Thursday, July 8, 2010

19 Critique Clinic: Line-by-line Contest Round 3 Critiques

Literary agent Natalie Fischer, the judge for our current Line-by-line Novel Opening Contest, has sent us her picks for the top 25 finalists. Unfortunately, that meant cutting another 25 entries that did not make it through to the next round. Overall, these are fantastic openings. To help make them even stronger, our panel of agented, published, and debut authors have offered to critique the first five sentences of these novels right here, so we all can learn to strengthen our writing.

This is an amazing opportunity. These authors have all been through the querying process and won. They have been providing thoughtful, incredibly detailed critiques. We urge you to take advantage of this chance to develop your novel opening. (Marissa and I only wish we could benefit from their expertise and patience!)

To enter the Critique Clinic with our fantastic panel of guest authors, if your entry appears below, please add your entry number and the full first five sentences of your novel in the comments of this post before 6:00 pm Monday, July 12, 2010.

Please Give a Warm Welcome to Our Participating Authors:

  • Barrie Summy writes a humorous tween/teen mystery series for Random House. Her books include I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES, I SO DON'T DO SPOOKY, the just-released I SO DON'T DO MAKEUP and the upcoming I SO DON'T DO FAMOUS. She lives in San Diego with her husband, four chatty children, a dog named Dorothy, two veiled chameleons and 83 chameleon eggs. She is addicted to the internet and licorice.
  • Riley Carney is seventeen years old and has written seven MG/YA novels. The first book of the five-book Reign of the Elements Series,The Fire Stone, was released January 2010, and the second book, The Water Stone, will be released August 2010. Riley is passionate about promoting global literacy through the nonprofit corporation that she founded because she believes that the way to help children break the cycle of poverty and exploitation is through literacy. 
  • Tracy Clark has completed two YA novels and is currently working on her third. She is represented by Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. She’s a wife, mother, lover of words, private pilot and irredeemable dreamer. Tracy was mentored by bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins, in the NV SCBWI Mentor Program.
  • When Cole Gibsen isn't writing she can be found shaking her booty in a zumba class, picking off her nail polish, or drinking straight from the jug (when no one is looking). Cole's debut YA paranormal, Katana, is due out from Flux in spring, 2012.
  • Tahereh a.k.a. T.H. Mafi works as a graphic designer. Her blog Grab a Pen consistently entertains the masses. She writes YA novels and is represented by the ever-fabulous Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency.
  • Lisa Green is not a demon, ghost, vampire, fairy or shape-shifter*. She has, however, enjoyed reading and writing about them since the age of seven. Her short stories and poems have been featured in several online magazines and her manuscripts are represented by the amazing Rubin Pfeffer of East-West Literary.
  • Maurissa Guibord is a YA author whose debut novel, Warped will be published in January, 2011 from Delacorte. Warped is a romantic fantasy about a girl, an ancient unicorn tapestry and the threads of fate that bind them together.
  • Suzanne Young currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she uses the rainy weather as an excuse to stay inside and write obsessively. She is the author of THE NAUGHTY LIST series (Razorbill/Penguin) and the upcoming A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL (Balzer & Bray, Summer 2011), its sequel (Summer 2012) and DELINQUENTS (Razorbill/Penguin, Fall 2011)
  • Leah Crichton resides near the majestic Canadian Rockies with her husband, three children and two pets. With a teacher for a mother and a writer for a father, she had two choices: succeed or die trying. By day she manipulates geophysical data, but at night she dives head first into the different places created inside her mind because a lot of interesting people live there. Her YA debut novel "Amaranthine" will be released in November of 2010 by Canonbridge LLC

Eligible for Critique
#3 Pam Harris
It's not that I'm ugly or anything. There's just a lot of me to love. I mean, a lot.

#4 JayceeKaycee
The shriek of my cell phone in the quiet classroom meant only one thing: the killer had found us again.

My fingers fumbled, palms slick with dread, but I had to answer on the first ring—that was the rule.

I raised the phone to my ear and was out of my chair even before I heard my mother’s panicked command: "Run."

#5 Natalie Aguirre
“You don’t know what it’s like not knowing if you’re like your real mom or dad,” Jasmine said. She knew she shouldn’t have called her birthparents that—her Mom and Dad—the moment it came out of her mouth. She didn’t even know them.

#8 Stina Lindenblatt
It was like diving off a ten-meter platform when you’re terrified of heights. Easy, really.

Yeah, right, I thought, as I watched one of the girls from the swim team practice her freestyle in the lake—while I pretended not to care about swimming anymore.

