Sunday, June 14, 2015

First 5 Pages June Workshop - Manning Revision 1

Name: Katharine Manning
Genre: MG contemporary

Chapter 1 - Hailey

Hailey tore down the field, soccer ball bouncing in front of her. Her cleats made divots in the soft grass and threw mud behind her as she ran. Ebi came at Hailey, challenging her for the ball.

“Not this time,” Hailey said. She faked right and went left. Ebi fell for it. Hailey smiled and kept charging at that goal like a freight train.

Next up was Jessie, the last defender.

Grace called to Hailey, giving her support. She was open, but no way Hailey was giving up this ball.

Hailey slowed, waiting for Jessie to come at her. Jessie always lunged forward, so Hailey knew she just needed to wait.

Slow. Slow.

There. Jessie jumped at the ball. Hailey popped it past her. Now it was Hailey and a wide-open goal. She tapped it into the net, easy likeSunday morning, as her dad would say.

“Yes!” Hailey whipped her head back and forth in an Egyptian lady dance, her beaded braids clattering in her ponytail. With a huge grin, she high-fived Grace.

Coach Shulman blew his whistle and clapped, clipboard tucked under his arm. “Nice practice, girls. Like that ball control, Hailey, but don’t forget to use your teammates. Grace was wide open.”

“That’s okay,” Grace said quickly to Hailey, as they headed back to the sideline. “You had an awesome run.”

The team gathered around Coach Shulman. “Take a knee, everyone,” he said. Jessie was the only one who did. Grace and Hailey sat on the ground leaning on each other, and Skyler actually lay down on her back with her knees bent, her long brown hair circling her on the grass like a halo.

“So, you know we’ve been short a player since Megan moved to Ohio. I’ve got some exciting news. We have a new player coming in and she is something. Her name is Alexandra. She’s been the star of her league in Florida, and her dad just got transferred up here.”

Hailey and Grace exchanged looks.

“What position does she play?” Hailey asked.

“She’s a center forward, Hailey.”

Hailey’s eyes narrowed. That was her position.

“But hold on,” he said, raising a hand to stop her argument before she even got it out. “I’ve got a great idea. We’re moving to a four forward offense.” He looked around as if he expected them to gasp, or cheer. They all looked back blankly. “Two center forwards! Four players scoring goals instead of three!”

Hailey’s mouth dropped open. What?

“It’s a much more offense-focused style of play, but I think you girls are up to it,” Coach went on. “Hailey and Alexandra will be unstoppable!”

“Wait,” Ebi said, from the other side of the circle. Her pink barrettes sparkled in front of the two little puffs she always wore in her hair. “Where’s the other player come from? How do we get four on the front line?”

“Well, we go from four defenders to three.”

Ebi and the other defenders started to complain.

Coach Shulman chuckled, the afternoon sun glinting off his Harry Potter glasses. “Hang on a minute, girls! You have to let me finish! You know we’ve been without a keeper. I think I know just the person for that job.” With the smile of a magician revealing his best trick, he turned to Jessie.

Jessie eyes widened. “But-” she started. “I- I can’t.”

“Of course you can,” Coach Shulman said heartily. “You’ve been a fantastic sweeper for two years now. Goalie is basically the same position, but you get to use your hands! You’re going to be a stellar keeper. You know, Mia Hamm started out in goal. Not many people know that. Great field vision, that’s the key….”

Hailey tuned him out. He expected her to share center forward? Center forward was not meant to be two players. Who was this new girl, anyway? Was she that good? She wasn’t going to be better than Hailey, was she? Hailey hoped it wouldn’t cut into her goals. She had seventeen goals last spring in ten games, almost two per game. She really wanted at least twenty this fall. Rocky, her older brother, had twenty-five in one season when he was in the under-12 league. Hailey was still in the under-11s, and if she kept at it, she could catch him by next year. This Alexandra girl better not mess her up.

Coach blew his whistle again. “Nice job today, everyone. All in!”

They all scrambled to their feet and reached in a hand. “Go, Wildcats!”

Hailey walked off the field with Grace. “Coach Shulman is crazy. How are we going to have two center forwards?” Hailey said.

“I don’t know,” Grace answered automatically. She shot Hailey a sympathetic look. “I’m sure it’ll be okay. See you at school tomorrow?”

“Unless Rocky gets me first!” Hailey always complained about how Rocky tormented her. “Bye!,” she called, hopping into the car.

“Hi, sweetheart. Nice job with that last goal,” her mom said. “How was school?”

“Fine,” Hailey said.

“How did your Time Test go?”

