Sunday, March 20, 2011

Show Me the Voice

We are pleased to be participating in Brenda Drake's Show Me the Voice critique blogfest.  It's all about the voice in this blogfest, and we have been challenged to show ours in the first 250 words of our finished manuscript.   So here it is, the first real glimpse of Fatum.  
Name:  Lindsay N. Currie and Patricia Burgess Leaver
Title:  FATUM 
Genre: YA Dystopian  
     We’d been having this argument every day for the last week, but here I was again, defending a score I knew for a fact was correct.  Guess that’s what happens when you’ve been cooped up in a missile silo for the better part of a year with nobody to talk to but each other.  Somehow, something as trivial as the score of our last baseball game becomes a matter of life and death. 
     “I had nothing to do with us losing that game, Keith.  We were ahead five-two until you stepped onto the mound.
      “Whatever, Jake. We would’ve been ahead five nothing if they’d let me start.”
      I stood up, sending the old cable spool we used as a table crashing down, our only deck of cards scattering into the thin layer of dirt that covered the floor. “Are you kidding me, Keith?  The only reason you made the varsity team is because your dad is the assistant coach.”
     “Was!” Keith roared.  His father had died along with the rest of our team that day on the bus, leaving the three of us to fend for ourselves.  “And if you’d done your job and won the game before that, we wouldn’t have been on that damn bus, Jake.  We would have been home.”
      “Now you’re saying it’s my fault your father is dead?”
      Keith nodded, took one aggressive step to invade my personal space. “I’m saying you losing that game sure as hell didn’t help matters.”
     “You little prick!” I grabbed him by the shirt collar, the thin fabric fraying in my hands.  He’d been blaming me for everything lately, and I’d had enough.


  1. Very interesting opening. Good job girls!

  2. Great opening - very dramatic and definitely makes me want to read on, to find out why they're cooped up in a missile silo and what happened on the bus.

    I'm wondering if it's usual to open with dialogue - does seem a bit abrupt in a way.

    I think you could maybe remove this:

    "to invade my personal space"

    change it to "toward me" or something.

    And I got confused with the speech mark opening para 2, but I know that was a typo :D

  3. I really like this! Nice voice and nicely hooks us!

  4. Remove any form of passive 'to be' (been having, etc). Just use had. It'll make the voice more active.

    Overall I really like the voice and think this is a really interesting start. I'd totally read on.

    Great job and good luck with the contest!

    SHelley Watters

  5. Great start. My only quibble is that you start with dialogue. A lot of agents aren't too thrilled with openings that begin this way. Especially since it takes you four paragraphs to show us where they are. I doesn't bother me, but I know it drives some people crazy. They like to visualize the scene from the very beginning.

    It doesn't feel like a dystopian story right now. It could take place anywhere. Make sure you make this clear soon.

  6. I have to agree with Trisha about starting with dialogue. Most agents frown upon it.

    Otherwise, well done. It has a good voice and there's immediate tension. Also a mystery about the bus accident.

  7. I love this dialogue! I would lose all the names though, Keith and Jake know who they are ;o) Maybe just use once for us, then you don't need it! Good voice, great start ;o)

  8. This is nicely written with a good opening sentence. I didn't get a feeling for two distinctly different characters so I had to keep double-checking the names to see who was speaking. Nor did I get a sense that these were football jocks. Despite the topic being discussed the voices have a vaguely feminine tone until Keith roars "Was." (BTW, the previous couple paragraphs seemed relatively benign so upending the table surprised me. I could see that happening more with Keith's response.)

    I liked the way the story is being established via the dialogue. It's handled well without any sense of 'info dumps'. I'd certainly want to read farther to see what's going to happen.

    Good luck in the contest. :)

    Carol J. Garvin

  9. Thanks for the comments guys! We have two versions of this first page, one that starts with dialogue, one that starts with a concise introductory paragraph. It's funny to see people's reactions, both here and with our CP's. They either love when you start with dialogue or hate it -- must be a personal preference thing.

    Anyhow, I have switched the post to start with the introductory paragraph, let's see if that sits better. Thanks again and happy blogging!

  10. Great beginning and very intriguing. Like the voice.

  11. Stopping by from the blogfest. Love the voice. Want to read more.

  12. I missed the version with the opening dialogue, but I like it with the paragraph...I get a feel for where the characters are right away so I'm grounded in the scene. And of course I want to know why the heck they've been in a missile silo for almost a year. And what happened on the bus.

    So I'd say, definitely a good job!

  13. I wouldn't have known this was you, Trisha! Anyway... I think it is a powerful start for sure. BUt I agree that it doesn't really feel dystopian, except the whole missile silo thing. LOL. We are certainly plopped right into their lives so great work : )

  14. Intriguing start, and I want to read more. Glad to hear you're switching from dialogue to narrative, as I have read the same thing in an agent-written book.
    I did have a hard time distinguishing your two characters. Perhaps there is a way to make it more clear in a show-not-tell sort of way??
    Otherwise, very nice!!

  15. I agree with Shelley on the "to be" verbs. The tenses in the first paragraph seemed to be bouncing around a bit. They were technically correct, I think, but I had to think about it, which kept me from being drawn in.

    Also, it says that they are arguing over the score, but then they are actually arguing about him messing up the game, not what the score actually was.

    I liked the dialogue and didn't mind starting the scene out that way at all. :)

    BTW- the comments show up on my screen with black text on a black background so are really hard to read. Not sure if that is just my screen or not, though.

    Good luck with the contest!

  16. Not part of the blogfest, but I really like reading all these comments! Very interesting. It seemed pretty obviously dystopian to me. I'd keep reading.

  17. You're setting up some good tension with this opening, but a few things threw me off. Like when the spool/table crashes over. We've had those before and a)they're pretty heavy and awkward to tip and b)once they tip, they tend to roll.

    Raise a good question immediately with "why are they stuck in a missile silo?"

  18. Interesting. My only complaint is that you use their names too much. Maybe cut a few usages out of the dialogue so that it doesn't feel as forced. Very gripping opening, though!

  19. I really like the voice here, but I'm going to echo Bekah and say I'm not seeing any signs of dystopia here. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since it might just follow after these 250 words. Good luck!

  20. You really capture the male voice here!