Tuesday, February 21, 2012

4 1st 5 Pages February Workshop - Wilson Rev 2


Martina wanted me to try to explain my rationale for starting with Koral instead of my protagonist, Lyndon, and get your thoughts. After this, at Martina's suggestions, I've provided the first page of Chapter 2, which begins Lyndon's POV.

After that scene with the siblings in Chapter 1, an old woman and a man in a black cloak appear on Koral's doorstep. Sensing something paranormal is about to happen, Koral gets excited and lets them in. She thinks this is her moment to finally shine as a psychic. Instead, the old woman's hand melts, and she coughs out black, tar-like phlegm. The chapter ends when the man in the cloak tells her to find Lyndon Harker because only he can save the old woman. The next chapter begins with Lyndon and he meets Koral, who has sought him out. Koral is essentially Lyndon's sidekick throughout the book. I switch POVs, from Lyndon and Koral (as well as three others) throughout the novel.

If I were to start with Lyndon, this scene would need to be told as back story or a flashback, both of which I'm not inclined to do so early in the story. Also, as Lyndon is not willing to believe Koral's story of old women with melting hands and men in black cloaks in the beginning, I wanted the reader to have the information firsthand from Koral. As she is a main character, second only to Lyndon, I need the readers to empathize with her rather than think she's insane like Lyndon initially will.

Start Chapter 2:

Lyndon Harker's living room was covered in mounds of paper. Shredded paper to be exact. Lyndon counted dozens of tiny mounds of ripped up, cut up, and obliterated stationery scattered about the apartment. Mostly unused telephone books and out-of-date magazines. His home looked like a mole field.

"Isaac," he sighed, shutting the front door. He glanced into the open kitchen and saw the oven clock: 3:02. His interview was in twenty-eight minutes. He didn't have time for this. His unexpected lunch shift had cost him enough time.

He could hear his brother grunting back in his own room. Lyndon dropped his server's apron next to the front door, crossed to Isaac's room, and knocked.

"Hey, Eyes," he said, using his brother's nickname. "You in there?"

The grunting continued but there was no response. Lyndon considered this permission to enter.

Lyndon Harker's twin brother sat on the floor with a pair of scissors in one hand and a half-annihilated book in the other. Isaac was going to town ripping the text to pieces. A sliver of his tongue poked through his lips as he sliced into at least fifty pages at a time — it was a rather thick book. Thicker, Lyndon noticed, than the destroyed phone books and magazines in the living room. . . .

"Wait! No!"

Lyndon realized what Isaac was chopping into and scrambled for it. Isaac jumped back, flinging the scissors behind him. Lyndon grabbed the remaining half of the text book from his brother, but it was too late. Mass Media in the 21st Century: 3rd Edition had been cut down the middle. It now read, "Mass Me in 3rd Ed."


  1. Rhen,

    I love this. The characters are unique and this reads naturally and well. I had a little trouble with the mechanics of the Mass Media book being thicker than a phone but being destroyed in fifty pages. Can you make it a little clearer that most of the book was already cut in half? We don't want to have to stop and think about it.

    That's the easy part.

    As far as the rest goes, I still believe that the first scene doesn't add much. If Lyndon is your mc, I would recommend writing the scene between your psychic and the old woman and man who set her on the journey and using that as a prologue. That, in my opinion which isn't necessarily worth a damn thing, is a valid use of a prologue. And then launch into your mc's point of view, which is delightful. I feel for him so much after this first page!

    This is shaping up to be a book with a lot of potential, and I think you have a lot of talent. I'm still not sure about marketing this as YA.

    Looking forward to hearing other thoughts, and seeing what you ultimately decide to do!



  2. I have to say, I'm torn. It's not typically "done" this way, but I can't possibly tell you whether to go for it or not based on what I've seen. I wish I had the time for a Beta read. I think it's obvious you are a good writer. And as many people that there are who tell you the "rules" you have to follow, there are several that do it their own way and succeed. It may be a tough sell, is all I can say. If you're switching POVs, I understand that better. I still hesitate, like Martina, at calling this YA. That's just my two cents though.

    I hate to sound like a parrot with Martina, but the phonebook thickness was truly the only thing that stood out to me in this page. Again, your writing is good. I wish you best of luck! I hope I'm wrong, and that I find this in print someday soon.

  3. Hi Rhen!

    As you know, I really like your first chapter. However, upon reflection, I think that it would make sense to really summarize the interaction with the brother and sister into one paragraph that stresses Koral's endearing responses to them. That way, it would be quickly clear to the reader what kind of story this is and it would make sure that the ones who will appreciate this kind of story the most will keep reading.

    I also really liked the Lyndon POV (although I was kind of hoping he would be more squarely YA and he seems to be in college). The only thing that stopped me was trying to imagine someone cutting through 50 pages at once. That seems very hard to do, and kind of makes my hands hurt thinking about it. :)

    So, as a reader I would prefer to read a shortened version of Koral's chapter (so it basically works as a prologue), and then move on to Lyndon's because I certainly see your point about why we need to see the melting woman from Koral's perspective. That means that you probably wouldn't have luck with any of the agents who categorically hate prologues, but I have the feeling there are plenty of agents who are more ambivalent about it.

    Good luck!

  4. I love this! I'm not sure why I sympathize with Lyndon so quickly, but I think it's because I can feel how overwhelmed he is, checking the time, trying to balance a job, school, an interview, and caring for his brother. He seems tired and I know exactly how he feels! Which is what you want your reader to feel.

    Believe it or not, this is a much stronger beginning than Koral. Honestly, if you cut the Koral scene entirely and just have her tell Lyndon what she saw, you wouldn't lose anything. I know you're concerned that the reader will be as doubtful as Lyndon will be when she tells him about it, but is that really such a bad thing? Doubting Koral's veracity would add tension for the reader, a sense of mystery that would keep him/her reading to find out if Koral is really crazy or if she actually saw what she says she did. Obviously, you know your book better than we do, but if it's not critical that the reader know for an absolute certainty that Koral saw it, then consider leaving it out altogether.

    About the YA/not-YA, just write the story that's in you and worry about the market later. If the guy is in college, he's in college. I read an entire Nancy Drew series where she was in college when I was in high school. I have no idea if it will fly with publishers, but who does these days? And if there's a "new adult" genre that a publisher wants to put your story into, maybe yours will be the breakout book that makes that genre popular. The upshot is that though it's important for you to have a sense of the market and where your book fits into it, your agent/editor will help you find the right niche when it's time.

    Great stuff! :-D


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