Tuesday, July 6, 2010

8 #65 Suzanne Lilly

Jynx first found out about her father’s secret life by accident. It was while she was eating a bowl of crunchy nuts and raisins cereal and reading the missing children alert on the side of the milk carton that she realized how much she missed her dad. He was gone on another business trip (how many business trips did an anthropology professor need to take anyhow?) and he hadn’t returned her calls in three days. An uneasy feeling turned the sweet milk sour in her mouth.

“Grammy, when did Dad say he’d be back?” Jynx asked her grandmother, who was spreading lemon curd on fresh, hot scones at the kitchen counter.


  1. Love the premise, but I'd chop the first paragraph and open with the girl asking her grammy where dad is.

  2. This is intriguing.

    I (personally) wouldn’t necessarily open with the dialogue, but I wouldn’t necessarily open with “Jynx found out about her father’s secret life by accident.” (If she is about to find out something in the convo to follow with her grandma, the reader will know soon enough)

    I almost don’t want to write this because someone told me the same thing about one of my stories and I thought to myself “well what do you know?” Turns out they were right. *hangs head in shame*

    There’s too much back-story in the first paragraph. I’d cut some, move some around and it should read better.

    Maybe you could start with her running her finger along the missing child alert on the milk carton. (??)

    "Jynx ran her finger along the smooth surface of the milk carton, stopping on the missing boy/girl (?)’s face. Her other hand spooned crunchy nuts cereal into her mouth until she realized how much she missed her dad. An uneasy feeling turned the sweet milk sour in her mouth as she dropped the spoon and turned to her grandmother who busied herself spreading lemon curd on scones at the counter."

    “Grammy, when did Dad say he’d be back?”


    As usual, just my thoughts… hope at least some of them are helpful!



  3. For the first line, why is "first" in there? Does she find out twice? Just saying - Jynx found out - would hold more punch.

    The second sentence is long and doesn't really give me much information. Do we really need to know it's crunchy nuts and raisins cereal? Or would "crunchy cereal" be enough? Trust your reader's imaginations to fill in the insignificant details. If you bombard me with the little things, I lose interest.

    Those are the main things I see that could really strengthen this :) Sounds interesting! I'd keep reading to see what Grandma says for sure.

  4. I really like Leah's suggestion about the new starting place. Also, Holly was spot on when she said a reader will feel bombarded with too many little details.

    Interesting premise!

  5. Thanks for your helpful comments everyone. Now I'm heading back to the rewrite!

  6. I love the connection between the missing girl on the milk carton and the idea that her dad is missing. I'm not sure I would lead with as many details as Leah included, but I think she's right on target with leading with that. Simpler is better in the opening sentence -- and that's such a powerful metaphor. Plus it's psychologically sound.

  7. Sorry to chime in late, but I basically agree with everyone else on the idea that the milk carton leading to her thinking about her dad is good, but perhaps not the first sentence. Otherwise, I think Leah is spot on.

    I do love the imagery and I already sympathize with your MC so don't fret about your writing. We just want your hook to be irresistible. :) Perhaps there is a better starting place in the story itself. A place where there is a bit of telling action.

  8. Thanks so much for these critiques. It seems everyone is in agreement on my getting rid of the excess details and digging right in to the action. This has been incredibly helpful. My next round of queries will have the new beginning, and we'll see what happens.


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