Monday, December 17, 2012

1st 5 Pages December Workshop - Michael Rev 2

Name: Connie Michael
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Title: Entrusted

Luke’s broad frame filled the small porch, blocking the way down the stairs and to my car. I was already late for cross country practice and really didn’t have the energy to rehash his need for me to quit for the millionth time. But the expression on his face made it clear. We were in for another fight.

“Don’t go, Emma.” Luke wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close to snuggle my neck. “I have counseling later. I need you when I get back.”

“I’ll be back.” I tried to remain firm and pushed lightly against his chest. “I have practice every day.” I knew counseling was rough. An hour of dredging up all the reasons it wasn’t your fault your life sucked. Running was my way of dealing with my crappy life. I was Luke’s way. Every day he held me and told he needed me. That he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. He scared me when he said those words.

“Then why do I have to ask you every day?” His voice had an edge that confirmed it— he wasn’t going to let me go easily.

I stood on my tip toes and kissed his cheek in an attempt to lighten his mood. “I’ll be done at five and we’ll go eat.”

Luke voice was rough. He fingers brushed against my throat, playing with a small turquoise pendant he’d given me earlier in the day. “Stay.” My heart melted a little. Luke’s tender moments were enough for me to forgive his over possessive temper tantrums. But I couldn’t miss another practice or I wouldn’t be able to compete this weekend. I wanted a scholarship and the meet was important.

“I got to go.” I slid around him, trying not to cave and turn back into his arms. Luke caught me as I reached the first step. Turning me to face him he wrapped his arms around me, clasping his hands just above my butt. Luke’s larger body engulfed my petite frame. Usually giving me a sense of warmth and caring. Now his embrace felt stiff and cold.

“To see Greg.”His anger at my refusal began to grow. His arms tightened. “Why aren’t I enough for you?”

The words cut through me. He knew they could make me stay. “You know it’s not like that.”

Everyone at The Ridge, the therapeutic group home where we lived, had issues. Mine tended to be a need heal everyone while avoiding my own issues. At least that’s what my counselor told me. Luke held scars suffered at his fathers’ hand and had developed a strong sense of paranoia when it came to me and Greg. There weren’t any words that would make him believe Greg was just my friend. I’d tried.

“Let me go,” I whispered.

His expression turned dark when it registered I wasn’t going to stay. “Then go. Go see him.” Luke pushed me from his chest. I stepped back. My foot missed the edge of the step and I teetered scrambling for balance. I reached out for help. Luke stepped away and watched me go down. I tumbled down the five steps that led to the sidewalk. The side of my head hit the railing as I bounced to a stop. Bright lights sliced through my skull—a bump already forming on my temple. Slowly I pushed to my hands and knees and looked up. A shiver ran through me when I met his stare—his eyes were black. Not just the iris but the entire eye was a dark pool of ebony.

“You need to tell Greg to stay away from what’s not his.” Luke’s words crept into the inner most part of my brain. “Stay away from him.”

The bump on my head must have knocked me senseless. His mouth hadn’t seemed to move…yet I’d heard the words loud and clear.

“Luke?” Sasha, a twelve year old who was staying at the home temporarily, until her foster home was ready, came out to the back porch. Luke moved to block me from her view. “Mrs. Farrar wants you.”Mrs. Farrar ran The Ridge—and you didn’t keep her waiting. Sasha leaned to look around Luke. “Em? Are you okay?”

Luke’s gaze moved from me to Sasha. Sasha made a noise that sounded like “Eeep” and ran back into the house. He turned back to me. Slowly his eyes closed. When he opened them again the inky blackness had returned to the rich brown I knew. Without a word he followed her into the house. I stood up trying to decide if I should make sure Sasha was okay or leave while I had the chance. My need to get to practice won out and I got in my car. My hands shook. I couldn’t get the key in the ignition. I rested my head on the steering wheel to try and calm myself. It was just the bump on my head. My eyes had played tricks on me. I drew in a deep breath, turned on the car and drove to the high school.

I ran from the parking lot to the locker rooms and then out to the field. I threaded my fingers through my long blonde hair—lifting it off my neck to pull into a ponytail. I cringed when my fingers grazed the lump and the greenish purple bruise emerging at my temple. I hurried to catch up with the pre-workout stretches.

“Holy crap Emma what happened to your head?” My best friend and running partner,

Greg, looked over from where he sat on grass.

“I tripped over Luke and fell down the stairs.” I settled in the cool grass next to him.

Greg let out a loud snort.

“It was an accident.” Or at least that’s what I’d tried to convince myself. Over the last few weeks Luke and I had a lot of accidents. I’d come up with a variety of clever ways to camouflage my bumps and bruises but today I hadn’t had time. If The Ridge found out about his temper they would send him away. I was afraid of what he would do without me to support him.

“So are you finally going to admit you’re dating him?” Greg stood up and placed his hand on my shoulder for balance while he stretched his quads.

“We can’t date. The Ridge frowns on fraternizing. We hang out.”I’d lived at the Ridge for four years, since the beginning of eighth grade when my last foster home fell apart.
“Fraternizing? What are you? Like eighty?” Greg was like a brother to me and wasn’t a fan of Luke’s. I didn’t like talking about my relationship status with him.

