Monday, February 3, 2014

1st 5 Pages February Workshop - Wilson

Name: Kip Wilson
Genre: Young Adult LGBT Historical
Title: The Most Dazzling Sunrise in Berlin

The darkening steel-gray sky loomed, pressing me to hurry. With one hand, I held on to my cloche as I launched my feet over the sidewalk in great bounds—with the precise, powerful leaps of a dancer. Most everyone stepped aside to let me pass, but one bespectacled old woman eyed me with disapproval, clutching her handbag close with hawk-like talons. Perhaps she secretly wished she could be so spry, so brazen. I embraced my freedom with another running leap.

Only a few moments later, church bells chimed the hour. No. My footsteps faltered. I was too late. The cabaret was still blocks away; I’d never make it to my audition. I crumpled beside a jewelry shop window. I should never have indulged Lottchen one last fairy tale before bursting into the evening.

The first audition I’d landed, and I’d blown it before even stepping on the stage.

My fingertips traced circles on the window. A jewelry shop was the last place I’d ever enter, with no need for jewels and no Reichsmark to buy them. Still, movement inside caught my attention. I pressed my nose against the glass. A carefully-coiffed, well-fed woman pointed at something in the display case. The shop girl smiled proudly and held up an ornate necklace of glimmering gold.

In the muted light streaming through the window on the dullest, grayest of evenings, the necklace shone with the brightness of a thousand suns. Or perhaps it was the promise of everything it might fetch.

I’d resolved to give up picking pockets, but the temptation to snatch something so deliciously grand gnawed at me as with as much ferocity as the giant hole in my stomach. Perhaps one more theft would tide us over until I got another audition.

Evidently the necklace tugged at the customer too. She waved a hand, as only the rich can, confident that those beneath them will do their bidding. The shop girl nodded and smiled. She took great care placing the necklace in a box and adorning it with a silky bow before handing it to the customer, who slipped it into the pocket of her ermine coat as though it were nothing. A small candy wrapped in shiny pink paper; a worn key to a garden shed; an unimportant necklace that could feed my little sister for a week.

I pulled my hat over my eyes and leached into the background as the woman exited the shop, stepping out onto the sidewalk. She didn’t deserve the necklace. I, on the other hand, simply couldn’t ignore its pull. Wasting no time, I attached myself to the woman like a shadow and lifted the box with extreme care. She continued down the block oblivious, her confidence unshaken.

Only then did I see Kurt across the street, watching. He stood tall and spindly as a street lamp, his expression waiting to be lit up. For a moment, we both stood there, observing each other. We had history, Kurt and I. History that had ended badly.

A dark shadow crossed Kurt’s face. He ran.

#

I turned and ran in the other direction, as far as I could get from Kurt.

Surely he was already on his way to turn me in to his Ringverein’s boss. I had to get out of this neighborhood before they caught me. My insides quaked as I sped down the block. I knew as well as anyone that this part of Berlin was his gang’s territory, but I didn’t think anyone would have been watching my theft.

Especially not Kurt.

I bounded down the sidewalk toward home, extending my legs in the same long, graceful leaps as before, slowing only when I got to the corner of Kaiser Allee. After a quick glance at the oncoming traffic, I dangled one foot in the street. A taxi honked its tinny horn at me. If only I had the handful of Reichsmark needed for me to step inside and let it whisk me away.

But I didn’t, and before I could cross the street, rough hands grabbed me by the elbow. “No!” I cried. But none of the passersby who’d been on the sidewalk minutes ago were anywhere in sight. Instead, there was only this muscle-padded thug. Silent and unshakable, he dragged me to a dark, dank alley. “Let me go!” I struggled to free myself, but it only made him grip my arm tighter.

Deep in the alley, it stank of week-old garbage. Something scurried over one of my shoes, and I quivered, snatching my foot away. But whatever creatures lived in the alley seemed to be the least of my worries. The man who’d grabbed me released my arm and ripped my handbag from my grasp as two more shadows appeared at the end of the alley. One was solid and stout, the other tall and thin. Kurt. Together they blocked out the light from the street’s lamps beyond. Without a word, they made their way toward us.

