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First Draft Extract of YA Romance (1 Viewer)

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summergenevieve

Senior Member
Hello everyone. This is a second attempt after scrapping my first story, re-writing and adjusting the plot. As the storyline progresses, it does conatin many conventions of a drama. Feedback and constructive critisism would be appreciated. :p

Alise stood at the sink, scrubbing dishes when a knock on the door roused her from a daydream. She wasn’t expecting anyone…or did Layla say she’d pop in? Alise rid her hands of soap suds and with a dazed look turned to open the door. Cale Prater stood in front of her with a menacing smile plastered across his face. “Why are you here?”

“Nice to see you too Ali. How’re things?” Alise stood staring at him with a look of distain. She didn’t suffer fools. “Well can I come in?” Alise threw her hand to the side, gesturing inside the house. Cale stepped through the door, brushing past Alise teasingly as he went. He knew how to push all her buttons and personal space was very important to her. Too bad he didn’t care.

Alise led Cale into the kitchen and resided to the dish duty once more. “So I’ll ask you again…why are you here? Erin never mentioned you were in Newcastle.” Alise first encountered Cale on a trip to Ireland, with Erin and Layla, the Summer previously. Erin had fallen for Cale, but Alise was still suspicious. Erin had then ignored Alise’s warning leaving Erin and Cale to enter into their sickly sweet relationship. Alise had pretended to be happy for Erin yet still couldn’t shake her bad feeling about Cale. “Plus, your visit’ll be short. I have my sister’s 16
[SUP]th[/SUP] soon.”

Cale chortled to himself. “I know, Erin sent me to pick you up. She had to pop out and said she’d be late picking you up, so I said I’d take you.” He examined the bracelet Alise had yet to wrap up for her sister. “Nice piece of jewellery by the way. Must of set you back quite a bit I bet.”

Alise snatched the box out his hand. “Never you mind. And since when did you get invited to my little sister’s birthday?” It was one thing for him to turn up unannounced but another thing entirely to intrude into her personal family life.

Cale stood up from the bench he was perching on and glared at Alise. “What is your problem with me? Your mum invited me. Erin was already invited and I do happen to be her boyfriend you know. Now sort yourself out and at least pretend to like me for Erin’s sake.Then you can go back to plotting my murder if you like.”

Alise finished the dishes and turned to look at Cale, gobsmacked at his abruptness. He’d never snapped at her like that before. He was normally the carefree chilled out guy who pissed about all the time. “I’m not plotting your murder…I just don’t like you.”


“Good. Glad we’ve cleared that up. So are you anywhere near ready or not?” Cale grabbed his car keys and headed towards the door, shuffling impatiently. “I’ll be waiting in the car so what ever you’re doing, hurry up about it.” And with that, the door slammed shut behind him, as if it knew Alise's thoughts.

Note: the system keeps removing my indents and joining certain words together.
 
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SteelPalm

Senior Member
The excerpt isn't bad. Obviously, there are a lot of spelling, grammar, and syntax errors that need to be cleaned up. There is also some unnecessary word repetition, like "fool".

Aside from that, I think certain sentences (like the first one) are unnecessarily wordy, and stand out even more since they clash with the rest of the passage. And I like your straightforward, unaffected sentences. That tone suits the story well.

In terms of content, I would go deeper into Alise's emotions about Cale. Or perhaps use some interesting metaphors. Right now, the emotions are shallow and standard, which doesn't grab a reader's interest. I would also strongly reconsider naming a character "Byrony", too.

Overall though, it's an okay starting point. Out of curiosity, who is your target audience?
 

summergenevieve

Senior Member
Thanks for your feedback.

I was thinking the same thing about the emotions, just to confirm Alise's character a bit more. Although the story is written in first person, my main aim is to keep Alise as the centre of conciousness.

Bryony's the name I kept from the first draft but after your suggestion I'm thinking of changing it to something that doesn't stand out as much...like Layla or Lori. Opinion?

And I was originally aiming for the target audience to be young adults although it could come across as an adult romance/drama.
 
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Pennywise

Senior Member
its a good description, but i actually on reading first thought that Alise is in her middle aged because the conversation seemed to suggest, then the part of little sister came up then i realised she may be younger. so my suggestion is describe Alise and Cale a little like " Alise like a typical 20 year old liked her personal space or something onthose lines" I am just suggesting that maybe we can hint on her age and Cale's age too.
 

SteelPalm

Senior Member
its a good description, but i actually on reading first thought that Alise is in her middle aged because the conversation seemed to suggest, then the part of little sister came up then i realised she may be younger. so my suggestion is describe Alise and Cale a little like " Alise like a typical 20 year old liked her personal space or something onthose lines" I am just suggesting that maybe we can hint on her age and Cale's age too.

I disagree. I like how summergenevieve introduced this information more organically. The audience doesn't have to be spoon-fed all the information from the very beginning.

summergenevieve said:
Bryony's the name I kept from the first draft but after your suggestion I'm thinking of changing it to something that doesn't stand out as much...like Layla or Lori. Opinion?

