FRIDAY FEEDBACK – KELLY McDONALD

Today at Friday Feedback, Kelly McDonald has kindly agreed to share 150 words from her YA horror novel.

Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions in the comments section of this post.

The essence that was Terry stirred in the darkness, hovering in the rafters, still connected to his corpse by a thick silver chord. He was between the worlds, literally, one foot in, and one foot out… His thoughts were scattered, but his mind was still aware, and he was waking. It was because of her. He could sense she was drawing near. He willed himself to become more present in the here and now. Here she comes.  He could feel her, smell her… almost taste her. He quivered in anticipation. Here she comes….

*

They were brats. All three of them were nothing but smelly, dirty, troublesome stinking brats. Shelley was annoyed already, and they had only been driving for twenty minutes.

Shelley rolled her eyes at her brother Tim. He was entertaining Robbie and Lochie, other wise known as ‘The Twins’

Love your writing, Kelly. It’s very evocative and flows well and there are many hooks in your opening scene. It’s an intriguing setting, Terry is a character who attracts interest and your opening piece raises many questions for the reader. I know you are deliberately holding back information for the suspense value but I felt like I needed to know more about the situation – perhaps who Terry was and how he had died.

I’m wondering if you could give us more about Terry so that the reader feels as if they identify with him more, and care what happens to him. I felt like you moved out of Terry’s point of view and into another character’s head so fast that we didn’t really have time to get to know him.

I was a little overwhelmed that in the first few paragraphs I had been introduced to five (possibly six) characters and I didn’t really feel as if I knew who any of them were. In a novel like this you have to find the balance between suspense and giving the reader enough information to allow them to know what’s going on.

Especially if this is a YA story and you want YA readers to engage with your characters, I think you need something to identify your characters as being YA. At the moment, this felt like it could have been a piece for adult readers. One way you could connect directly with teen readers is mention the age of one of your characters. Perhaps it’s Terry’s birthday, the day he dies. Another way is to make his ‘voice’ more teen. Make his feelings sound more how a teen might feel. For example, “17yo Terry was really pissed about dying.” Not saying you should use these words, they are just an example of how a teen might think. Look at some YA novels – particularly horror ones and see how other writers have captured the teen point of view and ‘voice’.

Also, seeing as this is a horror story I was wondering if it should get into the horror pretty much straight away.  Horror is scary. I found the beginning intriguing, but not scary. One thing you could experiment with is starting with an action scene – perhaps how he died rather than an introspection scene. Here’s an article you might find helpful in making your story more scary http://www.fictionfactor.com/guests/scary.html

I was  pulled up by the phrase “Here she comes” which seemed to contradict the tense of the rest of the paragraph. You could consider using something like, “She was coming”…

*

They were brats. All three of them were nothing but smelly, dirty, troublesome stinking brats. Shelley was annoyed already, and they had only been driving for twenty minutes.

Shelley rolled her eyes at her brother Tim. He was entertaining Robbie and Lochie, other wise known as ‘The Twins’.

Once again, this next piece is well written and intriguing but I’m wondering if you could give some hint of the connection between Terry and Shelley.

Good luck with this manuscript, Kelly. As a reader, I definitely want to know what’s going to happen next.

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

Feel free to mention if you have a particular problem or question with the piece you have sent. Can you also please include age of intended readership and approximate word count of intended manuscript and put FRIDAY FEEDBACK in the subject line of your email.

Thanks.

Happy writing:)

Dee

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7 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEEDBACK – KELLY McDONALD

  1. oh thanks Dee. I will take that on board. The first paragraph has been re written, re written , rewritten…. and i see what you mean. I shall redo.. and be cheeky and ask again 😉 thank you!!!!!!

  2. Hi Kelly,

    I find that starting the story is one of the hardest things because not only do you have to grab the reader and draw them into your story, you have to give them enough information to let them know where your story is going and who your story is about. So much has to be packed into that first part. Happy for you to submit again:) Feel free to be specific and ask questions if there’s some part that you don’t think is quite working.

    Happy writing:)

    Dee

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