Monday, July 25, 2011

GUTGAA First 200 Word Contest Entry




Deana Barnhart is hosting an incredible agent judged contest!  Go here to enter if you haven't already.
The first 200 words of STORMLAND Chapter One...
A high pitched sound rattled the window. It was the distinctive whistle of a bomb dropping. Lena ran to the window and ripped open the curtains. The familiar skyline of Capital City stood as it always did, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. She waited. Any moment she would see the tower of flame, the glass windows bursting from the shimmering sky scrapers, and the Capitol building lost in a cloud of smoke and debris. And that would be the last thing she would see.

The sound faded and nothing happened. She began to breathe again, realizing that her whole body had been wound up like a spring. The sound was just a plane landing. She wished she would stop thinking the world was going to end every time a plane flew over. 
The second hand on her roommate’s pink pony alarm clock twitched along. To transform herself into the plucked and painted socialite she would need to be to fit in at the party, she needed an army of stylists and at least five hours. Of course, she had neither. She turned on her straightening iron and began to brush through her long blond hair. 

Confession...this is the first 200 words of chapter one, but I do have a prologue.  I have entered my prologue in two other blog contests and already have critique coming out of my ears!  :)  I hope you will forgive me for posting this instead so I can get critique on my chapter one beginning...which is the beginning for prologue skippers.  In the spirit of fairness, for the contest portion I will submit my real first 200 words.  If interested you can read the prologue here.
Thank you for your critique!!










19 comments:

  1. Hi Sharon:
    I love the youthful voice you've created here and the automatic dread Lena feels at hearing a familiar sound. I'm in favor of a little more flare to the description than just "high-pitched" (w/ hyphen). Is it a shrill, descending whine that grows louder as Lena tears the curtains from the window to look out?

    Also, I'd like a quick stroke of description to give us a feel for her room. Maybe before she runs to the window. Maybe the "bomb" could rattle (for instance) the chrome and black picture frames on her wall over her vanity mirror.

    "She waited." How? I love "her whole body had been wound up like a spring," but we get this after the fact.

    Excited by the query for this book! Luck!

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  2. Hi Sharon - wow - I loved this. Slightly dispointed that it wasn't an actual bomb! I'm not sure what that says about me...

    Anyhow, it will keep me reading to see what made her so paranoid. Just one suggestion actually:

    "The second hand on her roommate’s pink pony alarm clock twitched along."

    Switch the sentence around as when I read "hand" intially I thought human hand - so it threw me and ruined the fluidity. Just have:

    "On her roommate’s pink pony alarm clock, the second hand twitched along."

    Good luck!

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  3. I think this is great so far. :)

    My only thing to add is I find it hard to believe she just goes back to brushing her hair. I know this is supposed to show bombings/threats are a mundane occurrence, but I don't find it believable (the girl just thought she would die in a pillar of flame or something).

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  4. I really enjoyed this. I don't know what the genre is, so my fantasy-prone mind immediately wondered if she'd lived through dying before and, like in Groundhog Day, she found herself back again before whatever disaster had killed her. So when it turns out to be nothing, it really threw me with the talk about a pink alarm clock and the need to get dressed up for a fancy party.

    I imagine the information in the prologue and the back cover would have guided me correctly.

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  5. I liked the tension of the scene, and that you started with a question to be answered--"What is that noise?" I agree with an Alleged Author, I would like to see a little more fear, maybe a shaking hand brushing her hair. Don't let her recover so quickly. Keep up the tension.

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  6. Oh, I can't read it. All the words are in a single file down the left hand side of the page...I'll try again later.

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  7. Sharon, your prologue totally rocks with no changes. Wow, I still have shivers.

    Chapter 1 also does an excellent job of painting a chilling glimpse of Lena’s world. The only thing that threw me was in the last graph; the pink pony alarm clock made me feel that Lena would be younger than what the straightening iron sentence made me believe. I would definitely turn the page, ASAP.

    By the way, you have a response to your comment on Bird’s-eye View, http://michellefayard.blogspot.com/2011/07/blogfest-first-200-words-contest.html.

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  8. Like Amy, I can't read this! All words on a single line to the left of your post...like a vertical cross word puzzle! I'll try later.

