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#1 Arcanjoe

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 09:55 AM

New draft in post #5!

 

Here are the first 250 words of my MG Contemporary novel. Thoughts? Thanks in advance for the help!

 

Heaven, to Huey Crescent, was standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig’s muck, spade in hand. Which was why it was the first thing he did every morning. Before showering, before breakfast, before saying good morning to his parents, he would roll out of bed, dress in his morning-chore clothes, then shuffle out of the back door and over to the pigsty.

 

If I start the day off right, Huey often thought, the rest of the day will be a breeze.

 

But it had rained all night long, and the pigsty was more lake-like than it had ever been and almost as dark as his Dad’s morning coffee.

 

All about him, morning mist hung in the frigid air, wetting his hair and cheeks and stinging his lungs. Huey took a moment to adjust the oversized sunglasses on his face with his free hand. He probably didn’t need them this morning, the glare from the rising sun was so weak, but if his parents caught him not wearing them he’d be in for it. His parents didn’t have a lot of rules on the farm, but there was one: Huey was never to go out in daylight without his sunglasses. So Huey used the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe the droplets of mist from the lenses and looked down at the suspicious chunks of something . . . unpleasant . . . floating on the surface of the water.

 

Huey grinned at the challenge and set to work.


I'd love for you to critique my latest query...

Eyes White as Snow: 

http://agentquerycon...now-ya-fantasy/


#2 Constantine Singer

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 10:38 AM

Good morning, Arcanjoe.

 

First things first -- the information I can glean from these 250 words:

 

1.  Huey Crescent is a boy

2.  Huey Crescent lives on a pig farm

3.  Huey Crescent likes digging in pig shit.

4.  Huey Crescent has both parents alive

5.  It rained last night

6.  It's cold out.

7.  It's early morning

8.  Huey Crescent wears oversized sunglasses

9.  Huey Crescent's parents insist he wears them outside.

10.  There aren't many rules, but the sunglass thing is one of them.

11.  Huey Crescent is wearing a hoodie

12.  There are suspicious chunks in the lake that excite Huey even though they're unpleasant.

 

The reason I list this out like so is so you can see what I as a reader am getting from what you've written.  Is this what you wanted me to get?  Is there something missing that you thought was there?  Is there something there that you don't want me to know yet?

 

Next, voice:

 

Your voice and diction change considerably in the last paragraph.  Is this intentional?  The first few lines read like true middle-grade -- simple sentences, short words, little in the way of descriptors.  In the last paragraph, we have morning mists, frigid, stinging, and the tone gets more formal.    

 

Either is good, but consistency counts for a lot in writing so far as agents are concerned and inconsistencies in voice and diction in the first few paragraphs can lead to agents not reading further.

 

Finally, syntax:

 

You start in the preterite, shift to the past perfect, shift to the conditional, then to the perfect again, back to the preterite.  You may want to think about how this affects your pacing.

 

Have you thought about shifting to the present tense -- this is much more common in MG because kids tend to find it more engaging.  

 

Your first lines would then read:

 

"Heaven, to Huey Crescent, is standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig's muck, spade in hand.  This is why it's the first thing he does every morning, before showering, before breakfast, even before saying good morning to his parents.  He rolls out of bed, dresses in his morning chore clothes, then shuffles out the back door and over to the pigsty."

 

To me that's a more fluid read, but you'll likely need more opinions than just mine before you make a decision.

 

Best of luck to you, sir.  I am curious as to why Huey likes pig shit so much.

 

Here are the first 250 words of my MG Contemporary novel. Thoughts? Thanks in advance for the help!

 

Heaven, to Huey Crescent, was standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig’s muck, spade in hand. Which was why it was the first thing he did every morning. Before showering, before breakfast, before saying good morning to his parents, he would roll out of bed, dress in his morning-chore clothes, then shuffle out of the back door and over to the pigsty.

 

If I start the day off right, Huey often thought, the rest of the day will be a breeze.