With my escape impossible, the man in front of me rifled through my handbag. Once he found the box, he handed it to the solid giant of a man who stepped forward from the shadows. Even with the brim of his black hat low over his eyes, I’d have recognized him anywhere: Emil Feuerstein, the boss of Kurt’s Ringverein. I glanced beside him at Kurt. Kurt avoided my gaze, shifting in his too-short knickerbockers. His forehead wrinkled in a guilty expression. At least he felt guilty about turning me in.

“I’ll take that.” Emil pocketed the box and moved closer. His muscle-bound thug pressed closer to my side as if reminding me he was there. As if I could forget. I struggled to swallow my nerves down.

“Magdalena Braun.” Emil poked my chin upward with his thick, strong finger. “I don’t know what you were thinking, robbing in my neighborhood. The spoils around here belong to me, which can only mean one thing. You belong to me.” His finger jabbed into my chin from below again, knocking the back of my head against the wall, slick with alley grime.

“Hey,” I said, trying to ignore his claim. “Watch out. You’re hurting me.” My head smarted.

“I’ll hurt you a lot more than that if I have to.” His grip closed around my throat. Fear ballooned in my belly.

Kurt bounced up and down on his heels and then took a step forward. “Emil.” It was all he said, and when Emil turned his head around, Kurt held up his hands and sank back into the shadows. Some help he was.

“I’m sure you know that anyone who owes me a debt has to work for me.” He looked over his shoulder at Kurt, who averted his gaze once more. “Luckily for you, one of the dancers at my club up and left me this week, and I can use a pretty girl like you to replace her.”

His club. I’d forgotten that Emil counted a cabaret among his many enterprises. But as badly as I wanted to get onstage, I’d also heard the rumors about Café Domino. It wasn’t exactly the kind of cabaret I’d hoped for.

“I’m going to give you a choice.” He released my neck, and I squirmed in my heels. I didn’t know much about Emil, but I knew he couldn’t stand weaknesses. I couldn’t show him any.

11 comments:

  1. Why does the MC give up the audition at hearing the time? I don't know how dance auditions work - is it because they all go together? Is there no chance of the people running late? I'm surprised, if she wanted it so much and it was her first, that she just gave up without trying to explain to whoever gave her the audition. She doesn't seem to lack confidence, since she can steal things with ease. And if she would never go into a jewelry shop, why does she stop there? And why does it catch her attention if she's crushed by missing the audition? (Is her coping mechanism to focus on other things?) Is she actually crushed by missing the audition? That she crumples and this line ("The first audition I’d landed, and I’d blown it before even stepping on the stage.") makes me think so, but then why doesn't she consider alternatives? (even before stealing the necklace and deciding it would tide them over before she got another audition, that is). I want to step more firmly into how much dance matters to her, into how missing the audition feels, but the switch to stealing the necklace makes it seem less important.

    Starting the piece with her running to the audition (even with the dark sky) makes it feel light with the dancer elements (and her reading a fairy tale to her sister). Then she doesn't make it, and it turns dark kind of quickly. Observations on rich people, stealing the necklace, having to take care of her little sister, and then running from thugs. I think that expanding on the bit about the moment when she realizes she can't make the audition would also make the tone shift feel less abrupt.

    Also, another question: with the gang wars around, why doesn't the MC check her surroundings for people watching her before stealing that necklace? It came as a shock to me that the gangs existed because there didn't seem to be that dark underlayer of suspicion, if that makes sense.

    Otherwise I really love the feel of this piece and would be eager to see your rendition of a historical Berlin!

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  2. I love the opening, you have the ominous sky juxtaposed with running grace of the dancer. Her thought about the old woman wishing could be young gives such great insight into that wonderful egoism of youth. The line about the reading one last fairy tale was another great character insight, a giver. Lovely. I’d like to see the stakes raised higher right from the get. Later in the narrative we find out that a necklace can feed her sister for a week but I’d like a sense of that urgency sooner.

