Sunday, March 20, 2011

Show Me The Voice Blogfest

So, it's on. The fantastic Brenda Drake over at Brenda Writes is holding a blogfest over the 20th & 21st March. The challenge is to post the first 250 words of my manuscript and collect critiques over the 2 days, then work on making it better.

Here's how the challenge works (taken from her blog):

Sign up on the linky below. On March 20 and 21, post the first 250 words of your finished manuscript (any genre) on your blogto get critiques from your followers and then hop around to the other participants' sites and give critiques. Polish those 250 words and email them to me atbrenleedrake@gmail.com with CONTEST in the subject line by 12:00AM (EST) on March 22.  

* * *

So, here's my first 250 words: Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I've edited it so that there's not so much description, what does everyone think?

Name: Cheree Smith
Title: Shadow Embraced
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy


Her blows come quick – and hard – knocking me into the fleshy wall of the crowd. I'm pushed back to the centre ring and the circle tightens. Their chants are pounding against my head like rhythms of a drum warming up for the big sacrifice.

“Fight! Fight! Fight!”

Music blares in the background. Deep bass reverberates through the warped wooden floorboards. The lead singer sounds like he’s chewing on tin foil. I’m surprised I can hear all the taunts my opponent screams at me.

“What are you waiting for?” the girl hisses. She could be Snow White with her porcelain skin and long, raven hair. “You started this. It was just between me and her.” She extends one long finger towards my best friend, Alex.

Alex watches from the sideline. This is becoming the norm. Whenever we go out, she always gets in trouble and I’m the one to fix it – usually with some bloodshed.

I don’t know what Alex did to piss off this poisonous cow, but now I want blood.

“Come on, Scar,” Alex calls.

My opponent launches at me. I shield my face from her punches. It all comes down to waiting for an opening. She’s fast, almost as fast as me. I look up at her. It’s difficult to maintain my balance enough to strike back.

I duck under a right hook and seize my chance. I throw an uppercut and knock her pale ass to the ground.

Then a single word roars through the room. “Scatter!”


* * *

Good luck to everyone who's entered.

40 comments:

Loralie Hall said...

you have a great hook here, but I think you may have too much description clouding your voice. Unless your MC is really that super-observant as to notice the entire layout of this place while getting the crap beaten out of them...

I was hooked with your first sentence. The voice as amazing there. And then kind of faded until I got to 'Alex watches from the sidelines...' and then you had me back again. That was great voice. That was compelling ^_^

Shallee said...

I think you've got some great voice going-- moments like "poisonous cow" stand out. I agree with Loralie that the description seems too much at the wrong time. I'm very interested in why this fight happened, and what's going to happen. Nice job!

erica m. chapman said...

Great! Love the action, you put a lot in the first 250, intros of 3 characters!

I love this line, "The lead singer sounds like he’s chewing on tin foil."

One thing, is the MC a guy or girl? May want to let us know sooner. I'm guessing a girl. Only suggestion, other than that I really love this!

Chersti Nieveen said...

I really liked this. I'd heard at a writing conference that starting with a fight scene is really hard, because you don't have the reader's sympathies on your side yet. But I think it kind of works with your story.

I have a lot of questions about where this is going. Your writing is very tight and I liked the descriptions you used. So great job!

Gina said...

This is awesome. I don't think there's too much description, because I'm assuming he or she (this could use some clarification) didn't just walk into the joint and start brawling- they had some time to observe their surroundings first. Your writing paints a great picture and the action really draws the reader in.

Christine L. Arnold said...

I really like this. I think keep the parts about how she got into this situation, but lose the extra setting. Not that it's not good, just that I can't imagine she would be noticing all this during a fight. I would think she'd be more focused on not getting hit. I really liked the "fleshy wall" description though. It was perfect. Maybe do more of that, as in, describe the room in a more tactile way. Like the thick smoke doesn't blur the graffiti, but impairs her breathing or something. Just a thought. I'm interested to see what's going on, though!

Angelica R. Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angelica R. Jackson said...

Some great description here, but I think you could trim it down and still "place" us in the room. My suggestion would be to concentrate on the conflict, and just use a few brushstrokes to suggest the time and place (I kind of pictured the Bronze from Buffy).

And as an unrelated design tip, some people have difficulty reading light text on a dark background. For me, unless I'm really motivated, I don't usually stick around to read the post.

