Monday, July 22, 2013

1st 5 Pages July Workshop - Frye Rev 2

Name: Cassie Frye
Genre: YA Contemporary/Paranormal Twists
Title: Fade

The girl in the bathroom mirror is not me.

I swallow a knot in my throat, and run a shaking hand through my hair—hair that is now thick, brown, and curly. I used to be blond, I used to be taller, and I used to be thinner. Now, this strange girl looks back at me, with hair that feels fake; like doll hair.

I can’t help myself. At the sight of the unfamiliar face, I feel a pressure rise in my chest, and proceed to let my legs drop by the toilet to vomit. My mouth opens, my mind screams.

Moments later, once I’ve emptied the contents of my stomach, there’s a knock. My head jerks toward the noise. Whoever it is, probably heard me vomit.

“Meredith, is everything okay?” The female voice asks.

My name is not Meredith—it’s Hana—and I’m almost about to correct the woman, but hold my tongue. No one would believe my story anyway. Am I crazy? A part of me doesn’t want to answer this, and a part of me is afraid of what others would think if I tried to explain. So I take in a sharp breath, to keep from losing it. I dry heave a few more times and swallow my doubt.

“Yeah,” I croak.

“You’re sick,” she answers.

I wipe my lips and flush the toilet. It feels like an eternity before I’m able to speak again. And even then, my voice is hoarse and lacks conviction.

“I—I’m fine.”

Perhaps this is a dream. I force my breathing to slow at the thought. Dreams had a tendency to feel real. They also had a tendency to be a bit on the weird side. Pretty soon, I’ll wake up, imagine having to live the rest of my life in a different body, and laugh.

But that thought doesn’t stop the tremors.

I bite my lip so tight, I’m surprised there’s no blood. Then I watch as my reflection bites her lips as well. No matter how long I stare at that damned mirror, though, my reflection doesn’t change. I want to scream, but nothing comes up.

What happened last night? I know I went to a party, but I don’t remember much of it. Did I get drunk? As the designated driver, though, I promised to get my friends home in one piece; and I always keep my word. I think about Krista and Bridget, my best friends. Maybe they can fill me in on what happened last night. I resolve to call them ASAP, when the woman’s voice pulls me away from the mirror.

“Maybe you should get some rest.”

Who is this woman, anyway? “Just leave me alone!” I snap. There's a silence that follows, and I begin listening to my breath. In and Out.

Then the woman bangs hard on the door. “Meredith, open up!”

I need to get rid of the woman, so I try not to freak out; I try not to yell, when I turn the lock and crack the door. The woman before me looks a lot like the girl in the mirror, except older. Meredith’s mother, perhaps? No wonder she’s concerned. “Please,” I tell her. “I’m fine. I just need a moment. I’ll be down in a sec.”

“Should I call the doctor?” A doctor is the last person I want to see.

I tell her, “I’m fine,” again. How many times do I have to say it? Probably until I believe it.

"I'll get you some water, then. " She heads down the stairs without waiting for an answer.
Then I close the door, lightly, and loosen my tight grip around the knob. I take the silence as an opportunity to recollect my thoughts.

One: I am not in my body.

Two: This is not my home.

Three: I need to find out what happened last night.

My stomach gives little twisty jolts, as I turn on the faucet. The sound of running water is oddly soothing. Then I gather the liquid in my cupped hands, and splash it on my face. My arms feel heavier, I think, and I notice my fingers are a bit shorter as the water rushes over them. Nails are also bitten to the stub. I shudder. A nail biter.

When I look at the mirror for the third time, I can’t help but pray that I’m mistaken, but the same brown-haired girl is looking back. No illusion.

And then I see it. I’m seeing double, another Meredith standing right beside me in the mirror. I blink, and look to my left, where she supposedly stands. No one. Maybe I’m seeing things.

“Hello, Hana."

My name. My real name. I clasp a hand to my mouth. The voice comes from my right, and when I turn, she's there. Meredith. But I’m Meredith. Or at least, I’m in her body. I cast a wary glance at the mirror, to find both of us standing side by side. We’re identical, save for the pajamas I’m wearing and the tight red dress she’s wearing—the same red dress I wore to the party last night. I blink again, four times, hoping she’ll disappear.

She doesn’t.

Meredith rubs a hand against her left arm, lips tight. My heart pounds as I take a few steps back, almost falling into the tub. I reach out a hand against the wall to steady myself and blurt out the first words that come to mind. “What’s going on?!” Meredith just stares at me, defiantly.

It’s then that I notice she’s an exact image of Meredith, but not…fully formed. As if she’s a projection of light. As if she’s a ghost.

She walks, or more accurately, floats around me, as if she’s inspecting me. I feel chill bumps rise on my arms, but I’m too frozen in shock to rub them down. When she doesn’t answer, I’m barely able to ask how she knows my name. Obviously, if she knows my name, she knows what happened. And more importantly, she can tell me how to get out of this body.

“I suppose you know what happened. You’re in my body now, and I’m…” Meredith moves her hands, up and down her body, “well, you get the picture.”

“Obviously,” I snap. I want her to get to the point.

“And I know your name, because I switched bodies with you. Have you already forgotten?" There’s a pause, and her lips move, like she’s about to say something else, but no words come. With a frustrated moan, she turns.

“HEY!” I yell. I’m no longer shaking, desperation somehow drowning my fear.

Meredith keeps floating away, so I take a few quick strides and reach out to grab her arm. My hand passes right through her, like she’s made of air.

