Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Feedback, Frankie Sky

So, I decided to toss a brief Friday Feedback together because I'm suddenly really needing some feedback.

Frankie Sky is one of two YA manuscripts I've been working on during the past 18 months, and I've just started a big revision and am wondering about the opening hook. I've been spinning my wheels a bit on the very opening and would love your honest feedback.

Are you interested? Is there a hook? What do you like? What do you not like?

And, if you want to post an excerpt for the same feedback, please do!

Chapter One

The first time I see Frankie Schyler, he's diving into the Lawrenceville Country Club pool, which is only the first of many coincidences that will make me question everything I know about life, death, and the nature of our existence during the short eight weeks of summer.

It’s not so much coincidence as stupidity that Frankie marches to the edge of the coping, arms raised above his mop of blond curls, and purposefully plunges himself headfirst into the water, but rather the coincidence is that I am here, too, staring at the very same water, wondering if I might walk over and slip myself in, then sink to the bottom and disappear.

Or, maybe that’s not a coincidence either, since I’ve spent much of the past four years thinking about ways to disappear.

For example, there was the Year of Non-Breathing the year I turned twelve, which was one year after I let my brother Simon die. I’d read a story about a Buddhist monk who had meditated himself right into his own death. The article described how, knowing his body’s physical demise was near, he sat by a tree and made his breath so slow and barely, until he simply ceased to exist. I wanted that, too. I wanted to cease to exist.

For months I practiced endlessly. Every day after school, I would sit in front of the beautiful, old oak tree in our backyard, close my eyes, and make my inhales and exhales slower and more shallow until I couldn’t feel my chest move or the air go in or out. But when I’d finally open my eyes, I’d still be there alive, our house in front of me, everything intact, except Simon.

- gae


  1. Uhh yea, I'm interested!! What happened to Simon??
    The only thing I don't like is that it's not clear if the narrator is male or female. The picture is of a girl, so maybe that's it? The writing by itself doesn't specify :P
    Buuut I totally want more. There's a hook, and you got me for sure xD
    You're snippets always end so soon and I'm like "Whaaaaaaaaaaaat, where's the reeeesssst" *Whiney*

  2. Gae, I think this is a very strong opener. You capture the angst of the narrator in a very successful way. It feels deep, thoughtful, and rings true. I love the Buddhist monk story reference, and I'm curious how a child so young "let" her brother die.

    Now that I'm writing more YA myself, I'm glad I have someone as skilled as you to look up to.

  3. Gae, you're awesome. Truly. And I'm not just sycophantically blowing sunshine up your ass either. Your writing generates immediate interest, is thoughtful, and your way of capturing the emotions and voice of your character seems almost effortless.

  4. Poor readers (Ellie) i keep confusing you because I constantly switch between telling from a male and female perspective in my various mss and write from first person! :) This is an almost-15 yr old FEMALE narrator.

    Ian, Manohman, I was counting on you to rip me a new one?! Er. can I say that on my YA blog? Glad it's working for you. Okay, maybe I can stop obsessing over the opening and keep trucking. :) We'll see who else chimes in, if at all. Thanks! Helpful. :)

  5. Hah, Allie! We simul-posted! Thank you. Okay, a third vote for moving forward. :) (yay!)

  6. Gae, I only rip new ones when they are well-deserved. You don't need a new one; your existing one is working great. Must be all that fiber in your diet. :P

  7. Okay, because Gae asked me, I'm posting an excerpt from The Guitarist, my current WIP. Background: Molly is auditioning for a band, and at the moment that's all you really need to know. This is a fresh, raw excerpt so I apologize in advance for any typos/errors. Also, it's a wee bit longer than five paragraphs (but a couple paragraphs are single lines, and I'm fudging there).

    I glanced at Chris. His forehead was scrunched up wasn't concern, exactly, more like confusion, as if he didn't understand why Molly was playing what she did. "Jimi, man," said Jose. "That's just sick."

    If Chris looked confused, Tim the drummer just looked lost. His sticks wavered in uncertainty, like he didn't know what to play or when to come in.

    Lucy knew, and when Molly started blasting chords, she set up a throbbing bass line. Molly nodded at her and launched into a brief solo, bending strings until I thought they'd break.

    "Yeah!" Lucy shouted.

    Chris folded his arms.

    Molly and Lucy sang in unison, "Well I stand up next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand!" I could barely hear them over the howl of Molly's guitar since Chris had the only microphone and he'd made no move toward it.

    "Jimi Hendrix, man," shouted Jose in my ear. "She's fucking nailing it!"

    Molly and Lucy finished bellowing their verse and launched into a chorus about a being a voodoo child. Molly had an incredible mix of emotions running across her face as she played, from pride to pain, humor to humility, joy other word that starts with J. Some writer I am. Molly's music was reaching deep inside of me, taking my soul, and shaking it like a dog with a toy. She was making sounds I'd never heard before. It felt like falling in love and Christmas and puppy kisses all at the same time.

  8. nice, Ian. I like what I'm reading. I know it's rough and it's smack in the middle of something, so hard to write more than just "nice!" But it is. Keep going. :)

  9. Love it Gae! Totally drew me and makes me want to read more. Love the 'bigger picture we can't quite see' aspect to it and I already really like the MC's voice.

  10. thanks, Emily.

    Thank you for stopping by. :)