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  9. Something about the last line of the first paragraph bothers me. I read it without and it seemed to flow more smoothly. It stopped me because all of a sudden I was asking, "well how did she know it was the last thing she'd ever see?" Mostly because bombs can blow up other buildings and the one you're in can be intact. But that's my only suggestion - all else reads great to me.

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  10. Uhhhhhh ... can't read this at all. It's just one single straight line. Sorry!

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  11. I have to agree with Lora on this one. Great job overall!

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  12. i really liked the immediacy of the danger and tension contrasted by her mundane reaction (fixing her hair), but I also agree with other commenters about showing at least the residual effects of the fear/adrenaline rush while she returns to the mundane.

    Overall, great beginning!

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  13. So many great comments! Thank you everyone! I am happy to hear the positive feedback.

    Michelle, you make a good point about the pink pony alarm clock giving the wrong impression of age. Living in a foster home, Lena shares her room with younger girls. But to help orient the reader to Lena's age and because of Freya's suggestion, I may chance this detail. Or perhaps if I add a few more details about the room as Lora suggested, that one won't stand out as much.

    Angie, Donna, Alleged Author - Good feedback about Lena recovering too quickly. In an earlier draft, I had her a little more wound up, and I forgot why I changed it. It may also be a side effect of stopping at 200 words, in the next line she shows her jumpiness more.

    Melodie & Amy - I'm so sorry that the formatting is messed up! I'm not sure why. Maybe you can read it here:

    A high pitched sound rattled the window. It was the distinctive whistle of a bomb dropping. Lena ran to the window and ripped open the curtains. The familiar skyline of Capital City stood as it always did, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. She waited. Any moment she would see the tower of flame, the glass windows bursting from the shimmering sky scrapers, and the Capitol building lost in a cloud of smoke and debris. And that would be the last thing she would see.

    The sound faded and nothing happened. She began to breathe again, realizing that her whole body had been wound up like a spring. The sound was just a plane landing. She wished she would stop thinking the world was going to end every time a plane flew over.

    The second hand on her roommate’s pink pony alarm clock twitched along. To transform herself into the plucked and painted socialite she would need to be to fit in at the party, she needed an army of stylists and at least five hours. Of course, she had neither. She turned on her straightening iron and began to brush through her long blond hair.

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  14. I think a stronger opening sentence would be to combine the first two sentences - A high-pitched sound rattled the window, the distinctive whistle of a bomb dropping. Now that is a gripping opening!

    Be careful not to start too many sentences with "she".

    I do think she recovered a little too quickly but other than that, I enjoyed this snippet!

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  15. I can't read your post either. It all lines up on the left, one letter at a time.

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  16. Super weird, I'm with the others that can't see this :(

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  17. Interesting start. Is this Dystopian? It definitely caught my attention. It inspires a lot of questions. I made some comments and suggestions between the [[[marks]]]. Hope they make sense! Good Luck!

    A high pitched sound rattled the window. It was the distinctive whistle of a bomb dropping. Lena ran to the window and ripped open the curtains. [[[Would she want to go to a window if a bomb would explode or would she hide under something?]]]The familiar skyline of Capital City stood as it always did, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. She waited for the tower of flame, the glass windows bursting from sky scrapers, and the Capitol building lost in a cloud of smoke and debris. [[[I tightened this up. Just a suggestion.]]]

    The sound faded and nothing happened. She began to breathe again, realizing that her whole body had been wound up like a spring. The sound was just a plane landing. She wished she would stop thinking the world was going to end every time a plane flew over.

    On her roommate’s pink pony alarm clock, the second hand twitched along. [[[Freya's suggestion]To transform herself into the plucked and painted socialite she would need to be to fit in at the party, [read this sentence outloud it made me stumble]]] she needed an army of stylists and at least five hours. Of course, she had neither. She turned on her straightening iron and began to brush through her long blond hair[[[her still hand shaking.]]]

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  18. Sharon, thanks for writing it in your comment. You certainly held my attention. My favorite paragraph is the last, love it that she just thought the world was going to end and here's her roommate's pink pony alarm clock. ALso, that she thinks she'd need an army of stylists.

    I would definately read on.

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  19. Good start and I think that it is interesting that she is so scared from the sound of a plane. I wonder about the sound of the plane because it would sound much different than a bomb, unless of course it is a special bomb, just a thought.

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