Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Feedback #2

Okay, you know the RULES.

Okay, well at least three of you do. But just in case, here they are again.
There's only three.
If you want more details, read this blog post here., or click on "the Rules" above, otherwise, just follow along.

I would like the following feedback (and will offer the same to you if you post an excerpt for me to read in the comments):

• If it is the first few paragraphs of a novel – as it is (again) today – tell me if it "hooks" you enough to make you want to keep reading, or not. If yes, why? If no, why not?

• What else (if anything) works for you, and why?

• What doesn’t work for you (if something doesn't) and why?

If you would like the same feedback, please post your brief excerpt at the end of your comment (and tell me what it is -- e.g. opening to a novel, short story, poem, etc...). Please post no more than 3 -5 paragraphs, 5 if they're short, 3 if they are long. If there's more, I will only read the first 3 -5 paragraphs. If the comment gets too long, feel free to reply in two separate comments. If you are a student from a particular class, please identify yourself as such. If not, let me know how you found me.

Today, I am posting the opening paragraphs from another WIP (Work In Progress) of mine called In Sight of Stars. The audience is Upper YA (16+). Because it is an opening chapter, the main question is, does it hook you? And there is a curse in it, so if that offends you, stop reading now. :)

If you're here, thanks for participating. Can't wait to read your stuff.

Week One


My dad and I are walking through Soho. The day is bright and brisk. As we talk, our breath puffs out in front of us like steam from the street vents. Sarah is there with me. The sky turns dusky gray; the Empire State building towers ahead in pink-red glory. Dad laughs at something, and Sarah takes my hand.

Except, no. That’s not right. We’re not in Soho.

And Dad’s not there.

No one is there.

I scratch my ear.

“Try not to do that,” she says.


I look up. The woman is still there.

Middle aged. Dark, frizzy hair. A little overweight.

Dr. Andersen.

No, that’s not right either. Alvarez.


Art, I say, I met Sarah in art class. Is that what you asked me? I seriously can’t get my thoughts to collect.

Dr. Alvarez nods and I stare at the print on her wall. It’s a Van Gogh. Daubigny’s Garden. 1890. I think that’s why I’m willing to talk at all. Because of that print on her wall. If it had been anything else – a Monet, a Renoir – forget it. But it’s a Van Gogh, so there’s hope then.

“Tell me more about that,” she says.

I pull at my ear again. I try not to, but it itches.

My eyes go back to the print. The frame is wrong, too modern, and matted. You don’t really matte a Van Gogh. His paintings are expansive. The color should go right to the frame. I close my eyes and breathe. My throat feels too choked to swallow.




  1. I like it. How's that? Kidding. I love it, but if I had to say something about it, the first paragraph reads choppy to me for some reason.

    But I love how you're incorporating Van Gogh in this novel. You have a knack of bringing the classics up to date for today's youth whether it's Steinbeck or Van Gogh.

    But just in this little bit, you get a feel for the protagonist. I think this will probably be a great novel when it's finished. :)

  2. Thanks, Megan. It IS choppy, of course there's a reason for that if you keep reading, but it remains to be seen if it's too choppy to keep reading. The narrator is under a heavy fog of confusion as the book starts... will be interesting to hear other feedback if I get it.

    No little excerpt from you? :)

  3. In all honesty: this, for me, is the best writing of yours I've EVER READ (and that's saying somethin', considering how well you write!). I absolutely love the pacing, the neat switch, the language. Totally hooked me.

  4. Not sure much of my writing is appropriate for this blog, but here's a little snip with little violence and no foul language.

    He practically threw me back in the closet. He grabbed the lamp, my plate from the night before, and he took my clothes and left leaving me wet, cold, and in darkness. I crawled to the little door at the end of my closet, opened it up and went through. I continued toward the vent around the corner. Though I was freezing, I unwrapped myself from my towel, and dropped it to the floor, then I slithered my way up into the vent. Without clothes on, I had more room to wriggle around, but still got caught up at the hips. Another few days of not eating would probably do it though.

  5. Whoa, Megan, VERY intriguing. Yikes! Great!

  6. thanks, Jody... means a lot coming from you.

    Megan, very disturbing and well written. Poor girl. It's reminding me a bit of Room which I just finished reading (not YA). Would be a good thing if you could get it done soon!

  7. Room by Emma Donoghue? I have that on my headboard, its waiting to be read still.

    Anyways. It really hooks me, I want to know more of whats going on. I feel about as confused as the MC does. Very nicely written. <3

    No little excerpt from me this time.

  8. Hi Gae-I like this alot and am definitely intrigued. The only thing I wonder about is the NY scene you start with. It comes and goes so quickly I wonder if you can do a bit more with the confusion about where she is and her state of mind before you drop it. Perhaps more detail at the beginning, a slightly longer NY story, and/or a time when the realities are mixed before she pulls herself out of it. Could be interesting to create a kind of ambiguity before we're on solid ground again.

    Like the VanGogh stuff alot. Had a moment where it reminded me of David Morrell's story, "Orange is for Anguish, Blue is for Insanity" A cool little story if you can still dig it up.

    Enjoyed your's too Megan! Intense stuff. Can't wait to see where that goes.

  9. Caroline, thanks! I missed seeing a snippet of your writing this week...

    Jeff,interesting point. I'm going to look at that on revisions. I think you might be right.


  10. btw, Jeff, (if you're still reading?)the MC narrating is a male. Did you just assume female because I am one, or did something about the writing make you think female?

    anyone else reading on this point?

  11. I assumed the character was a male when it said "and Sarah takes my hand." To me it made Sarah seem like his girlfriend or something along those lines.

  12. Yeah, I definitely thought female, but looking back I don't see anything that points that way. Probably just me.

  13. Something about the writing made me think female but I'm thinking it might have just reminded me of my character, Claudia lol It left me with a lot of questions, I'm not sure what is going on, but I know I want to find out!! lol Great job