FRIDAY FEEDBACK – STELLA AND THE SIDECHICKS

Stella and the Sidechicks is a 14,000 word novel for children aged 9-12 by Judy Hannah. Today she shares her first 150 words.

“Goody-goody, two-shoes!  Little princess!  You’re not invited to my birthday sleepover!”  Stella sang, like we were five-year olds.

“Really!  Who wants to go to your dumb sleep-over, anyway?” I tried to match her singy-songy voice, but I didn’t do it well.  I ran away.  I was trembling. I felt like crying and yelling.  Stupid, mean Stella.  She was about to turn twelve, but she was such a big, bratty baby.  And what’s worse, I usually ended up acting the same way, not because I wanted to, but just to keep things even.

I’d gotten well away from Stella, so I could get myself back together.  I closed my eyes.  Breathe.  Relax.  That’s better: I felt calm again.  I hadn’t seen Lara yet so I went looking for her.  I ran round the corner of the school hall and there she was: my best friend, crying, no, more like sobbing. 

“Lara?” 

Judy, I love the title of your story, and the way you get inside your main character’s head. Her age is spot on for the age of the intended readership.

She also has a strong character voice, but you might want to run this piece of writing past some twelve-year old girls and ask if they found the things she says and does authentic for that age group. Some of the dialogue and actions make your character sound a bit younger than twelve.

“Goody-goody, two-shoes!  Little princess!  You’re not invited to my birthday sleepover!”  Stella sang, like we were five-year olds.

Your opening dialogue gives the impression that the other girls are naughty and your main character would spoil their fun. Is this the impression you are trying to give?

And with girls this age, they might be more likely to talk about how great the party is going to be in front of your main character and not directly come out and say, “you’re not invited.”  This would also give you room to show how the character feels about all this rather than telling the reader. Or if they do taunt your main character, they might call her something even worse relating to what she looks like, who her family are or a bad habit she has. Or if for example, she told on them for doing something bad then they would call her a Dobber or a Dibber Dobber. Not sure if ‘Goody-goody two shoes’ is something that would be said by today’s 12yo, but I could be wrong. As I suggested earlier, you might like to ask some twelve-year olds. See what they think?

“Who wants to go to your dumb sleep-over?” is a great line.

It shows that your character is prepared to fight back, and that stops her being a ‘victim’. This is in character with a 12yo, but when you have her say things like “Stupid mean Stella”, this makes her sound very young and the whole rest of the that paragraph makes your character sound unlikeable. “Keeping things even” doesn’t really seem to be a justifiable reason for your main character to behave in the same way as Stella and in fact she would be a lot more appealing and the reader may care about her more if she took the high road…if she didn’t succumb to Stella’s nastiness.

It’s great that you are showing her internal feelings… ‘I felt like crying and yelling”.  But this could be stronger if you showed her doing an action to show how upset she is. For example, “I squeezed back the tears” or “My finger nails dug into my palm as I tried to hold my anger tight inside my clenched fist.”

Also, I found myself wanting to know your main character’s name right from the start, and I think this would help readers identify with her too.

Judy, I’m really interested to see how the conflict between your main character and Stella and her gang develops. Lots of great potential here.

If anyone else has some constructive suggestions to make about Judy’s piece of writing, please leave your feedback in the comments section of this post.

If you’d like to submit 150 words for Friday Feedback, please email it to Dee*at*Deescribe*dot*com*au 

Happy Writing:)

Dee


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4 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEEDBACK – STELLA AND THE SIDECHICKS

  1. Hi Judy!
    I happen to know what a rotten person Stella is, bringing out the worst in others. However, I would agree that Holly could be above all this, making her a real heroine in this book. Bringing herself down to Stella’s level kinda makes her no better than Stella, and we want Holly to shine, right? Holly needs to always be stronger than Stella so that there is no doubt as to who the real protagonist is, making this Hero vs Villains idea more clear cut. The title also suggests that Stella is literally the star although I’d agree that the title is dead cool.
    Seeya soon …
    Tracey

  2. Thanks Dee & Tracey
    Have only just seen the write up for my 150 words & the comments. I can see that the language of the characters is probably out of kilter with their age, so will have to change that. Or change the characters’ age down by a few years. Will also take on board the comments about Holly sinking to Stella’s level & therefore not necessarily always being someone the reader will sympathise with. That is not my intention, so will work on that too.

    Lots of work to do!

    Thanks again for putting my piece up Dee. Will hopefully contribute 150 words of a few other works in progress in the future.

    Cheers
    Judy Hannah

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