    My biggest question had to do with setting and time. Your hints are subtle; the cloche, Reichsmark, knickerbockers but they didn’t ground me in place as much as I would have liked. Berlin in this era had to be crazy place and Magdalena seems like she’s had to hustle. I’d like just another hint or two about the hustle she’s trying to escape by getting a job in a cabaret, what it means to her. I wouldn’t mind a little bit more info on her past with Kurt. Did they run in the same gang? Was it romantic? He seems to have a bit of protector in him despite the fact he ratted her out.

    I’d keep reading. A young woman working in a gang-run nightclub in Berlin pre-WWII? And LGBTQ? Yes, please. I look forward to more.

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  3. Wilson Part 1

    Dear Kip,

    I like this. You’ve started with an exciting scene that will draw the reader in. Since this is historical, I wonder if you would consider adding more historical detail, flavor, from the time period? I think setting is a very important aspect for historicals and I personally had no sense of when your story is set. Pre-war? Post-war? Perhaps you could add references to the politics of the day? Clothes? Types of stores? Something to help us imagine the era?

    The darkening steel-gray sky loomed, pressing me to hurry. With one hand, I held on to my cloche as I launched my feet over the sidewalk in great bounds—with the precise, powerful leaps of a dancer. Most everyone stepped aside to let me pass, but one bespectacled old woman eyed me with disapproval, clutching her handbag close with hawk-like talons {nice}. Perhaps she secretly wished she could be so spry, so brazen. I embraced my freedom with another running leap. {nice beginning}

    Only a few moments later, church bells chimed the hour. No. My footsteps faltered. I was too late. The cabaret was still blocks away; I’d never make it to my audition. I crumpled beside a jewelry shop window {leaning? Sitting? Just for clarity}. I should never have indulged Lottchen one last fairy tale before bursting into the evening.

    The first audition I’d landed, and I’d blown it before even stepping on the stage. {Audition for what kind of job, since later she states Emil’s cabaret wasn’t what she was looking for. Perhaps one more sentence exploring her emotional state here? Anger? Frustration? Disappointment?}

    My fingertips traced circles on the window {in dew? Condensation? Maybe just a hint of the weather?}. A jewelry shop was the last place I’d ever enter, with no need for jewels and no Reichsmark to buy them. Still, movement inside caught my attention. I pressed my nose against the glass. A carefully-coiffed, well-fed woman pointed at something in the display case. The shop girl smiled proudly and held up an ornate necklace of glimmering gold. {Any way to describe the interior of the shop to help convey the era? Gas lighting? Electric bulbs?}

    In the muted light streaming through the window on the dullest, grayest of evenings, the necklace shone with the brightness of a thousand suns. Or perhaps it was the promise of everything it might fetch. {Or maybe a light is on it?}

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  4. Wilson Part 2

    I’d resolved to give up picking pockets, but the temptation to snatch something so deliciously grand gnawed at me as with as much ferocity as the giant hole {I read it literally at first. Change?} in my stomach. Perhaps one more theft would tide us over until I got another audition. {just a bit of logic here. Auditions don’t pay, do they? Our narrator has never gone on one before so it’s not like she could just expect to get the role and money. Or am I missing something?}

    Evidently the necklace tugged at the customer too. She waved a hand, as only the rich can, confident that those beneath them will do their bidding. The shop girl nodded and smiled. She took great care placing the necklace in a box and adorning it with a silky bow before handing it to the customer, who slipped it into the pocket of her ermine coat as though it were nothing {so it’s chilly out? Cold?}. A small candy wrapped in shiny pink paper; a worn key to a garden shed; an unimportant necklace that could feed my little sister for a week. {I know what you’re trying to say with this sentence, but might I suggest you drop the candy and key and just use the necklace part?}

