Monday, March 4, 2013

First 250 Words Smash! #11

Sacrificial Lamb Author: Yali Noriega || Peripeciasdeunaerreita @ Blogspot
Hungry Editor: Victoria
Working Title: N/A

It was early morning when Carmen woke up, the sunlight coming in through the bullseye their cabin had for a window. It seemed brighter somehow; perhaps it was the reflection of the water, or maybe it was all in her mind, but everything felt different. Last night at dinner, the Captain told his passengers they would be pulling into New York City Harbor early today and she had decided she wanted to be out on the deck to see it. The week long voyage was finally arriving, and she was more than ready to land. It was the beginning of a new life for her; she could not wait.

Carmen changed quickly, taking care not to upset the carefully packed trunk, slipped on her shoes and left her sleeping husband behind. She felt the chill, salty morning air, and it scared away what sleep was left in her. Carmen's eyes were wide with wonder: as fas as she could see there were buildings and construction sites, the statue of Liberty on a tiny island, an enormous expanse of land full of houses and, she imagined, squares, markets, parks, people. The city seemed to stretch all the way to the water and finish abruptly there. Except it didn't; the harbor was full of ships of all sizes, some docked, some moving. She was barely arriving and she already could already how busy this place was; it made her eager to begin this adventure, explore the city, make it hers. 

Strong Points--

 I think the second paragraph is your strongest. You create the best pictures in there, and we get the best sense of voice. Things like 'make it hers' and 'scared away what sleep was left in her' really give me the best details, even without you having to say much about it. They give your character voice and life. It also provides the most insight to Carmen. I'd have to guess, off the top of my head, that this is a historical piece from the words 'trunk' and 'markets'.

I also liked some of the imagery you painted for us. The idea that the city goes right up to the shoreline and then spills over as the boats, the tiny island with a big statue, the bullseye window with the bright light leaking in, those moments really help us visualize what Carmen sees.

Some Tips--

I hate to say it, but I would probably take out most of the first paragraph. It's mostly unnecessary, as the important details come in the second paragraph. We don't need to know she decided she wanted to be on the deck when they pull in--we know that by the fact that she's there. We don't need to be told that it's New York City, as the Statue of Liberty is a key indicator. Utilize that and cut out the things that we can learn later. There is so much potential here, and a tickling tease that makes me want to know why she had to come to the States to start anew, but everything is bogged down by the fatty edges. Trim that off and polish the hook of your opening.

Your character's voice shines when it's there, as I pointed out earlier. They give me an idea of who Carmen is and what she's feeling. But I don't feel it's in there enough. You have a great starting point, now feel free to embellish it with a little more of Carmen's personal flair.

Also, please avoid telling with things such as 'eyes wide with wonder'. The short description of her round eyes coupled with her whirring thoughts is perfectly enough. We as the reader want to feel her wonder, not be told that she is experiencing it. Another way to help this is to take out words such as 'felt' and 'saw'. Since this is more or less from Carmen's POV, we know she's the one feeling it and seeing it, and these words are just a middle man that bog down your sentences.

Would I keep reading?

Unfortunately, not just yet. I don't feel I have enough to really get me going, but I think that would be helped a lot by taking most of that first paragraph out. That leaves room for more 250 Word Smashes, after all.  But I am intrigued, so please resubmit if you choose to edit it! Pretty please?

<3 <3 <3 <3


  1. Hi! I replied on Tumblr because that's where I saw this first, but thanks again for the crit! It's really helpful and I love that you're so nice about it. I'll definitely resubmit once I've gone through it again - and again. :)

  2. I'm so happy to hear it! Thank you for being willing to hear the crit and for taking it so positively. It's a very strong writer who can listen to it and come out better, so thank you! I really look forward to seeing this piece again, because you have some moments in there that really shine. :)