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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shelley Watters Critique Contest Submission

     First 250 words of Dream Girl for critique for the Shelley Watters Blog Contest

      Title:  Dream Girl
      Genre:  Paranormal Romance  YA
      Word Count:  75,425            

Ok, I'm currently grappling with POV in my revision.  I had started out with the intention of writing everything from the protagonist, Christine's, POV but I attended a workshop a couple weekends ago that prompted me to consider alternating POV.  The voice of Gabriel hit me like a ton of bricks while I was in the shower.  (isn't that where the best writing ideas come from?)  Anyway,  here is the originally scheduled Chapter 1. followed by the new Chapter 1.  What do you think?  I think I know what you're going to say, but still.  I need your help!


                                                                     Chapter 1.  Gabriel
I hear voices on the beach, too close for comfort.  Next comes the crunch of boots on wet sand.  I whip my head around, expecting to discover them right behind me but I don’t see anyone yet.  Sometimes, it takes awhile for visuals to kick in.  One thing is clear; they’re after me again.
“Gabriel,” a woman calls my name and I book it into the fringe of trees that sandwich the beach between the water.  A branch scratches the hell out of my cheek but I don’t have time to care until I’m tucked safe in the dense foliage of a well-placed bush.
Peering out from my shelter, I catch sight of them, right where I’d been standing seconds before.  Damn, they’re closer than they’d ever gotten before, two of them, a guy and a girl.  Most of the time, I don’t see them but when I do, they always wear black combat boots.  Nothing else about them is consistent, from clothing, to numbers, to gender but always the boots.  It must be a requirement of their group, whoever the hell they are.
They walk together, heads swiveling in every direction as they look for me.  I try not to look directly at them for fear that they’ll feel me watching them and come straight for me.   
“Gabriel, are you here?” calls the girl.
I don’t answer.  She looks short enough that I could take her if I have to, but she also has a spiky hair 

Anime chic vibe going on that I don’t want to mess with.  

       OR....the original much revised version of Chapter 1.


     For most of my eighteen years, everything had been as normal as the Cheerios I’d eaten for breakfast.  I was still getting used to living in my apartment but confident that I’d be all settled by the time college started in September. Summer stretched out before me like a lazy cat.  Nothing about it, or my regular drive to work, indicated that the Gothic adventures I so loved to read were about to become more than fiction.
            Ten minutes late, as usual, I hustled into the public library, my workplace for the past three years.  Ditching my purse in my locker, I strode into the workroom, an open space populated by cubicles for the librarians and long tables for the support staff.  I held my breath as I scurried past the row of supervisor offices on my right.  The last thing I wanted was for one of them to glance at their clock and see that I wasn’t manning the circulation desk yet.
            Escaping detection in supervisor alley, I made it to the staff copy room, where our mailboxes resided.  Hoping to just duck in to retrieve my nametag, I discovered my boss, Laura Faust, talking to a guy who wore his brown tee shirt and rumpled jeans really well.  At least, he looked good from behind, which was all I could see of him.
            I tried to inconspicuously snake my arm around them to access my mailbox but Laura stopped me. 
            “Christine,” she said.  “I’d like you to meet Gabriel, our new page.”


  1. I LOVE the line about the spiky hair anime chick vibe- made me laugh. I'd def read on! The only line that jumped out at me that needs revision is:

    "fringe of trees that sandwich the beach between the water."

    I couldn't grasp how trees sandwich the beach between the water. Good luck on the contest!

  2. Each opening has a completely different feel. I like them both, but I can't say which one I'd pick without reading more.

    As for Gabriel's POV: You've done a nice job of building the tension. I was especially drawn in when he started talking about the combat boots. I was a little confused by the girl. Where was she? Where was her voice coming from? Does he recognize it? Right after she calls his name the first time he looks in front of him, but that's where he's going to hide. Is that also where she is?

    From Christine's POV: The tension is not the same as in Gabriel's but there is still something pulling me in. I like the supervisor alley description.

    Good luck!

  3. Oh my goodness, Sarah Perry! What a totally different novel this could be with Gabriel's POV added. You know I love Christine's perspective because she's so relatable. This story is Christine's - how she changes as a result of meeting of Gabriel. Because of that, I think it still makes sense to open the novel with Christine arriving to work late and meeting the man who'll change her life. However, I think it's a great idea to integrate Gabriel POV chapters. I LOVE THIS NEW OPENING with Gabriel on the beach. Very compelling...

  4. I like the second one, also, Sarah. And especially "supervisor alley". Both are good; second one draws me in though. (Wonder why????!!!)
    Good luck!

  5. I definitely liked the second version better. It slowly builds up the character instead of just dropping him on a beach. Plus I liked Christine's voice and pov more.

  6. I love the anime chick line!! I agreed with the first comment that the sandwich line gave me raised eyebrows. That and, forgive me because I am too pale to ever go to a beach, but do boots crunch on wet sand? I don't think that is the sound they would make. I suggest a field trip :) Good luck!

  7. The first one is better, but delete the first paragraph. Start with, "'Gabriel,'" a woman calls my name...

    Everything "told" in the first paragraph is "shown" as the passage progresses.

    Also, by beginning with "Gabriel," and what follows, the action is better suited to the present tense you roll with, which is awesome because of the immediacy is suggests.

  8. Wow - two totally different voices! I'm partial to the first one - mainly because there's such an eerie feel to it - I really want to know who's following her and why. The second one's good too, but IMHO, I'd stick with the first - more hook-y.

    I personally like the sandwich line and as for the wet sand, it does crunch with all the shells and other ocean junk washed in - you may want to add that to your description. And again - in my opinion, I LIKED the first paragraph. I wouldn't start with dialogue - too hard to pull off.

    Good luck and I hope this helps!

  9. I like both for completely different reasons. The first is more immediate and brings you right into the action. I like that. If you tighten it up a little... for example, "Boots crunch on wet sand." instead of "Next comes the crunch of boots on wet sand.", I think it could work. I like the second because of the great detail.

    Best of luck!

  10. The first one is hard for me to get into. The second one has Voice and character. I'd love to see that lead the book.

  11. Wow, so very different versions. I'm going to say that I like the second one better because it flowed better to me. The first one felt a little clunky and that might be because it's fresher and you haven't had as much chance to revise it. IDK. I have to admit that until I read the second one, I thought Gabriel was a girl. I know that you used the boy's spelling so I'm not sure why it had a "girl" feel to me, but for some reason it did. I'm probably the only one who thought that way though. Also little thing, but unless the beach is really rocky, I can't imagine the boots making a crunching sound when on sand. I was intrigued by both versions though, so good job!

  12. I like them both! They both have distinct voices and nice descriptions and flow. I personally am fine with the boots crunching on wet sand, because I've experienced a similar sound. I think I like the first one better from Gabriel's POV, because it starts with action and there are immediately questions that need to be answered. Great job and good luck!

  13. I prefer the first one. It grabbed me right off the bat. The second didn't peak my interest until the last paragraph or so.

    The first one still needs a little smoothing over and some grammar checking. ["Gabriel." A woman calls...] And watch out for repetitive words--even explicatives.:)

    Alternating POV's is tricky. You'll want to make sure the first chapter doesn't sound like a prologue. And I think some writher feel they have to alter the POV every other chapter, but I think you should only switch back and forth as it feels right in the story. And if that means three chapter of one POV and then one of another, then that's ok.