Monday, October 11, 2010

Hook, Line and Sink...

Blogfest time.

About the Blogfest
This awesome idea is from the blog of . "You are to post 1000 words (a little more won't kill us), from the opening of any manuscript you have written. If that's the prologue, then post it. If that's chapter one, post it." Somehow I managed to get a 900+ word entry because it was hard to pick a location to stop since the new first chapter is over 2k long.

The Novel
While I've been using Cinder Story for blogfests, I don't have a set beginning since each entry so far has been written barely in time for them. So, I'm going to post the first pages of the YA novel that I'm rewriting. It is the second draft but hasn't been edited really since the rewrite because I'm currently on chapter 13. Contemplating a possible change in tense to past but nothing is decided yet. The novel is called Tattle Tell and it is the first book in what I hope will be a series, The Young Rogues of Revolution.

The Beginning

"Look what I can do."

A shiny copper coin spins across the school lunch table, almost grazing Ephram's left knuckle. He glances up from his book he was reading as he waits for the first bell of the day to ring marking the start of the school day. He felt his stomach sink at the sight before him.

Levi stands on the other side of the table, a group surrounding him while he holds his hand above the spinning coin. As he concentrates, the coin changes directions. The spin slows down to an almost impossible rotation speed before increasing again.

Only one thing could give Levi that ability and that one thing makes Ephram sink in dread. It meant mutation. Under any other circumstances, he would feel relief to find another one like him, but that's not the case. Only one thing happens when he sees someone else with a genetic mutation and that one thing was a report to the men in suits.

"What do you think, Eph-man?"

The use of Levi's nickname for him brings Ephram's attention back to the moment. He looks up at Levi as he tries to come up with a good response. "Uh, yeah. Neat." He did his best to hide the fear that had started to build within.

It was only a matter of time before the suits would be at Ephram's parents' house and he'd have no choice. He had to tell them whenever he saw any new mutant activity no matter the age, type of mutation or any possible association. His friendship with Levi wouldn't be enough to keep him from having to tell. All he could do is hope that he would come back; not all returned.

Sounds of bells echoing from the building save him. Grabbing his books, he is able to run inside and not have to say anything more to his friend.

Math is his unfortunate first class of the day and one of the many he shares with Levi. Even though it's a subject Ephram does well at, he is unable to focus today. His mind drifts in and out as he pays more attention to Levi than the teacher.

Half way through the class, Levi glances back. He smiles and makes a beak shape with his hand, moving it open and closed.

Ephram smiles but it is fake. The joke is an old one of theirs because Levi always said that the math teacher talks too much and while he once thought it was funny, all he can think about is the soon to be betrayal. It had never bothered him to tell on others to the men in suits. This time, however, is different. He feels aching sensations but knows no cure. As he continues to focus on Levi, another feeling is added to the mix: awkwardness. He's never focused on someone so long before and feels weird. It's almost like he'd never looked a Levi before. He sees him in a whole new light with no idea how to understand the feelings that mixed within.

"Turn in your assignments." The teacher quit writing on the board long enough to get the attention of most the class by her demand.

Handing in his assignment, Ephram leaves the room to continue the rest of the morning. He learns nothing from any of them and is relieved to reach the lunch break. But he doesn't sit with Levi. Instead he sits alone to eat his lunch.

"Mind if I sit here?"

He shakes his head no, as he watches Carrie sit down at the table. Her blonde-red curls bounce, restrained only by the pink ribbons that are in place on both sides of her head. She gives him a bright smile before opening her lunch pail.

"How are you today, Ephram?" She pulls a wrapped sandwich from her pail and begins to undress it.

"I'm fine." He barely grazes his food as he takes another glance at Levi, who has chosen a table nearby. He tries not to stare and returns his gaze to Carrie. He does notice that he has her full attention but isn't sure why. At last he adds, "How are you?"

