Friday, April 2, 2010

First Page Blogfest Entry

Thanks to Terry Lynn Johnson's blog post today, I learned about the First Page Blogfest. I immediately went over to Kelly's Compositions and signed up. The following lines are from the first page of my novel Secrets at Wentworth about kidnapping and attempted murder at a private girls school.



Driving rain pelted the windows. “It’s really coming down, now,” Miss Davidson said, turning off the computer presentation.

Lori, dressed in one of her trademark pink sequined tops, slid out of her front desk and sidled up to the teacher. Annie watched as Lori tucked a few golden strands behind her ear. “If this gets any worse we’ll have to stay here in the Administration Building. Would you let us out early, Miss Davidson, so we won’t get stuck here?” She gave the teacher a little pouty face with her glossed pink lips.

Annie looked three rows over at her best friend and roommate, Mindy Welch. They exchanged pained expressions.

“Lori’s right, class,” Miss Davidson said as the sky darkened and the rain poured harder. “Go get your coats.”

The girls cheered and grabbed their books. “Come on, Annie, hurry!” Mindy yelled as she scrambled for the door.

Annie immediately got stuck in the crowd jamming the narrow door. It was only the first week of summer classes here at Wentworth Academy and Mindy was the one who made it bearable. This was the last place she wanted to be. Thanks to her stupid teacher in San Antonio, her parents decided to send her here for the summer. Annie snorted making the girl in front of her glance back.

“Sorry,” Annie said, pinching her nose pretending to stop a sneeze.

She still couldn’t believe she was at a summer academic camp for students who were in danger of failing or needed skill reinforcement. Her math and science classes were held right here in the Administration Building in the mornings and in the afternoon her acting class was at the Fine Arts Center two days a week. Closest to the dorm was the dining hall and farthest away were the stables and indoor arena.

27 comments:

  1. Nice start. I like how you start with the dialogue before describing where Annie is and why.

    My only comment would be to give me just a little more of the conflict. Right now I just get that Annie was having trouble in school so she is in summer school. Is the danger of failing the only thing at stake or is there something more?

    I like the way it flows though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like the old-time feel of this. Your writing style has a classic-ness that is really catchy. And I love how you start with all the dialogue, it really puts us in the scene.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Tension is hard to establish to begin with, but it is essential if you are going to hook an agent's attention. Putting her yearning for friendship into conflict with her reality earlier would help snare an agent's interest. Just a thought. You made me care for Annie and that is a gift. Come visit my first page, will you? Have a healing weekend, Roland

    ReplyDelete
  4. Really great beginning! I care about your characters right away and I'm curious to know how she ended up at this school. I want to know what happens next :) Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think you've done a good job of marking out your territory -- the personalities of the girls, the background, potential conflicts. I'd read more, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I loved the details of the sequined pink top and lip gloss. My only question is how old are the girls? Middle school? I'm interested to see how you'd weave the kidnapping in.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I liked your descriptions--pink top, pouty lips with lip gloss, crowd jamming in the doorway.

    My only question is about the last paragraph. It felt like it might not be in Annie's pov. Is she very brainy? You might recast it more in a kid's way of thinking. Instead of saying the school is for kid in danger of failing or needing skill reinforcement, for instance, she might think it's a school for dummies or losers or something. Unless I'm wrong and she really does think things like "skill reinforcement". I can't really tell from just reading one page.

    Liked that you drew me into the world with the great descriptions and the ominous rain.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Catherine! Wow, this sounds like it's going to be a great escapism story. I want to know what's in store and look forward to cuddling under my covers with this book! :D

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the kind words. They are appreciated. Four agents, after having liked my partials, have requested to see my entire novel. Still I get rejections, and your encouraging words have helped take the sting out of them. Have a healing weekend, Roland

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm thinking more upper middle school for the girls, at least that's what glossed pink lips says to me. Lori's mannerisms make me want to know her character better and how she is going to interact with Annie.

    I'd read on to see where your characters go and how they play off one another. Middle school girls, this could get ugly =)

    ReplyDelete
  11. OOOh interesting! NICE!! That last paragraph grounds us, but if I could make a suggestion? I'd take out "or needed skill reinforcement" to tighten up the sentence. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks everyone for great comments so far, the girls are around twelve. Sally, thanks for pointing out the information given about the summer program doesn't match with the age or attitude of Annie. I've made a "oops" note on the manuscript! I'll find another way to point that out.
    Charity, the tension is ratcheted way up a few paragraphs later when Annie finds a student unconcious on the ground, injured during the storm. The headmistress believes it was an accident, but Lori overhears a teacher accusing Annie. Lori gleefully spreads the word

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love the dialogue and the description of the storm. Ah, I love the rain! I'm sure wondering what she did to get sent there!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I like the sense of the two girls. And I really love the idea of Nancy Drew type mysteries - they were my favorites!

    The last paragraph sounds "older" and also a little bit backstoryish. But, I'd definitely keep reading. Especially if the tension and hint of conflict come up in soon as you mention above :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I like how Annie seems so different from the girl in pink- I get the feeling that they are no friends at all. Great job. Thanks for participating

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like the mc, so that's very good to get that right away in a first page. I was missing some conflict. And I think you had a POV slip in the last para talking about the school? Just my opinion. The best part was the rain storm. Great job of creating a scene.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Catherine,

    First, thanks much for already visiting my blog and commenting.

    A couple of minor points about your first page:

    It took me a little while to understand who your protagonist was. Usually the first individual mentioned would be it, but in this case, she's the third character who is introduced. Maybe you might want to change the intro to Annie watching the rain, who is then brought out of her reverie by the teacher speaking?

    The other point is about the tension, the key point that drives the reader in. I have to say I enjoyed the approaching storm, but I wasn't clear in this first page where the story was going. Is there any way to maybe add a hint/foreshadowing?

    Just my 2 cents.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Many of you caught the POV problem about the reason for being at the school--thanks so much, I totally missed it trying to get that in.

    Thanks, also for the nice comments as well as the excellent suggestions like tension, the main character not appearing first, and other things I need to work on. This Blogfest has been a great experience!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you SOOOO much for your comment on my entry!! It made my day.

    I already like Annie, I already sympathize for her. I thought that was a great start to creating a bond between reader and character.

    Also, thank you for wanting to join in on my first hosted blogfest: Last Line Blogfest. Just don't forget to sign up for it. The entry-link-posting...thing :) is on the announcement post.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I like your character's attitude. Very entertaining :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. This feels very real and had a definite YA appeal to it. I would definitely read more!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Well done, Catherine. Excellent descriptions and great atmosphere. I remember well the "please, let us go" feeling that came near the end of every school day - and believe me, it's been awhile! I read the comments so I know you're aware of the POV ambiguity at the end. Also, you might consider changing up the characters' names a bit, especially if these characters are mentioned throughout. Annie, Lori and Mindy all share the same rhythmic cadence.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I enjoyed your beginning. It makes me want to be a teenager with a knack for adventure. This character was interesting and likable. Great first page!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great beginning! I remember the exhilaration of getting out early from school :) This was wonderfully written and I would love to read more.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Ew. Summer school. Why is she there? That's what I want to know...and so far away from home. You've got me curious.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great beginning, great descriptions. I liked this a lot. I don't know how I missed this during the blogfest, but better late than never. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks, sarahjane, I'm so happy you stopped by and commented!

    ReplyDelete