Monday, August 01, 2011

500 Word Critique: MG Fantasy

It's been a while since someone has sent me a critique with permission to post it here, and a fourteen year old girl has stepped up to the plate!

I've included her story without my comments first, so as not to sway anyone's reactions, and then pasted  my feedback below. If you have a moment, I'm sure she'd love it if you could share some thoughts.

MG Fantasy
~Prologue~
Twelve years ago, on the night of December 31st, six newborn baby girls were sat on the steps of Creek Academy. All were wrapped in a separate blanket, and each one had a different colored necklace on. A young girl of twelve years old found the babies that night and quickly brought them inside to get warm.

“What will we do with Mrs. Martin?” The young girl asked the headmaster.

“We will raise them here, of course,” Mrs. Martin said, “They will be kept in the nursery until they are old enough to go to school. Creek Academy will turn away no one, especially an innocent baby. Isn’t that the right thing to do, Annie?”

“Yes, Mrs. Martin.”

Mrs. Martin sighed and stroked the cheek of one of the babies.

“Annie, are you positive that there was no note on the steps when you found the children? Nothing explaining why they were left here?”

“I am sure.” Annie replied.

“Alright. Thank you for all you have done. Why don’t you head back to the dormitories and get some rest. Goodnight, dear.”

Annie took one last look at all the sweet baby girls and left the headmaster’s office. Once she was safely upstairs in her bed, she pulled a piece of paper out of her robes pockets.

“Alright, babies,” She said while unfolding the note, “Where did you come from?”
~1~
THE NOTE THAT ANNIE READ
~
I thought that it was going to be a normal Monday at Creek Academy.

I would wake up, get dressed, go to my classes, and do my homework with my five best friends in the evening.

Boy, was I wrong.

The day started out pretty normal. I ate breakfast with Tacie, Charlotte, Avery, Gabriella, and Carol. We laughed about the oatmeal that Avery got on her nose, and then we headed off to class.

First, I had math with Mr. Gee. While he was teaching, I passed notes with Avery and Carol.

The next class kept me and all of my friends very interested. It was English with Ms. Allen.

My friends and I all shared the same dream: we all wanted to be writers. Ms. Allen supported us in our hopes and she taught us all that a writer would need to know.

“Morning Annie.” I said when we arrived.

“Good morning, Ms. Allen. Just because I am the favorite teacher does not mean I have to get casual with my students.”

I apologized and took a seat.

English was wonderful as usual, but something strange happened at the end of the class. Right as we were leaving, a piece of paper hit me in the back. On the front, my name was printed on it in simple handwriting. As I picked it up and began to unfold it, Ms. Allen ran over and snatched it out of my hands.

“Sorry Aubrey,” She said to me, “This must have slipped out of my hands.”

I was sure it was mine.

“But, Ms. Allen, it has my name on it.”

Ms. Allen glanced down at the note and read my name.

“Oh, would you look at that, it does! Well, I’m sorry Aubrey, it may have your name on it, but I assure that it is not for you. Hurry along to French, dear. I’ll see you at assembly.”

I hesitated before turning and leaving the classroom.

Avery was waiting outside for me. “There you are! The rest of the girls wanted to wait for you, but I told them to go on. What were you doing in there?”

I must have looked pretty confused, because Avery was looking at me like I was a pickle.

“Oh, nothing, I was just, um, talking to Ms. Allen about my novel. That’s all.”

Avery relaxed. “Oh, well okay. Come on, if we’re late to French, Mademoiselle Cheri will be de colere. That means angry, right? Oh who cares, come on let’s go!”

We arrived at French class just in time to watch a video about Paris. Even though I normally loved French, my mind was wandering.

Why did Ms. Allen act so worried about the note? Why would she not let me read it, even though it clearly had my name on it? And most importantly, what did the note say?

What I didn’t know then was that I was going to find out very soon.
~~

My Comments:

~Prologue~

Twelve years ago, on the night of December 31st, six newborn baby girls were sat (placed?) on the steps of Creek Academy. All were wrapped in a separate blanket, and each one had (wore) a different colored necklace on (to avoid ending the sentence in a preposition). A young girl of twelve years old found the babies that night and quickly brought them inside to get warm.

“What will we do with (them), Mrs. Martin?” The young girl asked the headmaster.

“We will raise them here, of course,” Mrs. Martin said, “They will be kept in the nursery until they are old enough to go to school. Creek Academy will turn away no one, especially an innocent baby. Isn’t that the right thing to do, Annie?”

“Yes, Mrs. Martin.”

Mrs. Martin sighed and stroked the cheek of one of the babies.

“Annie, are you positive that there was no note on the steps when you found the children? Nothing explaining why they were left here?”