#10 Robyn Campbell
Anna threw open the barn door and smiled at Fancy, who stamped her foot and stuck her head over the stall opening. Her mane trembled with excitement and Anna's hands began to tingle.

Oh, how she loved Fancy's hay-fresh breath and their usual early morning quest to outstare each other.

#12 Marquita Hockaday

I’m in hell. Okay, so I’m really in school-again. It feels like I spend all of my time in school, but thats okay because if I were at home I would have to listen to Aunt Pam cough, sneeze, and blow snot into that flowery handkerchief she always carries around.

#13 M. Bites Editor: Sangay Glass
Yeah, it was gross, but with only seconds to spare Allix had no choice. She plunged her fist in the toilet bowl and waited.

Soon bubbles escaped from tiny vents in her clamped hand, and the cool water quickly heated to a simmer, making the experiment a major fail on an epic scale.

#15 Dunnes in UK

Ellen’s forehead cracked painfully against the window as her Aunt’s ancient pick-up hit a huge hole in the questionable country road, waking her from the most bizarre dream. A vague memory of writhing vines only amplified her desire to vomit. She swallowed, one hand over her mouth and the other clenching her seatbelt.

#16 Janice
Ann stood in the foyer, pulling off her gloves and then her coat, and considered how little the war had changed things at home. The aromas of roasting turkey and autumn spices seeped from the kitchen, and she could hear Cook's whisk scraping the gravy pan and the clink of china as Jamison laid out the dishes. Today would be like all the Garner Thanksgivings as far back as she could remember--except, of course, for the small matter of the bombshell she planned to drop on her parents.

#21 Buffy Andrews

I have a secret. I know things. Lots of things.

#22 Margay
I always knew my name would get me into trouble one day. I just didn’t think it would take this long. Maybe I have a slow fuse or a short attention span or something, but, anyway, it finally happened - I snapped.

#33 Heather Trent Beers

The last day of fifth grade should mark the beginning of a fun-filled summer for a girl. Not the end of life as I know it.

No one ever accused me of being psychic, but I could tell the worst was on its way.

#34 amongdahlias
Riding to school with Max Holden is only slightly less traumatizing than riding the big yellow bus. I remind myself of that fact every morning when I cross the lawn from my front yard into his, headed for his already-running F-150. You’d be colder at the bus stop, I think as my feet crunch through frosty grass.

#36 A. Grey
Life is so much easier without underwear. That was something I had clung to, but Sal was right when he told me underwear was useless. Sal taught me a lot of things.

#45 Tara

My name is Rufus William Gunther Chase, but people who know me call me Spoon. I was named for two grandfathers and one grandmother. Lucky for me, between my two grandmothers, my parents chose Grandma Gunther, or my name would have been Rufus William Mary Elizabeth Chase.

#46 CL
What kind of animal sounds like a woman singing?

The beach was empty of people, but the air was filled with a haunting melody. It flew across the sea, bounced off the pounding surf and blew around me like an eerie sea-breeze as I walked along the shore.

#50 Traci Van Wagoner

My hand hovered over the latch, my stomach churning. What I did today, I had never done before, and boy was I gonna get it!

Pa’s work clothes lay in a pile outside the door waiting for one of my sisters to beat the coal dust out of them.

#78 Kelly Hashway

I’d heard of signs of the apocalypse, but I didn’t know that one of them was a crazy guy wandering out of a forest and into my favorite hangout. Okay, it wasn’t exactly the end of the world, but it was the end of the life I’d known for the past twelve years.

It started like any other day off from school.

#85 Angela Townsend

Sassy Smit was seven years old the afternoon she found Leroy Jebber dead. His pudgy body floated belly up in the slough, like a white blob of fat in a can of beans. A strangled scream rose in her throat.

#87 Angela Townsend

Gloomy shadows crept across the tired oak floor, stealing what little light peered in through a set of stained glass windows. A dying fire crackled in the corner, its golden embers fading as quickly as the old man who lay near it. Angus MacBain stood at the foot of his grandfather’s four poster bed.

#90 Emily Casey
Ghosts can be so rude sometimes. I walked with Lisa to a shaded picnic table, ready to take a break from schoolwork when I suddenly felt very strange--awkward yet familiar, like that dream where you find yourself on stage and can’t remember what you’re supposed to be doing. The courtyard came to life around us, the tables filling up fast with students and the smell of fried food wafting from the cafeteria; everything around me was normal.