Thanks for the comment on my blog and good luck with the contest!

Margo Berendsen said...

Whew! Intense! Great voice and amazing descriptions.

Loved the snark in the "Innovative name" comment and the "This is becoming the norm" comment.

Nope, can't even nitpick this. Someone else already caught the is she a boy or girl thing. The name "Scar" sounds boyish but I'm not sure.

sycamoremeadows said...

Not sure why everyone mentioned whether or not its a boy or girl. I assumed it was a girl based on her opponent. If it is a boy then he's fighting a girl and who likes when I guy hits a girl?
It is descriptive but like someone said earlier, you almost need it in order to relate to the character. Fight scenes are difficult, but you have done a great job! You almost lost me before I even read the first word when I saw it was about a half-vampire. They are REALLY played out so just make sure you really really make this your own. And from what I've read so far, you are.

Christi Corbett said...

Love it.

Every. Single. Word.

With that said, I agree with the other comments about clarifying the sex of the main character :)

Christi Corbett

Nicole Zoltack said...

I really enjoyed this! Love the descriptions (although you might want to pare them down a little to focus more on the immediate action of the scene) but other than that, I loved the voice - poisonous cow is a great insult!

And I love the title, too, btw!

L'Aussie said...

Woo hoo, another Aussie and one who really packs a punch. I love this voice. I first thought I was in a school lunchtime playground setting lol.

I've got to make a suggestion so maybe I could get picky and point out that in the first two sentences you've repeated 'back.'

Denise<3

L'Aussie's Show Me The Voice Blogfest Contest

Nicole M. White- said...

Intriguing, I want to know more. Ditto what others said about setting. The club sounds interesting but is it necessary to the essential part of what you are conveying here?

Amie Kaufman said...

Loved it. I assumed the MC is a girl, partly because she's fighting a girl, and as per the above, most people won't take to a guy who's fighting a girl (unless, hey, it's urban fantasy, that girl could be anything). I took 'Scar' to be short for 'Scarlett'.

I love the description and you create a real sense of place, but I agree some of it could probably be pared back.

The statement 'now I want blood' took me slightly by surprised--I think because the MC had been taking note of her surroundings, etc, I didn't get the impression that her blood was boiling.

Love it--I want to know why she's there, why she's fighting, why she's taking the rap for Alex, why this is the norm... would definitely keep reading.

amber gilchrist said...

this is interesting but somehow i feel kind of disconnected from it. which is sort of useless criticism since i'm not certain how to fix it for me, but i think it might be because i have no idea what's going on here. the chanting of the word, 'fight' seems like something that would happen at school. but clearly this is some kind of club. and if it's a club why isn't she being tossed out by the bouncers? but i wouldn't put it down or anything, i'd certainly keep reading.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great voice. Even though you start with a fight scene, I'm already starting to care about the character. I'm guess she's a girl since she's fighting against a girl. Guys tend not to do that. If they win, they're a loser for fighting a girl. If they lose, they're a loser for losing against a girl. ;)

Great description. I didn't feel like it slowed things too much, but you can definitely pare it down a bit like the others mentioned. One thing that did stand out was your repetition about the 'long, xx hair'. Use one or the other. If you refer to the first one as snow white, we already have an image of what she looks like (other than she has long hair). I'd keep the second hair reference. Mainly because I loved: which is overdue for another dose of peroxide. :D

Good luck!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I enjoyed your piece. Scar I'm hoping is short for Scarlette? It does sound a little too tough. But all in all I really enjoyed your entry! Nice job!

Escape Artist said...

This is what I'd do to keep your descriptions which are nice but keep them from jarring out of the immediate action. Instead of going from 'I' action to description, have the description come from her internalizing what's happening around her. For example...Their chants sound like an eerie tribal drumbeat warming up for the big sacrifice...
Their chants are pounding against my head like rhythmms of a drum...
Loose the sound like...that's what stalls it.
Great piece. I hope I've given you something useful.
My best. Linda

J.C. Martin said...

What an action-packed opener! I enjoyed it, but I'll encho everyone by saying you could probably cut down on the settings. I'd emphasis the VISUAL ones could probably be cut, as in a fight you should really only be focused on your opponent. However, keep the noise; it adds to the chaotic atmosphere, and in my experience sounds always seem louder when the adrenaline is pumping!

Katy said...