Yes, both of those wouldn't come across nearly as weird and silly-sounding. Unless you want the character of Byrony to be thought of as weird and silly, that is!

And I was originally aiming for the target audience to be young adults although it could come across as an adult romance/drama.

Well, I know it's young adult because of the section you posted in, but I meant more specifically. For instance, is it mostly for 10 year-old girls, 18 year-old girls, or even some crossover appeal with the (few) boys that read? I ask because I think it affects the way you should portray relationships between your characters.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
'Tousled golden hair' ruins the domestic, simplistic image that the first line almost creates. It's a bit out of place, IMO.

Defining Alise as a 'type of person' also withdraws me from her perspective.

The use of anecdote in this passage is uninteresting for me, and too condensed and hastily drawn. Alise and Cale, also, seem to hastily drawn, and I fail to connect with them as characters in either a positive or negative light.

That said, you have a clear voice and a good tone developing. I'm not a fan of YA romance (in fact, I usually find petroleum and matchsticks greatly improve their quality) but you have the beginnings of the beginnings of a successful drama here. I'm more interested in the characters than I am with those found in most of the published work in this genre - all I want is to be able to get deeper into them.
 

summergenevieve

Senior Member
Well, I know it's young adult because of the section you posted in, but I meant more specifically. For instance, is it mostly for 10 year-old girls, 18 year-old girls, or even some crossover appeal with the (few) boys that read? I ask because I think it affects the way you should portray relationships between your characters.

Thank you. being more specific, the book is aimed at 17/18 year old mostly females but with the development of the storyline, males may also enjoy reading it.
 
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summergenevieve

Senior Member
Thanks for your advice. I am busy developing the characterisation at the minute because it seems a bit brief. And I understand where you're coming from with the over descriptiton of looks etc but that is a big aspect of the romance genre (YA or Adult) and to be honest, you need to set the scene and get a feel for the characters within the first 3 chapters at least. However the storyline does blend into more of a drama than anything but it is still meant to come across as a romance.
 
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SteelPalm

Senior Member
Thank you. being more specific, the book is aimed at 17/18 year old mostly females but with the development of the storyline, males may also enjoy reading it.

In that case, the thoughts and situations in your work should be more mature. It's hard to judge from an extract, but there should probably be more sexual thoughts and tension between the characters, especially if Alise and Cale will eventually fall in love, as seems to be the indication.

summergenevieve said:
And I understand where you're coming from with the over descriptiton of looks etc but that is a big aspect of the romance genre (YA or Adult) and to be honest, you need to set the scene and get a feel for the characters within the first 3 chapters at least.

I
t's not "over description" so much as a generic, wordy sentence that can be found in thousands of different works, but doesn't accurately convey an image or idea. And in this case, it also clashes with your voice and writing style throughout the rest of the work, which is clear and simple. (In this case, a good quality) For instance, I dislike this sentence;

"Erin had been besotted with Cale but he set Alise’s intuitive alarm bells ringing."

"Besotted" is a vague and little-used word, and the whole sentence is clearer and more direct as

"Erin was enamored with Cale, but Alise didn't trust him."

or "Erin had fallen for Cale, but Alise was still suspicious."


Cadence actually mentioned something similar in his post. Don't try to imitate what you have read in most other YA books. Most of them are written dreadfully, and you will write much better than them in a few years, if you don't already.

summergeneive said:
Has anybody got any tips on how to put across the thoughts of characters? I'm seriously struggling at the moment.

It depends on how sophisticated and interesting the thoughts of the characters are, but there are multiple ways to do it, all of which can be successful.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
The most important word for this, IMO, is subtlety.

Your reader is the most intelligent person in the universe. So you have to fool them! Hide things. Dig deep down into your prose and bury a thought, a feeling, an idea - anything - that you don't want them to find.

They'll probably find it. But it will make your story have a lot more depth.

Do it again, and again, always making sure that the story is still clear, and you eventually will have people talking about this chapter in cafes. Or something.
 

summergenevieve

Senior Member
This is my first attempt at editing the excerpt. Again criticism and comments would be helpful. :)

Chapter 1

Alise stood at the sink, scrubbing dishes when a knock on the door roused her from a daydream. It wasn't often that she had the house to herself. Sharing a big family home usually meant no privacy or alone time, both of which are very important to a 20 year old. She rid her hands of soap suds, then with a dazed look, turned and opened the door. Cale Prater stood in front of her with a menacing smile plastered across his face. "Why are you here?" Her stomach flipped instantly, awakening a swarm of butterflies that engulfed the pit of her stomach.

"Nice to see you too Ali. How're things?" Alise stood staring at his piercing periwinkle eyes and hoped she was still daydreaming. "Well can I come in?" She blinked in disbelief before throwing her hand to the side, gesturing into the house. Cale stepped through the door and brushed his hand against Alise's in passing, sending a shiver rippling through her body. How could anyone have that effect on her? He wasn't even hers to swoon over.

