Monday, March 21, 2011

Maybe I've got Laryngitis? My "Show Me the Voice" entry...

Happy Monday, all!!!  So sorry - I'm WAY off my regular schedule today.  But, I've got a reason.  Sort of. 

I'm participating in Brenda Drake's "Show Me the Voice" contest today!

I'm supposed to post the first 250 words of my MS for critiques today.  I've tweaked the first few paragraphs of my MS 1,365,479 times (or so, you know...)  Even a few more times this morning!  Still not sure if I like/love it.  It's more likely that I dislike/loathe it.  Depends on my mood ~ :)

Anyhow - if anyone is out there and feels like dishing some brutal honesty today - I'd appreciate comments on the following:

My birthday morning started the same as always. For a girl who was so not a morning-person three-hundred and sixty four other days of the year, I woke up alert and smiling, my energy meter tipping into the red. I woke Mom up with a sound she best described as a helium-sucking squirrel. She threw on a robe and scampered down to the kitchen to cook my favorite breakfast meal; Belgium waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, burnt bacon and mint cocoa.

“Gonna let me help this year?” I offered.

“Nope. Shove off, birthday girl.”

So I spent thirty minutes in the living room waiting, daydreaming of birthday presents and tonight’s party. It was a silly ritual for a newly seventeen-year-old. I should be cooking my own darn breakfast and daydreaming of boys, one in particular. Shane. Although, handling a hot griddle while daydreaming of one luscious boyfriend was clearly an accident waiting to happen. Focus, Clara! I decided it might be best to shake off all thoughts and wrapped myself in the blue-speckled afghan that hung over the back of my favorite leather armchair. I closed my eyes and sucked in the smell of bacon. My toes dug into the plush, mulberry-colored carpet and I let my body lax and my mind wander.

When it hit, I opened my eyes to make sure no one was actually slapping my face. No one hovered near me. I still heard my mom tinkering in the kitchen. But flashes started to pop in front of my face, as if some phantom hand shoved picture after picture a half inch from my nose.
So, there you have it!  (if you hear some virtual gagging, ignore please...)  I believe there's still time to get in on the contest, which offers a critique from agent Natalie Fischer as a prize.  Click the button on my side bar.  Again, all comments welcome.  And here's hoping that all your first paragraphs actually LOVE you!


Caitlyn (Cait) said...

OMGosh! You have changed it a million and a half times. LOL. I like this upbeat Clara better. Glad you kept the photo flashings.

mooderino said...

I think it's a little confusing to start with 'same as always' and then go into how it was different to every other day of the year. You could even cut the first line and let her excitement lead us to it being her birthday (which mom confirms later).

The second line was a mouthful and hard to get through. Do you need 'other' before 'days'? Seem to be quite a lot of extra little words stuck in there, I assume for voice, but makes it read a little stilted at times. Mom... 'best described' could just be 'described'.

Nice weird breakfast platter.

'...handling a hot griddle while daydreaming' made it seem like she actually was holding a griddle. But she isn't so why does she have to focus? It's confusingly put, imo. Either she's got a hot hing and should focus, or she hasn't and can daydream all she likes.

'When it hit...' when what hit? I assume you're going to reveal later, but it feels very abstract at the moment.

Hope that helps.

Colene Murphy said...

Mooderino pretty much nailed my confusion. With the same as always and then saying it's different.

I think the next big hunk of paragraph was really cute! (Especially love the boyfriend name choice!! <3) I didn't think the griddle thing was confusing, though. We knew she wasn't cooking but thinking of why it wouldn't be a good idea. And then she actually starts to daydream and get sidetracked by the boyfriend so that's why the focus part, right?

Really cute, Donea! Very interesting, about the flashes. Want to know more!

DEZMOND said...

what, what, what??? A phantom? Donea, you naughty girl, you really know how to cut the story when it's most exciting :)

M Pax said...

I'm really curious as to what hit her. Breakfast sounds yummy. I'm always a succor for food scenes - ever since Nancy Drew. lol

Nicole Zoltack said...

I agree that the same as always but different thing was jarring. You also used "I woke" to start to sentences in a row.

I do like the voice though, and I'm interested to know more about the flashes (although the it in when it hit me is a little too vague.)

Kari Marie said...

I haven't read the other posts so I don't know what other folks have said. I'm new to looking at other people's work, so feel free to ignore me.

I'm so intrigued, I loved the descriptive paragraph talking about Shane and digging her toes in the carpet. Imagining a helium sucking squirrel made me giggle.

I stumbled on the first paragraph and I'm not sure why. It could be the hypenated words. I re-read once before moving on.

I was wondering if a 17-year-old girl would think it was silly to imagine her party and presents? I know I didn't, I was all about the bling...and the boys. But I like the voice you have going here. It feels youthful.

Maybe a paragraph break at "Focus Clara!" to accentuate the break in her thoughts?

Could you add more action by saying "I shook off my thoughts and wrapped myself in the blue-speckled afghan..." instead of "I decided it might be best..."

Again, that sentence may go to voice, but it feels like telling (and I could be totally wrong).

I loved it though. I'm so curious about the phantom hand.

Abby Minard said...

Interesting piece Donea!

Here are my thoughts:
I was thrown off by the same as always comment too. waking up alert is not really the same as always, if she doesn't do it every other year.

But I like the energy meter sentence, and the helium sucking squirrel ;p

I'm not sure about the image I get of a mom "scampering" down- I would change that word.

I think most 17 year olds think about their party on their birthday right? I don't know if she would think that she should be cooking her own breakfast on her birthday.

I like your imagery with the last sentences with the bacon and carpet.

I was thrown off by the "when it hit". I see what you are trying to do, but you might need to rewrite it. When what hit? Did it feel like a slap on her face? You might want to start with a flash in front of her face, so we know what's going on, and then she starts and looks for the source or something.

Very intriguing and you have a great start here. Just clearing up some of the confusion I think will make it great.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Really intrigued by the photo flashing now! Good luck! :D

Arlee Bird said...

Mooderino and Abby are really good at this critique stuff. I am not. But after I read what they had to say it made it more clear for me.

There is a frivolity to the opening which seems to take a turn with the phantom thing at the end, but I guess a lot depends on what comes next. This incongruity confused me, but it's hard to judge being left hanging as we are at the end.

Now I'm hungry for breakfast.

Tossing It Out
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Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

Something to think on. In these short format posts, without a query to read, you really need to grab the agent with the first line. With that said, and because this exercise is about voice, I'd rethink numero uno- think of how you can rephrase it to give us more of your character's voice. I like the helium sucking squirrel--funny! and I love the last paragraph. I'm wondering if you should start the scene there...

Donna Weaver said...

You already have a lot of good input here, Donea. I enjoyed some of the same things the others did. But it seemed to take a long time to get there, if that makes sense. But I sure want to know what's going on with the hit thingy.

Good luck!

E.C. Smith said...

Very intriguing! Well done and good luck in the contest.

P.S. Pop by my blog when you get a chance. I've a gift waiting for you!

Jess said...

"helium-sucking squirrel"-- LOVE IT!