#92 Candyland
"Shit, I may as well be dead," my mother cried the day I killed her.

It happened in a Denny's bathroom stall after she threw up her egg whites. I didn't shoot her because that would've been too quick, too painless, too...generous.

#94 Melissa Hed
Angela Fortunata woke up with a thump and a whack. What woke her, what had woken her every morning for the past two years, was pain. She had fallen out of bed again, thumped her head on the floor, and whacked her hand on the open drawer of her nightstand.

#95 Stefanie
The newspapers all said it was an accident. That there was no reason to suspect any foul play had been involved. That the lake was swollen from the recent rains, and he hadn’t been a particularly strong swimmer to begin with.

#98 Authoress

Kate Raddish lived on an island and could not swim, which made her an anomaly from the start.

Of course, she had never told anyone about her fear of the ocean. And in the empty summertime, when McFaegen-Doughty wasn’t crammed with students and schedules and too much homework, it was hard to hide from the water.

19 comments:

  1. Congrats to the top 25. Awesomeness:)

    #21 Here's my first five of MG.

    I have a secret. I know things. Lots of things. Like I know that my math teacher, Mr. Bugg, is going to pick his nose and wipe a boogie on the back of his smiley face tie when he turns around to write on the board. And I know that Lacey, who sits next to me, is hoping that Jon, who sits behind me, asks her to our eighth-grade school dance.

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  2. Congrats to the top 25! :)

    #36 Here's the first five of my YA, which is dystopian by some standards, but I'm reluctant to label it as such:

    Life is so much easier without underwear. That was something I had clung to, but Sal was right when he told me underwear was useless. Sal taught me a lot of things. Like how to pee while holding a bow with an arrow nocked and drawn. In the Wild you have to know how to do that.

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  3. Congratulations to the top 25! :)

    #94 Here are the first five of my MG fantasy:

    Angela Fortunata woke up with a thump and a whack. What woke her, what had woken her every morning for the past two years, was pain. She had fallen out of bed again, thumped her head on the floor, and whacked her outstretched hand on the open drawer of her nightstand.

    Angela lay on the floor, nursing her wounds until she heard the screech of her alarm clock. She winced as she stood up and reached to silence it, reminding herself for the hundredth time to change the alarm setting to music.

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  4. Congrats to the 25 who made the cut! This is a great contest and opportunity. Thanks!

    #50
    My hand hovered over the latch, my stomach churning. What I did today, I had never done before, and boy was I gonna get it!

    Pa’s work clothes lay in a pile outside the door waiting for one of my sisters to beat the coal dust out of them. Inside the house was silent. No laughter, no singing, no happy chatter.

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  6. Congrats to the top 25! Here are my first five sentences:

    The shriek of my cell phone in the quiet classroom meant only one thing: the killer had found us again.

    My fingers fumbled, palms slick with dread, but I had to answer on the first ring—that was the rule.

    I raised the phone to my ear and was out of my chair even before I heard my mother’s panicked command: Run.

    With shaking hands I stuffed my books and notes into my bag—we could leave nothing personal behind; that was another rule. I raced past the scowling teacher, knowing every minute, every second, brought the killer closer.

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  7. Congrats to the top 25! Here are my first five:

    I’d heard of signs of the apocalypse, but I didn’t know that one of them was a crazy guy wandering out of a forest and into my favorite hangout. Okay, it wasn’t exactly the end of the world, but it was the end of the life I’d known for the past twelve years.

    It started like any other day off from school. My sister, Holly, and I had gone to the park to try out the new bike ramps, and I was about to climb the biggest ramp when the vision hit me. Some people might think having visions was cool, but for me it was a curse.

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  8. Congrats to the top 25! I'm thankful to have had a chance to participate in this contest :)

    Here's the first five sentences of my YA paranormal:

    #95

    The newspapers all said it was an accident. That there was no reason to suspect any foul play had been involved. That the lake was swollen from the recent rains, and he hadn’t been a particularly strong swimmer to begin with. It was tragic, yeah—but things like this happened.

    My mom’s hand rested lightly on my shoulder, in what I think was an attempt to be comforting.

    ReplyDelete
  9. # 34

    Congrats to the Top 25!

    Here are the first five sentences of my YA contem. romance:

    Riding to school with Max Holden is only slightly less traumatizing than riding the big yellow bus.
    I remind myself of that fact every morning when I cross the lawn from my front yard into his, headed for his already-running F-150. You’d be colder at the bus stop, I think as my feet crunch through frosty grass. Bus fumes are worse, I tell myself, hurrying through clouds of stinky exhaust that pour from his truck’s tail pipe. The bus doesn’t even have music, I consider as the unmistakably twang of classic country leaks from the cab.