Alise led Cale to the kitchen and resided to the dish duty once more. "Erin never mentioned you were in Newcastle." Alise first met Cale on a trip to Ireland, the Summer previously. Erin, her best friend, had been besotted with Cale, leaving Alise in an unfortunate pickle after returning to the UK. Erin and Cale had entered into a relationship while Alise was left guilt stricken and yearning for Cale's affection. "I'm sorry but your visit'll have to be short. I have to be at my sister's party soon."

Cale chortled to himself. His laugh was light hearted and cheery, the kind that made Alise weak in the knees. "I know, Erin sent me to pick you up instead of her." He examined a bracelet that had been left unwrapped presumably for her sister. He let his eyes wander over to Alise who's gaze he caught. She blushed and turned her back to him. Alise knew she shouldn't flirt, he was her best friend's boyfriend for Christ sake. "Nice piece of jewelry by the way. Must of set you back quite a bit I bet."

Alise snatched the box out of his hand, batting her eyelashes provocatively. "Never you mind. And since when did you get invited to my little sister's birthday?"

Cale stood up from the bench he was perching on and took the tea towel from Alise's hands. "Let me help you with that." He scooped up a palm full of bubbles and blew them at Alise. She screeched and returned the favour, then proceeded to smush them all over his face. Still laughing, Cale removed the gap between them and wiped away the bubbles from Alise's cheeks. She stretched up and kissed Cale softly where Cale embraced her body like it was the most delicate silk in the world. Alise pulled back as she realized what she'd just done, what she had just made Cale do.

"No. No it's not right. Erin's my friend. She's your girlfriend. She thinks I don't like you." Alise backed away in a panic. "I'm not meant to like you." Even though she knew there would be consequences, Alise felt no regret. She'd felt the warmth of his body and his lips against hers, like smooth velvet on skin. Alise focused back on the reality and looked up at Cale, stood like a fish out of water with an unsettled expression on his face.

"You can't just kiss me and pretend like it never happened. I can never tell whether you like me or hate me. Or is that one of your manipulative little mind tricks, where you make me believe one thing but think the other? I don't know." He ran his fingers through his ruffled caramel hair in a wild frenzy. "You're sweet one minute and then it all seems to get a bit too much for you and you shut people out. You shut me out."

Alise looked at Cale, gob-smacked at his abruptness. He probably thought she had bipolar. Cale normally never cared what people thought of him. Why did he have to care about her? It would be easier if he didn't, that way she
could convince herself he was not worth fretting over...but he did care. And she was fretting.

"You'd better make your mind up about me." Cale grabbed his car keys and headed towards the door, shuffling impatiently. "I'll be waiting in the car so whatever you're doing, hurry up about it." The door slammed behind leaving a stunned Alise alone in her big empty house once more.

I don't know whether this is a bit to edgy for the first chapter of if it lets the reader know the basis for the rest of the story. It may be a bit OTT. Anyway, if anyone thinks it's good enough to post the next excerpt, please tell me and I can get cracking.
 
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Sintalion

Senior Member
Hello, summer! :)

I came back to this twice looking for things to read so I finally decided to give it a comment. I am referring only to your edited version.

"both of which are very"
Wrong tense.

In reading this there are two things I noticed right away that I think could use some work: setting up a scene and showing (a bit more subtly).

Showing emotion subtly.
I find that you tell the reader a lot about a scene, instead of letting them interpret the scene for themselves. For example, instead of letting the reader take the hint, you are more often direct than not. Some of these places could benefit from more action and interaction between the characters and the scene.

Here are some examples of where you're direct, when you could describe.
"with a dazed look"
"menacing smile"
"
blinked in disbelief"
"batting her eyelashes provocatively"

There's nothing wrong with being direct here and there, but to build up tension in a scene, sometimes it's nice to show more than tell. Use body language and gestures here and there. Describe their closeness, etc. Use a meaningful word or two to show an expression instead of saying it. Perfect example is that last quote. Batting her lashes...the reader gets it. We don't need the provocatively. As for a dazed look, what's that look like? What's in a menacing smile? Blinking in disbelief is a common one, but we humans spend our entire lives blinking-in-something. You could show this in another way.

You also tell the reader a lot of things- some of it is needed, but again, you can show her weak in the knees without just saying it. Most readers will connect more if they feel like they're experiencing the scene and not just observing from afar. They need that magic spark, especially if you want to convince us that these characters have a tense quasi-romantic history between them.

"Cale chortled to himself."
I know there's nothing actually wrong with this, but you really don't need the "to himself." It's kinda just one of those weird, unnecessary sentences that isn't contributing to the story or providing the reader with meaningful insight.


The other part I had a bit of a problem with is that you don't really let the scene play out from the man's side. I think it'd feel more like a back&forth between the two if he got his own paragraphs that didn't begin or end with a snipit on her. You can still write primarily from Alise, but for a scene to be a scene there should be more breaks for both characters to act and interact. This chapter seems to mash both sides into the same paragraph, so the scene becomes hazy.

If you spaced out the paragraphs and did a little more showing of the emotions and whatnot, I think you could create an even, tense scene. Good luck! :) I'd be more than willing to read more!
 
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