Thursday, June 24, 2010

21 NEW! Line-By-Line Contest: Round One Critique Clinic

If you entered our Line-By-Line contest but didn't make it past Round One, we have an amazing announcement for you! Inspired by Michele Shaw's post today about how losing the Line-by-line contest helped her see the problems with her novel opening, we have decided to extend critiques to those who need them the most.

A number of incredibly generous authors have agreed to host a critique clinic for the 25 who didn't make it through to Round Two. If you are one of those individuals, and you're interested in participating, post your first five lines in the comments of this post by Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. We will put them up on Tuesday for input from our panel of authors and other writers interested in helping you make your opening more compelling.

We'll be posting bios of the participating authors on Tuesday. Some of them are already scheduled to do the other contest critiques, but we have some exciting additions, too. Don't miss this opportunity!

Happy editing,

Martina & Marissa


  1. Hey, coolies, what a great opportunity! I can't imagine anyone not taking advantage of more feedback. My rejecto-line with the other 4:

    No…no way. She couldn't be seeing this.
    Rylee Spencer made a strangled noise and a comment that was unrepeatable in polite company. She frowned at the closed bathroom door. Was it too much to expect, to get up this morning and be able to get into the bathroom?

  2. Awesome idea! Sounds like a great opportunity to get some professional feedback.

  3. THANK YOU! (Yes, I'm yelling) Obviously, by my blog, you know my first line is different since I murdered the first page.

    #23 (revised)
    Beads of sweat popped out above my lip. Not good, because Sweaty Lip Syndrome, my unofficial medical term, was the first sign I was going to fall apart. It started when the secretary interrupted my fourth period AP English class. Her voice came over the intercom in pops and squeaks when she said, "Tell Colleen Anderson she needs to leave with her mother for a dental appointment." No one knew about the ruse, that my mother was gone and my aunt, Zia, now played the part.

    There it is. Please pick, pick, pick

  4. What a wonderful opportunity! I really appreciate it.


    My papers scattered everywhere, and my books fell with a loud thud. I braced my arms for impact against the cold, hard floor. Snatching my belongings, I glared at the culprit, a senior football player.

    “Look at the freak.” He snickered, elbowing a friend.

  5. Great idea--see proof of awesome, right here, people!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  6. Thanks this is a great opportunity!


    I was in the kitchen flipping blueberry pancakes on the griddle when I saw her for the first time. Well, it wasn’t quite that I saw her at first, but I felt her. The hairs on my arms prickled up, the air pressure in the room dropped like it does just before an electrical storm, and I got that warm, tingly “being observed” feeling that happens when you know someone is standing just a few behind you. Mom was upstairs and Dad had already left for work, so besides my cat Muffin there was no logical reason that I shouldn’t be in the kitchen alone. I turned my head slightly to the side and it was then that I could just barely see her out of the corner of my eye –- my grandmother’s Blue Angel.

  7. Wow, thanks for doing this! Here goes (#37):

    He just didn’t get it.

    The cute new guy in the desk next to mine kept waving at me. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but during one of Mr. Bhatia’s math tests it was a total don’t.

    I risked a glance to the front of the classroom. Our teacher focused on the back row—probably eyeballing one of the delinquents who forgot it was a test day and showed up.

  8. I think it's great that you're offering this too so we are all winners. It's so important to feel that in writing where there's so many "nos."

  9. Thanks a lot of this opportunity! I changed mines up a tad since then but here's mines!


    How does this start again? Oh right…Once Upon A Time, (notice the capital letters) there lived a king and queen of a quaint little country. It used to be vast and plentiful, but much of it was sold off to cover the king’s gambling debts as well as the queen’s fondness for golden rosebushes.

    Yet for all their imperfections, selfishness, and arguments about being imperfect, these two could not love each other more.
    It required too much work to try.

  10. #32

    I can’t believe I found you! And I thought the Ides of March were ‘sposed to be bad luck or something.

    But when Tamiko and me were surfing the net during guided study today and saw your picture on your website, I knew you had to be my dad’s older brother. And it’s not just because you have the right name, you look EXACTLY like him, so I KNOW you have to be my uncle. Please write me.