"Good. That math assignment took me forever to finish last night. Did you get number fifteen?" She asks the question but doesn't give time for a response. "Well, I didn't at all. I gave it a try and even asked my dad but don't know if it's right. She talks too much in class cause I can't even stand listening to her for the whole class period. Ready for art class?" She takes a break to breathe.

Ephram nods, getting a few words in between the few bites he takes of his special wrap. "Yeah. I'm always ready for fine arts class." He's not sure why but he prefers to use the official class name instead of the shortened version.

Laughter takes his attention away again. He glanced over at Levi's table to see him laughing, his body moving with the chuckles. It strikes him as odd. Odd to see another mutant and one that isn't sullen. One that seems to be happy. He can't help but wonder how long it would last.

Something touches his hand and he turns back to Carrie. Her hand is next to his and holds a small packaged candy.

"Here." She offers it to him. "Mom gave me two and I don't want them both."

"Thanks." He takes the candy and gives her a small smile. This feels so weird to him but it's kind of nice. Pulling the wrapper off, he eats it while watching Carrie his attention now on her alone. She talks more while he wonders what all the new attention might mean. He spends the rest of his lunch break with her.


Francine said...


I have to say I'm not sure l like Ephram, he comes across a snark (informant).

There's definitely a hook, a line, and I'm routing for Levi. Probably the wrong sinker, but he's the one I want to read on to learm more about. ;)


Summer Ross said...

Hey there- I have some thoughts on this one for you- i know its a rough draft- so I'll point out what I see- in the first paragraph..last line: "He felt his stomach sink at the sight before him."~~ You could make the sentence stronger by saying "his stomach sank" instead.

I am very curious to read more but my sympathies aren't with the narrator yet- they are with Levi like Francine.

I'm not sure if this is supposed to be written in present or past tense because you have both included.

all i all a pretty good start. I was hooked into reading it, feeling for levi...qave a great day

Justin W. Parente said...

Hi there Dawn!

Thanks for posting. I always wanted to read into the heart of your mutation story, and this was a good first look. I do have a strange bias against present tense writing. It's hard for me to get used to. I think I'm in agreement with Francine and Summer. Ephram is certainly cool to me, but in a strange, put-offish way. I feel like it may take a few chapters in to really let me like him. But that is the point of this hook blogfest. The pace was normal and the writing suffered only minor grammatical slips.

I do believe that if I read more, I might begin to like Ephram. You mention his involvement with this group who tags mutant show ups. That grabbed me. Okay, younger kid working for some big bad agency. Looks good.

Thanks for sharing this first look into your character.

In My Write Mind

stu said...

In the last part, you set up the relationship between Ephram and Carrie really well.

I think perhaps I would like more of this background before Ephram learns what his friend can do. Certainly before he realises that he must turn him in. That way, we acquire some sympathy with him before he has to make a difficult choice.

Jodi Henry said...

I am on the other side of the fence on this about Ephram--nice name choice, I have a cousin with this name. I always like the tortured characters and Ephram, with his lack of feeling, falls into this catagory for me.

Levi is a point of interest, but Ephram give us the internal struggling I love in characters.

This is a great hook. I, however, do not like present tense. To me it is hard to read. It takes me out of the 'moment' becuase it's jarring to read.

Nice job.


Carolyn Abiad said...

I'm curious about Ephram at this point. As the others mentioned, the tense changes pull me out of the story. I think you could condense the whole Levi thing because he's stealing momentum from Ephram.

Brenda Drake said...

I feel for Ephram, he's forced to turn kids in for being mutants. He's a little indifferent about the others he's ratted out, but he's struggling with having to turn in Levi. I love characters who change through out the story--so I think Ephram is going to become a hero or something, which makes me want to follow his journey. That said, this is a YA? What age group? The voice at times sounds too old especially if it's intended to be in present tense, yet the actions seem too young for teens. A good example of a fourteen-year-old boy's voice is in Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon, an excellent read if you haven't read it yet.

Other than that, I love the premise and can picture it going some awesome places. Good luck with the revisions! :D

j.leigh.bailey said...

