Sunday, April 10, 2016

1st 5 Pages April Workshop - Pattinson Rev 1

Name: Lana Pattinson
Genre: YA Contemporary / Time Travel
Why the hell did I let Javi talk me into wearing this to school? I have fairy wings over my pink skeleton t-shirt, blue clip-on hair extensions, and his rhinestone belt. I’m all for dressing up for Halloween, but this is absurd. The costume I’ve been wearing all day—and the catcalls—have worn thin.
Javi swore that this outfit would display my artistic side, but instead it’s a PSA about what not to wear if you want to survive high school. If I have my way, he won’t be surviving high school either. Some BFF he is.
I head to the lockers, the once-a-year-coat of blue paint already chipping thanks to the humid Texas weather. Unfortunately, Jessie is hovering by Sarah. I take a deep breath.
“Drama queen’s here.” Jessie snaps her gum at me. The girl’s parents would have made a fortune off Ice Breaker’s stock—her teeth are pearly white. And I’m sure of that, since I see her gritty snarl every day.
“See you later, Jessie.” Sarah watches Jessie snap-pop down the hallway. Sarah looks at me and shrugs. “Just Control-Alt-Delete her.”
Sarah spins her combination lock. She’s perfect and beautiful and didn’t bother dressing up. Sarah’s got a nice boyfriend and shiny hair and if we hadn’t been friends for so long, I’d probably hate her. I probably do hate her, just a little. My green eyes have always been the jealous type.
I scan the hallway, but no one’s watching. "Here." I slip her the contraband in a brown bag.
Big brown eyes stare back at me. “Abby, what’s…?" Sarah opens the bag and laughs. "You think I need a paper bag forOutlander?
I blush. "It’s from my mom's bookshelf. There are some...intense...scenes in it." Not that Mom would notice it’s gone. She’s on call at the hospital so much, sometimes it’s like living with a roommate instead of a parent.
"Awesome." Sarah shoves the bag into her locker and slams the door shut, rattling my mirror. "You going to the gametomorrow, right?"
I stick my tongue out, mostly at my own reflection, and unclip the hair extensions. “Obviously.”
Of course I'm going to the game tomorrow. Every. Single. Friday. Because football is the main religion in Texas, and I’m a front-pew fan. Not of the game, exactly. Just one tight end in particular.
"I wish..." Sarah sings the opening song from Into the Woods, this semester’s musical. "Have you seen him today?" She loves teasing me about my crush. The senior football player who doesn't know I exist. Well, I suppose he does now, thanks to Sarah. Ever since he broke up with his summer girlfriend, Sarah hasn’t stopped trying to do the corny double-date thing.
"I wish..." she prompts.
As if on cue, Austin Richards swaggers by in slow motion, like he's in a shampoo commercial, except his hair is shaved so close to his head he should be advertising shaving gel insteadHe's got his letterman jacket on, and is followed by his usual entourage of wide receivers.
 I wish...
I stop myself from turning around to gawp at him. There’s really no substance to my crush, I know. I’ve hardly said two words to him, and spent a year looking at the back of his blond head in Trig. But his sheer cuteness just sets my inner subwoofer pounding.
I picture him at the Homecoming dance in full tuxedo gear. He’s spotlighted from above, and I join him in the middle of the gym. He gives me his goofy grin as he crowns me Homecoming Queen, and I serenade him.
Before I can stop it, Sarah’s song escapes my mouth. "I wish...I wish to go to the festival."
My stomach plummets to the soles of my gum-ridden Converse. Oh, my god. That was out loud. Undo! Undo! Control-Z!
And my voice bounces off every hard surface in the hallway—the linoleum tile, the rusted metal lockers, the steely glares from the popular kids. Stupid, stupid earworm.
Ridiculous, foolish imagination.
And all eyes are on me, but not in the way I envisioned. Of course Austin just breezes by, no eye contact, like I'm invisible, like I’m not even alive. Which is normal for me, I guess.
The hall fills with the sound of snickers and backslaps. And I'm dead, burning up inside, my cheeks buzzing with the stings of a thousand hornets, and I wish I fit into my locker like I did in middle school. I wish.
I press my palms to my eyes, willing the song back into my head where it belonged. Someone tugs at my sleeves.
“Abby,” Sarah’s whisper says it all, her face twisted with pity. “We’re late for drama.”
Yeah. I’ve had my fill of drama for the day, thanks.
I fix my gaze on my feet. Long brown legs sporting huge Vans stalk towards me, squeaking against the polished floor. Khaki shorts. His FREE KITTEH shirt. Shame turns to rage as I realize Javi’s wearing Khaki. Freaking. Shorts. NOT the bottoms of my skeleton pajamas, as pinkie promised.
Javi stops in the middle of the hallway and waves his arms at the milling crowd. “What? Go find your own train wreck.”
He’s so, so dead to me. But my audience goes about their business.
A long arm snakes around my shoulder, and I look up at Javi. “How many times do I have to tell you? No singing in the hallway.” His hair flops into his eyes. “No singing, period.” He looks at Sarah and pretends to slit his throat.
I push him off, sling my backpack over my shoulder, and stalk towards the theater.
Javi and Sarah follow me, and he grabs my upper arm. “Hey.”
I turn around and shake him off. “I thought we were dressing up together.”
Javi snorts and covers his mouth. “I didn’t think you were actually listening. You never follow my fashion advice.”
He’s right. And for good reason too. His fashion blog is more like a fashion pile-up, full of crashes and drunk styling near misses, with a total audience of eight including our moms.
“Whatever.” I head into the carpeted theater. It’s a couple of years old, and way too nice for our school. “By the way, you’ve been downgraded. I’m taking an F off of BFF.” 
“You mean I’m the BEST. FOREVER?” Javi flops into a seat. “Don’t be mad.”
I don’t answer.
He runs his fingers through his hair and looks at Sarah. “Seriously…what just happened? I walked into the hallway and it was like Abs had just declared war. Or farted.”
Sarah can’t help herself. "She serenaded Austin."
"Details. Now." Javi's hands are so animated I think they’re about to turn into birds and take flight.
"Calm down, jazz hands." I dump my bag in a seat. "I..." I look at Sarah, who’s bouncing on the balls of her feet. "Fine. You tell him."
She claps her hands together. "Austin was in the hallway, and Abby went into her I’m-in-a-Glee-daydream mode and sangInto the Woods.” Sarah breaks into song. “I wish... I wish to go to the festival." The acoustics of the room amplify her enchanting voice, and I half expect forest creatures to start gathering. So unlike how my version sounded earlier.
Javi gathers my hands into his, looking deep into my eyes. “Abby. Let’s be real. You do realize that you’ll never be America’s Next Top Hallway Singer?”


