Friday Feedback – Leprechaun

I decided to do one last Friday Feedback before I take a break to work on my WIP.

Today’s Friday Feedback comes from Kristyn. It’s from a piece called Leprechaun for readers aged 14 to 18, and this excerpt is from Chapter 2.

Kristyn’s questions is, “I want to know if this is interesting and if I am repeating the same mistakes over and over.”

KRISTYN’S PIECE

“So if I am a leprechaun, what does this mean? Do I sit by a rainbow and guard gold, or what?” I asked Mom.

She laughed at me as if I said something funny, I don’t see any humor in this situation at all.

“What is so funny? I just found out my family has lied to me since birth and that I am some mythological creature, why are you laughing about me asking about the rainbow and a pot of gold. Is that not what you always hear about when dealing with leprechauns, rainbows and gold? I mean we studied leprechauns in school every March, they are little green, oh crap am I going to turn green too?” That is right I officially hit stage freak out.

MY FEEDBACK

Kristyn, I love the humour in this piece and your original idea for a story.

It seems to me also that you have good instincts as a writer as you have expressed concern that there may be some repetition with this piece.  I tend to agree with you. And I think you can tighten it up and avoid repetition just by doing something like this:

“So if I am a leprechaun, what does this mean? Do I sit by a rainbow and guard gold, or what?” I asked Mom.

She laughed. (Don’t think you need to say any more than this, Kristyn)

“What’s so funny?” (This shows that your main character doesn’t understand the humour in the situation). I just found out my family has lied to me since birth and that I am some green mythological creature. Oh crap does that mean I’m going to turn green too?”  I officially hit stage freak out.

I like the voice of your character, Kristyn, My only other concern was whether this book might actually be more mid-grade than YA. The character should usually be a bit older than the target readers. So if your character is 14 or 15, then this would generally be for an 11 to 13 or 14 year old readership.

I hope you find these comments helpful, Kristyn. Kristyn (And Zac who provided last week’s Friday Feedback( are both looking for writing buddies. You can find their details in the comments section of this post.

This is definitely the last Friday Feedback  for a couple of months.

I’m taking a break so that I can finish my work in progress.

But please feel free to keep sending your pieces for feedback and I will slot them into the queue.  You can email your 150 word pieces to me. Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Please include the word length, title, genre and target readership for your story. Also include where the piece comes in your story and any specific questions you have about writing it.

Happy writing:)

Dee

FRIDAY FEEDBACK

Thanks to Joanna Holland for providing today’s piece for Friday Feedback from her young adult suspense novel,  ‘Beware of the Valentine.’

The finished novel will be about 70,000 words and this extract comes towards the beginning of the book.

The main female character has fallen down some stairs and the main male character is helping her get to the hospital.

Joanna has some concerns about the flow of this piece and welcomes suggestions.

Beware of the Valentine Extract

Great, can’t one day go by which I am not a major school headline. Jason quietly chuckled to himself.

“ Wonder what they would do if I kissed you?” he asked in a low tone.

“ Do so and I won’t be the only one needing medical attention.” I retorted.

He snorted.“ Yeah right. With the condition you’re in. You couldn’t hurt a fly.”

I sniffed. “Well, you certainly resemble one.”

“ Wrong answer,” he said quietly.  Bending his head he gave me a quick peck on the cheek. My eyes slammed open, ignoring the fresh wave of nausea. I stared at him incredulously as the whispers around us sudden took on a whole new pitch. “ Ah, that’s better. Looks like it be around the whole school before the hour’s up,” He said smugly.

“ I… Hate…You.”

My feedback 

Joanna, 

You have created sexual tension between these two characters and the reader will want to know where it leads. In a short space you give us some idea of who these people are, but some of their dialogue and actions sounded quite adult.

Do you have a teen reader you can run your work by? If there isn’t one living in your house, you can sometimes find one at the local high school or through someone in a writing group.

If you’re writing for a teen readership, it’s really important to get the ‘teen voice’ right. This includes not just the words and phrases your teen characters use, but also their actions.

