Sunday, June 21, 2015

First 5 Pages June Workshop -- Manning Revision 2

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 the goal like a freight train.

Next up was Jessie, the last defender.

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

Hailey slowed, waiting for Jessie to come at her.

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, with his clipboard tucked under his arm. “Nice practice, girls. I 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 spoke up instantly. “Three defenders?”

“What? How?”

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...”

Hailey tuned him out. He expected her to share center forward? Center forward was not meant to be two players. Hailey hoped it wouldn’t cut into her goals. 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.” Hailey said. “How are we going to have two center forwards?”

“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 headed to her family’s minivan, where Mom sat in the driver’s seat grading a paper.

“Hello, Harriet,” Mom said. “How was school, sweetheart?”

Hailey winced at the use of her full name. “It’s Hailey,” she said under her breath as she climbed into the backseat. “Fine,” she said, louder.

“How did your Time Test go? It was the sevens, right?”

“It was okay.” Hailey hated Time Tests. She never won those things.

“And Harriet, I really wish you could be more proud of your name. Harriet Tubman was such an amazing woman. Talk about brave! When I think about her, after she’s already free, going back into slave territory--”

“I know, Mom,” Hailey interrupted. “She went on thirteen missions and saved seventy people. She led the uprising at Harpers Ferry and was a spy during the Civil War. I know all of that. But Harriet isn’t the best name, Mom. I like Hailey.”

“Humph,” her mom said. Hailey started asking to be called “Hailey” last year in fourth grade. No one called her Harriet anymore, except her parents.

“Is Rocky home?” Hailey asked, to change the subject.

“He should be. He got a ride home from football with Denny.”

“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. Rocky was a star football player, already on the varsity team even though he was only a sophomore. He was a big shot now and ignored his pipsqueak little sister.

With another sigh, Hailey got up and ambled to the kitchen, where her mother was dashing from fridge to cabinet to stove like a pinball.

“What’s for dinner?” Hailey asked.

“Can you hand me that box?” Mom said, pointing to the pasta on the counter. “Spaghetti and meatballs.” Hailey passed over the box and Mom ripped it open and poured it into the boiling water. “Can you set the table, sweetheart?”

Ugh. Hailey knew coming anywhere near Mom just before dinner was going to get her a job. She started collecting silverware and plates. “Is Daddy going to be home?”

“Not tonight, honey. He’s got a big brief due this week.” Of course.    


  1. Ebi came at Hailey, challenging her for the ball.

    Maybe: Ebi raced toward Hailey, challenging her for the ball.

    "Came at" is kind of passive.

    Coach Shulman blew his whistle and clapped, with his clipboard tucked under his arm.

    Perhaps: Coach Shulman blew his whistle and clapped, clipboard tucked under his arm.

    When they all take a knee, perhaps have Hailey getting her breath back. She's winded, right?

    I feel that the conversation between Hailey and her mom feels a little stifled. I like that you added Mom in the car grading some papers. That gives her a little dimension. But right now, Mom is kind of talking like a robot. I'm not getting a real person vibe from her. Maybe break up her dialogue a little with some physical action: setting down the paper she's grading as Hailey gets in the car; taking her hands off the wheel. Does she have nail polish on? What color? Know what I mean?

    Otherwise, I have liked this from the start and think you've come a long way! I really hope you move forward with this and query it. Go Wildcats!

  2. Okay, I'll try this again... 1st try disappeared, 2nd one too long to publish!

    First, great job, Katharine. Your story kept me interested the entire five pages! Due to short length accepted, I'm going to bullet point what I liked, and what I questioned:
    LIKED --
    1. You SHOW and don't TELL (Rule #1 in writing) about the characters. We get sense that Hailey is African-American by her clicking beaded braids, and since her mom named her after Harriett Tubman.

    2. You build up tension gradually, layer by layer, fantastic!
    * Coach calls out Hailey for being a ball hog and not passing to Grace.
    * Coach says new super-star coming on team, eluding to fact Hailey will have to share spot light.
    * Hailey is sad that brother doesn't pay her much attention any more.
    * Hailey is sad that Dad is working too much lately, and she barely sees him.
    3. Mom is oblivious to H's need for independence -- wanting new nickname, for example. Mom just goes on and on about why she named her after famous person. Sad but true relationship between mother & daughter at that age. Loved it!

    1. "Easy like _______ morning," references a very old song (Sunday Morning) that her grandpa might talk about, probably not her dad, and either way, a kid wouldn't understand the reference, so I don't think it's needed.

    2. "I'll see you at school ________?" What word was missing, and why was it a question? Is there a reason she wouldn't see Grace at school the next day, like always?

    3. 3rd paragraph on the 1st page "Charging the goal like a freight train..." Aren't freight trains slow? So that wouldn't technically be CHARGING then, right? She would charge like a rocket, or a bull, or a speeding train/locomotive. It stopped me right in the middle of my reading which wrecks the flow, and that's something you don't want to happen to a reader.

