Monday, September 10, 2012

7 1st 5 Pages September Workshop - Fyfe Rev 1

Author: Rebecca Fyfe
Genre: Middle Grade
Title: The Necklace

Sandra rummaged through the attic. It smelled musty, and she really just wanted to go watch some tv, but she needed to find some things she could sell at the school charity auction. They were trying to raise money for a local no-kill animal shelter. Sandra’s grandmother had left a lot of junk up here, but Sandra was hoping she’d find some things worthy of the auction.

She sneezed as some of the dust from moving things around drifted into her nose. Her allergies were going to be plaguing her for weeks after this. She moved a box full of dresses to the side to go through later. Jackpot! she thought, looking at the label on the box below that read “jewelery.” Sandra couldn't remember ever seeing her grams without jewelery.

She opened the lid and started pulling out tissue-wrapped jewelery. The first thing unwrapped was an shiny, black ring. The next thing she unwrapped was a charm bracelet. It had five charms on it, a high-heeled shoe, a lucky four-leaf clover, a coin, a heart, and a star. Sandra liked it, but she wanted to help the charity so she added it to the pile of things to go to the school auction. The third thing she unwrapped from within the box was a silver necklace. The necklace itself was a twisted rope chain and the pendant on the necklace was unusual. It was a five-pointed star, and in the center was a round stone. The stone was almost white but it shimmered and sparkled with different colors. Sandra was surprised that it was in such good condition after spending so many years in the box up in this attic. With most of the other jewelry she had found so far, she could tell that they needed polishing. But this looked like it had just been polished and shined.

The opal mesmerized Sandra, and she felt as though she couldn’t help but put it on. Once she had put it around her neck and closed the clasp, she realized it felt oddly comforting. She left it there and continued sorting through the rest of the jewelry in the box. She’d have to check with her mom to make sure she didn’t give away anything her mom wanted to keep, but by the end of her work in the attic, she felt as though she had done well.

She went down the stairs and found her mom in the kitchen preparing dinner. “Hi, Mom,” she said, “I’ve got a bunch of stuff for the charity auction at school. I need you to look through it and make sure I’m not giving away anything you don’t want me to, okay?”

“Sure, hon,” her mom said, "I can't look through it right now though. I've got some reports to finish writing tonight." Sandra was certain just then she heard her say “Great! Another thing to add to my long to-do list." Sandra had been looking right at her while she’d been saying it, and she hadn’t moved her lips or acted as though she was speaking at all. She hadn’t actually said anything, yet Sandra had definitely heard something.
“Mom, did you say something?”

“No, honey. Go get cleaned up. Dinner is almost ready,” her mom replied, and then, with her mom not saying a word, she heard her mom’s voice saying, “You are such a mess from playing around in the attic."

"It's really dusty in there." Sandra defended herself. "It's not my fault I got so dirty!"

"Pardon?" Her mother had a little crinkle in her forehead as she looked at her. Did I just respond to something she thought? Sandra wondered. The necklace was glowing.

As Sandra washed her hands, she looked at herself in the mirror. The necklace was definitely glowing. But the glow was fading. She wrapped her hand around it, without even thinking of what she was doing and it felt warm in her hand. She was very curious about the necklace, but before she could think more about it, her mom called her.

"Sandra, hurry up! Your dinner's going to get cold!"

No matter how much she enjoyed her dinner, Sandra couldn’t stop wondering about the necklace. Where had her grandmother found it? How did it glow? Or was Sandra just imagining its glow and that strange warmth coming from it when she held it? Had she really heard her mom’s thoughts? And if so, what did the necklace have to do with it?

Jasper, her family’s dog, a huge Burmese Mountain dog, started barking loudly, interrupting dinner. That usually meant that someone was at the door. Sure enough, the doorbell rang. None of this surprised Sandra, but what did surprise her was the fact that, along with Jasper’s barking, she heard another voice, a boy’s voice, saying, “Someone’s at the door! Someone’s at the door!” over and over. It took a few minutes before she realized that the voice was Jasper! She was actually hearing Jasper’s thoughts! How was this possible?

Sandra knew that it was the necklace. It had to be! She looked down at the necklae hanging around her neck and that subtle glow was visible again. How was the necklace doing this? She could hear her dog’s thoughts. Could she hear the thoughts of other animals too? While her mom went to answer the door and her dad and brother were busy talking about other things, Sandra covertly unclasped the necklace from around her neck and slipped it into her pocket. She didn’t want to hear anyone else’s thoughts right now because the whole thing was freaking her out. Where had Grams found this necklace? Had Grams known it was magical?

"May I be excused?" Sandra looked at her dad. "I have some homework to finish."

"You're done?" Sandra's dad made a goofy, surprised face at her, "I can't believe you want to leave the table while there are still tacos to be eaten!"

"Very funny, Dad."

Her dad smiled. "Go, do your homework. Your brother and I can take care of the rest of this food." He rubbed his hands together in pretend glee. Sandra couldn't help smiling back at her dad.

On her way to her room, Sandra noticed the voices at the door. Curiosity about who was at the door overcame her. She slipped the neckace back on and tucked it under her shirt. She tiptoed into the hallway, but kept out of sight of her mom and the guest at the door. She peered around the corner and could see her mom's back. Facing her mom was a man in a faded grey suit. His dark hair was slicked back with an abundance of hair gel making it appear greasy and he was scowling.

