Know Your Friends - Young Adult - First 743 words out of 66,000

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Thread: Know Your Friends - Young Adult - First 743 words out of 66,000

  1. #1

    Know Your Friends - Young Adult - First 743 words out of 66,000

    Hi All,
    This is part of the opening chapter of my young adult book.
    Does this draw you in - are you interested enough to continue reading?
    I look forward to hearing your thoughts

    Don’t be scared, all you have to do is walk in and be yourself...
    I don’t know how many times I have told myself this, but I figure one last time can’t hurt. I smile politely and say; “Hello, my name is Emily, what’s your name?”
    I listen attentively, nodding my head where appropriate. The person in front of me then says something outrageously funny to which I throw my head back and cry with laughter...
    Okay - the throwing back of my head reveals too much of what might be lurking up my nose; it is slightly upturned anyway so I don’t need to draw even more attention to it. I try the laugh again, but this time hurling forwards - literally clutching my sides with laughter. Yes, this is better, so long as the person in front of me isn't standing too close that I end up breaking their nose by lunging forwards too forcefully, I think that’s the one.
    ‘I’ll be waiting in the car!’ Mum shouts from downstairs.
    Right, this is it. I take a deep breath and triple check that I don’t have toothpaste smudges or toast crumbs lingering around my mouth. I tighten my ponytail, wonder if my eyes might look better if they were a slightly brighter blue than the dark blue I inherited from Dad, pray that the spot I can feel brewing on my chin won’t make a surprise appearance today, and when I finally decide there is nothing else I can physically do to improve my appearance, I emerge from the bathroom.
    I take the stairs two at a time, slip into my black pumps which are waiting by the front door and grab my ridiculously heavy bag. As I am the last one out of the house, I lock up behind me with my very own house key, and climb into the passenger seat of the car, ready to start the next chapter of my life.
    My little sister, Sophie, is singing to a song on the radio in the back seat. Well I say singing - she doesn't really seem to know any of the words so she is just making up her own version. She doesn't have a care in the world right now; she is still safe in primary school where she already has her set of friends, she won’t be getting lost in the school corridors, and she has teachers who already know and care about her.
    I am about to face year seven. I’ll be starting at a proper school; a place where detention is a possibility, teachers are probably ten times stricter, and I’ll be mixed with teenagers – not small children with sticky fingers and snotty noses, but girls who date and wear bras. The thought alone makes my heart flutter; I've never had a boyfriend, and I've only just managed to convince Mum to buy me my first bra. It even said ‘First Bra’ on the label just in case it wasn't embarrassing enough trying to find a double A cup amongst rows of lace, push-up, and water bras for women who actually need them.
    I should feel fortunate that Mum is dropping me off at Lucy’s house first; Lucy is one of my best friends, and conveniently lives one road away from our new school. I imagine Rachel will be there by now as well; my other best friend, completing our trio. The three of us have been practically inseparable since we all met at the beginning of primary school.
    Quite often, the three of us have been mistaken for sisters; I think the only reason is because we are all short with brown hair, but nevertheless, I have always thought of Lucy and Rachel as my sisters – not that I’d ever say that in front of Sophie; I can only imagine how that would go down.
    We had all decided to walk in together in the hope it would make the first day seem less daunting. Unfortunately for me, this doesn't actually provide much in the way of comfort. Both Lucy and Rachel have been put into the 7E form group; I have been put into 7B, which isn't only a different registration class, but a completely separate half of year seven, meaning I won’t have a single class crossover with either of them. This has been weighing down on my mind since receiving the damning letter through the post two weeks ago.

  2. #2
    Hi Nicola! I really liked this - the nose bit made me laugh out loud. I have a granddaughter who is 14 this year, first year of high school, so I can see her in this.

    Only a few comments on content. I think, since this is the beginning and you want to grab those readers, you can make your MC just a little flawed. Like her remembering to lock the door, in her highly agitated state, is just a smidge unrealistic. Maybe she could remember as she was almost to the car, or maybe her mom asked if she had remembered and you can give an opportunity to explore how that would go. (In my world, there would be eye-rolls! LOL). Just a little refining, thinking about that girl. Everything else looks really on the money. I had three girls of my own and your chapter hit home. Good job!

    I see you are really new here, so you might not have noticed that when you cut and pasted your work from your computer to the forum, some of the formatting went away. Just spend a moment or two before posting making sure your paragraphs are separated by spaces, etc. It makes the read so much better.

    Don’t be scared, all you have to do is walk in and be yourself...
    I don’t know how many times I have told myself this, but I figure one last time can’t hurt. I smile politely and say; “Hello, my name is Emily, what’s your name?”
    I listen attentively, nodding my head where appropriate. The person in front of me then says something outrageously funny to which I throw my head back and cry with laughter...
    Don’t be scared, all you have to do is walk in and be yourself...

    I don’t know how many times I have told myself this, but I figure one last time can’t hurt.

    I smile politely and say; “Hello, my name is Emily, what’s your name?”

    I listen attentively, nodding my head where appropriate. The person in front of me then says something outrageously funny to which I throw my head back and cry with laughter...

