Monday, February 28, 2011

500 Word Critique: YA Paranormal

And, here's yet another request for critique! Please welcome Mflick1 and an exerpt from her YA paranormal novel. Like the last few times, I'm pasting the full story without my comments first, so as not to influence anyone with my opinions.

YA Paranormal
Calm down Ryder!

No! This is freaky!

Ryder you are making NO sense. Who’s there? Why are you so freaked?

Piper, someone was behind me and then they hid. Someone is following me! It’s like in a scary movie, ya know when the actress has that sinking feeling and keeps turning around to catch him, but secretly hopes she is paranoid. Well, I want to be paranoid.

She remembered what had happened so I could see the memory, but I saw no one. She wasn’t afraid, but creeped out, and I chalked it up to the scary movie we had watched last night, in which a pretty blonde girl was followed. Countless times Ryder had on edge feelings in which she was sure she wasn’t alone or was being watched and it never had turned out to be anything. Mom had allowed us to watch scary movies like Friday the Thirteenth and Dracula, when we were tots. Not the best move on Mom’s part for Ryder.

Another difference between us, an over-active imagination went to Ryder.

That’s ridiculous, Ryder, I tried to soothe. You always feel that way and it has always turned out to be nothing.

It was then I realized a boy from my Medieval Literature class was staring at me from where he sat in the library. He was sitting at a table by himself, looking over his book and smiling at me, with a familiar air about him, as if he knew me and more than just as a new classmate.

Piper, pay attention to me!

Relax, Ryder!

He laughed. He laughed as if on cue. I roughed up my hair in frustration, as if trying to shake him and the feeling away. Still he was sitting there, laughing in my direction over his book. I looked over my shoulder to see if there was something going on behind me. No, nothing. He was staring and laughing at me continuously.

Damn it Piper! I need you!

She startled me with her force of voice to the point where I visibly jumped and he chuckled harder. I was hit with this overwhelming feeling that my private conversation was anything but private. He stopped laughing and was deliberately staring at me.

Inquisitive?

He can hear me. He can hear us.

What? What are you talking about?

Nothing. Nothing. Meet me at our room.

I have class. I can’t.

You think someone is following you but you won’t skip class? Yes, yes you can.

He smirked at me.

I picked up my books and lit out of the library quickly. I didn’t dare look at him and I certainly didn’t dare think of anything again. Blank. Could it be? Could someone hear us? No. With everywhere we had been and the people we had met, no, it couldn’t happen.

But, what if?

Hadn’t we wondered as little girls if we were the only ones with the ability? Were we the only freaks?

Were we the abnormal among the normal looking for the abnormal to become the normal?

My Comments
I’m guessing that this isn’t the opening, and that Ryder and Piper’s abilities have already been established and introduced. Working from that assumption, this is an interesting excerpt. It feels like a transition from one conflict to another—someone spying on Ryder to someone listening in on Piper’s telepathic conversation. Even though I haven’t seen what happened before, I can still feel the tension rising. So good job with that. I’m definitely intrigued and want to read more!

Calm down Ryder!

No! This is freaky!

Ryder you are making NO sense. Who’s there? Why are you so freaked?

Piper, someone was behind me and then they hid. Someone is following me! It’s like in a scary movie, ya know when the actress has that sinking feeling and keeps turning around to catch him, but secretly hopes she is paranoid. Well, I want to be paranoid.

She remembered what had happened so I could see the memory, but I saw no one (do we see the memory in an earlier chapter? If not, why not show it to us here?). She wasn’t afraid, but creeped out, and I chalked it up to the scary movie we had watched last night, in which a pretty blonde girl was followed. Countless times Ryder had on edge feelings in which she was sure she wasn’t alone or was being watched and it never had turned out to be anything. Mom had allowed us to watch scary movies like Friday the Thirteenth and Dracula, when we were tots (not really tots, right? That paints a very specific image of a two year old, or something :). Perhaps stating their ages might work better here?). Not the best move on Mom’s part for Ryder.

Another difference between us, an over-active imagination went to Ryder.

That’s ridiculous, Ryder, I tried to soothe. You always feel that way and it has always turned out to be nothing.

It was then I realized a boy from my Medieval Literature class was staring at me from where he sat in the library (all of this tells us what you show us in the next sentence; hence, not necessary). He was sitting at a table by himself, looking over his book and smiling at me, with a familiar air about him, as if he knew me and more than just as a new classmate.

Piper, pay attention to me!

Relax, Ryder!

He laughed. He laughed as if on cue. I roughed up my hair in frustration (in this context, this is definitely a boy-action since most teen girls don’t mess up their hair. Unless, of course, this precedence has already been set in a previous chapter), as if trying to shake him and the feeling away. Still he was sitting there, laughing in my direction over his book. I looked over my shoulder to see if there was something going on behind me. No, nothing. He was staring and laughing at me continuously.

Damn it Piper! I need you!

She startled me with her force of voice to the point where I visibly jumped and he chuckled harder. I was hit with this overwhelming feeling (how does this feel? How would Piper come to this realization in her head? You show us her thoughts later on, which the mysterious boy hears, but we need a way to feel what she’s feeling right here, and also question whether or not this boy could hear her at the same time she’s questioning it) that my private conversation was anything but private. He stopped laughing and was deliberately staring at me.

Inquisitive? (is this the boy speaking, or is it Piper’s prose?)

He can hear me. He can hear us.

What? What are you talking about?

Nothing. Nothing. Meet me at our room.

I have class. I can’t.

You think someone is following you but you won’t skip class? Yes, yes you can.

He smirked at me.

I picked up my books and lit out of the library quickly. I didn’t dare look at him and I certainly didn’t dare think of anything again. Blank. Could it be? Could someone hear us? No. With everywhere we had been and the people we had met, no, it couldn’t happen.

But, what if? (the situation seems to have a bit more to it than ‘what if.’ There appears to be some evidence that he could hear her, so wouldn’t she be thinking about that? Also, this is huge! I’m guessing she’d be having a much stronger reaction, and be struggling pretty heavily with going blank vs. freaking out over this boy. We need to see this)

Hadn’t we wondered as little girls if we were the only ones with the ability? Were we the only freaks?

Were we the abnormal among the normal looking for the abnormal to become the normal? (funny :) )
***

So, what did you all think? Thoughts, questions, comments, gushing? Please do share.

3 comments:

kellyhashway said...

I really liked this passage. The only thing I'd add to your critique is for the writer to watch the adverbs. I hate seeing adverbs instead of using strong verbs. Don't tell me the character did something quickly. The verb should reflect how quick it was--ran, dashed, sprinted, etc.

Tabitha said...

Yeah, I'd have to agree with you there. I'm not a fan, either. A good, strong verb can take the story miles further than an adverb can.

LM Preston said...

I enjoyed the start of this excerpt, but it seemed to be a lot going on at one time and I found myself having to re-read to get an orientation to what was going on and with who. It could be that this wasn't the first chapter.