“Okay. Is Rocky home?” Hailey asked, to change the subject. Time Tests were the worst. She never won those things.

“He should be. He got a ride home from football with Denny. Your father will be late tonight.”

“What’s for dinner?”

Mom pursed her lips. “I don’t know, Harriet. We’ll have to see what I can come up with.”

The Xbox was blaring from the den when they walked in, so Hailey went back to see Rocky. He was fifteen, and enormous. His long legs stretched halfway across the living room, and he somehow took up almost the whole couch with his top half. The video game controller danced in his huge hands, and he didn’t look up as Hailey walked in.

“Hi,” she said. He ignored her. “I said, hello.”

“Hey, dork.” His eyes never left the screen. He was shooting some aliens.

Hailey sighed as loud as she could, but didn’t leave. As much as she told her friends that Rocky was always bothering her, the truth was that he hardly paid her any attention at all. She kicked his legs.

“Cut it out, squeak.” He still didn’t look at her. She wasn’t going to get anywhere with him.

She sighed again, and headed upstairs toward her bedroom. Rocky was a star football player, already playing varsity even though he was only a sophomore. He was a big shot now and ignored his pipsqueak little sister.

Hailey paused by James’s room. James was her oldest brother. He left a month earlier, at the beginning of August, for the Naval Academy. She went and sat on his bed. She could picture him sitting at his desk like he used to, listening to all her crazy stories about school and her friends. Now he never even called. Mom said that his freshman year he was called a plebe and he had to work all the time. Hailey lay back on his bed and stared at the ceiling.

It seemed like no one in the family had time for Hailey anymore.

Chapter 2 - Grace

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Grace was having the opposite problem: She couldn’t get a moment’s peace from her two brothers. Grace was a triplet. Her two brothers fought all the time, and she was always the one breaking it up. Teddy was taller, but Jack was heavier, so it was usually a pretty fair fight.


  1. Your story still draws me in with the fast action. I am able to keep a clearer picture of the players.
    Just a few things: I am not a fan of the use of "started to" in a sentence. Either the players complained or not. Maybe you could show this rather than tell it. Give a voice to one of the complainers.
    This sentence bothered me, "She went and sat on his bed." I think you could just say she sat on his bed. Maybe have her move into the room rather than pause at the door.
    You took out the part about Harriet Tubman, but I would like some pointer to her race. Egyptian lady dance confuses my mind image. But I do like the beaded braids.
    Not being a soccer parent, I do not know what a Time Test is. May be able to clarify in the conversation.
    Hailey tuning out the coach come abruptly. I am wondering about the goalie and suddenly I'm not paying attention to him any more. Is the section about the goalie important? Could you go directly from defenders complaining to her questions?

    This is shaping up so well. I actually had a hard time finding anything to criticize. I am drawn in and want to know more.

    1. For some reason, the site keeps posting my comments twice. Does anyone know why?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Not sure why that is happening, Margaret! Sorry.

  4. It was fun to read this again. I don't see any huge changes, just a few small ones.

    A few suggestions.

    Hailey walked off the field with Grace. “Coach Shulman is crazy,” she said “How are we going to have two center forwards?”

    Try that instead of putting “Hailey said,” at the end of the sentence.

    Give us a moment where Hailey sees her mom’s car pull up: the crunch of the tires on gravel, her mom’s smile, something like that, instead of just having Hailey in the car immediately.

    Coach has Harry Potter glasses? Well, it's not the first descriptor I would think of to describe a soccer coach, but then again, your audience is MG so it might work.

    We need an explanation from Hailey that her real name is Harriett. Does she not like that name? Are her parents the only one who call her that?

    Oh, I just went back to your first draft and saw that she is named after Harriet Tubman. Are you completely deleting this? If so, we still need some explanation as to why her mom is calling her Harriet when the reader knows her as Hailey.

    I see this as a very fast-paced lower MG story. I like the quick pacing. Just remember every now and then to give the reader a moment to breathe. Like, describing her mom's car or how it pulls in to pick her up. We need a little more texture and details of the world: sounds, weather, the time of day, etc.

    I still like this, though! Great job!

  5. Thanks, Margaret and Ronald! It's interesting that you both noted the loss of the Harriet Tubman bit. I really like that and would like to include it again, but took it out because people noted that it seemed a little stiff and didactic. I will try again to include it in a way that feels more natural. And yes, I went with Harry Potter glasses - I picture him as a boyish, earnest man with short brown hair and round glasses, so that's what came to mind. I'll work on including more details overall, and will explain the Time Test (it's actually a timed math test). Thank you so much!

  6. Hi, Katharine! I really enjoyed your changes here. I especially noted that the dialogue feels much more natural. Great job.

    Admittedly, I don't know much about soccer, but the action in the opening is great. One thing I'd watch out for is the idea of telling readers what to expect rather than letting them see it happen. An example is, "Jessie always lunged forward, so Hailey knew she just needed to wait." That sort of thing cuts into the action and slows it down. Rather, if you just show her waiting (the "Slow. Slow." works for this) and then taking advantage of Jessie's predictability, I think you can trust your readers to know that Hailey's move was strategic, and it won't slow down the action.

    I noticed the discussion of the removal of the Harriet Tubman explanation. I was thinking of ways you could work that in while also giving us a great character moment between Hailey and her mom. If her mother called her Harriet, and Hailey responded with "Hailey," and then her mother did the stern mother thing, "You were named after Harriet Tubman, you should be proud." or something like that, that Hailey could mouth along to like she's heard it a million times, that might be a way to work it in organically.

    On the flip side, I'm not necessarily sure you need to explain the Harriet Tubman origin right away. An exchange like:
    “I don’t know, Harriet. We’ll have to see what I can come up with.”
    "Your name is Harriet. It's the name your father and I gave you." To which Hailey could respond by rolling her eyes and leaving. Then you could work in the origin later when a better opportunity presents itself.

    Those are really the biggest things I can point out. The only other thing I'd mention is being careful not to explain everything that's happening. Here's an example:

    “Unless Rocky gets me first!” Hailey always complained about how Rocky tormented her. “Bye!,” she called, hopping into the car.

    The "Hailey always complained..." Isn't really necessary. We're seeing her complain about her brother, and later we see her brother ignoring her. Pointing it out to the reader isn't necessary. I think if you trust that you've shown it, you can be confident that your readers will see it.

    Great revision; thank you for sharing!

    1. Another suggestion for Shaun's idea here: “I don’t know, Harriet. We’ll have to see what I can come up with.”
      "Your name is Harriet. (Like the heroine, Harriet Tubman.) It's the name your father and I gave you." Parenthesis show my addition suggestion.

  7. Great revision.

    I'm having to get nitpicky here, since you've done a great job. I finally put my finger on something that has been bothering me-- you have Hailey tune the coach out to obsess with the new girl sharing her position -- I feel like you need to have her tuning him out earlier --- right after the news of the new girl. I like the information the coach is giving them, but I feel like she would tune him out sooner and would be distracted by this turn of events.

    The Time Test keeps throwing me a bit too. I wasn't sure if it is sports or math or what exactly. Perhaps Hailey and her mom could argue about it a bit or something to show us what it is and how Hailey feels about them, and also, why her mom is asking. I assume they are important and will come into play later -- ?

    I agree with the others about the Harriet information and Shaun gave some great suggestions with the interaction with her Mom.

    I feel like you could give us more with her and her mom and establish their relationship more. As it is, I'm not sure what their relationship is. Since you end the chapter with her feeling alone, I think you could take advantage of the conversation with Mom to get across that Mom is too busy, or too distracted to fully focus on Hailey and her problems. Or she's too busy nagging and trying to help Hailey get into a good college.

    Also, perhaps carry her worry over sharing her soccer position, and who is this new girl, and will she like her, through the rest of the chapter.

    Hope this helps.


  8. Hi Katharine! Great changes with the revision – you’ve definitely cut some things that don’t need to be there just yet, and used the extra room to flesh out what’s really important. I think this could be even stronger if you push that a little further by adding details that give cues for your characters.

    For example, we know Grace and Hailey are from different sides of town, and that both of Hailey’s parents work. We also know she has a brother in college (of sorts), and another who’s also an active athlete. A simple detail like whether her cleats are brand new Nikes, or if they’re Rocky’s hand-me-downs, will clue us into a lot about Hailey’s family. Same with other people you want to bring out in this first scene. Does Grace do her own hair or does someone do it for her? Can Hailey tell the difference?

    I like Hailey’s reaction to the news about Alexandra, but I agree that it could begin sooner. I also like it as a way of mentioning Rocky, but I’d think about tightening that section up – between her worries about Alexandra and her worries about the goal count, it runs a little long. Perhaps instead of giving a full count-by-count rundown right here, you could mention that she’s got a chance to beat Rocky’s record this season – if this Alexandra girl doesn’t mess it up!

    I have plenty of less-than-fond memories of the Time Tests, so I have a pretty easy suggestion for how to make it clear that this is math that she’s tangling with: specify which number set(s) she’s having trouble with. For example, multiplying by 7 used to give me all kinds of grief!

    I hope this is helpful, and I’m excited to see how you revise this!