“I am sure.” Annie replied.

“Alright. Thank you for all you have done. Why don’t you head back to the dormitories and get some rest. Goodnight, dear.”

Annie took one last look at all the sweet baby girls and left the headmaster’s office. Once she was safely upstairs in her bed, she pulled a piece of paper out of her robes pockets.

“Alright, babies,” She said while unfolding the note, “Where did you come from?"
~~
Interesting! I’m curious to see why Annie would hide the note, especially before reading it. If there was something disturbing or scary in it, then I can see her being worried for the baby girls and wanting to make sure Mrs. Martin doesn’t turn them away. But why would she hide the note before reading it?
~1~
THE NOTE THAT ANNIE READ
~
I thought that it was going to be a normal Monday at Creek Academy.

I would wake up, get dressed, go to my classes, and do my homework with my five best friends in the evening.

Boy, was I wrong.

The day started out pretty normal. I ate breakfast with Tacie, Charlotte, Avery, Gabriella, and Carol. We laughed about the oatmeal that Avery got on her nose, and then we headed off to class.

First, I had math with Mr. Gee. While he was teaching, I passed notes with Avery and Carol.

The next class kept me and all of my friends very interested. It was English with Ms. Allen.

My friends and I all shared the same dream: we all wanted to be writers. Ms. Allen supported us in our hopes and she taught us all that a writer would need to know.

“Morning Annie.” I said when we arrived. (Interesting twist)

“Good morning, Ms. Allen. Just because I am the favorite teacher does not mean I have to get casual with my students.”

I apologized and took a seat.

English was wonderful as usual, but something strange happened at the end of the class. Right as we were leaving, a piece of paper hit me in the back (this is the note, right? The one Annie hid? I’m wondering if it’s enchanted). On the front, my name was printed on it in simple handwriting. As I picked it up and began to unfold it, Ms. Allen ran over and snatched it out of my hands.

“Sorry Aubrey,” She said to me, “This must have slipped out of my hands.”

(What is Annie’s expression here? Is she surprised? Exasperated? Has this note been trying to get to Aubrey or the other girls, and has she been having a hard time keeping it secured? If we can get more of Annie’s body language, then we’ll have a stronger handle on her emotions. Then, this scene will have a stronger tie to the prologue)

I was sure it was mine. (How is she sure? Does she feel drawn to the note?)

“But, Ms. Allen, it has my name on it.”

Ms. Allen glanced down at the note and read my name.

“Oh, would you look at that, it does! Well, I’m sorry Aubrey, it may have your name on it, but I assure that it is not for you. Hurry along to French, dear. I’ll see you at assembly.”

I hesitated before turning and leaving the classroom.

Avery was waiting outside for me. “There you are! The rest of the girls wanted to wait for you, but I told them to go on. What were you doing in there?”

I must have looked pretty confused, because Avery was looking at me like I was a pickle. (funny)

“Oh, nothing, I was just, um, talking to Ms. Allen about my novel. That’s all.”

Avery relaxed. “Oh, well okay. Come on, if we’re late to French, Mademoiselle Cheri will be de colere. That means angry, right? Oh who cares, come on let’s go!”

We arrived at French class just in time to watch a video about Paris. Even though I normally loved French, my mind was wandering.

Why did Ms. Allen act so worried about the note? Why would she not let me read it, even though it clearly had my name on it? And most importantly, what did the note say?

What I didn’t know then was that I was going to find out very soon.
~~
This is a very interesting start to your story. You’ve got intrigue, some possible magic, a mystery, and a tangible item to answer some questions, as well as introduce others. I think that if you clear up Annie’s motivations for keeping the note a secret, then you’ll have an incredible hook!

Something to think about: these girls feel older than twelve. In the prologue, it says they arrived at the school as newborns twelve years ago, so they're twelve, right? They feel more like fourteen to me.

What did the rest of you think? Anyone have any words of advice for this fabulous young lady?

3 comments:

khashway said...

I like this and agree with the comments you've made, Tabitha. I also agree that these girls sound older than 12.

Two things I noticed that Tabitha didn't mention:
In the prologue, I would've liked to see Annie's name instead of "the young girl". Just personal preference though.

“Morning Annie.” I said when we arrived.<--add a comma after Morning.

Cat said...

I loved this. I liked the whole critique service. Very cool. :)

I loved seeing all the comments and changes that you suggested. Gives ME something to work on and think about!

Dawn Malone said...

Great prologue - full of mystery and intrigue!
I think I would get right into Mrs. Allen's class in Chapter 1, and expand on that scene. Maybe she could condense the first 2-3 paragraphs into 1-2 sentences about the 'ordinary day' and get us into the scene more quickly.
Great job!