    4. The last thing when Coach told the team to "take a knee" only Jessie did it. Usually, if Coach says, "Take a knee!" the entire team had better darned well do it! (At least, that's how it is in football, I know.) It is a sign of respect, no matter how tired, sweaty, thirsty, etc, a player might feel. Did you mean to specifically have everyone ignore Coach's command? Is this to show how they feel about him, or was it just your way of showing how worn out everyone was feeling? Either way, I think most athletes will assume it's a sign of disrespect, and if you didn't intend that to be the case, you might want to consider if you want that in or not.

    Okay, that's my long-winded list of notes and opinions on your first 5 pages. Thanks for sharing, and letting me comment. You did a wonderful job!!

    ~ Tina P. Schwartz, Founder & Literary Agent, The Purcell Agency, LLC

  3. Hi Katharine,

    Thanks for sharing your revision!

    For me, the opening is still a bit of a difficult entry. I need something to ground me in the main character's point of view. Showing action is great, but I need some of her character lens to color the scene, set the tone, and lead me in with her voice. Right now, the details and actin are present, but the voice is missing for me, and without that element, I have a hard time feeling hooked.

    I'd recommend a few reads specifically for voice:

    SLOB by Ellen Potter
    ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Lynda Mulally Hunt

    Thanks for working so hard on this! Good luck!

    Melanie Conklin

  4. Your revision is great. I have enjoyed watching your process. I'm glad Harriet Tubman is back and that scene gives me a look at Mom as well. I don't agree about the opening. It has grabbed me from the beginning and I've read it a few times now.

    The ellipses confuse me. I'd get rid of them.

    Not being a sports person, I did not notice any disrespect of the coach. I get the sense that they don't respect him a whole lot by the Harry Potter reference and the comment about him being crazy.

    Great job. Good luck with your story. I hope to see it out in the world someday.

  5. Thank you all so much! This feedback has been incredibly helpful. For those still commenting, the issue with the ellipses is a formatting thing from Gmail - I think it wants to make every date reference into a calendar notice, so the text gets wonky. Anyway, thank you, everyone, for reading and giving me advice and encouragement. It's been a great workshop!

  6. Katharine - Thank you again for allowing me to be part of this process. I've really enjoyed seeing your revisions.

    After reading these, I definitely think you've got a strong handle on writing action, pacing, and showing us character moments. The major thing I'm still having an issue with is the dialogue. It's just not feeling totally natural. My best advice about dialogue is to sit at a mall or in an airport—anywhere crowded—and listen to the way people speak. There's a rhythm to it. They don't speak in complete sentences. They often ramble. People speak over each other. They rarely call each other by name. It's a really difficult thing to get right, and I don't think you're far off. Some tweaking to loosen it up some would go a long way.

    After reading Melanie's comment, I think I'd have to agree that some grounding here would help us relate to Hailey. The thing to ask yourself is: why is this scene important? Why is this important to Hailey? It's more difficult (in my opinion) to get voice through in third person, but still important. What's going through Hailey's mind during this scene? Last revision I advised cutting some of Hailey's thoughts where she explained her actions before she did them. And I think your cuts were really effective. But now think about adding some os what's going through her head while she's doing things. Like the section with Jessie. You cut her explanation of why she was slowing, and that's good, but what's her relationship to Jessie? Is there a rivalry there?

    Thank you again for these revisions. It's been a real pleasure seeing them.

  7. You did a great job with this. I think the conversation with her Mom is a bit stiff. I like that you've got the Harriet Tubman information in again. I think it would be smoother and that you don' t need to have her ask her mom what's for dinner. Ask about Rocky and then move to the scene with Rocky. Also, she asks her mom what's for dinner later, so this one can go.

    I didn't think they were being disrespectful to the coach. I thought his statement was more of a generic, "listen up" kind of statement, but then again since you do state that they didn't, perhaps this does say they are disrespecting him, or like Tina said, they were tired and winded. Something to think about.

    I would like to know a bit more of her thoughts and how she feels about the people around her. This does feel a bit distant.

    Good luck with this, you've got an opening that suggests big trouble to come.


  8. Hi Katharine! Wow, the changes you’ve made really help the pacing in that first action sequence. I like the little details you’ve worked in here too, especially that last line about going anywhere near Mom before dinner. And now that the paragraph mentioning her goals has been trimmed down a bit, it does a great job of fleshing out Hailey’s competitive streak and nailing down what age group our heroes are in. The more details that do double duty like that, the better.

    The team’s attitude toward the coach hadn’t stuck out to me before, especially because Coach Shulman seems to be pretty easygoing, but I can see how that would be an issue if the girls don’t take him seriously enough. If that’s a conflict later on, perhaps have Hailey or Grace notice how the others don’t seem to be listening, so the issue is flagged, as it were.

    I’m glad I got to watch this develop over the last few weeks! Best of luck with the rest of the manuscript, and I hope to see it in stores soon! :)