HomeWritersLiterary AgentsEditorsPublishersResourcesDiscussion
Forum Login | Join the discussion
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    44

    Page 1 of Manuscript

    Hi All,
    Below is the first page of my Middle Grade / Fantasy manuscript, for your critique. Thanks!

    Chapter 1

    The rooster did not crow that morning. Rain had been pouring since twilight as the wet season in the Philippines began and a clap of thunder woke Jack Hibbard out of a pleasant, summer dream.

    “Not today,” he grumbled as he jumped out of bed and rushed to the window. He took a large matchbox sitting on the moist sill and cautiously opened it. “Good, you’re still alive.”

    An emerald-green lizard, coiled and shivering, was housed in the matchbox next to a half-eaten fig. He had rescued the little critter from a wicked neighbor about to feed it to a giant spider living in a pepper shrub.

    “I’ll get you home soon,” he smiled, before looking out the water-frosted windowpane.


    The shadowy stairwell made hollow thuds as Jack trundled down in his bare feet. A flash of lightning lit his way and the first person to greet him was a darkly framed photo of his dourly Briton grandmother. More dead relatives peered down from the many hallways of his large house until a gloomy painting of Jesus welcomed him to the library.

    He sat by a large window feeling the cold air seep inside the house like a ghost, lingering on the marble tiles. The downpour showed no signs of slowing down so, to while away the time, he took a big black book about Stonehenge his father gave him for his tenth birthday. It was the last story the two of them shared before his father left for England and the first one not about the bible.

    While drawing druids and dragons on the margins of the book Jack saw a black plastic comb sitting under his father’s study chair. He quickly tossed the book aside remembering a fun trick he learned in school and grabbed the comb. Taking a loose page from a decrepit German hymnbook, he began tearing it into tiny pieces forming a little bundle. After seven combs through his brown hair he placed the comb a few inches above the scraps and, surely enough, the comb magnetized the pieces of paper making them fly up and stick to the comb.

    “Yati!” Flor, the portly head housekeeper, yelled as she saw the mess he made. “Jack-Jack, what are you doing?”

    He knew he was in serious trouble because the word 'Yati' was a very bad swearword reserved for only the harshest of situations. And while it only means ‘devil’ it was considered quite punishable by his pious little family. After all, his father was a church minister.

    Jack quickly ran out of the library with a guilty smile before Flor could catch him. She was the last person he wanted to upset because the old woman had a notorious habit of pinching him on his back, although you could never tell she was a pincher from her fat little fingers. Despite this she was not the worst punisher in the Hibbard household – that title was held by Jack’s mother.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    6,016

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    Lyle, a guy waking up in bed in the morning is the biggest cliche in writing. I can almost promise you that no agent will read past it. You've got to come at your opening from another angle.

  3. #3
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    3,063

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    I don't see anything wrong with a boy waking up in the morning. Actually, I think it's fairly efficient. By the second sentence you know the MC, time, and place. I think waking up is a good beginning. That's my opinion.

    However, why does the MC say "Not today"? That confused me. Why did he say that?

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Rhinebeck, NY
    Posts
    4,623

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    John Oberon Wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------
    > However, why does the MC say "Not today"? That
    > confused me. Why did he say that?

    Maybe because he hoped it wouldn't rain, yet it was doing just that?

    I'll have to try the "fun trick" with the comb. :-)

    *_*

  5. #5
    Senior Member Keith .'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    The latex sales division of Vandelay Industries
    Posts
    1,248

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    I'm with Leslee on the cliche opening. The next biggest cliche would be the dream sequence, particularly in Middle Grade. The fact you'd use it suggests you may want to do some research targeted specifically to Middle Grade Fiction. Some suggested starting points. There are more, like Kristin Nelson and Nathan Bransford, who address MG but the following are pretty specific to it. Luck.

    Middle Grade Authors Blog

    Middle Grade Ninja

    MG Kids Forum

    Suite 500-a bunch of agents who rep MG

    A Good YA and MG Blog

    Mary Kole's Kidlit blog
    ________________________________________________

    People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.
    - Bob Dylan

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    59

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    I agree, the guy waking up in the morning is very cliche, however, it still works. One of my manuscripts started with a guy waking up in the morning... and he was awakened by the phone ringing! How cliche is that crap! But, alas, the editor felt it had too many f-bombs and she wasn't sympathetic to the MC. Just my luck. My point is, I think this cliche is okay as long as the writing is strong enough, which in my opinion, Lyle, yours isn't.

    I'm glad you removed The cock as the first two words of your story. However, (and I believe this was pointed out the last time you posted), your second sentence starts off with Rain had been pouring...
    I didn't keep reading because I figure the rest of your ms is filled with passive voice... and nothing could be more boring for a reader than to be reading words that will be written in passive voice for an entire book.

    As an example, here's how I'd start this (using your words). First sentence - A clap of thunder woke Jack Hibbard out of a pleasant, summer dream.

    You're still taking a risk with the cliche, as Leslee said.

    Good luck,
    d.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    584

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    Two things I see that haven't been pointed out. First, "...dourly Briton grandmother. " I don't think Briton is the word you want; British would fit better IMO. Second, that comb trick wouldn't work that day because the air would be far too humid for it to retain a static charge; you need a very dry day for that.

    Leroy, the second sentence is in the past perfect tense, but it's not in a passive voice. After all, it's the rain doing the pouring, and that's the way it's stated. (Before complaining about passive voice again, I'd suggest you learn what it is. It's not exactly hard to understand, although judging by the way people misuse the term here, it's harder to comprehend than rocket surgery.)

  8. #8
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    3,063

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    Kitty's is as good a guess as any I suppose, but there's no way to know. I really have no clue why he said it. How about it, Lyle? Is Kitty right? If she is, then you need to make it clearer that he's voicing his dissatisfaction with the weather.

    By the way, I think you should use "had poured" instead of "had been pouring".

  9. #9
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio
    Posts
    3,063

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    I don't think a cliched concept that lasts one sentence is going to hurt a book.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Keith .'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    The latex sales division of Vandelay Industries
    Posts
    1,248

    Re: Page 1 of Manuscript

    I don't think it necessarily hurts the book, either. But I think it hurts the author's chance of getting read, therefore getting represented and sold.

    The opening dream sequence or waking up in the morning is kind of like beginning a query letter with a rhetorical question. It doesn't kill the writing. In fact, the writing could be quite good. But many publishing pros, particularly in the YA and MG genres, will stop reading unless the writing is exceptional. It's so overdone and so many books, guides, websites and blogs complain about it being overdone, that some see it as a red flag that the writer hasn't researched the genre properly. I'm not saying it's fair, but I know for an absolute fact some agents use it as a reason to stop reading and exclude the query.
    ________________________________________________

    People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.
    - Bob Dylan

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts