Monday, December 19, 2011

7 1st 5 Pages December Workshop - Shelley, Rev 2

YA Mystery/Suspense

Chapter one-revision 2

I didn’t actually see Lucky get stuffed into the trunk of the cop car.
But Greer did.

“Kenny, get up. Come on.” She tugged on my right hand where the
knuckles were scraped raw from the parking lot pavement. I could see
Greer’s cheeks, shiny with tears, from the streetlight. The smell of
exhaust still hung above us and I could hear light rustling in the
bushes from the field mice collecting their dinner.

“Ow! Ow!” I was pretty sure I had a couple of cracked ribs.

“Will you get up? They took him. I saw them. Did you see them?” She
paced above me her voice a tinny wail in the dark. I rolled over onto
all fours, and accessed new pain points. Then Greer’s voice came low
and soft. “They put him in the trunk.”

She wasn’t making sense. But then she was Greer, and Lucky wasn’t
going out with her for her sense-making.

I pulled myself up using the handle on my brother’s Dodge truck. The
truck the three of us had been “borrowing” all summer. “I wonder why
they took Lucky and not all of us?” I said, still digesting the small
marijuana cigarette I’d swallowed when the police car first pulled into
the empty parking lot.

“It wasn’t like that. Like a real arrest. Something’s wrong.” Greer
was like a frenzied shark in a tank. Back and forth, back and forth.
She was making me dizzy.

The cop who’d made a dent in my kneecap with his boot had asked me,
“What do you know?” And I began to wonder if there was more to that

“Get up. We have to follow them,” Greer stomped her sandaled foot.

“Oh, yes. So they can finish what they started with the rearrangement
of my face.” Luckily I’d left my glasses back at work and wore my
contacts, or I’d be blind and broken. This way I was just broken.

“Kenny!” Greer’s voice bordered on hysteria.

“Listen, if he’s been arrested then we’ll just go down to the police
department and get him. Okay?”

But what Greer said kept echoing in my mind. Something didn’t fit.
Greer’s words. The word: trunk.

Cops arrest people and put them in the back seat, not the trunk. And
cops don’t beat teens up just for hanging out at Strathmen Park on
Labor Day weekend, right?

“Right Kenny?” Greer hadn’t stopped chattering. Or moving.

I spewed saliva on the pavement below me, the unmistaken taste of blood
on my tongue. “Listen, are you okay?” I remembered seeing Greer
shoved up against the door of the Dodge, by one of the two cops and
hearing him suggest they needed time “alone.” “I mean really okay?”

She ignored me. “Where’re the car keys?”



“It’s a truck, not a car.”

When I finally teetered to a standing position, I grabbed her and held
her close, feeling her body wiggle and squirm. “Look in my eyes. Are
you okay?”

She wasn’t. Greer slumped against me, and if I hadn’t been holding her
she would have fallen to the ground. I hugged her for a long time.
Until she was quiet and stopped moving. Finally she looked up into my
face. “What just happened?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know. But you’re right about one thing.
Something is wrong.”

“Maybe they’re not real police?” Greer moved away from me, calmer now,
and leaned against the truck.

“Maybe,” I said. I thought back over the evening. At the restaurant,
where Lucky and I both worked, he had said he had something to tell me.
I didn’t think much about it at the time, but now I wondered if I
should have paid closer attention.

“Listen,” I moved toward Greer. “Did that cop, you know, touch you?
Like, should we go to a doctor, or, I don’t know, something?”

The corners of her mouth actually turned up in a tiny smile. “I’m
fine. He was definitely stepping over the line, but, nothing I can’t
handle.” Greer retrieved a cigarette from her shoulder bag, which
she’s never without, lit it and took a deep drag. She shrugged. “We
have to go to the police station and get Lucky.”

“Yeah, but will he be there?”

Frogs bellowed their loud croaks from the small pond inside Strathmen
Park. I’d been coming to this park my whole life and now it looked
totally different. Forever.

“We have to try.” Greer dropped the practically whole cigarette on the
ground and twisted her foot on top of it.

It felt like I might be broken in half, and a knot on my head ached.
“First I take a shower. Do you want me to take you home? Or do you
want to wait for me at my house?”

“What about your Mom?”

Greer didn’t ask about my father because the entire town of Walburn
knew he sat in a jail cell for the murder of a policeman in our
restaurant eight years ago. He didn’t do it, of course, but he’d sat
in a jail cell just the same for the whole Labor Day weekend, which
meant that I had pretty much run Panteria’s, our family restaurant.
And because the murder happened in our restaurant right at table six,
Dad’s arrest had reminded Walburn’s towns-people, and every Lookie-lou,
to come out and see. Good for business, I guess. I’d wanted to go
graphic and share with diners about blood and Alfredo sauce, but I
figured it was a little over the top.

“Mom’s at the hospital with Ben. House is empty. Of course, if you
don’t trust me,” I spread my hands. Greer and Lucky had been going out
for about six months. She drove me crazy with her constant
conversation and questions, and I wasn’t sure Lucky was in it for love.
But Greer was cute. She had long dark, almost black hair, that made
her skin look like cream, and bright blue eyes. She was more than
cute. But the talking was definitely a drawback.

“You? What’s not to trust? Besides, I’d tell Lucky if you tried
anything,” and as soon as she said it we both were quiet.

“Let’s go,” I said, digging the keys out of my pocket. Greer went
around to the passenger side and pulled the door open.

We drove down the streets of Walburn without talking, which for Greer
was a pretty amazing feat. Tomorrow it was back to school, my junior
year, and I would face it with a body of bruises. And where the hell
was Lucky? Not exactly how I’d planned my first day back, but the
whole weekend had been work and worry. I knew I had to get up
especially early to run to the restaurant and make a bank deposit
before school started. I’d left all the money from the weekend in a
drawer in dad’s desk. Now I wondered if I’d ever make it to bed?

Our house was dark when we pulled into the driveway and I began to
worry. Were the cops here waiting for me? Maybe they’d meant to take
me at the park, had to leave quickly, so they came to get me at home.

My head throbbed, and I was tired of working the broken flap of skin at
the corner of my mouth. “You know, you can lay down in my brother’s
room and rest while I take a shower and get cleaned up.”

Greer nodded but her eyes were shiny and I think we both knew she
wouldn’t be able to sleep. “I just can’t get that picture of him being
thrown in the trunk of the car.” She shivered.

I shivered, too. The cop had asked me before grazing my cheek with his
fist. “What do you know?” What do I know?


  1. WOW!!! Love this revision! It's so strong and maintains the strength of voice you already had down. I love that you start with action and fill in as you go along.
    The only thing I'd still comment on was the info dumps about his dad and taking care of the restaurant. My suggestion would be to really think about what HAS to be in the opening and save the rest for later. I don't know if it's crucial or not since I don't have the luxury of knowing what's next but that part and the part about starting school and needing to swing by the restaurant in the morning pulled me out of the story.
    Great Job!!

  2. I agree that this opening is awesome. Word of caution though - it's tough to start in the middle of action like that and make people care, and to be completely honest I don't know if it worked for me because it was right, or because I already had the background from your previous versions. Sorry! Only the one paragraph bothered me - the info dumpy one filling in the info about Dad. The last line of that paragraph, though humorous felt a bit out of place considering the situation too. I love the part when he hugs Greer to calm her down, but she didn't seem freaked out enough just prior to that. The truck vs. car thing wasn't out there enough to show us that. Go stronger. I really love your MC and his voice. Great job.

  3. I thought this was GREAT. A real step forward. The voice and the details are just as clear and wonderful, but the action is much stronger. It read beautifully up to the shower line and the exposition of the backstory. You need to motivate the shower line better, but I think you can do that with him needing time to think, and then maybe go ahead and move him to his house directly -- show the trust issue in dialogue -- and then have him trying to decide how to handle things while he's in the shower, trying to process what the cops will do if they go to the police station, trying to decide if it was cops that took his friend and if they were off duty or on duty and what it would mean for his dad versus the danger to his friend. Weave in the exposition in slivers among the decisions that he needs to make, that way it becomes inner conflict rather than backstory. I think that's a relatively easy fix.

    Look forward to seeing it again.


  4. Dynamite action going on at the opening. It drew me in immediately. This is an opening that would make me want to continue reading. One thing you might want to change is the way Greer's dialogue echoes what you've already told us about Lucky's abduction. I'd keep the hook "the trunk," because that was really strong for me, but lose some of the repeated details. You're getting there. Good revision! --Sandi

  5. This experience has been so amazingly helpful for me. I cannot express how everyone's thoughts and feedback has helped me. I've learned so much. You can revise till the cows come home but if you don't know what you're doing wrong, what's the point? Thanks to everyone and to Martina And Lisa Gail Green for putting this on. Shelley

  6. This was so strong. Great revision! One thing I'd suggest is adding in why they thought the people were cops in the first place. That little detail, I think, would make it more clear for me to picture. I agree with what they've said about the shower & the paragraph afterwards too, but otherwise? Love this so much! Can't wait to see where your next revision will take Kenny.

  7. I love how this starts with action... but what if it could begin in the middle of the action instead of *just after* the action. I almost feel like I'm missing too much of what happened in order to ground me in the situation. And I don't think it would require much, just a hair more at the tail end of everything and watching Lucky get stuffed in the trunk might help.

    I agree that it flows well after that. I don't know that I got a ton of emotion or POV out of Kenny... but he did just get beat up pretty bad, so his mind probably isn't completely lucid.

    Another comment is that toward the end of the selection, there seems to be some info dump paragraphs... I might try to find a more deft way of getting that info in.

    Overall great revision.


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