I'm definitely intrigued and would want to know more. I think you could garner a bit more sympathy for Ephram if you amp up the guilt a bit more--he doesn't really sound conflicted about having to rat out his friend. Maybe get into the consequences or why it's impossible not to report him. What happens if he tries to hide it instead? That kind of thing. But I do like the premise a lot. I wasn't as drawn to Levi as some of the others here, I just wish I could have felt more for Ephram. But I certainly want to know more and would keep on reading, so you've Hooked me. :D

Christopher S. Ledbetter said...

Good work. Definitely pulls me in. I want to find out how Ephram and Levi change because of this revelation. DO they become mortal enemies...? do they figure out that they're on the same team and work together...? Ephram's internal struggle is a classic one.

Mesmerix said...

This was very interesting. I love the idea of mutants and some sort of controlling agency rooting them out. You definitely give a good hook as to how this story might progress and what the conflict will be.

Watch out in your dialogue for complete sentences. People don't talk like that. Revert to fragments and do away with the, "Hi, how are you?" introductions. Go straight into the meat of the conversation. It may seem awkward to you at first, but dialogue is half real speak, half fake, a language all unto itself. It should also always be a conflict, the speakers having opposing motivations. If dialogue gets boring, drop it into narration. Example, "Carrie rambled on at mach speed about things Ephram didn't care about." You can use things like that to sum up what would otherwise be stilted dialogue.

I hope this helps you. This concept has great potential. Best of luck!

Dawn Embers said...

Thanks everyone. Since most the comments link together I'm going to give some broad answers. My first rewrite's focus has been on changing it from first person to third. It's supposed to be in present tense but the other novels I'm writing are in past tense so during the writing I accidentally mix, which is one reason why this needs an edit. I'm trying to decide if it's going to stay in present tense since there seems to be a bias against present and I'm not longer keeping the books in first person pov.

The good news is, everyone sounds interested even with the points on contention (the rest of the chapter has Ephram's regret as does what the days after he tells and waits to see if Levi returns). I'd add more in front but I don't want to move the inciting incident too far back so we'll see how edits and other revisions go.

stu - in the first draft, she wasn't brought in till much later actually, though it feels weird seeing it labeled a relationship. They are just friends though there is a point where they kind of date though it's done before he really knows it happened. It's probably more weird for me cause I know what happens to him in the next books as far as dating goes.

Brenda - that's something I need to figure out. He was supposed to be younger back when I wrote the first draft but I'm thinking now he can be maybe 15. Even when I write adult people sometimes have issues with the way things are said and sentences are formed, so we'll see how it turns out. He can't be older really due to the things that go on in the series, so I've gotta make it sound like he's fifteen even though I don't often write YA.

For others, some of your requests are in the novel and some in the rest of the first chapter. Just have to wait. ;-)

Tessa Conte said...

*sniffs* no Cinders? *wipes away tear*

But hey, that was great! While I'm not entirely certain I like Ephraim -because he doesn't seem all that deeply affected by his 'snitching' - I'm certainly intrigued.

Carrie's appearance is interesting - potential girlfriend of Ephraim, though thinking about Cinders' m/m line, I think maybe she's just a friend friend.

I'd definately keep reading after this opening, so well done! You've got me hooked!

Dawn Embers said...

Tessa - Yes, sorry to disappoint you by not having Cinder. Have to wait for the next one or so. Wait till you see the actual part of the story where he's supposed to snitch. I promise it isn't easy for him and the regret afterwards sucks. Glad you enjoy it and hope I fix it enough to keep a reader interested.

Sash said...

Hey there,

Nice work, Dawn! First time I'm here (though I'm going to have to look for the Cinders story now) and I'm definately coming back.

You have a very nice writing voice, and although, like the others up there, I'm not entirely in Ephraim's corner just yet, you definately have me interested enough to buy the book to find out what's happening.


Dawn Embers said...

Sash - Thank you and welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy what you find here and future posts. :-)

WritesMyLife said...

