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Friday, September 7, 2012

The Lost Figurehead

 A big thank you to Samantha for submitting the first page of her Middle Grade Fantasy, The Lost Figurehead. My comments will be in purple. I invite you to add yours and help Samantha make her first page the best it can be.

"That boy belongs in jail -- not an orphanage!"

Jeez, Mr. Leland was real stupid to bring that up again.  Just because he weighed as much as a whale didn't mean Finn was afraid to jump him.  He could probably claw out both his piggy eyes, even with a bloody nose.  He cracked his knuckles in preparation, but Sister Christine shot him a warning glare that made him shrink back into the shadows. I'm a little confused by this first paragraph. I assume Mr. Leland is the one speaking and that he's referring to Finn. But who isn't Finn afraid to jump? And what does weighing as much as a whale have to do with whatever happened in the past or the fact that Finn is or isn't afraid to jump whoever?

"A jail, do you hear?"

Sister Christine tore her gaze from Finn.  "Yes, sir, and I can assure you that he will be strictly disciplined."

Finn's stomach dropped.  The last time the sisters had "disciplined" him they had made him polish brass bedsteads.  Didn't Sister Christine see his two black eyes?  He was a victim here!

"Disciplined?" growled Mr. Leland, his pudgy face growing redder and redder.  "The only discipline for a...a...a terror is a concrete bed and barred windows!  He's dangerous!"

"I'm very sorry, sir.  Finn just has a...temper."

"Oh, really?  Well a temper doesn't put a ten year-old kid in the Emergency Room with a broken nose!"

Finn chuckled quietly to himself.  He might have gained a few cuts and bruises, but Bobby Leland had gotten the worst of the scuffle.

"That boy doesn't have a temper!  He has a problem!"

Oh, I'll show you a problem!  Finn flexed his fists, but again Sister Christine stopped him with a look that made him quiver.  She was like Medusa with those eyes.

"I swear, I won't rest until this place is torn to the ground!  You'll be hearing from my lawyer, that's for sure!"

St. Magnus's closed down?  The thought of a giant wrecking ball knocking into the little brick building forced a grin.  Who knew he and Mr. Leland could actually agree on something?

But for Sister Christine, the threat turned her face as white as the coif that peeked out from beneath her veil. Nice analogy.

Aside for the first paragraph, which confused me a bit, I have no other complaints. There's a really great voice here in the narrator, Finn, and his thinking seems exactly like a young trouble-maker to me. I’m also left curious about the fight. What started it? Who is Bobby? Will Mr. Leland make good on his threat and if he does how will Finn react then? I’m also curious as to what power Sister Christine has over Finn since he obviously listens to her. An interesting beginning to be sure!


Huntress said...

I agree with Marcy. The submission is great apart from the first paragraph. It introduces the reader to the MC, the speaker and character traits. But it is confusing.

Plus, IMHO, makes the MC a very unlikable person. A kid that thinks about 'jumping' a grownup is violent and a bit nuts.

Is a deranged kid what you intended to imply?

Patchi said...

I like how Finn was trying to pose as a victim until he mentions that Bobby looked worse after the fight. Maybe if you change the first paragraph a bit, you can make a better illusion of false accusation until the truth is slowly revealed with the mention of previous punishment and Bobby.

Jadzia Brandli said...

I agree a bit with the first paragraph. The rest is great though. I'm also wondering if it might be a good idea to let us know where this is happening. Maybe showing Finn slouching in his chair in the office room they're in, would set the scene more. I'm also not sure of his age. The kid he got in the fight with was ten, so I wonder if Finn is the same age. But, to me, he sounds like he's a bit older than the Bobby kid.

Isis Rushdan said...

I liked the first paragraph. I followed you were talking about Finn jumping Mr. Leland even though Mr. L was a big guy.

When Mr. L continues with the "jail" comment, you should add a tag like Mr. L added.

Polishing bedsteads doesn't seem like such a bad punishment so not sure why his stomach would drop. Suggest strenghtening the punishment.

I think you could go back through and eliminate a few "that"s.

Also, you have at least 9 exclamation marks in one page. Way too many. Think of each E mark as a pinch of salt to recipe. You don't want a salty dish no one will eat. I suggest cutting 8 of them.

Other than that I really liked it. Please remember this is just one opinion. Take what works for you and chuck the rest.

Liz said...

I didn't have a problem with the first paragraph. After a second reading, I'm guessing that this kid is stuck in an orphanage, doesn't like it much, and is taking out his anger on neighborhood kids.