Monday, May 13, 2013

1st 5 Pages May Workshop - Lambert Rev 1

Jeannie Lambert

Young Adult


Chapter 1

And five-thousand. KaBOOM! Lightning is one mile too close. “Missed me.” Rolling my eyes and waggling my tongue is a bold move, habit, considering I’m a teenager caught on top of Devil’s Cellar. This craggy
cliff has a hole reputed for consuming anyone close to the edge. I could hear God say, “This time.”

Before today my biggest hike was cutting across the empty lot. Getting away was my purpose, but I didn’t have a destination. Running away was the easy part. But I lacked an exit strategy leaving everyone behind who could tell me what to do next. I punished myself by hiking up, scrambling, falling and found myself here with yoda versions of spindly pines. The weathered, scrappy trees were clinging to any crevice. I too
continued to cling, hoping for a do over.

Circling the drain, cloud vapors funnel around that hungry, gaping hole. Surrounding me, that last strike came from the ground up. The fog has come in magician style and removed not just the panorama, it’s thick enough to hide my distal limbs - disconnected.

BOOM! Hearing is the last thing to go. Must not be dead yet, no such luck. Running away is a rush. No one knows I’m here, yet I feel as if I’m being chased. Now a few hours later, my heart is slower. Inversely my thoughts are racing. Wishing to die is taking too long, I’m bored.

Flash – a light casts its spider-fine net across the infinity-edged sky drawing back a catch of cumulus clouds. The light is strangely soothing. But I could do without the… BOOM!

Thunder is scary especially when it is so close while I am far away from home. Curled up around a rusty old rhododendron root is my new worst day. Lightning used to be my heebie-jeebie. Not anymore, facing certain
death from a lightning bolt is better than parents. What I’ve done is the worst ever. And it seemed like such a good idea at the time. Running away is my only way out. Impulsive me left everything behind except for
my favorite white powdered doughnut. The doughnut, my life, everything disintegrated into a gooey pocket mess.

I was a nice girl. Now I’m a bad girl. When did I change so drastically?

Crack! That lightning must have hit a tree. Something is going on over there. It’s getting back up! A boy steps through the patchy fog. Head down he picks his way over the roots. Watching him, holding my breath, I
expect him to find me in less than nine more steps. He stops at two. I don’t want to give up and come willingly out from behind, not yet. Drawing his head up he looks directly at me, not seeing me in my nest.
He walks up to a tree, facing it. Looking up he begins peeing.

“I can see you,” I said while covering my eyes. Interrupting this private moment is the only thing that prodded me to speak. “Don’t point that thing at me,” avoiding an imagined downhill stream of yellow, I uncoiled from my fetal position.

Jumping back as if snake bit, the lanky boy pinched off the stream and zipped up the offending source. “What are you…?”

“I’m a girl, stupid.”

“I know you are a girl, but what are you doing here?”

“I ran away. You found me. But, I’m not going back with you.” My eye twitched defiantly. This internal lie detector tried to give me away.

“I found a place to pee, not you. You don’t look much like you’re running.”

This apathetic male form did anything but discourage me. Who does he think he is? Angry with him, a piece of me came back, more alive.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m here?”

“Nope, I’m not interested.” He pulled out a canteen of water drinking in gulps, spilling most of it.

“I need to tell you why I ran away,” tugging on a vine, my voice cracked and the vine tumbled down.

“I couldn’t care less. Shush.” His head bobbed from side to side. “I have enough to worry about.”

And I thought I was the only one so tortured and misunderstood. “I guess I’ll come with you.”

“I’m not asking. Yeah, I think they are getting closer. You must be their BOLO.”


“Yeah, it is short for Be On the Lookout. You must be their subject. I heard a pack of yelping dogs a bit back. They can be a little slow, but their steady once they get your scent. Save your story for the Boiling
Springs Rescue Squad, maybe they care enough to hear why. Stay here and they’ll find you.”

“What’s your name?”

Darting away he called, “Runaway.”

“Wait.” Take me with you. I thought but did not say. Hiking in the Appalachian Mountains is like spinning in a Maytag washer with undulating hills snarled by rhododendron. He slipped around, between to the beyond.
Leaving me, I felt more than alone, lonely.

I wanted to tell him that I’m not the only one, everyone lies. So easy and it beats getting into trouble.

Only now, perched on this ledge with lightning flashing around me, makes me change my mind. I’m fixing to be a human spark plug. This wasn’t part of the plan. Flash! Boom! That one was closer. My hair is standing on end and that freaky blue glow is coming out of my electrified fingers.

God, please don’t give up on me. Don’t strike me down, not now. I’ll fix it. BOOM! Blackness splashes over me and I sense someone near.

“Promise?” asked God.

“Pinky-swear promise,” I answered.

Chapter 2

Something was different.

The earth crested, forcing a pulse into my chest rippling with a breath. Air inflated my lungs once again. My soggy, zippered eye lashes obscured someone leaning over me, shaking my shoulder.

“…” that boy lip-synced, but nothing came out.

I shook my head and said, “I can’t hear you.”

He pointed to the sky then to me.

“Was I hit by lightning?”

He nodded his head. He pointed to where I had been before waking up – 20 feet away.

“I am alive?” Convulsing with shivers, unable to stop, I felt grateful drops of tears puddle.

