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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

# 1 First Page

Title: Secret Protection Society
Genre: MG

What a way to start the week. I’m stuck in the school gym and I’m bored. Our gym, like everyone else’s probably, is a big room where we have PE classes when the weather is bad, science fairs, and kindergarten shows, which are actually kind of funny. Today it’s being used for a spelling bee. The best spellers from the  Cut this as it echoes semi-finals fourth grade classes are competing in the semi-finals and the rest of us are being made to sit through it. If you write this as Show, it will sound better. ‘Now, here we sit forced to listen to the fourth grade spelling bee. Mrs. Hammond insists it will be a good experience. “It will be a good experience,” Mrs. Hammond said. She is our language arts teacher and loves this kind of stuff. She gets excited about books like they are video games or something. Well anyway, I think this whole contest was her idea anyway, just to get us more interested in reading and writing. Sure, whatever.

My name is Tanner Sims and I’m in fourth grade at Joseph Graham Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mr. Sandowski, my social studies teacher, said that Joseph Graham was an important general in the Revolutionary War. A lot of things in Charlotte are named after war heroes, probably because North Carolina is one of the oldest states in the country and a bunch of the battles were fought around here. Anyway, I never heard of General Graham, but I guess it’s cool to have something named after you, even if it is a school. Okay, I love this. It is Voice with a capital ‘V’.

Well I know this contest is going to be boring and not because I got knocked out early.  This is great also. Makes me wonder if it is sour grapes, his attitude. But then you bog it down. Shorten the next sentences to move the story.

Example: Spelling isn’t my thing. Its science with electromagnets and blowing thing up, launching rockets with Mentos and soda. (at this point, dig into the story)

I’m smart. So people tell me. So how come I got knocked out of the spelling bee early and there’s Luke Johnson on the stage, still competing. Looking smug. Spelling just isn’t my thing; my favorite subject is science. I love the experiments with electromagnets or using light bulbs to make water evaporate. And then there are the exploding ones with Mentos and soda and launching rockets with baking soda and vinegar. I also like math and can do multiplication and division in my head, but that’s not as exciting. My parents tell me I’m smart, above average, and that’s good I guess because it’s better to be smart than dumb, but school kinda bores me. I like seeing my friends, but besides that, it’s hard to sit at my desk the whole day.

I planned on spending this morning figuring out how to save the ninja master on level ten in the new Way of the Warrior video game and deciding if looking on the Internet for clues would be cheating, but this is turning out to be more interesting than I thought.  At this point, my eye wants to skip the words. IMHO, you are giving too much backstory now, forcing the introduction to the MC. If you dig into the storyline, begin the action, and put off backstory, your MC will grow. I will connect better if I ‘see’ his interaction. Right now, you are in the ‘telling’ stage, and backstory. For one thing, Luke Johnson, from Mrs. Hammond’s homeroom class, is on stage with the semi-finalists. Spelling isn’t his best subject either. I’ve been in school with Luke since kindergarten and I’ve never seen him pass a test. Actually, I don’t even think he can spell his name. I can tell the teachers are thinking that too because they pointed and whispered to each other the minute he walked on the stage. 

Here’s my opinion about Luke; he’s not that smart and I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t study. He is just…well…below average would be the best way to say it. It’s no big deal, not everyone is good in school. He’s better in sports anyway, better than me for sure. It doesn’t help that I’m smaller than most fourth graders, but Luke is much bigger, about as tall as the middle school kids and sort of fat. He played football last year, and everyone said he was good, but he got kicked off the team. He doesn’t play well with others.

The truth is, Luke is a bully and he’s been one ever since I’ve known him. I know because he used to punch me to get the toy that I was playing with. In front of everybody too, which is pretty embarrassing when you’re in first grade. So that’s why it’s strange to see him on stage for something that has to do with reading or studying. It would have been much better to use him as an example during the no bullying lecture we had a few months ago.

Set the scene. Introduce the MC. Begin the story with action. Limit backstory. Show the story. Use Voice to introduce character traits.


mshatch said...

I can only pretty much agree with everything Carol said. Definitely like the voice when it shines through.

Halli Gomez said...

Thanks very much. The comments were very helpful!

Huntress said...

Halli, you've got a great premise, excellent, voice. Don't bother with the backstory, kick it into gear with action. 'Show' us what is happening.
I want to know how Luke got to the semi-finals also!

Brooke R. Busse said...

I want to point something out. Having your character say 'So anyways' as you do a few times kind of interrupts the flow and throws me off. Make it a continuous narrative.

Halli Gomez said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I have made several changes!

Charity Bradford said...

You had me at Charlotte, NC. Woot, woot! Great place to live.

I think you do a great job staying on the middle grade level of thinking, but agree that the back story needs trimming. You have great voice, but it gets lost sometimes.

I agree with Carol's suggestions. It's a great start though, we just want to get to it faster.