So today the “first page” of my book was featured on First Impressions, which is a recurring critique post created by the talented Dianne K. Salerni and Marcy S. Hatch. Both are seasoned writers, and full of really useful and constructive advice. On the first M/W/F of every month, they critique the first 300-350 words of a writer’s work-in-progress, and help point them in the right direction! Here is what I submitted to them:
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
A drug rehabilitation group coined this phrase in the 60s, as a way for its members to feel like they could reinvent themselves. You can find this sentiment in song lyrics, on coffee mugs, and encouragingly uttered by my Nana Quinn when I update her on the status of my love life. The problem with this phrase is that it indicates I am unhappy with the way things are, that I don’t find myself to be an absolute delight.
Well, maybe I’m a little rough around the edges, but theater camp is not the way to polish me up. I imagine that all of Oxford University’s other incoming freshmen are taking summer courses, or moving to England to become oriented with the campus. My summer is apparently going to involve tights.
I really didn’t have a choice.
You’d think most parents would be thrilled that their progeny had studied their ass off for years, could debate on a great number of topics, and was one of the few chosen to continue their education in the most hallowed of halls.
My parents are both sex therapists and want me to continue living at home, and follow in their footsteps at Berkeley.
This is what I’m dealing with.
I didn’t even get a boisterous “Hallelujah!” when I told them the good news. They just sat down on the worn, leather love seat in their study, and fixed their therapist stares on me.
“Honey, don’t you think you’re a little young to move that far away?” Sophia said tying her long, dark hair up with one of her many floral scarves.
“Please. I’m seventeen years old, which actually means a lot more in England. I’m practically drinking age! Plus, I finished all my high school classwork almost two years ago! I can’t just hang out here forever.” I folded my arms across my chest and gave them my beat-that look.
“Ellie, we’re just concerned because you’ve never really had classmates before, and that can sometimes be a difficult transition,” Edwin, my dad, piped up in solidarity.
It is a very short little snippet, but you can tell a lot from this passage. Mostly, that I am leaning more towards “telling” the reader, rather than “showing” the reader. This is a big writing no-no, and I really do need to take another pass at the first chapter. However, I do feel that I have evolved and grown as a writer since I wrote these words almost seven months ago, and I do believe that my later chapters have a lot more dialogue and action. It was a really good reminder, and Dianne and Marcy gave me some excellent guidelines to keep in mind when I begin the long and arduous task of editing.
I am hoping to finish my book this month (and it is actually looking like I probably will!), and then I think I might put it out of my mind for maybe a month. Just long enough to be able to look at it with slightly fresh eyes. I can’t even imagine how long editing will take me…I’ve whined in the past about how I have issues with grammar and tenses, and my rough draft probably resembles a war zone.
So I wanted to find a serious war zone picture, so you can understand the carnage that is my rough draft. Instead, I found this insane Armageddon, epic, cat-battle picture. I felt you needed this in your life more.
Today is the second day of NaNoWriMo, and I am hoping to not lose momentum and get another 1,700 words in tonight! Wish me luck!!
Go here to read Dianne’s critique: Dianne’s blog
Go here to read Marcy’s critique: Marcy’s blog