  1. Hey Lana,

    Just like last time I really like Abby, such a strong character. I like the additions you made. I felt more grounded in this version.

    I still think the first sentence shouldn't be the first sentence, but I may be wrong, and I know how I get attached to my first line. (I didn't take some of the advice on mine either.)

    Felt like you really tightened things up. I didn't have any stumbles. I also think you lessened the stereotyped character bit by introducing Javi in the manner you did this time. I wanted to give more of a critique, but I really have nothing else. Great job!


    1. Thanks Jeff. I'm not totally adverse to changing the first line, I've just had mixed feedback on it so until I come up with something

  2. Nice revision, Lana! I appreciate how you slowed down and clarified the singing out loud moment. I think you could even stretch that out ever so slightly, to give your reader the full horror of that moment. Good job so far, though.

    I'm curious why you added this Jessie to the opening? I don't remember her in the first round. In my opinion, she adds nothing to the opening at all, and because she's there, I thought I had to keep track of her. I'd ditch her in the opening and feather her in later, when she's needed. Right now she adds another person for your reader to keep track of. It's bordering on too many already.

    You use the word "gawp." Did you mean "gawk?"

    Why is Abby so mad at Javi? Is it because he didn't dress up? She sounds mad at him before she even realizes he didn't dress up, but I can't get a handle on why. Perhaps clarify that a bit more. Is she totally embarrassed dressing alone? Why?

    When Sarah gives the run down to Javi about what happened with the song, she seems gleeful instead of being the sympathetic friend. Perhaps add something to re-telling, something that shows she's feeling bad for her friend, yet can't resist a good story. I don't know. Right now the re-telling doesn't match the sympathetic friend, and if she's a good friend, she should be sympathetic. Know what I mean?

    I think it works not having the brother and the library in yet. I was ok with it the other way, too. Either way works for me.

    You've done a really great job making a strong piece even stronger. Looking forward to seeing it in the next round!

  3. Hi Julie,
    thanks for the comments.
    Jessie - ok I see your point there.
    gawp - technically i think it means the same thing as gawk but I'll

    Abby is mad at Javi because he didn't wear the matching costume and she's been feeling like an idiot all day.
    Sarah - yeah I hear what you're saying, but there's also an element of laughing with/at your friend who does stupid things all the time. :)

    Thanks, Lana

  4. Hi Lana,

    What's different about this opening for me this time is the second sentence. I hear your MC's voice and a bit of snark. I know that Javi is a guy and get the feel for the sort of character he'll be. I understand they are BFFs. And I'm fully drawn into your setting because I understand where I am. Bravo! Nicely done. My only concern is with the opening sentence. I don't have a problem with using 'hell', but some readers might be turned off because it's in the opening sentence. Just a thought. You could always introduce this part of Abby's persona a few paragraphs later to ease the reader into it.