    I pulled my hat over my eyes {how about pulling it low? Otherwise he/she can’t see. The reader reads what you write, not what you mean. Also, what sort of hat? Could this detail help establish the era?} and leached into the background{? How about something specific? A doorway?} as the woman exited the shop, stepping out onto the sidewalk. She didn’t deserve the necklace {explain why not?} . I, on the other hand, simply couldn’t ignore its pull. Wasting no time, I attached myself to the woman like a shadow and lifted the box with extreme care. She continued down the block oblivious, her confidence unshaken. {Maybe you could show how she did this? Seems a little magical right now Also, mention handbag here?}

    Only then did I see Kurt across the street, watching. {describing his wardrobe might help place this story in history?} He stood tall and spindly as a street lamp, his expression waiting to be lit up. For a moment, we both stood there, observing each other. We had history, Kurt and I. History that had ended badly.

    A dark shadow crossed Kurt’s face. He ran.

    #

    I turned and ran in the other direction, {want to get} as far as I could get from Kurt.

    Surely he was already on his way to turn me in to his Ringverein’s boss. I had to get out of this neighborhood before they caught me. My insides quaked as I sped down the block. I knew as well as anyone that this part of Berlin was his gang’s territory, but I didn’t think anyone would have been watching my theft.

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  5. Wilson Part 3

    Especially not Kurt.

    I bounded down the sidewalk toward home, extending my legs in the same long, graceful leaps {would she be doing this if running away in fear?} as before, slowing only when I got to the corner of Kaiser Allee. After a quick glance at the oncoming traffic, I {dangled ww?} one foot in the street. A taxi honked its tinny horn at me. If only I had the handful of Reichsmark needed for me to step inside and let it whisk me away.

    But I didn’t, and before I could cross the street, rough hands grabbed me by the elbow. “No!” I cried. But none of the passersby who’d been on the sidewalk minutes {moments?} ago were anywhere in sight{What happened to them? Did they scatter when they saw the thug appear?}. Instead, there was only this muscle-padded thug. {description of his face so the reader can picture?} Silent and unshakable, he dragged me to a dark, dank alley. “Let me go!” I struggled to free myself, but it only made him grip my arm tighter. {I wonder if going a little deeper into the details of the struggle won’t help to increase the drama and appeal?}

    Deep in the alley, it stank of week-old garbage. {how about The alley stank of week-old garbage?}. {Mention that he pushes her up against wall here?} Something scurried over one of my shoes, and I quivered, snatching my foot away. But whatever creatures lived in the alley seemed to be the least of my worries. The man who’d grabbed me released my arm and ripped my handbag {since the handbag is important, would you go back and add this detail earlier? Also, more of a struggle?} from my grasp as two more shadows appeared at the end of the alley. One was solid and stout, the other tall and thin. Kurt. Together they blocked out the light from the street’s lamps beyond. Without a word, they made their way toward us. {How is she feeling? Terrified? Perhaps a hint of her past with Kurt?}

    With my escape impossible, the man in front of me rifled through my handbag {how does she feel about this?}. Once he found the box, he handed it to the solid giant of a man who stepped forward from the shadows. Even with the brim of his black hat low over his eyes, I’d have recognized him anywhere: Emil Feuerstein, the boss of Kurt’s Ringverein. {any description of Emil’s face?} I glanced beside him at Kurt {at Kurt beside him? And, any descpt of Kurt’s face?}. Kurt avoided my gaze, shifting in his too-short knickerbockers. His forehead wrinkled in a guilty expression. At least he felt guilty about turning me in {why does this matter?}.

    “I’ll take that.” Emil pocketed the box and moved closer. His muscle-bound thug pressed closer to my side as if reminding me he was there. As if I could forget. I struggled to swallow my nerves down {good, but more of this}.

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  6. Wilson Part 4

    “Magdalena Braun.” Emil poked my chin upward with his thick, strong finger. “I don’t know what you were thinking, robbing in my neighborhood. The spoils around here belong to me, which can only mean one thing. You belong to me.” His finger jabbed into my chin from below again, knocking the back of my head against the wall, slick with alley grime.

    “Hey,” I said, trying to ignore his claim. “Watch out. You’re hurting me.” My head smarted.