    I have to comment on the opening too. When my youngest daughter, Heidi, started high school, all the others had already graduated, so she was on her own. During orientation, she and I sat and picked out cute boys, or potential cute boys (we did have a difference of opinion on that ) and on her first day, I told her - find one girl who is standing alone, just one. Go up to her and say "Hi, my name is Heidi. What's your name?" and I guaranteed that she would have a friend to eat lunch with on her first day. I don't know if she ever did that, but it was sort of heartwarming to see that advice is still effective TODAY!

    Good job here, Nicola, and I look forward to reading more.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No, I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  3. #3
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    I like the writing style and since it's just a short preview, I'm searching for what issues are going to be highlighted.
    Your main character is quite the deep thinker, very aware of her surroundings, which should be appealing to young ladies that examine what's going on around them.

    Oh, but I think it's "Weighing on my mind", not "Weighing down on my mind".
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  4. #4
    "so long as the person in front of me isn't standing too close that I end up breaking their nose"

    I felt there should be a 'so' in there, either,
    so long as the person in front of me isn't standing too close, so that I end up breaking their nose
    or
    so long as the person in front of me isn't standing so close that I end up breaking their nose

    The 'that' is not really needed, it is often an extra word we shove in without it adding anything.


    "My little sister, Sophie, is singing to a song on the radio in the back seat"

    That reads as though there is a radio on the back seat which is playing your sister singing in the studio. It is a regular comment of mine, 'put the things together that go together', you have your sister at one end of the sentence and the back seat at the other.


    " She doesn't have a care in the world right now; she is still safe in primary school where she already has her set of friends, she won’t be getting lost in the school corridors, and she has teachers who already know and care about her.
    I am about to face year seven. I’ll be starting at a proper school; a place where detention is a possibility, teachers are probably ten times stricter, and I’ll be mixed with teenagers – not small children with sticky fingers and snotty noses, but girls who date and wear bras. The thought alone makes my heart flutter; I've never had a boyfriend, and I've only just managed to convince Mum to buy me my first bra. "

    Bit heavy on the She's and I's here, try losing a few, like "I am about to face year seven, and starting at a proper school"

    "The three of us have been practically inseparable since we all met at the beginning of primary school."
    Qualifying words weaken sentences, and this is one that seems like it should naturally be strong,
    "The three of us have been inseparable since we met at the beginning of primary school."
    People will understand you are not being entirely literal about inseparable and 'met' and 'all met' are really the same thing.


    Sue is right, I have two girls and there is a lot in there that reminds me of them, like the similar appearance of friends. I remember my daughter and her friend going and standing by the wrong mother with their back to them to see how long before they noticed, they didn't actually take the wrong one home, but it came close It strikes me as an excellent start, and putting up a short extract is far more likely to get sensible responses.
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  5. #5
    I liked it. I would keep reading.

    There was a level of detachment that I would rather not have. I'm not sure how to characterize that, sorry. To give an example, "ready to start the next chapter of my life" isn't a seventh grader. Or "Well I say singing". She actually didn't say that. And of course you aren't going to write, "Well, I think singing". People don't usually correct their own thoughts like that.

    She isn't trying to be herself. That's an inconsistency.

    People don't tell themselves something and then justify it to themselves.

    So, it's like you are supposed to be your character as you write this. And it's more like you are creating your character.

    And yes, I am frustrated with myself for the vagueness of that. Sorry again. Good luck, best wishes.
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  6. #6
    Thanks everyone for those comments, they’re very helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to read.

    My hope was that young readers would be able to find this relatable right from the start (and hopefully funny in places) to want to continue reading.

    I’ll review these points above and try to tidy it up a bit.

  7. #7
    Twas written well. Flows well, and would appeal to YA crowds.

    I would italicize the first sentence so it is more apparent that it is an inner thought.
    Don’t be scared, all you have to do is walk in and be yourself...
    There were a couple of other internal thoughts that would work better in italics.

    I wasn't klazy about the nose thing. You may consider something more fun like she locks the door before realizing her skirt is caught in the door (showing her nervousness.)

    Keep at it; you are on the right heading.



  8. #8
    Thank you for your feedback Ralph Rotten, yes with whether to italicise the internal thoughts I keep changing my mind over. There is quite a lot of this throughout the book and I had read it can be distracting or annoying to have too many italics, so I thought maybe to keep it consistent and leave as it is...

  9. #9
    I have had the same problem, having invented a character who is forever having internal thoughts. "Speaking out loud" I put him in double inverted commas as normal. If he is thinking 'Something to himself' it goes into single ones, I also ignore the rule about starting a new paragraph for each speaker if it is not spoken aloud. Italics would be messy and distracting to my mind, it is usually obvious whether it is aloud or not, if there is ambiguity I also add something like 'He thought to himself.'

    This may not be an entirely conventional solution, but it seems to work and looks reasonable.
    Visit my website to read and connect to my 'soundcloud', where you can listen to stories songs and more
    Hidden Content

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  10. #10
    Hi Olly,

    That’s good to know - I had been using double “ for when there is a question or something my character is thinking but is about to say e.g:
    I wanted to ask, “how are you today?” But I couldn’t get my words out.

    Or something along those lines.

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