"You're late with the money, and, if you don't pay up, my next visit will be to start collecting your possessions." But Sandra heard what he was thinking. "I hate this job. Why don't people just pay their bills on time and avoid having to go through this?"

"I'll be caught up by Monday," her mom told the man, but she was thinking, "How am I going to get that much money by Monday?"


  1. This revision is much tighter. I love the interaction between Sandra and her dad. It indicated they have some kind of bond, more so than she has with her mother. I like how you used the father to let the reader know how much she likes tacos. It was an effective tool to show she was so excited about the necklace, she couldn’t eat her dinner.

    The conflict you established between the mom and the bill collector created a great source of tension for the story. I would like to see more of Sandra’s reaction to it though. Does the man’s greasiness give her the creeps; make her not trust him? Do his thoughts indicate that he might do something dangerous to her family if they don’t pay? Where is the dad in all of this? Would this guy banging on the door during dinnertime make him angry? There is a lot of room for more tension. I want to know how the necklace and the money problem tie together.

    You might want to include more emotional depth to Sandra. She really doesn’t have an emotional/physical reaction to finding a glowing necklace, her ability to read minds and the bill collector’s asking for money. Her heart doesn’t beat faster, she doesn’t blush when she tries to hide the necklace’s existence from her mom and a surprise gasp when she realizes she can read her mom’s thoughts as well as her dogs. You do mention how she “feels” but I would rather you show us than tell us. It would add more to her personality and not make her seem so removed from the events. Just a suggestion.

    I hope this is helpful. I would really like to see what comes next.

  2. This version put me in the attic with Sandra. I have dust allergies also and could relate to her there. I liked how she pushed the dresses aside and went for the jewelry. Maybe you could have her remember a couple of pieces of jewelry that she saw her grandmother wear, or that she liked her grandmother to wear.

    I like the dialog between Sandra and her father. This made for a rounder character. I'm still concerned about her relationship with her mother. I just don't care for the negative thoughts of mother. Maybe preface mom's thoughts with something like "I just don't know how I'm going to find time to do this with the problems I (we?) have, but I will."

    Hearing the thoughts of the dog and the man at the door hold promise for later in the story, I hope!

    Good additions and changes.

  3. The structure here is much better, so congrats on giving us a better sense of the story and the situation. I still love the premise and thing you are definitely heading in the right direction.

    I have to say that the biggest problem I see is still the amount of telling versus showing that you're giving us. Because of the shallow POV, we aren't really experiencing the story, and you aren't giving yourself the opportunity to really give Sandra her own, unique voice.You might try rewriting this in 1st person (mot mecessarily for keeps but just to give yourself a sense of what Sandra would be like if you showed her on a deeper level!) That would help you get rid of some of the filter words, too.It's less engaging to say that something smelled musty, for example than it is to show us where the smell was coming from. You did a great job with the sneeze--that's letting us feel it along with your character. Maybe you could also try removing some of the step-by-step action and hinting at aaction through thought or transition instead. That would give you even more room for the fascinating story that's evolving here. :)



  4. This revision is tighter. The little areas that I like are how you show more on the telepathy with her mother and Jasper, the dog.

    What I think still slows this piece down is the telling. I'd almost cut some of the telling at the very beginning, after she finds the jewelry in the attic, and then show us how she figures out she can read minds. You did a good job starting this with the mother but I almost want more.

    Good addition with the dialogue with the father too. The ending with the mystery man did add a little tension but it almost felt like he was added on. Maybe go back and have her read the stress her mother is feeling about this mystery man earlier in the piece. Her mother can be glancing at the clock, fidgeting, or something that will show something isn't quite right.

    I agree with the other comments.

    I liked how you did add the suggestions from last time into your piece. Can't wait to read where this goes!

  5. Wow, great revision! You're really pulling your elements together. I noticed that your getting reader reaction to the effect that they are still feeling a bit distanced from Sandra. I have a couple of suggestions about that. First, how about having Sandra either write you a letter or write herself a diary entry where she describes how she felt while all this was happening. "When Jasper started talking, I nearly fainted!" or "When the bill collector started hassling my mom, I wondered if he could hear what I was thinking. Because it involved a bazooka." Or something like similar.

    Then I would take those feelings and try writing the story in first person. That will force you to really get close to Sandra and to make the story unfold as it occurs, rather than summarizing sections of it.

    What do you think?

    I really liked it! More!


  6. Awesome tip, Nancy! :) Great way to deepen the POV.

  7. Great suggestion from others about doing an exercise re-writing this in first person, a great way to get ideas for how to get us closer to Sandra and develop her voice more. But definitely keep the final result in third person, as you have it now, I really like it!

    I love the addition about her Grams always wearing jewelry, and this might be just the spot for us to get "closer" to Sandra by having her share some thoughts about Grams. Does she miss her? Does she feel a little guilty about giving her jewelry away, even if it is for a good cause?

    This sentence felt awkward: Sandra was certain just then she heard her say “Great! Another thing to add to my long to-do list." I think maybe if you added some motion/body language to this sentence it would help. Something like "Her mother sliced a carrot and a piece fell to the ground. As she stooped to pick it up, Sandra heard her add "Great!.. etc.

    Another small thing: "Did I just respond to something she thought? Sandra wondered. The necklace was glowing." You are telling us the necklace is glowing instead of showing us. Maybe she feels something first, looks down and notices the necklace is glowing.

    The rest of it I really like, esp. her Dad!


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