    “I’ll hurt you a lot more than that if I have to.” His grip closed around my throat. Fear ballooned in my belly. {good, but maybe even more fear? Is Emil a killer? Has she heard what he’s done to others? Jack up the suspense and fear?}

    Kurt bounced up and down on his heels and then took a step forward. “Emil.” It was all he said, and when Emil turned his head around, Kurt held up his hands and sank {meekly?} back into the shadows. Some help he was.

    “I’m sure you know that anyone who owes me a debt has to work for me.” He looked over his shoulder at Kurt, who averted his gaze once more. “Luckily for you, one of the dancers at my club up and left {me} this week, and I can use a pretty girl like you to replace her.”

    His club. I’d forgotten that Emil counted a cabaret among his many enterprises. But as badly as I wanted to get onstage, I’d also heard the rumors about Café Domino. It wasn’t exactly the kind of cabaret I’d hoped for.

    “I’m going to give you a choice.” He released my neck, and I squirmed in my heels. I didn’t know much about Emil, but I knew he couldn’t stand weaknesses. I couldn’t show him any. {Do leave me hanging!!! What choice was Emil offering???}

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  7. I’m really enjoying your main character. I bought into your German female thief, wanting to read more about what’s driven her to this lifestyle, and what she's trying to do to (half-heartedly) escape it. Her thievery seems to be more out of kleptomaniac obsession than necessity, so I looked forward to hearing more about this driving force she can’t control.

    The flavor of it also appeals to me, just enough details to put me into a WWII-ish, stark Germany, without going into too much description. I even liked hearing the unfamiliar words like “Ringverein” since they were used sparingly.

    Love how you drop us in Magdalena’s shoes. Excellent use of first person, giving us her thoughts and reactions. She's such an interesting character that I could use even a little more internalization so I better understand what's going on in her head.

    I didn’t get the sense that Magdalena really wanted to audition. My initial impression was that she was dancing through the streets, carefree, enjoying herself. “Launched my feet over the sidewalk in great bounds” sounded to me more like a ballerina than a woman busting ass to make an audition. And she gave up so quickly. Is it because she’s still so far away? Perhaps you’re going for a person who goes to these auditions just because she thinks she should (or someone else is pushing her to do them)? One way or another, I got mixed messages about her motivations.

    I wanted Magdalena to curse herself more for being so stupid as to not look out for Kurt when she snatches the package. She seems pretty bright, street-smart at least, so wouldn’t she be more observant, especially when the consequences of getting discovered are so severe?

    I would have loved more details about how she lifts the package. Hearing about her timing, an “accidental” bump, the flash of her hand in and out as the mark turns to look at something. It happens so fast as is, and I think there’s potential for that moment to be extremely memorable (have you seen Ocean's 11 recently?). Her going into the zone, preparing herself to make a lift, could also help you explain why she isn’t more careful about looking out for Kurt.

    Finally, the ending setup stretched my disbelief a little too much. Woman looking to dance, can’t help being a thief –- I love it. Woman looking for dancing work who gets caught by rival gang who forces her to dance –- sounds a bit too O. Henry for my taste. Perhaps that is your setup, but it feels a little too coincidental to me.

    Overall, I really enjoyed Magdalena’s obsession for thievery (and her attempts to go straight) and am looking forward to hearing more.

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  8. Hello Kip,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I admire anyone with the gumption to put their work forward in a forum such as this.

    A dancer/criminal – you have my attention. I’m writing my notes before I read the other comments so please excuse any redundancy.

    What draws me:
    Your title – beautiful imagery
    Action/Tension filled opening
    Potential of your MC’s life on the cusp of change
    Some striking visual images
    Promise of LGBTQ story
    Historical Setting

    And now…the notes:

    General:
    I need more grounding in the location and time period. You’ve dropped a few breadcrumbs, but I feel I need more.

    Tighten sentences wherever you can, especially dialog. Think crisp and to the point, avoiding phrases like: I’m sure, I’d forgotten that, exactly - if the sentence doesn’t need them for clarity.

