Sunday, March 29, 2009

First Pages: YA / Worth It

It felt good to hit someone. I can’t say that out loud, but it’s the truth. After weeks of digging my nails into my palms to hold it all in, months of going numb to avoid the inevitable fight, it felt fucking amazing to let loose and beat the shit out of someone. Even if I got banged up, even if I got suspended, it was so worth it.
Intriguing beginning, good voice. Cut "to hold it all in"; make the last sentence into two: "Even if I got banged up, even if I got suspended. Worth it."
That first perfect punch was almost in slow motion, with a hazy comet trail following my arm all the way to Pinscher’s face. But then his nose exploded with a crunch, like smashing crusty ice with the heel of your shoe. Blood flooded Pinscher’s mouth and chin, making him sputter, dripping down what was left of his shirt. Maybe the blood and sound should have made me stop, or at least pause, but they didn’t.
In that moment before the others jumped in, I was The Man. I was a god. For the briefest of flashes, I was a son Dad could be proud of and a brother T.J. could tell his buddies about. I wasn’t me, not really, and in a way, I was more than me. It was like T.J. and Dad were behind me, like their strength was in my arm. And in another way it was like there was no T.J. or Dad: Just me, this strong and strange me, in total control and in total chaos, all at the same time.
Cut "all at the same time".

I wish I had more comments here.
I gotta say, I'm hooked. I want to read the rest of it.


Pixiewinkle said...

Me too.

Anonymous said...

LOVE it! Pitch perfect. Great job.


I don't like the sudden second-person "you," thrown in there.

Example: "...But then his nose exploded with a crunch, like smashing crusty ice with the heel of your shoe..."

Might want to consider just saying: heel of *a* shoe...? Or... like crusty ice smashing under the heel of a shoe...?

Or, ignore me all together, because this is really, really good. :)

Chris Eldin said...

I'm also hooked.

If you were in my critique group, after patting you on your back with a well-deserved "Nice job!" my feedback would be that this sounds feminine, in a few places, so be careful about that throughout your story.

For example---
--digging my nails into my palms
--it was so worth
--like smashing crusty ice with the heel of your shoe
--not really, and in a way

just my opinion that cutting these would give you a stronger male voice.

But, again, terrific job!!!

ae said...

You know when you read something and you!

Sheila said...

The first paragraph hooked me completely. Very nice.

In the second paragraph I was a little curious how Pinscher's blood was dripping down "what was left of his shirt" after the first punch. The "first punch" line put me at the start of the fight, the shredded shirt made me wonder.

I liked the start of the third paragraph, it really shows us something about this kid. But I wasn't crazy about the me and not me bit. I couldn't really relate to that feeling. But that's just me.

And I agree with Chris - I have three boys and none of them would feel their nails in a balled fist. (To be honest, I wouldn't either).

Good luck, you're a talented writer and you have a great opening here.

Yat-Yee said...

Another wow here. That bit describing how he feels Dad and TJ in him, yet it's all him: powerful.

Anonymous said...

might want to have the blood dripping down his (insert whatever shows the kind of person Pinscher is... a concert shirt, a polo shirt, a white shirt?)

I like the line I wasn't me, not really, and in a way, I was more than me. I think it's a great way to show a lot about the character and his family.

Your writing is strong, and I think this will resonate with a wide array of male teens.

Great job!

~Lindsey S

Katie said...

Yep. This is the first in a while that I am REALLY curious about. Great job! What a cool feeling to realize that AE and we ALL know that you have something here.

Rock on!

Anonymous said...

Maybe "like ice on a puddle smashing under your shoe"? I thought it was a great image, but something about the exact wording was off.

Emily Kokie said...

Wow. What a great way to start the week.

I really appreciate everyone taking the time to comment.

Now that I am down to the fine-tuning revisions on this manuscript, it really helps to get a sense of what is working and what could be improved, and most especially where the voice falters.

EA, thanks for offering First Pages, and extra special thanks for critiquing mine.

What a terrific experience and a great boost as I work on finishing up this latest revision.


:)Ash said...

This first page is absolutely disgusting and disturbing.

But I want to keep reading! :)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I like this line: strong and strange me...

Very nice.

I agree with Anon, not a fan of 2nd person, and I didn't get the bit about the shirt. In general, though, very strong opening.

Stephanie said...

I'd buy this book in a heartbeat if I'd just read that at the bookstore. Wonderful writing.

Anonymous said...

I'm hooked, too.

The "I can't say that..." line jerked me because I expected "I COULDN'T say that...but it WAS the truth."

What was left of the shirt jerked me because I thought the fight had just started.

The whole thing bothered me because the narrator cares more about being suspended than about breaking a kid's nose. It's violent. I can accept violence if there's a reason, but if I were reading this in real life, your voice would draw me in but I'd expect you to give me a good reason for this violence pretty quickly or I'd quit reading.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Sorry. I just saw the date on this. Just ignore me.

Emily Kokie said...


I welcome the comments. I am just finishing up a structural rewrite of this and still wondering about the tense changes I've made, so I very much appreciate the comments.

Thanks for taking the time to be specific. That really helps me evaluate the revisions.

And anyone else who comes along later, feel free to comment - I'd welcome them. :}


Dominique said...

I'd keep reading.
The only thing that niggled me was the use of the f-word. Normally, I don't care so much about cursing, but it was close enough to the beginning of the book for me to fall right out of your story when the word was used.
I'm not familiar enough with the character to know how that word fits into their diction, but it seemed gratuitous to me.
I'd recommend cutting the sentence down to "it felt amazing to let loose and beat the shit out of someone."