Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can you Hook A Teen???

Brenda Drake is hosting another awesome blogfest. This one has teen judges, so for all us YA writers, it's a way to see if our work actually appeals to the demographic we're aiming at.

So, here's my first 250 (again... sorry regulars. I am going to finish the first draft of the new book today, so within a couple of months, I should have something new to post in these things.)

TITLE: Chasing the Taillights
GENRE: YA contemporary

The darkness is absolute. I’m not sure if my eyes are open or closed. I strain to push the lids up, but they’re already wide. Something covers my mouth and nose, making breathing difficult. My lungs burn for air, but I can only suck in tiny mouthfuls through whatever smothers my face.

I turn my head, crying out as a savage bolt of pain shoots through it. Wavy grey lines waft across the blank space before my eyes. I can’t think, can’t make sense of the darkness threatening to drown me. Certain now I won’t pass out, I gasp for breath. There’s nothing covering my face. It was the ground my nose and mouth were pressed into.

The ground? Wet. Greasy. Reeking of something that reminds me of… gas? Reaching out my left hand, I try to find something to hold onto. My fingers scrabble over small objects, pebbles perhaps, that skitter away beneath my touch. I reach further, wrapping my fist around them. Pain prickles my fingertips. Not pebbles. Glass. Small, sharp shards of glass.

Using my torn hand, I drag myself forward, an inch, maybe two. I can’t move my legs, can’t even feel them. Raising my head, I see light. Not a lot of light, but light. Red light, bright at one end, dull at the other. I know what this is. I do. My heart thumps at the side of my head and I can almost hear the gears of my brain creaking to make sense of this weird red glow.

Let me know what you think, okay?


  1. Great hook! I like how you've balanced a sense of danger and atmosphere with an immediate concern for the character. I don't have anything to suggest, as this is already really polished and tight.

  2. I like the sense of of dread that builds in this piece. The pain the MC is going through is conveyed well.

    Maybe some of the sentences could be simplified.

    For example: Reaching out my left hand, I try to find something to hold onto

    Could be: Reaching out, I try to find something to hold.

  3. I'm loving it. Boy or girl? Is he/she okay. I want more.

  4. This is a good start. I like the intensity and sense of urgency and disorientation. It flows nicely.

    It could use a little tightening. Especially since the MC is confused and disoriented. Some shorter, jerkier sentences would add to that feeling.

    If we don't find out in the next few sentences what happened, if the MC is boy or girl, and something that actually grounds us in the scene, I think some readers--especially agents--will lose interest. Readers these days don't want to have to work to get the story.

    But it's very intriguing and I would read on. It definitely makes the reader curious as to what's going on.

  5. You really had me intrigued and wanting to read more. I agree with the others to tighten it up and shorten your sentences to create urgency. I like to know if the MC is male or female right off. Maybe the character could come across something in the glass that is specific to a boy or girl? I don't know, just a thought. It's great as is and good luck with the contest! <3

  6. Love it as an intro - definitely agree that you should stylize it a bit more - make us disoriented for a bit with your MC.

    I'm not usually a huge fan of present tense in writing - but this didn't bother me because there's a very strong voice and peril here.


  7. If you could cut this in half, you'd sell me on it :) like everyone else commented, I want to know more about the character... honestly, I don't care about gender at this point, I want some sense of *who* this is reacting to the situation rather than just describing it.

    If you could give me a little of that, I'd definitely turn the page :)

  8. I so agree with everyone else. Shorten the sentences for added tension and give me more details about the protag, and you'll have me ready to turn the page.

  9. I actually thought it was urgent enough. It could use a little more sense of who, but I'd keep reading in hopes that you would get there. My only comment is that it's a little weird that she didn't realize she was laying on her face.

    I especially like the third paragraph.