I love the name Ephram..ever since I heard it on the show of my future non-existent kids is going to be named Ephram.

Anyway, I like the mutant story, just curious as to how Ephram became an informant to the "suits" and why he HAS to tell on those that he sees, even someone he claims is a friend..pretty grimy >(

And what time period is this book based in? I ask because his response to Levi's coin spinning is "Neat" I doubt kids say that these days..I hear more: dope, cool, it's aight, or even, it's okay (then again, this could all just be me).

I love the intro..similar to mine where there is a one line chapter seems right for your story. Just like you, I am also in the editing's hard to ever imagine a ms that is actually "ready" for an agent to look at when there is so much info that one can find online and this either leads to more editing or revising..seems to be an endless cycle but I can tell you are well on your way to getting your work tweaked.

Good luck!

Dawn Embers said...

S.M. - Thanks for the comment. It's actually in the future, so I'm not sure what words to use.

Donna Hole said...

When it comes to character building, you have a patent on it. I clearly see Ephram and Levi.

Especially the differences, and Ephrams longing to integrate.

I'm not one to be put off by the MC seeming villany. Some novels are about the personal growth of the character, and not all growth starts with a wimp with potential and ends with a viable hero.

Ephram feels like a character that is questioning all his biased beliefs. He has connected with another character in a way that intrigues him, brings up his own moral and character flaws. He questions not only his own morality, but society's in the simple introduction of a contradiction.

De-escalation into growth is as appealing in a character as goodness-to-greatness is. For me anyways.

No, I'm not entirely liking Ephram; but I am drawn to his character potential by his self questioning of his ethics.

You've built a viable world Dawn; an alternate earth, mutant citizens, societal predjuice. Then you've added a typical denizen, ingrained with all the propaganda and biases of accepted society, and given him initial moral and personal issues to deal with.

You introduce Levi, the moral conflict; Carrie, the opposit extreme; and Ephram, conflicted believer.

There isn't a single line that stands out for me as "the hook", but read as a whole, the premise (or plot concept) is the hook. The fact that Ephram questions his morality in regards to the deviant Levi, makes him a redeamable character.

And that, is a more difficult task for a writer to prove.

My unprofessional opinion Dawn: Don't change Ephram's character. Leave it as is, with all his internal conflict. I'm not sure how you will lead the reader to Ephram's redemption, but I have faith that since you've developed the initial controversy, you have a plot plan in mind, and by the end of the story, Ephram will be a champion of mutant rights.

And save his intriguing pal Levi - and ultimately his indoctrinated society - from a horrendous fate.

There are several aspects of this writing I'd like to offer a critique on, but characterization and world building isn't on that list.

Good luck Girlfriend. You've set yourself an intriguing task, and I hope you post your progress along the way.


J.C. Martin said...

Definitely set up the conflict well: will Ephram betray his friend to the men in suits? Intriguing start, and it was well-written in the present tense, although it did stray into past tense on at least one occasion, namely "he felt his stomach sink" at the beginning.

I think the intrigue petered off slightly when Carrie entered the picture. In my opinion, I wanted to read more about Levi and Ephram, and ending with Carrie seemed a bit anti-climactic. I understand this was probably because this has been taken out of the original context though.

Erin Kane Spock said...

I don't like Ephram, but I get him. And my dislike of him does not keep me from wanting to know what happens next. I have a very clear picture of Ephram and Levi and the situation with mutants in this society. I didn't get whether or not Ephram was an informer out of a sense of duty or compulsion.
I was engaged in the story and would want to keep reading.

Dawn Embers said...

Donna - Quite the epic comment. I'm flattered. You always do an amazing job to reading into a story and pulling out different aspects. And it's very encouraging. There are things that need to work on, for sure. Thank you. :-D

JC - Thanks and I understand the down time at the end. Last time I posted this I just ended with the not all return but this time tried to get closer to the 1,000 words. Levi is the focus after lunch too. Promise.

Erin - I'm glad you want to keep reading and some of the issues are worked out later on. Thanks for the comment.


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