I let my hand hang limp, and call out to her again. “Tell me how to switch back!”

That gets her attention, and Meredith turns to face me. Her lips are pulled tight again, her fists clenching and unclenching. There’s a moment of hesitation before she lets out a shaky breath. I get the feeling that she’s not happy about the situation. There's a sad look on her face. It's the kind of face one makes when giving bad news.

“I don’t think you want to switch back,” she tells me.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because you’re dead.”


  1. Hi Cassie!

    Soo much better! :)

    I kind of like the mother hearing her scream from before instead of her vomiting. Unless she was walking right by the door or something. Maybe Hana could even think something like “She must have super human hearing to be able to hear me upchucking my brains in the bathroom” or something like that :P

    Interesting change of clothing for Meredith, I’m sure the tight red dress looks much different on her frame.

    When Meredith says ‘you get the picture’. I don’t. I think the clothing swap especially makes it more confusing. Maybe if it was Hana’s body that was ghostly and Meredith is in the ghostly body. And then Meredith phases or shifts to look like herself? I don’t know if that makes sense. But I think the red dress just threw me a bit.

    And the conversation at the end, I feel could go a bit more quickly. It almost seems like she’s delaying on purpose just to torture us!

    But besides those little things, I think the improvements are really great!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I debated keeping that in for a long time, but I might have made the wrong choice.

      The dress situation made sense in my mind, because I know what happens later. But I see how it can be confusing. :/ I wish I could explain, in detail, but I'll just keep your comment in mind.

      Lastly, Meredith is holding back on purpose (so you're right!). She doesn't want to tell Hana that she's dead, or what happened last night, for reasons that I can't explain here. I can look into condensing their conversation, but I don't think it'd be natural for Hana to just come out with the truth, the moment they see each other.

      Thanks SO MUCH for your comments. This has been an awesome experience!

    2. Haha So many Secrets! Maybe ghost Meredith can look distracted and tug on the dress or something since it's somehting she might not be comfortable in.
      I'm sure you can figure out how to sneakily have her hold back the answers ;)
      So glad my comments were helpful and good luck!! :D

    3. Yes! Tugging/looking uncomfortable in that dress would work!

      Actually, Meredith is wearing the dress because that's what Hana was wearing when Meredith switched into Hana's body...

      And then, yeah, Hana "died".

      The simplest way to fix the problem might be to just have both wear pajamas? Or I could just not mention clothing at all until later (LOL).

      Thanks for you vote of confidence. Definitely can't wait to see how this story turns out, with all your amazing critiques! It's made me that much more excited and determined.

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  3. I have only a few comments. One is a style thing. So take itbor leave it. I am certainly no expert!
    There are several times when you could cut back on the number of words you use to say the same thing. For example, I let my legs drop could be I drop, or I feel chill bumps to chill bumps..., or recollect my thoughts to think, or too frozen in shock to frozen. To me the shorter sentence is usually stronger.

    I suggest adding a phrase to the first sentence to orient the reader such as, I look in the mirror, but the reflection...

    Thats all I've got.

    Good job!


    1. Thanks! I'll keep your comment about writing style in mind.

  4. Hi Cassie,

    You've made good improvements on an already intriguing opening.

    I agree with KD's suggestion to use shorter sentences when you can.

    "I bite my lip so tight, I’m surprised there’s no blood. Then I watch as my reflection bites her lips as well. " The wording is weird here; it reads as if the reflection bites her lip after you do.

    I'm still stuck on the visual when Meredith and Hana see each other, but, after reading your comment, trust that you will get this part to work.

    Great job, and Good Luck!


    1. Ohhh! I totally understand what you mean! I'll be sure to clarify that sentence.

      Thanks for your comment!

  5. Cassie,

    This is an intriguing opening, and I think that you've really managed to tighten it up. Great job on the revisions. Just make sure you are not separating the reader from the narrator b using I feel, I hear, I see.
    Other than that. Great job. The last few lines really want to make me keep reading.


    1. I'm not quite sure what you mean about separating reader from narrator.

      Thank you for the comment, though! I'm glad that these pages make you want to keep reading!

    2. Cassie,

      When you are writing in first person, every time you use I hear, I feel, I think, I see... you are stopping the closeness that you can create between the reader and the main character. It's just one think to watch for when writing. Usually you can leave those phrases out and still convey the same message only stronger.

      Hope that helps!

    3. Gotcha! I will keep that in mind! Thanks for the suggestion. :D

  6. Great revision! I love the detail about the nails. :D Best of luck!!

  7. Hi Cassie,

    Super revision!

    A few things to consider going forward:

    While the first line is fantastic, it's still generic. I wonder if you could use it as a punchline, and start with a slight rework, starting with the taller and thinner adjectives, moving on to blond, then pointing out that the girl in the mirror is not her, then reacting to that realization. Pressure in her chest, drop to the floor, tile cold on her knees, crawl to the toilet, throw up. THEN feel her hair, it's doll hair, not hers. Throw up again.

    THEN the mother. Are you all right? Are you throwing up, honey?

    Make one thing lead as naturally as possible into another, action, reaction, and keep grouping similar things together, and then next thing the reader konws, they've finished the book and mad that there isn't anything left.

    This already has that kind of a feel to it. Just a little more fine-tuning :)

    Good luck with it! :)

    1. I like the idea of using my opening line as more of a punch line. There's definitely potential there!

      Thank you, Martina, and to everyone else who has commented. This is been such a fun and eye opening experience!