  11. (#99)

    After high school, we were going to move to Austin. We were going to forego college and get a tiny, unglamorous apartment that would barely hold our bodies and our instruments. Bit by bit, we told ourselves, we'd break into the business. We wouldn't be stars - that was too ambitious - but we'd be something. We'd be musicians, real ones, with fans outside of our school district.

  12. OMG, Thank you so much Martina for letting me know!


    Without a word, the guards brought her in, hard hands shoving her forward as they closed the door behind them. Axia wanted to tell them how unhappy Master Malit would be to find them rough handling his property like this but the echoes of the clanging door were already fading around her, leaving her in silence and solitude. As a born Owned, solitude was something she was used to, fighting in the arena being her only purpose.

    She shrugged, loosening her shoulders and making the bones of her neck crack. Ionic energy shackles bound her wrists, their dull glow barely piercing the darkness of the cell.

  13. Thanks for the DM, M&M. I'm behind on my blog reading, what with the kiddos being out of school. One suggestion for next time: Titles and or genre posted with the line(s). Thx for the extra opp!


    “All cockroaches step forward,” a voice barked.

    My heart dropped into my stomach at the command. How could anyone call people that? Didn’t these boys in their torn and dirty clothing recognize us as human beings?

    No one moved.

  14. Thanks for this!


    Celia never meant to lie. And besides, it wasn’t a big lie. Really, how bad could it be to impersonate the daughter of a famous author? OK, a famous dead author.

    It had all happened so quickly.

  15. Thanks for this. :)

    The warm rain spattered Eric’s face and dripped from his eyebrows and nose. It was the last time he’d ever feel it.

    Unless, of course, they would let him outside the City sometimes. That wasn’t likely, though; he’d read enough, heard enough, to understand that life in the City was completely self-contained, sealed for everyone’s safety and happiness. Eric failed to see how anyone could be happy in a place without rain or wind or rich, dark soil.

  16. Wow, a lot of these beginnnings are awesome. I'm sorry they never made it into the next round.

  17. Thank you sir, may I have another? I was #49 but after some deep thoughts, I've reworked it. Here's my five (have at it):

    Most things came naturally to Rett Adams and, shoot, he could find trouble faster than most kids could spell it. He fished a small rock out of the grass by the playground. The girl by the monkey bars rubbed her arm while tears slid down her cheeks. He watched the pack of sixth-grade boys huddled on the grass plotting their next victim. It had to stop, but starting something with Cole Williams wasn't like spitting paper wads at Mr. Ector—there were going to be consequences.

  18. thanks for the offer of further help. chop 'er up!


    Riley Razer has issues and they’re not minor.

    “Hurry up, Colle…Craig…” her mom, Sue, says.

    Riley’s spoon stops halfway to her mouth. “Me?” She looks around to find she is the only other person in the kitchen.

  19. This is a great opportunity-thank you. I was #64. I've revised a bit. Here are my 5 sentences.

    Slowly I pushed the door all the way open and craned my neck to peer inside. All the crime books I’d ever read stated never to go inside and to call the police from a neighbor’s house. I intended to do just that until I saw a running shoe with purple laces out of the corner of my eye.
    I rushed inside and my world froze.
    I couldn’t process what I was seeing.

  20. Thank you, thank you, for offering your critiques!! Have also revised my first paragraph!
    Here’s the thing about new beginnings: they’re not easy, no matter how brave you pretend to be. Take my first day of fifth grade, for example. There I was, gathering my ponytail in one hand while I picked up the scissors with the other, ready to chop off all my hair with one graceful snip. But as soon as I glanced at the photo on my dresser of Anna, I couldn’t help thinking about that day back in third grade when we walked into Sassy Salon. Arm-in-arm, wearing our Best Friends necklaces.

  21. The man shook violently. His eyes rolled in their sockets and his body went limp and thudded to the floor. His tongue hung out of his mouth. It looked like it was growing.
    I rubbed my eyes.


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