I felt a hand grasp mine. He gave me a squeeze, a lifeline pulling me back in the present. He gestured charade-like that he was going to get someone to help.

“Do you want me to stay here?”

Nodding, he got up, picking his way around the dense branches. Lumbering down the mountain, he set out.

This time when he left I didn’t feel lonely. Exuberance percolated through me. God didn’t, so I wouldn’t, give up on me. Now I have a chance to fix it. The right side of the truth is not to tell a lie. The left side is what I will tell you now.

Chapter 3
A thunderstorm will more than likely hover at noon throughout the summer in Boiling Springs. Just take a pitcher of water and pour it down the nape of my neck. A raincoat is useless. I’ll either get soaked from the
shower or pour the sweat in the 100% humidity. It begins in April and ends in August a long five months. Call me Madame Jesse because all I have to say is “it is fixing to rain,” and it will at some time each day. Everyone obsesses about the weather – anNoying. Can’t anyone find something more important to talk about?

“Jesse do you have your raingear with you?”

“Of course mother, whatever, I’ve got to get to school,” I said.

Her questions are more than what they seem. A simple, “How much homework do you have?” on Friday sets my destiny. “A lot” gets me a pass from pulling weeds but I best not ask to go to the movies. “Not much” means I get to go to the movies, but I’m also expected to help until the housework and gardening are finished.

“It is only 645. Don’t you have plenty of time?” asked mom. See what I mean.

“Melanie’s meeting me early.”

“And why do I see your rain coat hanging up in the mud room,” said mom nonchalantly ignoring my little white lie.

“I don’t need it.” See I’m a normal teenager with a healthy disrespect.

Every day I have to audition to be a member of my family and friends. I only get to stay if I do what they say. When will I ever get to do what I want?


  1. It was fun read, but I find it a little bit confusing and hurried in places. I think adding little bit descriptions on both actions and feeling would help the readers visualizing the whole scene.
    Beside words such as BOOM is bit juvenile. I suggest you reconsider using such words.

  2. I still feel confused in the beginning, the description of where she is and what's she's doing still confuses me. I'd like the first chapter to be more clear. Her thoughts seem kind of jumbled and I get that she ran away but it kind of comes out in a jumble.

    And I'd like the interaction with the boy to be more clear. The peeing section was confusing-- she covers her eyes and then watches him pee. I'd like more description about him as well. Some of the wording could be less confusing for me-- "spinning in a Maytag washer with undulating hills snarled by rhododendron. He slipped around, between to the beyond." Sentences like that are a little hard to follow.

    Chapter 3 is still much easier to follow for me.

  3. I definitely appreciate that you listened to the feedback from the first round and I think you are moving in the right direction with chapters one and two, although they still, for me, flow less smoothly than chapter three. I still feel as if images and sensations and characters and issues are coming at the reader too rapidly in those first two chapters: every line seems to introduce something new, and it's still a little overwhelming. I'm usually the one giving the feedback of "take words out" but in this instance I find myself wanting to tell you to add them in order to slow down the action and give the reader a chance to digest and process it. There's some really great stuff there and it's a shame for anyone to miss it by immediately being pulled away by something else.

  4. Hi,

    This is both clearer and stronger than the last version, and you've cleaned it up quite a bit. I like the way you've redone the boy. Your writing is very vivid, and I love that you are able to pick out really fresh, interesting details. THat will set your story apart, as will the interesting scenario. That said, I'm still confused about what is going on, and i'm having trouble connecting to your mc. I've been thinking about what is really bothering me about it and wondering how to suggest getting this pulled together into a more coherent narrative. It comes down to a general sense that you are trying too hard, I think.

    It may sound trite, but really I think you need to trust yourself. Your story is interesting, but it feels like you are galloping because you don't want the reader to get bored. We won't. Take the time to think about what your character sees, feels, and thinks with every line. Worry less about the words you are going to use to describe it, and focus more on simply describing it. Focus on giving us the stimulus, the action, and then the character's response to what she feels, sees, and hears. Make sure that she is reacting to what's going on and that you are sharing those reactions with us appropriately, in a way that we can understand without having to go back to reread. Slow down. We will follow you. Let us feel the lightning. Let us hear the crackle of the electricity and feel how it jolts her heart. I'd rather know what she's doing up on top of the Devil's Cellar -- is she sitting, climbing, what? -- when the lightning comes. Is it the first bolt? Why is she there instead of taking cover? We need context, an image of what she sees rather than an image of her rolling her eyes. Teens rolling their eyes is over done in books -- but a teen on a cliff in a lightning storm is an original image! And one I'd love to have in more detail.

    Also, watch your tense shifts. You're in the present for most of it, but you throw in the occasional, "I could hear God say, “This time.”" and "avoiding an imagined downhill stream of yellow, I uncoiled from my fetal position," which, of course, are not in present tense.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do with this!

  5. Everyone already made good points. I'd like to say that my confusion at the very beginning is this: is the MC delirious? In shock? Why does she think she's dying? And I agree I'd really like to SEE the Devil's Cellar--I'm VERY interested in this name and what it looks like. I've probably already repeated the others, so I'll stop now and let you decide where you want to go from here.

    Also, I'd really like to know WHY she ran away. Maybe that's your intention, so that's a GOOD thing! :.)