Great, can’t one day go by which I am not a major school headline? Jason quietly chuckled to himself. 

I’d reword this to clarify meaning and also make it more of a teen voice. eg Can’t let a day go by where I’m not major school news. Jason grinned to himself. 

“ Wonder what they would do if I kissed you?” he asked in a low tone.

To me, this line sounded more like something from an adult romance. I just can’t imagine a teen saying it. He’s more likely to just go ahead and kiss her if he’s the confident type. And if he wants to kiss her, isn’t he more likely to kiss her on the lips…unless they were injured in the fall.

“Do so” didn’t sound quite teen to me either. Perhaps she’d be more likely to say, “You do that and I…”

I liked the image of her eyes slamming open. Be wary of using too many adverbs (words ending in ‘ly’) they tend to weaken the writing. You don’t even really need to have her staring at him. You could just say something like, “My eyes slammed open and I fought against a fresh wave of nausea. Around us, the whispers took on a whole new pitch.

You could also show more rather than telling. For example, instead of ‘he said smugly’, show by his actions that he is smug. What do people do when they are smug? How do they stand? How does their face look? What is their body language like? If you show this instead of writing, ‘he said smugly’, the reader will get a stronger sense of your character.

Also, another thing that would smooth the flow of this piece would be to expand the actions and setting in between the lines of dialogue. Where are your characters when this is taking place? What are they doing? Is your girl character lying down? Is he crouched next to her or standing over her? How does she feel about his close proximity? How does he feel about seeing her lying there?

Thanks for sharing this piece, Joanna. You have created an interesting situation between these two characters and I think readers will want to know what happens next.

I hope you find my suggestions helpful.

Any other feedback or tips for Joanna are welcome. Feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)

Dee

If you’d like to submit your 150 words for the Friday Feedback segment, click on this link to find out how.

FRIDAY FEEDBACK

Sorry that Friday Feedback is late today. I’ve been having some ‘technical’ issues so if you comment and your comment doesn’t appear for a while, please be patient. (Thanks:)

Today’s excerpt is from Taryn Bashford’s 32,000 word adventure novel for readers aged 9 to 12.

Thanks Taryn for sharing your work here. If you have suggestions for Taryn, please leave them in the ‘comments’ section of this post.

‘Don’t bite your nails,’ says Mum. She peels the potatoes and throws me a prickly stare. I yank the pinkie nail from between my teeth and unload the dishwasher.

Am I an omnivore or an herbivore?

‘Did you hear me Leigh? Or did you get struck with complete deafness?’

Puzzled, I check my hands. My thumb is now in my mouth, under attack from my teeth, whilst the other hand stacks cups.

At least I’m not picking my nose.

‘Yes, Mum.’ Wish she wouldn’t freak out so much.

‘Do I detect sarcasm in your voice young lady?’ Her raised eyebrows set off an alarm in my head. Bad day at the office?

Then I drop the cup.

MY FEEDBACK

Taryn, I love the voice in this piece. I get a real sense of your character and her relationship with her mother. I love the way you show her actions and internal responses.

I50 words is only a small space to try and give a lot of information to the reader, but I thought you could have set the scene and perhaps the tone of the book a bit more.

I didn’t get a sense of what kind of story this is going to be or what it might be about. Sometimes just a line can provide these clues. You need to get across to the reader that something is about to change for this character.

For example, if this were a story where the daughter runs away, you could foreshadow this for the reader with something simple like. “I open the dishwasher door, clatter plates onto the bench, wish I was anywhere else but here.”

The line “Then I drop the cup” indicates that something important might be about to happen, but you could have a more dramatic build up and rising tension.

Here’s what I mean: This might not work for your characters and it’s just an example of how to up the tension. What if the mother slapped the daughter’s hand away from her face to stop her biting her nails? That would give us more of a sense of the mother’s annoyance through her actions and would make the reader more sympathetic to the daughter. It would lead to a whole new series of events.

Be careful of using lines like ‘throws me a prickly stare’. This can create strange impressions in a reader’s mind and take them out of a story because a stare isn’t something you can actually throw.

