Sunday, March 20, 2011

Show Me the Voice Contest!

Hey guys! Have you signed up for Brenda Drake's Show Me the Voice Contest yet? If you haven't, hurry up and do it! It's an awesome way to get crits from your peers. And winners get critiques from lit agent Natalie Fischer!

Anyway, here's my entry. I'd love some feedback!  
Because of everyone's EXCELLENT feedback, I've made a few changes. Namely, the opening sentence/paragraph. But a few alterations throughout, as well. So, the updated version is in bold below. Scroll all the way down if you're interested in comparing it to the original (in black).

Title: Cloudburst
Genre: YA Fantasy

For me, blue has never been a peaceful color. It’s the color of water. And a blaring neon reminder of the things I can, but shouldn’t do.
            I was having an even harder time than usual resisting those things this morning.
I glared at the beads of condensation rolling down the window. The itch was strong enough to make my hands shake. I stretched my fingers and rubbed my palms across my jeans. I wouldn’t give in.
A fat droplet caught my eye. It oozed down the glass, shedding a thin, wet trail. It gorged on the smaller beads and ballooned.
Any minute now, it would burst.
I gripped the window frame. A sweat broke across my back. I ached with anticipation.
There was a place in my chest, just below the ribcage that hummed whenever I was near water. Now it swelled to a throb.
I licked my lips. Another bead and the droplet was too heavy. It pealed away from the glass. A shudder raked my spine. It spattered. I felt the jolt deep in my gut.
I sighed; a sound so low it was almost a moan.
            “Nervous?”
I flinched. Forcing a smile, I spun and looked at Mom.
She didn’t see, did she? What would she have seen? I didn’t even do anything. And even if I had, she wouldn’t notice. She wouldn’t know what to look for.
I swallowed the lump that’d lodged itself in my throat. “Why would I be nervous?”
            “First day of your Junior year? Seems like a pretty good reason to me.”
            Oh, that. I shrugged. “Maybe a little.”

And here's the original:

I glared at the drops of condensation rolling down the window. They shimmered in a way that had nothing to do with the sun. In a way I always suspected only I could see.
At least, I don’t know anyone else who has these urges.
A fat droplet caught my eye. It oozed down the glass, shedding a thin, wet trail. It gorged on the smaller beads and ballooned.
Any minute now, it would fall. Burst.
I gripped the window frame. A fevered sweat broke across my back. My heart sped with anticipation.
There was a place in my chest, just below the ribcage that hummed whenever I was near water. Now it swelled to a throb.
The droplet consumed another cluster of dew. I licked my lips. Another bead and it was too heavy. It pealed away from the glass. A shudder raked my spine. It spattered. I felt the jolt deep in my gut.
I sighed; a sound so low it was almost a moan.
            “Nervous?”
I jumped. My cheeks burned. I forced a smile as I spun and looked at Mom.
She didn’t see, did she? What would she have seen? I didn’t even do anything. And even if I had, she wouldn’t notice. She wouldn’t know what to look for.
I swallowed the lump that’d lodged itself in my throat. “Why would I be nervous?”
            “First day of your Junior year? Seems like a pretty good reason to me.”
            Oh, that. I shrugged. “Maybe a little.”

20 comments:

  1. Hey! I've been following you for a couple weeks now ever since I followed you over from comments on MSFV's last critique session, but definitely had to say thanks for linking this contest! It looks awesome, and I just entered.

    As for some critiques on your entry, I really like it, and like what I read of your MSFV entry. You're great at developing tension, that's clear from the fact that you can make even your MC just staring at water feel tense and heavy with anticipation. One thing I would think about is finding a different first sentence. Contests like these have really reinforced for me how essential the first 250 words are at hooking a reader, and the first line in particular, and I just feel you could probably find something stronger to go here, something that cuts right to or at least foreshadows your big conflict.

    As I mentioned, you do a great job at building tension, but given the relative lack of conflict so far, its obviously a slowburn. Which can work great, but that first sentence can be anything, and can really give you a chance to give the reader something to look forward to, like, okay, this is what this tension is ramping towards. Something's going to happen. I don't really know too much about your MS, so its hard to say, but maybe something like "There was heavy condensation on my window the day I - insert something dramatic that's going to happen to her, something foreshadowy -. I glared at them, rolling down the window. They shimmered in a way....", etc. Does that make sense?

