Monday, September 19, 2011

6 1st 5 Pages Workshop - September Entry #2 Rev 2

Jessi Elliott
YA Urban Fantasy

Chapter One – Jack

This is the third day in a row a Dream has made me late. And I don’t It’s a pattern could snap my mom and step-dad out of their workaholic comas to turn their combined energies into rectifying the problem that is me. My hands shake and tense as I loop the half Windsor into my monotone tie. It’s hard enough to hide what I am with just the regular Dreams to deal with, let alone the roiling colors of this latest one.

The magic thrums behind my eyes, a hangover-like pulse in my head. I pause as I hear Brantley’s gait just outside my door. Great. He and my mom are usually long gone by now. This amazingly wonderful day just got even better.

“Jack? he asks, voice already indignant as he peers around the corner of my open door. “Why are you still here?”

The magic in me churns, the feeling heightening as my adrenaline prepares to flare. I’m caught. It’s not like my response really matters. “Why are you here?” I snap.

The expression underneath his short salt and pepper hair is definitely not amused. “You can stop with the attitude,” he says, his voice even but holding the promise of some future retaliation. “Haven’t you been on the tardy list for two days in a row now?”

Shit. So he has been looking at that. I wasn’t sure if the list of tardy students was something he, the almighty Head of Whitford School, would have time or reason to even think about in the midst of all the political ass-kissing and campaigning he’s been doing lately. Then again, he always has time for the things that might make my life suck more.

I grab my phone and my keys and try to push through the doorway. He blocks me. The magic is begging to be released.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he demands, expression still cool.

I blink as, almost imperceptibly at first, Brantley is surrounded by a sheen of a red so faint it looks pink. I roll my eyes, trying to play it off, but panic holds me in its grip as the pinkish tone darkens into red.

“School.” I heave in a breath to keep from raising my voice. “To my English test.”

“I’ll give you a ride,” he says.

The red is glaring now as his furious eyes bore into me. He’s enraged, and I can feel it. My own anger answers his, and I look away, clenching my fists, hoping that I can hold the power in just long enough. He steps closer, trying to use his height to intimidate me. I don’t back away.

“The Metro’s faster,” I argue.

Brantley smiles, then. His I’ve got you now smile. The cloud of red around him flickers with the pleasure he takes in what he’s going to say next even though he gives his best effort to sound pissed off. “One of your teachers reported that you came to first period yesterday smelling like a damn Starbucks.”

“I –”

“No. You’re riding in with me today. If you want to argue, you can hand over your car keys now and forget about your plans this weekend.”

My heart hammers in my chest, blood pulses in my ears. My dad bought me that car, and the fact that Brantley can keep it from me just like that sears underneath my skin. I meet Branley’s puke green eyes not even bothering to hide my anger even though he basically gets off on that kind of a response. I choke back the words I want to say, place my keys in my pocket, and sling my messenger bag over my shoulder. A brain-flattening sensation that wells over me at the color flashing around him now. I push back that sick little feeling in my stomach, denying the power demanding to be released.

An understanding reached, he sighs the impatient sigh I hate as we cross the space of the condo to the door. It always comes down to this - me being the turd in the punchbowl of his and my mother’s happy professional life.

As we walk, the harsher edges of the red around him soften, but the magic is still shaking through me, an erratic cocktail. I have to calm down before I get in the car with him.

I clomp toward the elevators, pushing some of the power out with the impact of each step. Its grip on me subsides just enough. A couple of deep breaths and I feel slightly more normal, though the anger is another issue. I tap my foot against the slate of the elevator floor as it hurtles toward street level.

When we get to Brantley’s glossy black luxury car, I throw myself into it and slam the passenger door. He doesn’t show his annoyance and eases into the driver’s seat like I’m not even there. I cross my l left leg over my right, allowing my shoe to rub up against the plush padding of the door beside me, daring him to open his jack-ass mouth.

He eases out of the parking garage, and I blink at the full glow of morning. I stare out window as we glide over the road running parallel to the Potomac. I try to focus on the crisply dressed business men and women striding down the sidewalk in their monotone suits, clutching their monotone briefcases.

“I’m not bailing you out this time,” he says, eyes on the road.

“Fine. Like I care if I get a freaking detention.”

6 comments:

  1. Hi Jessi,

    This is much clearer than the last one, but I think we still need more information delivered in a simpler, more direct and natural way. Could you consider the following, perhaps?

    1) I'm not clear on Jack's living situation--it takes a while to figure out that Brantley is the stepfather, but I lose where the mother is. I also don't get a sense of work-aholic stupor, because Brantley seems very involved in his stepson's life. And most of all, I don't get the reason for the animosity between him and Jack.