You could strengthen your opening line by making Mum show her anger through the action of peeling the potato. For example: “Don’t bite your nails.” Mum scraped viciously with peeler until there was hardly anything left of the potato.

I liked the action of Leigh yanking the pinkie nail from between her teeth, but then I wanted to know what she did with the nail while she was unloading the dishwasher or did she drop the nail onto the ground or toss it in the bin first? When you put two separate pieces of action like this together in the one sentence, it can create conflicting images for the reader.

I wasn’t sure about the line, am I an omnivore or an herbivore? Is this how a kid this age would think and is this important to the story? And I wasn’t quite sure why Leigh was puzzled.

You’ve really done a good job with the character’s voice. I just think you could increase the tension and give the reader a few more clues to hook them into the story and want to follow Leigh’s journey.

I hope you find this helpful.

Happy writing:)

Dee

SEND YOUR PIECE TO FRIDAY FEEDBACK

If you wish to submit a piece for Friday Feedback, please email 150 words of your story to Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Please also provide the word count (or estimated word count) for the completed work, genre, age of target readership and information about where this 150 words appears in your novel.

You’re also welcome to ask specific questions if there’s something you’re having trouble with.

FRIDAY FEEDBACK

My internet has been very uncooperative this week and now I’m way behind with my research and writing.

So unfortunately, there will be no Friday Feedback today.

Next week is school holidays and I’ll be spending it with my family so FRIDAY FEEDBACK will return on 6th July.

There are currently three pieces in the queue and this will take us to the end of July.

If you have a piece you’d like to get feedback on for August, I’d love you to be involved in the FRIDAY FEEDBACK.

Email me 150 words of your piece to Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Please tell me the genre of the piece, word count for the completed work and the age of the target readership. If you have a specific question about or problem with your piece, feel free to include this in your submission.

I look forward to reading your work.

Happy writing:)

Dee

FRIDAY FEEDBACK – Charlie Moore vs The State

Thank you to Alethea Kinsela for providing today’s piece for Friday Feedback

Title: Charlie Moore vs The State

Intended word count: 40-50,000 words

Genre: middle fiction adventure

Readership: 10+

Extract: opening paragraphs

Reporters have been ringing me since last Saturday. At first, it was kind of cool being a minor celebrity. I mean, it’s not every day your face is on every news and current affairs program across the country – even the bad ones. But then, I suppose it’s not every day that you expose a secret government deal to sell the land beneath your home town to a mining company either.

Some people wondered why I even bothered, as if my town was made out of Lego bricks and it wasn’t such a big deal for all of us to dismantle it and rebuild a few kilometres down the highway. One reporter even had the nerve to tell me I’d done the community a ‘great disservice’ and that I’d ‘taken jobs from people’. I pointed out that he doesn’t have to live every day with the thought that the ground beneath his house might collapse into a coal mine sinkhole. One day, life would be normal. The next, your chess tournament trophies and favourite gumboots and three dying tomato plants that you swore you’d water if you were allowed to plant them would disappear quicker than you can blink. Whoomp! Gone in a puff of bulldust and startled bugs. I sure don’t want to live with that scary thought lurking in the back of my mind, so I decided to take the only rational course of action: expose the Premier’s secret deal during a live television broadcast.

I told the reporter all this, then I told him to shove it.

FEEDBACK

Alethea, your main character has a very strong voice. I love his/her humour and feistiness.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if Charlie was a boy or girl, because Charlie can be both a boy’s or girl’s name, but I guess your cover would reveal that for the reader.

I did have a bit of trouble working out how old your character was and I think the reader will want to know this. The Lego and Dying Tomato plant references made your character seem quite young, but ‘One reporter even had the nerve to tell me’ sounds a bit adult. I’m not sure teens would talk like that.

Even the title, Charlie Moore vs The State sounds a bit old for mid grade readers. Try and think of terminology that kids this age would use to describe the government.

