Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Pages: MG / Twelfth of Never

Elvis, please, leave the building. I’ll listen to Jailhouse Rock later -- at home, with Mom. Promise. She can dance in front of the window, and I won’t hide when she waves at the neighbors. I’ll even thumbs-up when she shouts over the music how this song inspired my name! Just not now, I’m begging. No warden, no party, no county jail.

It’s torture enough hearing the PA speakers crumple The King every morning in homeroom. Here in the empty cafeteria, the sound rattles off the walls like spoons banging pots.

My stomach’s queasy. It’s 7:50 a.m., and the air is ninety-nine percent Snickerdoodle exhaust from the lunch ladies baking. Plus the Most Popular kids dart in and out of view through the far, far double doorway like hungry sharks in a holding tank.

If I were lucky they’d never come in from the hall. But when they do decide to waltz through the doors -- could I possibly be more visible than I am? Standing in the middle of the stage, next to Mrs. Beemer? Surrounded by a circle of chairs?

Mrs. Beemer bends to unzip her backpack, so the neckline of her dress sags, exposing her wrinkly chest in a giant bra.

Elvis crash-boom-bangs as she cranes her red face at me. “Presley, sweetheart, be a dear and go round everyone up.”

Round everyone up, d-e-n-o-p-r-u-v-y…

Most people’s brains kick into fight-or-flight when they get scared. Mine alphabetizes. Really fast. Without being asked.
The beginning paragraph struck me as out of pace with the rest of this-- a bit stilted. But the rest is better on track, and people are often intrigued by brain quirks like the above. I'd keep reading.


Chris Eldin said...

As an Elvis fan, I'm giving this one lots of props.

I thought this was kooky in a very good way. I'd definitely keep reading. You have a confident voice, and I have high hopes for your story.

Buffra said...

I agree -- some nice images and a strong character's voice. I like it and would definitely continue to read.

Anna Claire said...

I like your voice! The first paragraph was a little bit confusing, since the mom is not in the scene; maybe this is something you could bring in later. But I love the rest of it, and the alphabetizing thing is enough to make me want to read more. Good work!

Anonymous said...

The writing is fine, and flowed really nicely for me.

My nitpicks:

I wonder if MG audiences would know or care about Elvis? Or if they would "get it" that the MC's name is Presley, and relate that to Elvis?

Also, what kind of school plays Elvis over the loudspeakers every morning? I'm not sure if it's important enough for all the attention it's been given. (Hard to know, though, without reading the rest).

And whee! I love the alphabetizing bit at the end. (I have a similar character in a WIP YA.)

Emily Kokie said...

I'm torn on this one. If I just picked it up and read the first page, I'd probably read on a few.

But having said that, the set up felt like it went on a little long. The sensory details and the flash to home all worked - especially the cookie fumes permeating the place.

The popular kids line felt forced to me - like the obligatory nod to status - and it would work better to show interaction with actual popular kids later, I think.

I did think you found a good way to drop the first nudge that this protagonist's brain works differently and it will be an issue in some way. That felt natural and a logical place for the insight.

So, all in all, I'd give it a another few pages, based on voice alone, but it would sing if tightened up a little.

Good luck.

SammyStewart said...

The voice is strong, character is awesome. The first paragraph needs to move to it's place in time...We adults have little patience for out-of-time segments without hints of where they belong, most children have less, I imagine. My 11 year old sister says she hates starting books because she doesn't know what's going on at first. The sooner she does know, the better. :) I really like this, by the way.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I'm going to ditto everyone here. First paragraph was out of place and left me thinking 'huh?'. Then you really got the ball rolling enough for me to enjoy reading and want to know more.

I also agree about tightening it up a bit. Your pace is good, but it could be great.

One thing that brought me up short was the alphabetizing before the explanation. My brain was trying to make it a word or understand what it meant before moving on to the explanation. Not sure having the explanation first would work and it seems others are fine with it as is.

Anonymous said...

I'm the writer -- and appreciate the helpful comments! I haven't been on-line much this summer, so I don't know if anyone will see this late acknowledgment, but THANK YOU!