 

But it had rained all night long, and the pigsty was more lake-like than it had ever been and almost as dark as his Dad’s morning coffee.

 

All about him, morning mist hung in the frigid air, wetting his hair and cheeks and stinging his lungs. Huey took a moment to adjust the oversized sunglasses on his face with his free hand. He probably didn’t need them this morning, the glare from the rising sun was so weak, but if his parents caught him not wearing them he’d be in for it. His parents didn’t have a lot of rules on the farm, but there was one: Huey was never to go out in daylight without his sunglasses. So Huey used the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe the droplets of mist from the lenses and looked down at the suspicious chunks of something . . . unpleasant . . . floating on the surface of the water.

 

Huey grinned at the challenge and set to work.

 


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


#3 michaelblaine

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 10:56 PM

The previous reply dealt mainly with voice, grammar, and syntax.  Although I don't agree with every point which was made, I'll leave those issues alone (mainly because those are not my strong suit).  As far as the meat of the story goes, here are a few observances I made.  Keep in mind that these are my just my humble opinions as an unpublished, unagented writer.

 

The first was the use of the word "Heaven" followed by your character's name (as a free modifier), Huey Crescent.  For one, "Heaven" and "Huey" share similar tone, making it slightly confusing. With the addition of his last name, which can be related to the heavens (crescent moon), it took me a second to see where you were going with the sentence.  I know... probably a pretty dumb note, but changing the first word to "Pure joy", or "Happiness" may work better. 

 

The next thing that caught my eye was the whole "morning-chore clothes".  Does Huey have different clothing depending on whether he's doing chores in the morning, afternoon, or night?  I think that "work clothes"  may be a better choice of words.

 

Lastly, as a reader, I seriously began to wonder if standing shin-deep in pig's muck really was heaven to Huey.  Here's why:

 

1. "then shuffle out of the back door and over to the pigsty."  Why, if Huey loved wading in wafting in the pig slop so much, why did he shuffle out of the back door?  Wouldn't he have scampered or skipped? 

2. "If I start the day off right, Huey often thought, the rest of the day will be a breeze."  This thought makes it seem like Huey believes that if he gets the crappy part of his day done with first (aka wading/wafting in the pig slop), he can get on to better things.

3. "stinging his lungs"   This gives the reader a sense of misery.  I don't like the thought of my lungs being stung by frigid air, and I doubt if Huey would either.

 

Hope this helped some.  I'm definitely not a professional writer, so take this for what it's worth.  Good luck with your novel!  

 

 

Here are the first 250 words of my MG Contemporary novel. Thoughts? Thanks in advance for the help!

 

Heaven, to Huey Crescent, was standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig’s muck, spade in hand. Which was why it was the first thing he did every morning. Before showering, before breakfast, before saying good morning to his parents, he would roll out of bed, dress in his morning-chore clothes, then shuffle out of the back door and over to the pigsty.

 

If I start the day off right, Huey often thought, the rest of the day will be a breeze.

 

But it had rained all night long, and the pigsty was more lake-like than it had ever been and almost as dark as his Dad’s morning coffee.

 

All about him, morning mist hung in the frigid air, wetting his hair and cheeks and stinging his lungs. Huey took a moment to adjust the oversized sunglasses on his face with his free hand. He probably didn’t need them this morning, the glare from the rising sun was so weak, but if his parents caught him not wearing them he’d be in for it. His parents didn’t have a lot of rules on the farm, but there was one: Huey was never to go out in daylight without his sunglasses. So Huey used the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe the droplets of mist from the lenses and looked down at the suspicious chunks of something . . . unpleasant . . . floating on the surface of the water.

 

Huey grinned at the challenge and set to work.

 



#4 BadgerFox

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 02:26 AM

 

Here are the first 250 words of my MG Contemporary novel. Thoughts? Thanks in advance for the help!

 

Heaven, to Huey Crescent, was standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig’s muck, spade in hand. Which was why it was the first thing he did every morning. Before showering, before breakfast, before saying good morning to his parents, he would roll out of bed, dress in his morning-chore clothes, then shuffle out of the back door and over to the pigsty.

 

If I start the day off right, Huey often thought, the rest of the day will be a breeze.

 

But it had rained all night long, and the pigsty was more lake-like than it had ever been and almost as dark as his Dad’s morning coffee.

 

All about him, morning mist hung in the frigid air, wetting his hair and cheeks and stinging his lungs. Huey took a moment to adjust the oversized sunglasses on his face with his free hand. He probably didn’t need them this morning, the glare from the rising sun was so weak, but if his parents caught him not wearing them he’d be in for it. His parents didn’t have a lot of rules on the farm, but there was one: Huey was never to go out in daylight without his sunglasses. So Huey used the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe the droplets of mist from the lenses and looked down at the suspicious chunks of something . . . unpleasant . . . floating on the surface of the water.

 

Huey grinned at the challenge and set to work.

 

 

I think there's a lot to recommend this and your general command of language comes off well (though I second what was said above about checking what tense you're writing in). I mean, it's gross. :D But that's ok, it's supposed to be! And plenty of great stories can have gross elements, especially for younger audiences.

 

A couple of points do seem inconsistent, though. As another poster mentioned, it does seem weird that he'd shuffle...ALTHOUGH if you mean that he walks in a shuffling way because he's a slightly grubby, hunched, unsavoury sort of boy (kind of the impression you're giving us here!), I can see how that would still work. He finds standing in poop delightful, but also describes it as 'unpleasant'...can you alter this to be more consistent? Perhaps it's that he doesn't personally find it unpleasant but other people would call it so, so maybe try it in inverted commas or the reported speech of another character's words?

 

And the other point is it's not quite clear what he means by the phrase about starting the day off right - it does sound a bit like he's trying to get the tough stuff over and done with, or else that the rest of the day isn't usually a breeze but he'd like it to be? It's probably ok to leave this ambiguous, though at the moment it seems kind of a missed opportunity to tell us another piece of information about the character's day-to-day life and a chance taken instead to slightly confuse us uncessarily.

 

Have you got a sentence spare to mention how the pigs were doing? When I'm taking care of animals, that's usually the first thing I notice - I see how the cat is doing today rather than investigating her litter box first. It comes off a little strange that he's not first checking the pigs themselves or that they seem to be totally absent from the scene?

 

Overall think it's quirky and fun. There are shades of Dick King Smith's farm stories here and this rather grubby boy seems like a nice chap. I respect a character who gets his hands dirty (even if, admittedly, he does seem a bit excessively enthused about poop, but I'm sure that will be explained...)


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#5 Arcanjoe

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 06:05 AM

Very helpful critiques from all you. Thanks for reading! It's not necessarily that Huey loves pig poo, it's that he adores farmwork and everything that comes along with it. Which is why it's so dreadful when he is dragged away from the farm later on in the story. Everyone pointed out that "shuffled" was absolutely wrong there and I completely agree. I've cut, altered and added little bits now. But (for a number of reasons) present tense won't work for this story, though I definitely considered it. It's funny you should mention how the pigs were doing, BadgerFox, because that's the very next thing I focus on in the story (now included below). How does this version read?

 

New Version:

 

Heaven, to Huey Crescent, was standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig’s muck, spade in hand.

 

First thing every morning, before showering, before breakfast, before saying good morning to his parents, he would roll out of bed, dress in his morning-chore clothes, then dash out of the back door and over to the pigsty.

 

But it had rained all night long, and the pigsty was more lake-like than it had ever been and almost as dark as his Dad’s morning coffee.

 

All about him, morning mist hung in the frigid air, wetting his hair and cheeks and stinging his lungs. Huey took a moment to adjust the oversized sunglasses on his face with his free hand. He probably didn’t need them this morning, the glare from the rising sun was so weak, but if his parents caught him not wearing them he’d be in for it. His parents didn’t have a lot of rules on the farm, but there was one: Huey was never to go out in daylight without his sunglasses. So Huey used the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe the droplets of mist from the lenses and looked down at the suspicious chunks floating on the surface of the water.

