Saturday, May 28, 2011

Made of Awesome Contest Entry

I am so lucky to follow many great writers on Twitter.  I have gained a great community that helps me tremendously in my writing.  I have gotten many opportunities from social networking and I need some help from you guys.  
Shelley Watters is a young adult and adult author who has a wonderful blog and she does incredible contests.  This month she is doing a first page contest (250 words).
We sign up on her blog and post our first page on our blog, then we let everyone help out to critique, give suggestions and whatever they can to help us perfect it before the judging day.  
Judging day will be May 30th and will be judged by Judith Engarcia of Liza Dawson and Associates. Judith will read all the first pages and select one for a ten-page critique, which, if she finds the winner's entry intriguing enough, could extend into a full manuscript critique!
I ask all of you to, of course, leave me some great comments, but go to Shelley Watter’s blog and then hop around to the other writer’s blogs to help them out.  
My Made of Awesome Contest Entry:

“In Irons” YA Fantasy 55,000 words
Liz Kavanagh wasn’t quite sure when she had decided today was going to be life changing for her..... but it was. No more being a wallflower, no more being the shy bookworm, Liz was determined to be more social, after all she was now a teenager. 

Liz pulled out the small vanity chair and looked at herself in the mirror. She grabbed a clip off the dresser, twisted her hair, securing it, letting her long orange tendrils hang over the clip.  Liz cocked her head, pursed her lips together and studied herself, seeing if her hairdo made her look any older. “Nope nothing,” Liz said under her breath. I hope this year is different, Liz told herself.

“Get out of bed! We have so much to do today!” Liz sang loudly to her younger sister who was snoring in the twin bed next to her. Eleven year old Anne tried to ignore both the sunlight that had made its way into the sisters’ room and her abnormally bubbly sister being normally bossy. Anne stubbornly shoved her head under her pillow with a groan. 

  Finally her head emerged from under her pillow to see her sister staring at herself. She rolled her eyes and smiled knowing what was eating Liz, “do you think he will come,” Anne asked teasingly. “I don’t know, I haven’t even thought about that.” Liz answered trying to sound indifferent. Both girls new that was a lie. Liz shrugged off Anne’s banter not letting anything spoil her special day.


  1. I like this. I was thrown off by the POV switch when Anne wakes up. If Liz is the main character, keep me with her thoughts-there's a good voice there. I'm especially interested since the title is so mysterious and would read more. Nice work.

  2. can i go on the record and say i am with the younger sister and that i don't want to get out of bed yet either? heh
    the sentence, "Finally her head emerged from under her pillow to see her sister staring at herself." might be served better if there was less "hers" and maybe a name used instead at least once.
    also, the dialogue at the end should, i think, be separated for each person talking.

    good work and good luck!
    douglas esper

  3. Stating Anne’s age took me out of the story.

    You have a close third person narration and then it switches to omniscient. If the rest of the novel is written this way, consider rewriting the first paragraph.

    She rolled her eyes and smiled knowing what was eating Liz—this read a bit awkwardly to me.

    The third paragraph has several adverbs. I cut a bunch from my novel and realized how much stronger it became when I did.

    I’m not a punctuation expert, but I think this needs a second pair of eyes. My betas are really good at catching when I use the wrong term of a word like new/knew or who's/whose.

    “Get out of bed! We have so much to do today!” Liz sang loudly to her younger sister**comma** who was snoring in the twin bed next to her.

    **Eleven-year-old** Anne...

    Anne shoved her head under her pillow with a groan.

    She rolled her eyes and smiled knowing what was eating Liz, **“Do (capitalize)** you think he will come**(question mark)?**” Anne asked.

    **New speaker, new paragraph**“I don’t know, I haven’t even thought about that**comma**” Liz answered**comma** trying to sound indifferent.

    Both girls **knew** that was a lie. Liz shrugged off Anne’s banter**comma** determined to not let ** anything spoil her special day.