    2) I don't understand the power Jack has--the transition between dream and seeing auras and the sense of the power needing to be released is building without giving us an idea where you are going with it. Doling out information, dragging out the questions, can be a valuable technique to keep a reader reading, but carried too far it can leave us too confused to want to continue. Can you rethink what the power is, exactly, and make sure you reveal it at the times that best suit it.

    3) Can you think of a way to give Jack something to care about, something positive to hang his character around? Because right now, I'm not sure that he's as likeable as he needs to be. He has some snarkiness and humor, but I'd like a sense that we know there is more to him, some softer, warmer portion we are going to get to sooner or later.

    Good job on the revision though. I think you are getting closer to the heart of your story.

    Best,

    Martina

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hm. I'm wondering about capitalizing Dream all the time. Is every dream Jack has a Dream? Or should that be reserved for just the special ones?

    There's a typo in the first parargraph, second sentence. Not sure what words should be there and what shouldn't.

    Some very nice reworking and the voice is starting to really gel.

    The magic in me churns, the feeling heightening as my adrenaline prepares to flare. I’m caught. It’s not like my response really matters.
    Not really understanding "I'm caught" in this paragraph. Do you need it?

    Jack's age wavers for me a bit. Sometimes older, sometimes younger. I can't quite place where he is. There's a little repetition and overexplaining that feels younger to me. Jack sounds petulant and like he's throwing a bit of a tantrum. It's a fine line to walk.

    Smelling like coffee is an issue? Why? Being tardy is an issue? Why?

    The step-dad has bailed him out for being tardy before? That's interesting even though it seems like a contradiction to what came before.

    It's obvious their relationship is complicated.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I LOVE IT. It's amazing how much I've connected to your MC in this version compared to the first. AWESOME job. You do have several typos/missed words, so go through looking for those. I felt that the line about his dad giving him the car and his stepfather having the power to take it away gives us a great clue to his animosity toward the step father. I suppose you could add some more of that. I knew something was bugging me about the Starbucks line. I'm guessing it's an issue because he walked in LATE smelling like Starbucks. Maybe you should clarify. And I do agree that the magic could be clarified a tad more. I think the key there is to explain why seeing the colors/auras in the dream is different. We get a good idea what they are in his waking life. And the hint that the powers building and might release in a dangerous way is good. We are going to need rules for the magic, but you don't have to fit it all in the first five pages. Just keep what's there logical.
    I wanted to read on so great job!

    ReplyDelete
  4. And I don’t It’s a pattern could snap my mom and step-dad out of their workaholic comas to turn their combined energies into rectifying the problem that is me. --> typos here


    hangover-like pulse in my head --> change pulse to throb


    “Jack? he asks, voice already indignant as he peers around the corner of my open door. “Why are you still here?” --> Missing a quotation mark after "Jack?


    the feeling heightening as my adrenaline prepares to flare --> wondering if heightening should be heightens


    but the magic is still shaking --> but the magic is still shuddering
    This makes the sentence more immediate to me, makes it seem like the magic is more of an threat, shows less control over the situation -- shaking makes me think of a dog shaking off water. Shuddering always makes me think of a bi-plane with engine failure. In my opinion, it looks like you need to make your descriptive words/verbs pack more punch. Just play with your thesaurus a little more.


    My dad bought me that car, and the fact that Brantley can keep it from me just like that sears underneath my skin. I meet Branley’s puke green eyes not even bothering to hide my anger even though he basically gets off on that kind of a response. --> Wordy. Break it up.


    The expression underneath his short salt and pepper hair is definitely not amused. --> Odd phrasing. I'd rework this sentence.


    =======================
    I'm seeing more depth in the main character now, and that was crucial. The first attempt was very sketchy and too cliche. I think, if you can, you should probably pull in more examples of how close to the edge he is...how close the MC is to losing control. It sounds like this is major part of your storyline.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I loved the read. I felt the pacing was easy to follow. I missed some of the colors from his dream and how they related to his feelings, but it is good we're not reading about his dream. You show some of the colors floating around the step dad's head. I find that interesting. Maybe we need a clue if the other characters have the same magic. Do they know he's seeing these colors? I wondered why smelling like a Starbucks is so bad. It is bad he's late, but to relate that to a coffee doesn't fit. This is very interesting and can't wait to see more. Sheri

    ReplyDelete
  6. nice and very amusing post sir keep it up have a very good day i hope

    ReplyDelete

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