    And again, keep in mind this is totally subjective! Just trying to offer something to think about, because otherwise I think its great!

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  2. Interesting! I'm definitely intrigued about what those "urges" around water might be. Great job!

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  3. I love your voice. You've definitely built a suspenseful beginning, but I agree with Kalen that you need to find a different opening sentence.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Hi there. Nice to meet someone new. I've followed you.

    I love intense descriptions so this was right up my alley. I love the way you've used it to build tension. Perhaps you could improve: The 'fevered sweat' and 'heart sped' which are a bit much together.

    I was a late entry into this blogfest. I hope you can pop over and read my entry.

    L'Aussie's Show Me The Voice Blogfest Contest

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  5. Nice building of tension. The first few sentences feel a little disconnected to me- why is she glaring at the water if she's lusting after it? And what is it about the way she "sees" the water that causes these urges? It might make more sense to say the water stirs sensations only she can feel, or something like that. I really like your description though- making water droplets seem sexy is quite an accomplishment!

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  6. Oh an interesting "gift" this girl has! I love how you show her voice through her "oh that" comment - only two words, but it shows how much this water issue weighs on her mind.

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  7. You describe the connection between the girl and the water real well. The tension builds nicely. Ditto what others said on the first few sentences. Try to grab us in a different manner. I'm interested to know the rest of the story.

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  8. So for me, this was a really interesting opening. The first time, I skimmed it and didn't really get it, but the second time, I was extremely drawn in and tensed with your character. I'm not sure what that means--it's quietly arresting maybe? I'm dying to find out what happens next, though. Good job.

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  9. Different,bravo

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  10. I like it, but you need to tighten it to get to the conflict and the action (dialogue) soon. It just seems to be repeating itself with different descriptions of the water, which caused me to lose interest until the dialogue started. But I did love your descriptions. Like Hopejunkie, I had to read it twice to get what was going on. The second time it grabbed my attention, but you want to do that the first time.

    Maybe if you do what the others suggested, that would help.

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  11. Hey guys! Thanks SO much for all the great comments! I'm still brainstorming a new (hopefully better) 1st line. I'll post as soon as I make the changes!

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  12. Great start! It definitely pulled me in and made me wonder what connection this character has to water and exactly what type of "urges" she has. I'll look forward to seeing what you do with the new 1st sentence:) http://www.veritasoccultus.blogspot.com

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  13. Excellent start! She seems to have a unique power and that is always a fun thing to explore.

    Good Luck! :D

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  14. I kind of liked the first version; but that's just me! After reading this I want to read more! You have a way of building suspense & I love that kind of writing! Good luck! :)

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  15. Love this! I totally want to read on. There are a couple little places were I thought you might be able to tighten things up, such as "I jumped. My cheeks burned..." I think you probably don't need both of these, or can find a way to demonstrate her feelings more succinctly? Just my two cents :)

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  16. I liked this and would read on. :)

    Just a couple of things:

    It’s the color of water, and a blaring neon reminder of the things I can, but shouldn’t do. (I would combine these to make one sentence.)

    The itch was so strong it hurt. (telling - show, where was the itch, how did it hurt, did she feel pain?)

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  17. WOWZA! I am thoroughly impressed by your ability to revise - that is a skill that most writers take years to master. Your craft is where it should be and I expect great things from you from here on end!

    To ensure I keep up with your journey, I'll most definitely join your covenant. :D

    Spectacular job!

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  18. I would challenge you to eliminate as many of the "was" words as possible. Otherwise, great job on revising!

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  19. Great descriptions in your revised version! Good job :)

    I loved this:

    "It oozed down the glass, shedding a thin, wet trail. It gorged on the smaller beads and ballooned."

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  20. Intriguing premise and tone. The revised version fills in more details about the MC's unusual abilities. The key to this opening is in the sentence, "I wouldn’t give in."
    Perhaps you could hint at what may happen if the MC does give in? Does she recall some damage to self or property when she did give in? Did she receive any warning? Do her friends notice anything weird?

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