, the rooftop visible over a line of trees, and . . .

     The next light ring wasn’t empty.

     I froze and did a double take at the scruffy man hunched against a lamp pole on the sidewalk. The way his body slumped suggested he might be sleeping, but I couldn’t be sure.


Look for NeverWhen, my debut novel from Putnam/Penguin Teen in bookstores everywhere in 2018!


#4 BadgerFox

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 03:44 AM



This is the first 250 words of my YA novel, a retelling of The Red Shoes with a paranormal twist. It is #own voices with a dyspraxic protagonist. This is from the opening (a prologue of sorts) which is actually a "flash forward", and the first chapter starts about a week earlier. The timeline catches up by the first quarter of the book, after the inciting incident, and proceeds in a linear fashion from that point. I want to know if this is engaging, making the reader want to continue, as well as any other advice that could make it shine. Thank you in advance.:

 

 

Walking in heels is never advisable for a dyspraxic [I really like this opening line, because it gives me a vivid mental picture. I can picture what a hard time a person with dyspraxia would have trying to balance] . Walking down a dark, deserted street was a gold-plated invitation to trouble. Doing both after seeing a ghost in my bedroom mirror—an all-around bad idea. [good start, interesting]

    Not a ghost. A stress-induced nightmare.

     I cringed at the memory of the gory phantom. Thin to start with, my rationalizations crumbled in the pressing shadows [can this sentence be restructured a little, as it sounds unfortunately like it's the ghost that was thin rather than the rationalizations. Although maybe the ghost was thin too, I don't know!]. I focused on the steady clicks my new shoes made against the pavement and shuttered my mind. She wasn’t real.

     My mom would’ve driven me, but she had to work. Before leaving, she’d given me money to take a cab both ways, but enough things could—and probably would—go wrong at the dance without showing up in a canary yellow car, reeking of stale cigars. Now I had second thoughts about walking alone at night. Not to mention third thoughts. And fourth. Perhaps there were worse ways to die than from sheer embarrassment.

     Streetlamps cast wide, empty rings of light at even spaces along the sidewalk. Bright pockets in the darkness. The September nights grew cool, and goosebumps quaked [is the right verb? I'm trying to picture a goosebump quaking but though I can picture an arm quaking, a goosebump probably shouldn't be doing it seperately from the arm its attached to. I'm nitpicking but the writing is so good and without a storytelling flaw here that this one blip stands out a bit] along my skin in waves. I rubbed my arms and walked faster, wishing I’d taken Mom’s advice about bringing a cardigan. I rounded the last corner from school, the rooftop visible over a line of trees, and . . .

     The next light ring wasn’t empty.

     I froze and did a double take at the scruffy man hunched against a lamp pole on the sidewalk. The way his body slumped suggested he might be sleeping, but I couldn’t be sure.

 

Awesome setup - it's not trying too hard to grab you by the throat but it's intriguing enough to reel you in. There's enough detail given here that I can clearly picture this individual and what action she's physically trying to do, so I'm not confused, but there are interesting unanswered questions about why she's going to this dance, who this slumped man is, why someone with dyspraxia feels obliged to join in with wearing heels and dancing (hey, I don't judge, I have Autism Spectrum Disorder and I still join in with socializing...slightly awkwardly...!), what this ghost she saw was etc. I think you have a knack for storytelling and a good eye for picking out pertinent sensory details.


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#5 sarahaspen

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 09:52 PM

First 250 for my YA retelling of "The Red Shoes" with a dyspraxic MC and a traceur love interest:

 

I would dance with Holmes Dubose before the night ended. Call it intuition, premonition, or gut feeling, but I knew, root-deep, in that written-in-your-soul way. Against all logic, it would happen.

 

Granting I didn’t break my neck first.

 

I concentrated on two things: the steady click-click of my new shoes perforating the silence, and not eating concrete. Pavement was, for me anyway, an acquired taste. One acquired unwillingly, due to my remarkable knack for tripping over thin air. My repertoire of skills also included falling up stairs and choking on my own spit.

 

All sure to impress a veritable ninja like Holmes. I could see it already. Him: Are you okay, Annora? Me: Ouch—wait, that was on purpose! The ankle twist—you know—the newest dance move? Cue double thumbs-up and a cheesy grin.

 

A pang of panic stabbed across my chest.

 

I should have stayed home.

 

Streetlamps cast pale rings of empty light at even spaces along the sidewalk. Bright pockets in the wall of darkness. I rubbed early-Autumn goosebumps from my arms and rounded the last corner from school, the rooftop visible over a line of trees. But the next light ring wasn’t empty.

 

I froze and did a double take at the scruffy man hunched against a lamp pole. Slumped over, he seemed to be sleeping, but I couldn’t be sure. His presence, more expected in the city, was odd here in the village. Odd enough to be concerning.

 

The pulse in my neck twitched like a fishing line.



#6 Constantine Singer

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 11:49 AM

WOW!

 

This is a dramatic improvement on an already strong opening.

 

I want to read more more more.


Look for NeverWhen, my debut novel from Putnam/Penguin Teen in bookstores everywhere in 2018!


#7 sarahaspen

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 04:25 PM

Thank You, Constantine! Please let me know if you have anything you need eyes on! I saw your query, but not sure if you're still working on it or not. Awesome premise, though. :)






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