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  10. Thank you all for the opportunity to share, learn and grow. Very much appreciated! Brenda Corey Dunne

    #15:

    Ellen’s forehead cracked painfully against the window as her Aunt’s ancient pick-up hit a huge hole in the questionable country road, waking her from the most bizarre dream. A vague memory of writhing vines only amplified her desire to vomit. She swallowed, one hand over her mouth and the other clenching her seatbelt.

    Aunt Marg chuckled beside her.

    “Sorry about the road, the pot holes get bigger every year,” Aunt Marg said, her ever-present smile making dimples in her cheeks.

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  11. Just read the others (they are great!) and thought I'd add that #15 is a MG fantasy novel. Thanks for the great opportunity!

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  13. Sorry, major typo in the last post:)

    Congrats to the tops! I'm just glad to have made it this far.

    It would probably be helpful to know a tiny bit about the Arcanom story because it is a fantasy:D

    During a war against sorcerers, young mages are drafted to become soldiers at an academy of magic.
    -------------
    #13

    Yeah, it was gross, but with only seconds to spare Allix had no choice. Without hesitation she plunged her fist into the toilet bowl and waited.

    Soon bubbles escaped from the tiny vents in her clamped hand, and the cool water quickly heated to a simmer, making the experiment a major fail on an epic scale.

    Despite her best effort, the hand would heat up, the vision would come, then god knows what. At least this time nothing would get burned.
    -------------

    Thanks again:)

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  14. #10

    Congrats everyone. Thank you for this opportunity. And thank you for the critique for our first five sentences. I really appreciate it. I will pay it forward when I am published and have the chance. Blessings.

    Here are my first five sentences of my MG adventure novel:

    Anna threw open the barn door and smiled at Fancy, who stamped her foot and stuck her head over the stall opening. Her mane trembled with excitement and Anna's hands began to tingle.

    Oh, how she loved Fancy's hay-fresh breath and their usual early morning quest to outstare each other.

    Anna jabbed her boots into the dirt, determined to win. Fancy tensed her muscles, and swished her long tail.

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  15. Congrats to the top 25 and thanks for the contest.

    I'm #5. Here's my first 5 lines of my middle grade fantasy.

    “You don’t know what it’s like not knowing if you’re like your real mom or dad,” Jasmine said. She knew she shouldn’t have called her birthparents that—her Mom and Dad—the moment it came out of her mouth. She didn’t even know them. But although she was twelve now, she still couldn’t stop thinking about them and wondering who they were.

    “I just wish I knew who’s tall like me or who likes swimming,” Jasmine said, clutching the small photo album of herself in the orphanage in China that her mom had made for her.

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  16. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity! Here are the first five lines of my tween fantasy novel:

    #46
    What kind of animal sounds like a woman singing?

    The beach was empty of people, but the air was filled with a haunting melody. It flew across the sea, bounced off the pounding surf and blew around me like an eerie sea-breeze as I walked along the shore. Slanting rays of sunset splashed the horizon pink and orange as gentle wavelets licked at my feet.

    Sounds great, doesn’t it?

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  17. #45

    I was born Rufus William Gunther Chase, but people who know me call me Spoon. I was named for two grandfathers and one grandmother. Lucky for me, between my two grandmothers, my parents chose Grandma Gunther, or my name would have been Rufus William Mary Elizabeth Chase.

    I earned the nickname Spoon in an ordinary way thanks to my older sister Natalie, who by the age four had gotten used to tea parties for three and giving her dolls French names like Yvette and Pierre (formerly known as Raggedy Ann and Andy). After our parents brought me home, Natalie was scrambling for a fourth place setting at the children's dining table.

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  18. #33

    Here are the first five lines of my MG novel:

    The last day of fifth grade should mark the beginning of a fun-filled summer for a girl. Not the end of life as I know it.
    No one ever accused me of being psychic, but I could tell the worst was on its way. I knew it because today we got our final report cards.
    “Happy last day of school, Jen!” Emily yelled.

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  19. #22 Margay
    I always knew my name would get me into trouble one day. I just didn’t think it would take this long. Maybe I have a slow fuse or a short attention span or something, but, anyway, it finally happened - I snapped. And my name got me in trouble.

    Seriously, with a name like Irene Goode, the probability ranked pretty high, if you know what I mean

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Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)