    Dialog - Make sure the phrasing and word choice is in sync with the time period.

    Specific:

    If Magdalena is only a few blocks away she won’t be very late to the audition. I have trouble buying her chance is already blown. (I was a dancer for years, and being a few minutes late never lost me a gig) Maybe since it’s her first audition you can play up a little conflict with her trying to get there and then the “stealing” opportunity derails her and that’s what blows her opportunity.

    The stealing sequence. Can you start with the image/lure of the necklace instead of easing into it with the fingertips on the window? Perhaps more struggle with temptation before you let us know her resolve to give up her life of pick pocketing. Stakes? Her loss of the battle against herself?

    A thousand suns – cliché – paint me a more original comparison

    Connect the sentences: …ermine coat as though it were- now go straight to your images. Work into a tighter sentence sequence.

    I’d like more specific details and more tension in the moment of the theft. I want a crisp sensory movie in my head that makes me worry Magdalena is going to get caught.

    Do we need to know that Mag. and Kurt have bad history yet? It feels a bit “telling.” I want more tension - maybe self-anger when she realizes Kurt's seen her.

    Instead of a “dark shadow” crossing Kurt’s face – can we see it with his body language?

    Insides quaked – a little cliché for me – maybe try an external symptom or more specificity about his state of nausea. Frustration that she’d been seen?

    Differentiate between the movement of the leaping when she was revved up for an audition (positive) and fleeing (negative). Craft the movement to match the internal motivation.

    Why is the previously crowded sidewalk now empty?

    Can Mag. infer Kurt’s guilt based on his actions instead of clearly labeling it.

    How does her head move against the alley grime? More visceral moment.

    She seems to be very aware of Emil, his territory, consequences but then you say,”I didn’t know much about Emil.” A little contradictory.

    What are the negative rumors – maybe just a taste if we’re going to learn more details later – about Café Domino?

    Again – your story has me very interested to read on. My mind is full of questions about the fate of your MC. I can’t wait to read your revisions.

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  9. Hi Kip,

    Your writing is so vivid. The opening paragraph drew me in right away, especially her thought about the old woman. That line is spectacular. The genre also grabbed my attention - LGBT Historical is something I have not seen a lot of but would like to.

    I only have a few comments for improvement. In paragraph two, church bells chimed the hour. I wondered what hour. Clearly it's late, since the sky is darkening. But later, she mentions reading fairy tales to her little sister, which made me think 'bedtime story' which made me think it was later evening.

    I love the mention of Reichsmark. This gives us a sense of setting and feels natural here.

    The mention of the giant hole in her stomach read a little awkward. Maybe emptiness or hunger rather than hole? Just a suggestion.

    "A small candy wrapped in shiny pink paper; a worn key to a garden shed; an unimportant necklace that could feed my little sister for a week."
    Great description, really gives us a sense of the difference between your MC and this rich woman.

    "He stood tall and spindly as a street lamp, his expression waiting to be lit up." I found myself spending a bit of time wondering what 'waiting to be lit up' meant. I couldn't picture him based on this. Is he blank faced? Or literally standing in the shadows so she can't see him? I am very curious about the history between the two of them. That is a definite hook.

    I was a bit confused as to how they caught up to her so quickly. She runs in the opposite direction of Kurt, and she's athletic, so I thought she'd have a bit of a head start. Kurt would have had to find these guys, tell them what happened, and then backtrack to where she is. I could be totally wrong about this - that is just how I read it. Also, I believe when he rifles her handbag, that is the first we've heard of her having one. This is a small thing. Most women do carry handbags. But I would have liked to have her either hold onto it while she's leaping - like her cloche- or slip the necklace into it.

    That's all I've got. I would definitely read more of this. Between the genre, your vivid writing, and this feisty heroine, I'm completely hooked.

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  10. Hi Kip! Very cool pages here! You’ve clearly got the start of an awesome book here.