I really like how this starts out. The voice is strong and the circumstances hook the reader in but then I thought that the line about exposing the secret deal might have given too much away. I would have liked to see you show us the reporters hounding Charlie and how your character reacts rather than ‘telling’ us how he/she felt about it. Perhaps you could show your character trying to avoid them – show us what your character is going through.

I felt that the second paragraph slowed the story down a bit because there was too much telling and I think the reader will want to know sooner what is going to happen next? How does your character respond to what’s happening to them? And what does this cause to happen?

You have a great character, but you need to allow them to move your story forward – give your character problems and allow him/her to try and solve them.

There’s some great writing in this piece. I hope you find my suggestions helpful.

Good luck with your rewriting.

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


FRIDAY FEEDBACK – THE DARKNESS IN SHELLEY

Kelly initially submitted this piece for Friday Feedback in March. Here’s the link.

I made some suggestions and this is Kelly’s revised version of the excerpt. Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions.

The essence that was Terry stirred in the darkness, hovering in the rafters, still connected to his corpse by a thick silver cord. 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. Images of his death kept pounding in on him, but he pushed them away, and instead focused on the girl.

He could see his body lying in the room below, the skin marbled in death, the blood pooling under the stillness of his limbs. A sharp pain of disappointment flared through him at the thought of all he had lost. He tried to shrug it away, and focus instead on what he could have.

I feel a lot more connected to Terry, Kelly. I’m getting more of a sense of how he feels being in the situation he’s in. I like the way you focus on him and explore his character and situation before bringing Shelley into it.

I love your first line. It’s so intriguing and compels the reader to keep reading.

Apart from willing himself to be more present, what does he do to try and make it happen, how does he try to fight his current situation. I think there is more room to develop the action and tension here.

I still felt like I wanted to know more about Terry and what’s going on. How has he ended up in this situation? How does he know he is between two worlds? How does he feel about it? Is his death a recent thing?

When you say things like ‘images of his death’, give the reader more. Give them some hint of how he died. Was it gruesome, painful, surprising, accidental, deliberate?  If this is a horror story, then there’s plenty of room for horror here.

I know you might not want to give away too much just yet, but even just a couple of images would give us a better idea of who Terry is and the kind of person he is/was. For example, if his death was a clumsy accident, the reader will feel very differently about him than if it was a revenge killing. What’s motivating Terry? What does he want at this point? We know he has lost something, but we don’t know what. I still think that you could be more specific here. The clearer an understanding the reader has of how bad this situation is for Terry, the more they are likely to care about him and want to follow his journey.

And what is his essence actually doing? Is it trying to break free from his body? At the moment I’m getting a strange picture of him. He is hovering and he has one foot in each world. What does this mean visually for a reader? It sounds a bit like he’s doing the ‘splits’ in space.

I know it’s hard when you can only submit a limited number of words, but the first page of a book has to work hard. I usually end up rewriting mine at least thirty times, sometimes more. Even if it reads well, that’s not enough. It has to engage the reader, connect them to the main character and compel them to keep reading.

I hope you find my suggestions helpful, Kelly. As I’ve said before, you write very well and this sounds like an intriguing story. Good luck with your rewrites.

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

FRIDAY FEEDBACK – BOOT CAMP

My goat Molly loves camping

My goat Molly loves camping

Thanks to Vicki Griffin for providing today’s Friday Feedback. It’s an excerpt from her 1700 word story for readers aged  7+.

BOOT CAMP

When they had finally arrived they saw an old boot hanging off a verandah blowing in the wind. It was brown and dusty and oh so big! Then they spotted their friends. Emily took off running like a lizard flat out drinking. ‘Jasmine, ’she called waving madly. Belle, Amy and Jasmine were sitting on forty four gallon drums playing what looked like marbles.

‘How long have you been here?’ Emily asked.

Jasmine jumped down and brushed the dust and rust of her jeans. ‘We just got it here. I’m a bit nervous. ‘The other girls nodded also as they all stood waiting. Behind them dark thunderous clouds were gathering in the sky a storm was brewing and as the wind picked up. Matilda shivered. ‘I don’t know that this is going to be a good adventure, ‘she offered to her friend’s scared faces.