Love how you dove right into the action, but I agree that there might be a bit too much description, especially since this is present tense. I'd think the narrator's thoughts would be consumed by the fight. Particularly the line about her best friend needing to get her hair done threw me off. Absolutely loved "knocking me back into the fleshy wall of the crowd," and "The lead singer sounds like he’s chewing on tin foil." Awesome imagery!

Lori M. Lee said...

Great voice. I don't mind all the description b/c I'm a fan of that lol. But I think the voice is clear and I'm interested in finding out what exactly is going on. Great job!

Trisha said...

Dude, I love it! Want to read on, big time. And I love that it's at a gig of some kind :)

Kris Summers said...

I love how you immediately draw us into the action. It makes us wonder how the fight starts.

Erin Kane Spock said...

Talk about opening with action. You can't go wrong with a girl fight. :) I feel torn about the voice of the mc. She's not a trouble maker, more of a problem solver, and yet she solves problems with fighting (which makes me think she's probably a troublemaker without blaming herself) and it makes her not sympathetic to me. However, her deep pov perspective shows she's thoughtful, imaginative,and a door mat for her friend. In all, I don't get a clear idea of who she is.
Having said all that, the scene is engrossing, capturing you with the action, setting, and dialogue.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Good description and definitely action packed. I agree with trimming it down just a bit to tighten the action.

Jolene Perry said...

LOVE her attitude.
don’t know what Alex did to piss off this poisonous cow, but now I want blood. SO GOOD

And my other fav was your last line. I love that you stuck in pale ass - awesome.

Jan Morrison said...

I like this - your writing is tight and focussed. I'd join in with some of the others as to what details you might notice in a fight but I don't agree you wouldn't notice any. Maybe not that her friend needs peroxide though!
love it.

Rebekah said...

Loved the action here! And you get the feel of your MC right off the bat, that she's a bad %#%! LOL.

Great job...

Anita Saxena said...

Love that your opening with a fight and I like the voice.
Immediately I want to know what Alex did to tick off the cow.
Great work.

Susan Oloier said...

Blogfests always make me realize that it all comes down to personal opinion a lot of the time. I love description and detail if it is done well--and in your 250, it is. So I would not remove any of that. Your descriptions put me into the fight scene as a bystander.
I assumed the character was female. If male, then you may want to clarify.
I am a lover of verbs over adjectives, so I applaud your use of them here.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

Love it. You have great descriptions -- I especially like the fleshy wall and the dose of peroxide.

Julie Hedlund said...

Great job of launching us right into the action. I think the balance between action and description is fine. The only thing that took me out of the story was the line about Alex needing another dose of peroxide. That seemed like an odd thing for her (name?) to focus on in the middle of what is clearly a menacing situation.

Definitely curious about where this is going! Good luck with the contest!

Bekah said...

Thanks for the comment! I don't know what the first version sounded like, but this sounds good. Enough description to throw us in the scene and wonder how she go into a fight. The only thing I would say is that you can't use hiss without an S in the sentence. Small.

Janet Johnson said...

Super intense! Great voice and great action. you've definitely got me wanting to know more . . . to read on to figure it out.

I wondered if the mc was a boy or a girl, too. But overall nice job!

Kalen O'Donnell said...

Wow I'm way too late to bring anything new to the party, haha, but I do love this. Its one of the most intriguing openings I've read in a long time, and I have no idea where this set up is leading to, which I love.

Maria Cope said...

I remember reading the opening line & I absolutely loved it! So with that said, I was excited to see more . . . even if it was just a 250 word teaser! :)

duwarr said...

I didn't read the earlier version, but the description seems appropriate in the revamped opening. There's not a lot of your MC's voice in this, but what's there is excellent. You more than make up for quantity with great quality when the voice shines through. As others have said, "poisonous cow" is a great insult.

One thing that stuck out at me is the MC's observation about Alex's hair: "which is overdue for another dose of peroxide." That yanked me out of the scene and didn't seem realistic. Who notices their friend's hair during a fight?

Otherwise, I thought this was fantastic. Great job!

Margay said...

This is a very strong voice. You sucked me right into the middle of that fight!

Charity Bradford said...

Hi, I'm coming in after the edits so I missed the first version. This is a great way to drop a reader right into the action. It may not be THE action of the story, but it gives us some insight into your character.

I also love where you cut the selection. Now I have to know who/what is coming that they have to scatter from.

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