    I'm also not sure about this new Jessie character. IF you have a greater purpose for her, you probably want to keep her. But honestly, at this point in the story she takes away from what you want the reader to latch on to. I think Abby & her crush, Sarah, and Javi really make the story flow.

    You've really cleaned up the middle section here. It's much clearer and very easy to follow. I also felt more emotion when I read it this time. :) Slowly the action down for the reader to see inside Abby's mind and heart helped. Lastly, I really (really) like the way you ended the chapter this time.

    Looking forward to next week! S~

    1. Hi Sheri,
      thanks for the comments. Good point about Jessie...I can always intro her later. I'll look at the opening line.
      Thanks! Lana

  5. Hi Lana. I love Abby even more! You added some fabulous one liners like “just Control-Alt-Delete her,” “but his sheer cuteness just sets my inner subwoofer pounding,” and I love “we’re late for drama. I’ve had my fill of drama today.” Well done.

    I like that you explained the singing in the hallway further but I’m still confused about the purpose in the story. If the purpose is to show Abby’s quirky personality, I think you have already established that with her wonderful inner monologue. If she is deliberately using it to get Austin’s attention, she shouldn’t be embarrassed at the other kids’ reaction. Perhaps I’m missing something?

    The only other thing would be the line “If I had my way, he won’t be surviving high school either.” I get the sentiment you are trying to set up – that Abby is going to kill him because he talked her in to this – but the phrasing doesn’t quite work. Some tweaking should clear it up.

    Great rewrite and looking forward to what’s next.

    1. Thanks for your comments Linda. I'll take a look at this :)

  6. Hi Lana!

    This is such a fun story! I really like Abby's voice, and the quippy dialogue was great! The part with the singing is a great deal clearer as well, as is her relationship with/annoyance at Javi. And the little bits of humor like "Undo undo Control-Z" and the BFF banter were great!

    The school setting came through clearer in this version, but I was still wondering about the time of day--was she just getting to school, or had Abby heard snark about her costume all day? If the latter, why was she just encountering Javi now?

    The bit with Jessie and Sarah was a little confusing. You introduce it with "Unfortunately, Jessie is hovering by Sarah"--since we don't who they are, I think it needs something--maybe a nickname for Jessie, and or a "my neighbor Sarah"? Also, I was surprised that Sarah didn't say anything to defend Abby since they're friends.

    Oh, I grimaced so in sympathetic embarrassment when she sang to Austin! It's easy to relate to embarrassing yourself in front of a crush like that.

    Abby and her friends seem like they will be fun to spend time with, and the story so far is a real blast!


    1. Thanks for your comments Kim.
      In the 1st paragraph I mention that she's been wearing the costume all day. She's seen Javi earlier, but her annoyance has been building up all day.

      I had another comment about Jessie so I will probably take her out for now.
      Thanks! Lana

  7. LOVE! Such. Great. Dialogue.

    I was confused by the "catcalls." For me this implies attractiveness. I could be wrong. Either way, I miss knowing she's kind of bland, or average in some way, at least in her own eyes. Can you put that back in? I think it makes her such a relatable character.

    Also, some hint of what we're moving toward would be good. Although there's a lot of information in the title, I would think for an agent reading this it would be helpful to have some sense of her desire (aside from the boy). What does this girl want?

    Great, great job. You clarified so much. Keep on!


    1. Hi Estelle,
      thanks for the feedback. Good point about 'catcalls' - I'll see if there's another word that fits.

      I'll try to work in the appearance mention again...and her GMC.


  8. Nice revision. I think the singing scene makes more sense now. We all have those moments when day dreams and real life seem like they are a hair’s width apart. And I love Javi, particularly this part:
    “He’s right. And for good reason too. His fashion blog is more like a fashion pile-up, full of crashes and drunk styling near misses, with a total audience of eight including our moms.” Awesome!
    I’m still not sure about the costume though. Is this the best way to show that she’s artistic? It just doesn’t feel like it ties into the story solidly. Who would wear something that crazy and subject themselves to catcalls all day. It also highlights that she hasn’t seen her bff and his lack of costume all day, which feels off. Is there another way to show her artistic side?
    I wonder if you need to introduce Jessie in the hallway scene. You have characters coming in quickly and it seems like there’s an interesting dynamic between her and your MC, but you don’t get into it here. And it raises the question of why Sarah is friends with someone who is so obnoxious to a good friend of hers. Is it possible to just introduce Jessie more fully in a later scene? So we can really see the dynamic between all three of them?
    I also think the part where Sara recaps the hallway scene is repetitive. It might be better if the MC swears her to secrecy and they move on.
    I’m looking forward to reading your pitch next week and hearing more about this story!

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      thanks for the notes. Yup, I hear you about Jessie - I can introduce her later.
      THanks! Lana