‘Come in come in,’ Sally called. She was the one in charge of running the boot camp. She wore a floral apron over blue jeans and a checked shirt. Emily noticed she had wading boots on. They could smell damper wafting out the door.

Vicki,

I like the way you introduce us to your main characters straight away…and the boot, which from the title looks as if it’s going to play a significant part in your story. I have a feeling the reader is in for an intriguing adventure. I also enjoyed the setting detail like the girls sitting on 44 gallon drums. Below are some suggestions. I hope you find them helpful.

When they had finally arrived they saw an old boot hanging off a verandah blowing in the wind. It was brown and dusty and oh so big!

Vicki, I wasn’t sure if this was the start of your story or not, but I did want to know where they had ‘arrived’.  I’m not sure you actually need this sentence, but it depends on what if anything precedes it. You don’t need to say ‘they saw’, because you have established that this is ‘their’ point of view, so the reader will know that they must have seen it.

It was brown and dusty and oh so big

I think you could give the reader more here. There’s even the opportunity for some humour if you want, or suspense if that’s what you’re going for. Perhaps you could use a simile…it was a big as… This will help the reader visualise the boot better.

a lizard flat out drinking, dark thunderous clouds, storm was brewing: Vicki, these phrases are bordering on cliches. Is there a stronger way to get this across? Perhaps think about using more of the senses. What does the storm smell or sound like?

Also, a lizard flat out drinking can mean ‘lying prone, prostrate, taking it easy’ (From The Dinkum Dictionary).

Just by reordering some of the sentences in the first paragraph you can make the writing stronger and tighter. Here’s what I mean.

An old boot hung off a verandah blowing in the wind. It was brown and dusty and big enough to fit a Triceratops. (It appears as though the book is going to be quite important. I think you need to explore this more and somehow link it to Belle, Amy and Jasmine if you are going to include the next sentence in this paragraph).

Belle, Amy and Jasmine sat on forty-four gallon drums playing what looked like marbles. “Jasmine!” Emily waved madly and ran towards them.

Jasmine jumped down and brushed the dust and rust of her jeans. ‘We just got it here. I’m a bit nervous. ‘The other girls nodded also as they all stood waiting. Behind them dark thunderous clouds were gathering in the sky a storm was brewing and as the wind picked up. Matilda shivered. ‘I don’t know that this is going to be a good adventure, ‘she offered to her friend’s scared faces.

Why is Jasmine a bit nervous? Is it because of the storm, being away from home or is it something else? You could make this clearer for the reader. Also, instead of telling the reader that Jasmine feels a bit nervous, you could show it in her actions…the sorts of things people do when they are nervous eg, twitch, bite their nails, flick their hair, twirl their hair around their finger, sit on the edge, fidget.

The same thing goes with Matilda’s line about whether it’s going to be a good adventure. I don’t feel you have given me enough at the moment to convince me that these girls have reason to be afraid. Especially as I don’t yet know what sort of camp this is, the thunder clouds don’t seem enough.

She was the one in charge of running the boot camp. She wore a floral apron over blue jeans and a checked shirt. Emily noticed she had wading boots on. They could smell damper wafting out the door.

Vicki, here again I think you could give the reader more by showing that Sally is in charge – perhaps she wears a hat, a badge, has a loud voice, an air of authority, perhaps she tells them. Try and show Sally’s personality from the way she calls them inside. Is she worried about the storm? Also, if you are trying to build tension, the smell of damper seems a bit out of place – and is Sally likely to cook damper inside or on the campfire? Just some things to think about – and some opportunities to build more tension.

You might also want to think about each individual paragraph and how it links to the next one. Also look at each paragraph to see if it contains the action, information and tone you are trying to convey.

Vicki, you have lots of great writing in this 150 words. I get a sense of the characters and that they are going to embark on something unexpected. I’m interested to know what eventuates on this boot camp.

I hope you found my suggestions helpful. Good luck with your rewrites.

If you’d like feedback on 150 words of your manuscript, click the Friday Feedback link for information on how to submit your work.

Happy writing:)

Dee