Friday, February 21, 2014

TEEN FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE

Our TEEN FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE is a feature here at YA Confidential that lets you get feedback on your manuscript from your target audience: real teen readers. This month's brave volunteer is Corey Wright, and here is the first page from Corey’s YA contemporary WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE.

Fate is having a laugh right now. The side-splitting kind, too. All buckled over and holding his stomach together. Wherever he is in the universe, he’s watching me, pacing outside Mr. Montgomery’s photography lab, and it’s like Christmas come early.

My phone pings somewhere in the depths of my backpack and I root around for it. Selah. Her eighth text in ten minutes: u don’t have to do this.

Maybe she’s right, but I’m running out of options. And time.

The lab door swings open and two students walk out. Nick Teller and Riley Sommers. They see me and stop. They look about as surprised to see me standing here as Selah was when I told her about my after school plans. It goes without saying that it’s not the good kind of surprised, either.

“Caroline.” Nick glances at the slow-closing door, then back at me. “You lost?”

My lips twitch, half-amused, half-annoyed. “I’m looking for Akiyama. Is he inside?” I already know the answer. Of course he’s inside.
 
Riley catches the door and pulls it open again. She smiles. “In the back.”

A couple students look up from their work when I walk inside and it’s not two seconds before a hiss of whispers sweeps the room. It’s hard not to react, to not roll my eyes and sigh, but I manage and make my way through the maze of tables.

Walking back feels a bit like I’m in The Godfather. Some grunt crashing the wedding at Vito Corleone’s because I’ve got a favor to ask. Except instead of this menacing mafia kingpin, I get this hipster kid in his suspenders and horn-rimmed glasses, face constantly hidden behind a camera.

For the record, I don’t hate Luke Akiyama. People tend to think I do given everything that’s happened, but I don’t hate him.

I just really, really don’t like him.

Here’s what our teens had to say…

MADISON: I really liked this author's voice. I feel like a lot of the main character's personality came through in very little time, which is excellent. I just wish we could have more of the narrator's feelings to make us relate and/or care about her a bit more. It sounds a little detached, I think. Throw in some of the senses, or maybe what's running through her head or any sense of dread she's getting from seeing this kid that she hates again. 

There were a few punctuation and grammatical errors, mostly in comma-overuse, that made things a little confusing near the beginning. But that could be easily fixed, and was probably only prominent to me because I'm a huge grammar Nazi. 

I think I would change that last line to something a bit more dramatic instead of more about how Caroline doesn't like the guy. Maybe throw in a vague reference to why she hates him- not enough to spoil the mystery for the reader, but just enough to spark a little more. 

Overall I like the premise for the story. I would like to read more, definitely. I think the author's characterization is almost completely on-point. This looks like something I would pick up at a library and devour overnight. Nice job!!  

RIV: Wow. This hooked me from the first line, and kept me until the end. I would definitely read more. It jumps us right into the action, only providing back-story as it's needed, and holding the reader's attention. All the names were a bit overwhelming, to the extent that the only name I remembered after reading it once was Luke Akiyama (and the cultural disparity was a bit jarring on that name.) I also was thrown out of the story for a second at the beginning, when fate was referred to as a "he," which I don't hear often.

Overall, it was really good. Gripping. Intriguing. Attention-grabbing. Best of luck with it!

ERICA: I definitely am intrigued after this first page. I definitely would continue reading, if not only to figure out what the history between the main character and Luke Akiyama is. It wasn't the actual opening that hooked me, but rather what came after the first paragraph. That felt more real. 

REBECCA: My first question, is where's the rest? I would like more. I'm totally intrigued and now I want to find out what Caroline's favour is and why she doesn't like this Luke guy. I love the fact the author wrote Fate as a person and the pop culture reference. If I had to say what I didn't like, it would probably be the text. I'm a teenager and I do it sometimes myself but I hate abbreviating words, like from 'you' to 'u'. It enhances the book and characters realistic teenage voice which is what matters though! 

LEXIE: To be honest, I don't have a whole lot to criticize about this.  I really, really enjoyed it.  It was nice and intriguing without being so mysterious that I felt like I was already in over my head, and the writing was really smooth and enjoyable.  I can already sort of sense your main character's voice, which is awesome--the writing has personality.  I don't have any idea what this is about or where it's going, but I'd definitely be interested in reading on.

Hope this helps! And I hope this feedback is insightful for our readers as well! HUGE thank yous to our SPIES and ANALYSTS and to Corey! I know how scary it can be to put your work out there. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!
 

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