 

Huey grinned at the challenge and set to work.

 

He waded through the six-inch-deep gloop in his favourite wellies–they were stripy and comfy–and talked all the while to the pigs. To his friends. His Dad often told him not to name them because they were not pets and could be sold at the drop of a hat, but Huey couldn’t help it. Who else was he to talk to while he worked?

 

“Gurgle, how do you do it, eh? How do you produce so much poo?” Huey asked the largest of the pigs as he shoved his spade under the steaming pile and dumped it into the corner. “It’s just more work for me, you know. I tell you what, maybe we feed you less. How does that sound?”

 

Gurgle snorted and turned away, thoroughly unimpressed.


I'd love for you to critique my latest query...

Eyes White as Snow: 

http://agentquerycon...now-ya-fantasy/


#6 BadgerFox

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 06:15 AM

 

Very helpful critiques from all you. Thanks for reading! It's not necessarily that Huey loves pig poo, it's that he adores farmwork and everything that comes along with it. Which is why it's so dreadful when he is dragged away from the farm later on in the story. Everyone pointed out that "shuffled" was absolutely wrong there and I completely agree. I've cut, altered and added little bits now. But (for a number of reasons) present tense won't work for this story, though I definitely considered it. It's funny you should mention how the pigs were doing, BadgerFox, because that's the very next thing I focus on in the story (now included below). How does this version read?

 

New Version:

 

Heaven, to Huey Crescent, was standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig’s muck, spade in hand.

 

First thing every morning, before showering, before breakfast, before saying good morning to his parents, he would roll out of bed, dress in his morning-chore clothes, then dash out of the back door and over to the pigsty.

 

But it had rained all night long, and the pigsty was more lake-like than it had ever been and almost as dark as his Dad’s morning coffee.

 

All about him, morning mist hung in the frigid air, wetting his hair and cheeks and stinging his lungs. Huey took a moment to adjust the oversized sunglasses on his face with his free hand. He probably didn’t need them this morning, the glare from the rising sun was so weak, but if his parents caught him not wearing them he’d be in for it. His parents didn’t have a lot of rules on the farm, but there was one: Huey was never to go out in daylight without his sunglasses. So Huey used the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe the droplets of mist from the lenses and looked down at the suspicious chunks floating on the surface of the water.

 

Huey grinned at the challenge and set to work.

 

He waded through the six-inch-deep gloop in his favourite wellies–they were stripy and comfy–and talked all the while to the pigs. To his friends. His Dad often told him not to name them because they were not pets and could be sold at the drop of a hat, but Huey couldn’t help it. Who else was he to talk to while he worked?

 

“Gurgle, how do you do it, eh? How do you produce so much poo?” Huey asked the largest of the pigs as he shoved his spade under the steaming pile and dumped it into the corner. “It’s just more work for me, you know. I tell you what, maybe we feed you less. How does that sound?”

 

Gurgle snorted and turned away, thoroughly unimpressed.

 

 

*squeals with happiness at cute pigs*

 

:D

 

Sorry *cough* I have a thing for unusual animals. Pigs are cooler than most people know.

 

I love it!

 

Well, that's ME on Huey's side right now. He could drown an orphan, set fire to a nunnery, and shoot someone on the next page (I'm sure he doesn't) and I'd still be cooing over what a sweet guy he is to give his pigs so much friendly attention, heh :D ...


Spare a shiny scrap of feedback for newbie?

First 250 words of my AU novel: http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/37913-jill-the-lass-alternative-history/


#7 jaustail

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 08:08 AM

JMO:

 

 

 

Heaven, to Huey Crescent,(I had to read this a few times to understand this. I thought there was some typo here. Maybe reword to: For Huey, heaven was standing...) was standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig’s muck, spade in hand.

