Post by shaelynberg on Feb 3, 2017 13:12:45 GMT -5
UPDATED PASSAGE IN MY COMMENT BELOW
I wondered if I would recognize her. Best friends couldn’t possibly forget each other, not just over the summer. But Ajooni had been across the world. Maybe she cut her hair or wore different clothes. Sometimes I saw different things about her last year when she went to sixth grade. Black makeup around her eyes, sparkly blush brushed high on her cheeks.
I didn’t think I looked different, but sometimes I don’t think I have bits of pepper in between my teeth until someone points them out. Usually Ajooni. Best friends are good for that sort of thing.
My trowel stuck on something heavy in the dirt and sent a vibration up my arm. It was probably a rock, but I couldn’t help but get my hopes up. Especially after all this time.
I scraped the sand and pebbles away, but like always, they tried to slide back into the hole. The earth didn’t want to be dug in Southern California. Not unless you quenched its thirst with water. Which was one fat chance, since we hadn’t had rain for nearly a year.
A rock. Big surprise. I let it roll out of my palm and watched as it tumbled over itself down the barren mountain, kicking up dust as it went. I thought maybe Ajooni would be the lucky charm we needed, if only she would show up before the sun dipped behind Gingham Mountain. It had been too long since we searched together.
********************************************* Thank you for reading and for your comments! I welcome any and all types of feedback.
Post by Ninja Flash on Feb 3, 2017 14:33:50 GMT -5
Thank you for sharing your work. I see a lot to like here: a likable main character (the "sometimes I don't think I have bits of pepper in between my teeth until someone points them out" is fun and endearing), and intriguing unanswered questions (What does she hope to find while digging? Why have she and her best friend lost touch? Etc.)
If I understand correctly, this is the very first page of your manuscript. With that in mind, what I'm seeing here is a common opening scene issue: the disembodied narrator. I like that you're plunging us right into the action and the character's life, but without a little more grounding in the scene and the character herself (I'm assuming this is a girl but I don't know for sure), it's hard to engage with the story because I'm trying to fill in those gaps. In other words, see if you can give some setting information early on (within the first couple of paragraphs): she is outside and beginning to dig, but what kind of place is this? It's Southern, CA, but is this her backyard, or a remote meadow, etc. What is the context? Then give a few more hints about your main character: What has the narrator been doing while Ajooni was across the world? Etc.
The line "Sometimes I saw different things about her last year when she went to sixth grade" is a little vague. Was the narrator not also in 6th grade? Had they stopped hanging out and she was watching from a distance?
Making the context a little clearer from the start will help readers focus on those intriguing questions I mentioned in the first paragraph.
I like the sensory details we start getting toward the end. I agree with the Ninja (because who's going to disagree with a ninja) that you need to place us more with the narrator. I almost feel like I get more Ajooni than the mc. And then this is just a total pet peeve of mine, so please take with a grain of salt but I always question whether something is legit or it's a way of getting info in, and someone wondering if they would recognize their best friend didn't seem believable once I realized it's only been a summer. I thought it would be more likely to wonder if they'd still get along. I appreciate that you're most likely trying to get in the fact that Ajooni has been gone, but I think you can do that in a more believable way.
I was a bit confused about the sixth grade comment. Presumably they were at school together, and mc is letting us know Ajooni was changing a little? Not quite sure.
But there is much to like here and even though I didn't know a lot about mc I did find her voice to be quite engaging.
Post by shaelynberg on Feb 3, 2017 19:29:29 GMT -5
Thank you for your feedback! I've made some edits that hopefully remedy some of those issues (hopefully without introducing many more, fingers crossed):
I sat on the steep slope of Gingham Mountain in the dulling sunlight, raking at a hole with my trowel. I tried not to keep squinting down toward my street, looking for any sign of movement from Ajooni’s house or her turquoise bike inching up the dirt path. I checked my phone again. Be there in 10. That was two hours before.
I wondered if I would recognize her. Best friends couldn’t possibly forget each other, not just over the summer. But sometimes I noticed different things about Ajooni when we met after school last year, after she went to Mustang Intermediate and left me alone at Marigold Elementary. Black makeup around her eyes, sparkly blush brushed high on her cheeks.
“It’s just makeup, Edie,” she would say. “You’ll wear it in sixth grade, too.”
I doubted Ajooni would have any trouble picking me out of a crowd. My hair was chocolate brown and untamed as ever. The same freckles spread uneven across my cheeks, with a few new ones that sprouted over the summer from all the digging in the sun. And no makeup.
At least I didn’t think I looked different, but sometimes I don’t think I have bits of pepper in between my teeth until someone points them out. Usually Ajooni. Best friends are good for that sort of thing.
My trowel stuck on something heavy in the dirt and sent a vibration up my arm. It was probably a rock, but I couldn’t help but get my hopes up. Especially after all that time and searching.
Your second go at this first page is a huge improvement! I would take out the "toward" in "squinting down toward my street"--I think "squinting down my street" sounds better. I also think that you might want to change whether the MC would recognize her to something more along the lines of whether Ajooni had changed much. I think the MC would only realistically worry about recognizing her if Ajooni had been in a horrible accident and/or had plastic surgery. Is there only one year between the BFFs? It's not clear how much younger the MC is. Other than that, I think you have an interesting first page--good luck!