Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First Pages: MG / Orchestra Pits

I can't believe this!
I've counted 341 excruciatingly long days to be with Z, my best friend, soul mate, twin separated at birth! Not sharing a room?
Camp is ruined.
Too much information all at once. This is like the condensed expression of morse code or semaphore signals.
Do expect your editor to be close-reading your work. Don't expect your child audience to.
The woman at the registration table glares at me through her emerald eye shadow. "Cannot change roommate. Go to orientation, Edie Tan. You're late already."
The woman is likewise speaking as though she's being charged per word; she sounds robotic. (How do you look at someone through your eyeshadow? Maybe under instead.)
I drag my luggage out to the hallway, my jeans heavy and soggy from sploshing through the monsoon storm. My inside feels just as sploshed and heavy and soggy.
Z and I were roommates at last year's camp, our first. When I arrived at our room that first day, she ran to help me with my luggage and tripped. I jumped out of her way, jabbing the doorframe with my funny bone, and then fell over my luggage on top of her. As we untangled ourselves, Z sang, to the tune of the 1812 Overture: "Oh I can see that you're another Clum-Klutz"
"Yes, let's go celebrate and eat kumquats!" My response came as naturally as saying "Who's there?" to a knock-knock joke.
That's much better. Interesting details. A sense of personality, and humor.
We stared at each other, stunned,
This was the person I'd been waiting for; the person who breathed music and craved giggles the way I did.
And that was just the beginning. We found out we had an instinct about each other. Sometimes all it took was a shared look for us to understand an entire joke and burst out laughing.
We're a two-piece puzzle that finally found each other.
When camp ended, we promised to hone our telepathy by transmitting our thoughts every night across 500 miles. I don't know if stuff like that works, but I do know that I've been waiting so long to see her my neck has grown a foot.
'to see her my neck has grown a foot'? Is this a misprint?
Now that I'm finally at camp, I find out we're not sharing a room.
Oh, I know I'll see her around but it isn't the same. She's a violinist, I'm a percussionist; we're at different tutorials and we sit far away from each other in the orchestra. Sure, we can eat together, but our post-midnight, talk-about-everything sessions are what made camp stupendous, magnificent, unmatched by anything on earth. I sit curled up outside the door and cradle my throbbing head in my hands. Maybe I'll just remain here till I fossilize so millions of years from now archaeologists can have some fun studying a human in shrimp form.
'Shrimp form'? Some good details here, but also a few rocky bits. I'd read on, but I think this would really benefit from a good edit before it's submitted.
What monsoon was that at the beginning? Is this band camp in Thailand, or something?


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of finally finding a friend who's like a second puzzle piece, then having to leave her behind.

I wonder, though: in today's digital world, is it such a hardship to have a long-distance friendship, what with e-mail, texting, Facebook/MySpace, etc etc etc? Unless this is set in the past (in which case you need to establish that right away), I think you need to acknowledge this in some way, otherwise you might not sound current.

:)Ash said...

This brought back fond memories for me. I went to a summer music camp every year until my sophomore year of high school, and my best camp friend and I sent each other letters for years. We eventually lost track of each in high school, but somehow ended up at the same small liberal arts college, even though we lived in different states! He's now married and living in NJ, and I'm living in the South, but we keep in touch.

Anyway, sorry for the tangent. However, my point is, I think this is a subject many kids (and adults) can relate to. And even with the technology of today, emails and IMs just aren't the same as seeing your friend face to face. Best of luck with your novel!

:)Ash said...

Oh, also meant to say that I love the title :)

Anonymous said...

I think you should start with "The woman..." and make her sound less robotic. You have a good concept going and probably need to tighten things up a bit.

Keep going!

Yat-Yee said...

I'll be brave enough to post as myself.

Thanks, EA, for your comments.

The condensed opening is my attempt to follow the advice of not wasting a single word. Now that I know it gives the impression of being morse code, I'll have to tweak it. I'll also take care of the elongated neck and shrimp form. Be gone, rocky bits!

And yes, the story does take place in South East Asia, not Thailand but its neighbor, Malaysia.

Ash, Anon, and Anon: thanks for your suggestions and kind words. BTW, the title is EA's. I may just have to use it now, unless she has a copyright on it or something. :)

Anonymous said...

I love stories about friendships like this and there is a lot to like here. The MC voice is enthusiastic and fresh and I already like her.

Some nitpicks.(take it with a grain of salt!)

I don't think you need this line:

"...Now that I'm finally at camp, I find out we're not sharing a room..."

--The reader already knows she isn't sharing a room because of the opening lines.

The whole last paragraph seems like overkill. Like the reader is being beaten over the head with just how much Edie loves this friend. The details are all fine on their own, but when they are all added together it starts to read as being overwrought. I like the picture of the "late-night, talk about everything sessions" but wouldn't that be something she'd recall later on, after her first day, when she's stuck with her new roommate and comparing her to her friend? Not all of it has to be expressed so early.

It seems like Edie's first instinct would be to go to orientation and find her friend, complain about the situation, not cradle her throbbing head in her hands?

Also, for someone being so crushed, I'm not sure she'd be reasoning with herself so quickly: "... Oh, I know I'll see her around, but it isn't the same..." It's too big of a shift of gears. Could this be something you could bring out in dialogue -- the girls meeting up at orientation and trying to make the best of the situation: "We can still talk before practice--" "Yeah, but it won't be the same, you're all the way over in the percussions..."

Yat-Yee said...

Thank you, Anon, for your thoughtful suggestions. Interestingly enough, after I posted my first page here, I continued to obsess over it and have made the very changes you mentioned: cutting out the line "...now that I'm here..." and the passage that begins with "Oh I know..."

Thanks again. I love friendship stories too and I remember how overwhelmingly important my friends were to me in my youth.

shell said...

I kinda like the 'shrimp form' description. More evocative than just 'curled up,' or the more distressing 'fetal position.' Maybe, as you said, just needs to be tweaked a bit.

Yat-Yee said...

Fetal position is rather distressing, isn't it? Conjures up all sorts of depressing feelings. Thanks for your comment.

Buffra said...

Even this short piece gives a focused view of the main character and some of her appealing originality.

I'll agree with the other comments that there are some rough spots, but I'd keep reading to see where it was going and what the two of them would get up to.