 

First thing every morning, before showering, before breakfast, before saying good morning to his parents, he would roll out of bed, dress in his morning-chore clothes, then dash out of the back door and over to the pigsty.

 

But it had rained all night long, and the pigsty was more lake-like than it had ever been(in first line Huey enjoys being in lake of pig's much. so it sort of implies he's been in this situation before. so maybe remove:..more lake-like that it had ever been since the earlier part made me think there have been lake-like sty before) and almost as dark as his Dad’s morning coffee.

 

All about him, morning mist hung in the frigid air, wetting his hair and cheeks and stinging his lungs. Huey took a moment to adjust the oversized sunglasses on his face with his free hand. He probably didn’t need them this morning, the glare from the rising sun was so weak, but if his parents caught him not wearing them he’d be in for it. His parents didn’t have a lot of rules on the farm, but there was one: Huey was never to go out in daylight without his sunglasses. So Huey used the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe the droplets of mist from the lenses and looked down at the suspicious chunks floating on the surface of the water.

 

Huey grinned at the challenge and set to work.

 

He waded through the six-inch-deep gloop in his favourite wellies–they were stripy and comfy–and talked all the while to the pigs. To his friends. His Dad often told him not to name them because they were not pets and could be sold at the drop of a hat, but Huey couldn’t help it. Who else was he to talk to while he(who is he here? I guess it's dad. maybe replace 'he' with 'dad'. why would parents send a kid to work that too with a spade?)if  worked?

 

“Gurgle, how do you do it, eh? How do you produce so much poo(lol)?” Huey asked the largest of the pigs as he shoved his spade under the steaming pile and dumped it into the corner. “It’s just more work for me, you know. I tell you what, maybe we feed you less. How does that sound?”

 

Gurgle snorted and turned away, thoroughly unimpressed.(lol...snobbish pig :D)

 

I enjoyed this just as I enjoyed the query. Good job and good luck!!



#8 Arcanjoe

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 09:07 AM

Thanks to both of you! Jaustail, "he" is Huey in that scenario. E.g. "Who else was he (Huey) to talk to while he (Huey) worked?" I've reworked the third paragraph into though as I feel it's more impactful that way. How's this? Anything lost?

 

Heaven, to Huey Crescent, was standing shin-deep in a stinking lake of pig’s muck, spade in hand.

 

First thing every morning, before showering, before breakfast, before saying good morning to his parents, he would roll out of bed, dress in his morning-chore clothes, then dash out of the back door and over to the pigsty.

 

Must’ve rained all night, Huey thought as he took in the swamp-like pigsty. He chuckled. Looks like Dad’s morning coffee.

 

All about him, morning mist hung in the frigid air, wetting his hair and cheeks and stinging his lungs. Huey took a moment to adjust the oversized sunglasses on his face with his free hand. He probably didn’t need them this morning, the glare from the rising sun was so weak, but if his parents caught him not wearing them he’d be in for it. His parents didn’t have a lot of rules on the farm, but there was one: Huey was never to go out in daylight without his sunglasses. So Huey used the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe the droplets of mist from the lenses and looked down at the suspicious chunks floating on the surface of the water.

 

Huey grinned at the challenge and set to work.

 

He waded through the six-inch-deep gloop in his favourite wellies–they were stripy and comfy–and talked all the while to the pigs. To his friends. His Dad often told him not to name them because they were not pets and could be sold at the drop of a hat, but Huey couldn’t help it. Who else was he to talk to while he worked?

 

“Gurgle, how do you do it, eh? How do you produce so much poo?” Huey asked the largest of the pigs as he shoved his spade under the steaming pile and dumped it into the corner. “It’s just more work for me, you know. I tell you what, maybe we feed you less. How does that sound?”

 

Gurgle snorted and turned away, thoroughly unimpressed.


I'd love for you to critique my latest query...

Eyes White as Snow: 

http://agentquerycon...now-ya-fantasy/





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