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Soft Sci-Fi / Contemporary Fiction


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#1 Sarkin

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 06:00 PM

Hi everyone,

 

First 250 words below. I'd appreciate any kind of feedback. Happy to give some thoughts on yours as well.

 

________________________________________

 

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” rolled off Tommy’s tongue. Reciting the lines was easy now, while he was in the corner of the cafeteria with no one to hear him except Ziggy. But how he would say them in front of her, with her table full of cheerleaders staring at him, was the real question.

 

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” he muttered for the hundredth time under his breath. “Thou art more lovely and more temperate.”

 

Ziggy swallowed the last bite of his second hot dog of the lunch period. “Please tell me you’re not actually gonna ask a girl to Homecoming like this?”

 

Tommy had already made up his mind yesterday, his sixteenth birthday, when he’d come to the terrifying realization that he’d never had a single date in his life. Unlike the last two Homecoming dances, he refused to spend this one at home playing Call of Duty with Ziggy.

 

“Yeah, I am. Besides, it can’t be any more dangerous than the processed meat you’re eating. You know hot dogs increase your risk of colon cancer by thirty-seven percent?”

 

“You know what I know?” Ziggy squeezed some mustard on another hot dog. “You have a hundred thirty-seven percent chance of getting knocked out by Grant if you say a Shakespeare line to his girlfriend.”

 

“I don’t just have Shakespeare lines. I have E.E. Cummings and Yeats, too. And she’s not just Grant’s girlfriend . . . she’s God’s gift to our boring town. Look at her.”

 



#2 thecraigstone

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 10:05 PM

Okay, first constructive thoughts:
 

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” rolled off Tommy’s tongue. Reciting the lines was easy now, while he was in the corner of the cafeteria with no one to hear him except Ziggy. But how he would say them in front of her, with her table full of cheerleaders staring at him, was the real question.

 

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” he muttered for the hundredth time under his breath. “Thou art more lovely and more temperate.”

Reverse the order of these two sentences. Open with "Shall I compare thee..." 

Change the 2nd sentence to read "while he was in the corner of the cafeteria with [only one other present] to hear him.." That way when the next paragraph picks up with Ziggy's response it'll flow better. It becomes clear at that point (without having to say it) that they're friends. Show, don't tell.

 

But how he would say them in front of her, with her table full of cheerleaders staring at him, was the real question.

 

This sentence reads... encumbered. It feels too flat, heavy. I would recommend trying something like, "Speaking the words aloud was made easier at a safe distance. The focus of his affections sat preening surrounded by a pride of cheerleaders."

 

Let me know if you want me to keep going.



#3 ALNoelle

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 03:15 PM

Hi everyone,
 
First 250 words below. I'd appreciate any kind of feedback. Happy to give some thoughts on yours as well.
 
________________________________________
 
Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” rolled off Tommy’s tongue. Reciting the lines was easy now, while he was in the corner of the cafeteria with no one to hear him except Ziggy. But how he would say them in front of her, with her table full of cheerleaders staring at him, was the real question.
 
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” he muttered for the hundredth time under his breath. “Thou art more lovely and more temperate.”
 
Ziggy swallowed the last bite of his second hot dog of the lunch period. “Please tell me you’re not actually gonna ask a girl to Homecoming like this?”
 
Tommy had already made up his mind yesterday, his sixteenth birthday, when he’d come to the terrifying realization that he’d never had a single date in his life. Unlike the last two Homecoming dances, he refused to spend this one at home playing Call of Duty with Ziggy.
 
“Yeah, I am. Besides, it can’t be any more dangerous than the processed meat you’re eating. You know hot dogs increase your risk of colon cancer by thirty-seven percent?”
 
“You know what I know?” Ziggy squeezed some mustard on another hot dog. “You have a hundred thirty-seven percent chance of getting knocked out by Grant if you say a Shakespeare line to his girlfriend.”
 
“I don’t just have Shakespeare lines. I have E.E. Cummings and Yeats, too. And she’s not just Grant’s girlfriend . . . she’s God’s gift to our boring town. Look at her.”



I like the suggestions given by thecraigstone. The first and second paragraph are reversible, I think it's sounds better starting that way. I like the voice you're portraying here. We get a sense of your MC right away. I'd have to say the last sentence doesn't do anything for me. He seems very enamored by her looks, and not by much else really. You don't want him to come across as superficial or predictable. However, I'm not sure what comes next, and this could be remedied already.

Good luck with your MS! Overall, I enjoyed reading your sample!

#4 JoQwerty

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 10:08 AM

Check your genre, this reads more like a YA novel than "Contemporary Fiction" which is usually considered an adult genre. YA is default contemporary, so you probably want to say: YA/SF.

 

My first impression is that Tommy is naive, foolish and maybe a little slow. If that is what you wanted to achieve in this opening, then great, your characterization is working! From here you can take Tommy's character in different directions. If he overcomes his faults he can be the hero, if he succumbs to them he will remain the comical sidekick to Ziggy or Grant or whoever the hero turns out to be.






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