Thursday, May 30, 2013

First 250 Words Smash! #19

Very Cool Author: Anna
Super Lame Editor: Victoria
Working Title: Through a Glass Darkly

There had always been strange things about their town. No one really had an outstanding face. Everyone had the same couch in their living room. Lines tended to blur the further you left town. If you walked far enough, everything faded to gray. Unless you went to the airport, then you could fly to either Miami or New York City, but there were never flights going anywhere else.
But most of the people who lived in Ridgeville didn’t notice, or care all that much. This was how it had always been. In fact, it never occurred to any of them that any of these things was outside of the norm.
Sometimes there were the voices. Not everyone heard them, and even if a person had heard them, they often tried to pretend it was nothing.
Amy certainly didn’t think it was anything special, and that’s what she told Nikki as they got fries at the burger place.
“...I mean, you haven’t heard them, right?”       
“No,” Nikki shook her head, dark hair pulling loose from her ponytail, as it always did. “But I wonder sometimes...I do we know there isn’t know, out there?” she gestured widely with her hands.
Amy rolled her eyes. “No way, Niks. All we have is the here and now.”
Nikki nodded slowly, running a fry through the ketchup.
“Hey!” Amy reached across the table and snapped in front of her friend’s face. Nikki jumped and looked up quickly.
“Sorry,” she mumbled.

Strong Points--
Right off you set a nice, creepy atmosphere. This town is very intriguing and super weird, and not even in a cliche sort of way. I really like the little things you picked to tell us about Ridgeville, like the strange flights that the airport offers, or the fact that everyone has the same couch or the voices that only certain people hear. Right away you've raised some crucial questions, and you set a pretty good atmosphere.

You've also eased us into the description of your main characters. You avoided the pitfalls of looking in the mirror or a sudden dump of hair color and eye color, and instead you've chosen to spoon-feed us little tidbits here and there. Great job, because it can be all too tempting to unload that all at once. Also, through the conversation, we already have a very good idea of who Nikki and Amy are, and just how different the two girls can be.

Some Tips--
You have a lot of telling in here, as opposed to just showing us that some people here the voices, and some don't. As I stated, I really love what you have going on with the town. But you may want to ask yourself if these would impact your readers greater if you showed that Amy and Nikki and everyone else has the same couch in the same living room, or if you showed that maybe Amy hears these voices and Nikki doesn't.

Also, Nikki and Amy's dialogue comes off as somewhat stilted, or unnatural. When I read it, it just doesn't sound like a real conversation between two friends. It almost comes off as staged, with a tad bit of reader feeder, or things they're saying just because you need the readers to know this information. You use ellipses a lot, and while I don't think they should be omitted altogether, I believe you may want to cut back so that they don't lose their effectiveness. Same with little phrases such as 'I mean'. I don't find anything wrong with them here and there. I'm guilty of it as well, but I'm also aware that they will be taken out in the editing process.

This brings me to dialogue tags. You have actions in here that can't be used as dialogue tags. Nikki can't exactly shake her head "No" or widely gesture that whole question. Those are actions separate from the dialogue, and would be best as a separate sentence. I would even advise you to take out "mumbled" because I believe you can convey this much better. I think you can paint a better picture for us, perhaps with her eyes dropping or her fidgeting. I don't know your character like you do, I don't know what she may do when she's nervous and submissive, but I'm positive you can show us better than using that tag.

Also, I don't really have much of a basis for picturing this burger place. Is it gross and dirty? Is it retro-styled? Is it a family-oriented place or do they serve beers? I don't know. You don't have to dump a ton of details, but I would like you to spoon feed us additional information so that we have a better idea.

Would I keep reading?
Not yet, no. But I am intrigued, and I really love the idea of this town, so please, don't be afraid to resubmit! I would love to see what becomes of this piece!

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