I shrugged. “That’s their term so it probably came from someone who was eighty.”

“Em, you’ve spent every waking moment with him for the last month and when you’re not with him he’s texting you to find out where you are. That is the definition of dating. Or at least stalking.”

“He’s never kissed me.” I leaned over to stretch my quads, burying my words into my legs.

“What? What did you say?” Greg leaned over and stuck his face next to mine.

“Kissing? We don’t do it. And isn’t that in the definition of dating?” I used my snottiest voice.

“Ever?” he asked exacerbated.

I raised my eyebrows and shrugged.

Greg shook his head back and forth. “I don’t even know what to say to that.”


  1. I found this version much clearer and more intriguing. Great revision! I could see this time how she could rationalize it as an accident and I liked the supernatural touch you added.

  2. Hi Connie,
    Wow. You've done a nice job pulling things together in this version. Much cleaner. I have a better understanding of The Ridge, Luke and Emma. It's good to see the hints of the supernatural with Emma hearing Luke's voice in her mind.

    I'm getting a better idea of Greg's personality. Emma and Greg have an easy exchange, and it's gives me hope he'll be able to get through to Emma. As for Luke...even finding out why he's at the Ridge and seeing his "sweetness," once he pushes Emma down the stairs and doesn't show any concern, he enters the territory where there are no acceptable excuses. You've done such a great job capturing tension, I wanted to yell at Emma to get away as fast as she can. As you continue revising your manuscript, be sure to show Emma's increasing self-esteem and growth so the reader can cheer her on.

    I'm curious whether you've chosen "His fingers brushed against my throat..." as foreshadowing for something more violent later. If not, I'd suggest choosing a different phrase, as this seems too threatening given Luke's personality.

    Nice work on this revision! Thanks so much for sharing your work with us. Good luck with your manuscript!

  3. Hi Connie, I really enjoyed your pages! You've done a really great job at characterization with all three of the characters. I really like that you added in a reason she would be more accepting of Luke's dark side, it made me feel her conflict more deeply and respect her more despite her lack of ability to walk away. This will give her somewhere to grow into the story. I wish I could read the rest of it! Great job!

  4. Excellent revision! I think this flows much more smoothly, paints the characters more clearly, and raises the tension/stakes nicely. Congrats and keep going!

  5. Excellent work with the feedback - I have a much clearer picture of Luke and Emma’s relationship and how he manipulates her, and why Emma is so invested in running. I still don’t like Luke, but I can see a little better why Emma does.

    I still feel that there’s a lot of telling going on here. There’s more showing now, though, so the tell-y bits can probably go away and the reader will still be able to follow what’s happening.

    Also, Emma seems to waffle between not knowing what Luke is doing and knowing exactly what he’s doing. Again, I get that this is a common response in abuse victims, but it’s unsatisfying to a reader looking for the potential for narrative arc and character growth. Either one would be powerful, so it's a matter of choosing which is right for this character.

    Great progress on these pages - it’s clear you’ve put in a ton of work. Keep it up and the best of luck!

  6. Hi Connie,

    WOW! Great job on this. It's so much clearer and more compelling. You've really increased the tension and pulled the reader along with an intriguing set up. The paranormal touch is great, the way you've upped the relationship with Greg is great. So much is stronger and rings truer!

    It does still feel like you are telling us a lot, and the contrast between what you say and what you show sometimes offers a mixed message. I wonder if you could get just a bit deeper into your mc's head and think how you could show her reactions, what she would be thinking, feeling instead of what she would be saying while narrating?

    For example:

    “I’ll be back.” I tried to remain firm and pushed lightly against his chest. “I have practice every day.” I knew counseling was rough. An hour of dredging up all the reasons it wasn’t your fault your life sucked. Running was my way of dealing with my crappy life. I was Luke’s way. Every day he held me and told he needed me. That he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. He scared me when he said those words.

    Do his words tear at her? Does she hate counseling too? What does it feel like to her? And why does it make Luke feel better to have her there afterward? How does that contrast with what she needs after counseling, i.e. - the running. Does he not know why she runs? Does it not matter to him? Instead of telling us that he tells her she wouldn't be there without her, and telling us that scares her, could you give us that in real time? That is SO compelling!!!!!! If he said that to her, and told her that he needs to see her as a reminder, a reason to keep going or whatever, that would really suck me in and make him more sympathetic for me.

    Look for those kinds of opportunities in what you've got here. THe bones are all in this story now It's just a matter of deciding what to coax into the forefront to paint the inner and outer life of your MC most clearly and to evoke the response you want from your reader.

    You've done fantastic work on this and it is a compelling story! Best of luck with it--I would love to read it and see where it goes!



  7. Hi, Coming in late here, but good job! You have cleared up so many questions. I agree with other commmenters that you do have a lot of info in these few pages. I also think you could make a little more clear the eyes setup (who or what is he? ha!) because she had just had the bump on the hear and it only could be her vision. Overall, loved the revisions and looking forward to reading the book someday. Best wishes for a great 2013.