Most Evil Critique Master: Sarah
Working Title: N/A
"If you screw this up, I swear to god I will have your ass removed from U of P's enrollment list. And don't think for a second that you'll have a home to come back to."Loving words spoken by my dear father, Michael J. DiMarco, as we pulled into the driveway of the house that would soon become my prison. Why, exactly, would I be stuck there?See, I was never what my father would consider to be a "good" kid. He seemed to ignore the fact that I had almost all A's in school, a ridiculous amount of friends and membership in all my hoity-toity prep school's elite and exclusive clubs (and dashingly good looks, if I may add). Instead he focused in on my reputation as a partying, trouble making player.As my school's board of directors would say, pish posh."I know, Dad. Maybe you should get tested for Alzheimer's or something, because you've repeated that multiple times," I retorted.Cue Angry Michael face.Anyway, despite the fact that I had a 'bad' reputation, I never did anything that bad. Trust me, I played plenty of pranks, got high in school on more than one occasion, and often slept with two girls within the same party, but compared to some people, I was a perfect little angel. By some people, I mean the majority of my friends. That would also include the three ass brains who had gotten me stuck here in the first place.
Strong points –
Instantly noted the voice is very strong. “Cue Angry Michael face”? Brilliant. “As my school’s board of directors would say, pish posh.” Little effortless bits like that really plant clues about the main character and, gosh, he sounds like quite the jerk so far: “despite the fact that I had a ‘bad’ reputation, I never did anything bad.” It also seems to me he’s an unreliable narrator in that regard, which is awesome. I already hope he learns his lesson by the end of the story.
So far, he sounds like a completely honest, rebellious college guy (and I’m only guessing that your main character is a ‘he’, which may or may not be true). Awesome job on that, and awesome job on natural narrative flow. No awkward sentences or technical issues that gave me pause. It was an easy ride to the end.
Some tips –
Your main character does quite a bit of ‘explaining himself’ in the opening, which would constitute exposition. In the opening, for a faster pace and a quicker hook (especially for the YA audience, or the insofar controversial NA, if that’s what you’re aiming for), you want to refrain from giving up too much so quickly.
Capitalize on the action, what’s happening, starting with the characters arriving at “the house that would soon become my prison”, because this is the question that you’re giving your readers: why is the main character being shipped off here and why is it a prison? Why does dad think he’s going to screw up what’s about to happen?
When you ask these questions, don’t feel the need to answer them so quickly. Drop clues in dialogue. If you allude to the answers in your character’s thoughts, give specific events instead of a vague reference to parties and bad behavior. Vague references don’t stick with readers like true examples do. “I played plenty of pranks, got high in school on more than one occasion, and often slept with two girls within the same party” could be stronger if unloaded with actual examples.
If you want to convey that he’s rebellious and dislikes his father and the situation he’s been dumped in, I’d suggest you show it through dialogue and body language. You could try to lead into dialogue with stage action instead of relying on a dialogue tag that doesn’t carry its weight. For example:
"I know, Dad. Maybe you should get tested for Alzheimer's or something, because you've repeated that multiple times," I retorted.
If you lead into the dialogue with your character folding his arms or sinking lower into his seat or whatever it may be, you reader can hear the tone of his words through how he acts.
I’ve also noticed that you seem to be aiming for a specific type of POV that addresses the reader (AKA “third person universal omniscient”). If this was your intention and you intend to carry through the rest of the story in this way, I’d suggest taking out filler words like “see” and “trust me”. Although a natural part of dialogue, these words carry little meaning in a modern narrative sense and tend to clutter the narrative as well.
Anyway, in essence, capitalize on your action before background, and clue into background as you progress. This will help speed things up and let your readers find the answers to the questions you ask, instead of you answering all the questions for your readers.
Would I keep reading?
I’m going to say yes, at least to find out what dad thinks your main character might screw up (especially since it seems like the main character might get turned on his head, and I already have the need to read that).
Good luck and thanks for the submission (also a million sorrys that this took so long – it got a little lost in our email). ♥♥♥!