    My biggest concern at this point has to do with setting. Where are we? I realized Berlin, but it took me a while. And I still don’t know WHEN we are. You don’t necessarily have to specify a year, but a few grounding details can really show the reader a time period. Like, if a city’s streetlights aren’t electric, that would say a lot about the time.

    Also, what’s the climate? What are the smells and the sounds around her? I can’t really imagine the world at this point.

    And, still on the setting/description front, how old is our heroine? Just a hint would help—like, “It was hard getting an audition at my age—most people thought sixteen was too young for the stage.” (That is *just* an example to help show you what I mean—I would never think my suggestions are better than what you have!)

    Final note on this, what is our heroine wearing? I was surprised when she mentioned a hat. And then she referred to her shoes, and I couldn’t imagine what those shoes looked like.

    My next concern is that we aren’t getting deep enough into the heroine’s POV. I need to know more of her thoughts and visceral reactions—I want to feel like I’m in her head as each event unfolds.

    So for example, she blew her audition. Yikes! Maybe we can get a bit more reaction? Or, another moment I was particularly craving a deeper POV was when she was taken into the alley and interacting with the thugs. What was she thinking/feeling?

    Like, right here: “Fear ballooned in my belly.” I can’t actually imagine this. Because we’re in first person, we really need the full-on visceral reaction. What does fear ballooning in a belly feel like? In addition, what is she thinking here (she’s being strangled!!)? Like, you could dig deeper into the POV by saying something like (and again, this is *just* an example): “My stomach bottomed out. I thought I might crap myself. I couldn’t breathe—I couldn’t *breathe!*”

    On a similar note to that, watch out for telling instead of showing. I do it ALL THE TIME in early drafts, so you’re not alone in that! But hopefully you can get good at spotting the trouble areas.

    For example, here: ““Let me go!” I struggled to free myself, but it only made him grip my arm tighter.” Show me more of this. What does “I struggled” actually involve? Does she kick him? Booty bump him? SCREAM BLOODY FREAKIN’ MURDER? ;) You get what I’m saying. And, since we want to draw out a deeper POV, what is she feeling right now? Does her heart pound? Her throat clench up?

    On a smaller, line-level note, watch out for redundancy. You want to keep your prose as tight as possible—*especially* in YA.

    So for example, you have: “With one hand, I held on to my cloche as I launched my feet over the sidewalk in great bounds—with the precise, powerful leaps of a dancer.”

    You don’t need great bounds AND powerful leaps, nor do you need to tell us she’s launching her feet, since that’s self-explanatory (she’s on a sidewalk and the reader can sort that out). Here’s a way to tighten it (just an idea, of course): “I held my cloche tight as I launched over the sidewalk in precise, powerful leaps like a dancer.”

    Or here’s another example: “My fingertips traced circles on the window.” We know it’s her fingertips, so you could simply say, “I traced circles on the window.”

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  11. Finally, watch out for too much description. It’s easy to overdo metaphors—I swear I do it in every first draft I ever write—but it can also quickly get too much for the reader. And, oftentimes, too much description gives the sentence *less* impact.

    For example, saying “the darkening steel-gray sky loomed” is a mouthful, and I actually had to read it twice to figure out quite what you meant. It might be better to simply say, “The gray sky loomed’ or “the darkening sky loomed”. That said, I’m not sure I see why it’s pressing her to hurry. Do you mean a storm is coming? (Clearly I still don’t understand the sentence! Sorry I’m an idiot!)

    Here’s another example: “The temptation to snatch something so deliciously grand gnawed at me as with as much ferocity as the giant hole in my stomach.” Something like that could be condensed/pared down to: “The temptation to snatch it gnawed at me, worse than the hole in my stomach.” We already know how deliciously grand the necklace is, so there’s no need to describe it again. Plus, saying that the hole gnawed and it was giant ultimately ends up making it feel like a not so powerful a hunger. Does that make sense?

    Otherwise, that’s all I have to say. :) Like I said, I really think you’ve got a cool start here, and I’m super excited to see what you have for us next week.

    Oh, and I LOVE this line—> “We had history, Kurt and I. History that had ended badly.” NICE!!!

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