  4. I agree with the above comments concerning the punctuation stuff. And the POV switch. It isn't wrong to switch POV but I feel for the beginning let us be in one persons head for awhile and when you switch have it as a new paragraph, otherwise the reader may be confused. But I do like Liz so you id a good job of writing a compelling character.

  5. I have several punctuation suggestions, but if you'd like those, I'd be happy to send them privately. I would suggest cutting one or two "Liz"s out since she's the only person we've met until her sister appears.

  6. Thank you for all your comments so far. I am getting around to everyone's blog. Thank you for the punctuation point outs. I recently did a huge revision to my entire ms and waiting on my beta's to get back to me. I also plan on doing a comb through next week.

    Any comments on voice, plot, etc?

    And of course you may email me!

  7. other than what's already been stated, i didn't get a good grasp of where this story was going to go from this page. sure, there's a lot of time to let us know the direction of your story, but this scene doesn't feel like it's close enough to your inciting incident (or close enough to the beginning of your story). morning/waking up is cliche. might want to move away from that.

  8. I was also thrown off by the POV switch. I agree with the commenter who suggested a break between head-hops.

    There were a few sentences that read a little clunky for me, the first sentence of the first paragraph and the first sentence of the last paragraph, for example. I would also be careful not to overuse adverbs. There were quite a few in there. I find if I use stronger verbs and dump the adverbs it makes the work flow better.

    I like Liz's voice and I'm interested in why she wants to look older. Who does she want to see?

    Good job and good luck!

  9. I really liked this! You did a beautiful job with establishing setting, age - your descriptions are fabulous. I wasn't thrown by the POV switch, but I would advise you to stick to Liz's voice. One other suggestion - kill the adverbs. There's too many and you can establish what you want your reader to know through stronger verbs and more "showing."
    Otherwise, nice job!

  10. PS - I LOVE your blog title and sentence descriptor - sounds just like me. :)

  11. I enjoyed reading your opening scene -- thanks for sharing it.

    Couple of things: there's a POV shift that's sort of jarring. Consider smoothing this out or avoiding it. You use "was" quite often; it makes your opening more dynamic to choose stronger verbs. Lastly, you use the name "Liz" a little often in the open paragraphs -- you could cut this down by using "she."

    Best of luck!

  12. I don't think it's a good idea to have two POVs going in the first 250 words. In fact, I would limit it to one POV per chapter. Also, you need a new paragraph each time someone new start talking. That being said, you did a good job of sparking my interest and making me want to know what is about to happen on this momentous day!

  13. I'm sorry to say I didn't find much of a hook here. Because she decides her day is 'life-changing' doesn't make it so. I've heard that beginning with a character looking in the mirror or waking up isn't the best way to snag an agent's attention. The bedroom setting doesn't give me a sense of the world of the novel. I think it's possible that you're starting the ms in the wrong place (but that's only my opinion). Technically, you should switch some of the "Liz" to pronouns.
    Good luck!

  14. I read through the comments and saw the same errors, so I won't repeat them. But your first line is off to me, also. The second part should compliment the first, right? So it should be Liz Kavanagh wasn’t quite sure when she had decided today was going to be life changing for her..... but she had. (I think) Then, later, you don't need "I hope this year is different, Liz told herself." because you've already made that clear.

    It's so hard to see plot from this little bit - but I can say that yours is at least the 3rd "wallflower to popular" page I've read this morning, so if it's getting (or still!) that popular, you'll have to make it absolutely shine! Good luck!

  15. After reading both of your submits, I have to say this first one is much stronger and did a better job of pulling me in to the scene.

    There are a few comments here I agree with (although, I wasn't too thrown off by the POV shift). And I would also agree there are a few too many mentions of her name. Since she is the MC (up to this point), you'll find your writing stronger if you cut a few of the Liz's out.

    Otherwise, good job - and best of luck with the contest!

  16. hey
    some good changes for sure. there are 3-4 adverbs in the second paragraph. i'm not as anti-adverb as some, but i figured i'd point it out in hopes that it helps. i appreciate you taking the time to read my blurb and offer feedback. this has been really good for me and hopefully for you too.