Monday, January 21, 2019

1st 5 Pages January Workshop- Lambert Rev 2

Jeannie Lambert
Young Adult
Hacking Health

Meet me at the field,” said Tony, using a bottomless- Red-Solo cup to magnify his voice, from his truck.

“Sure, whatever,” Lars waves him off, dismissing the invite.

Tony restates his demand, a little louder, “I said meet me at the field.” Threatening them, he angles his truck for impact and revs the engine. Laying down a black line marking his territory, he barks his tires and drives his Ford truck right at them. Jessie does what anybody would; she closes her eyes and cringes. Impatient for an impact that didn’t come; she peeks out to find Tony, a-not-so-confident-driver, inching closer. And closer still, towards Jessie.

“Tony, if you touch my truck, I’m goin’ kick your ass,” said Lars.

Over the roar of the engine Tony said, “I wasn’t going to hit you.”

“Sure, Crash,” said Lars. He didn’t flinch like Jessie. Casually Lars reaches across Jessie and brushes her arm on his way to the radio dial. She feels the contact and tries not to show that she felt something, more than intended. The truck vibrates with the chorus, “We go way out where there ain’t nobody,” because Lars bumped the dial up. He corrects his mistake, and rotates the dial off before Jessie can hear her favorite part. She can’t help but hum, “We turn this cornfield into a party.” She likes Luke Brian’s songs; it’s not the usual lonesome sound of country music. Jessie misses it when it fades. Those are the only lyrics she knows. She recently moved up to the Mason Dixon line, and she’s not acclimatized to listening to the only two options for music – country or western.

Jessie inhales a full breath, welcoming a surprisingly sweet aroma of burning diesel. There isn’t much room to move, let alone breathe, when 7 people pile in a 6-passenger space. She looks around to see if anyone noticed that she’s taking up too much space. Grateful for a ride home from the football game at school, she tries to fit in next to Lars, the driver. Straddling the saddle of this herd of horses powering his truck, she felt the raw power strain against brakes held down by his commanding size-11 boot.
Jessie looks at Tony from behind the protection of Lars’ shoulder. She notices that Tony’s mirror has been dinged before, maybe a couple of times – a red, blue and it looks like black truck left flecks of paint behind. He’s lost the game of chicken before, she’s glad he didn’t hit them this time. Jessie thought Tony and Lars were friends, but they sure don’t act like it.

“Did you say something Tony? I couldn’t hear you – your truck sounds sick. Did you forget and put gas in it instead of diesel, again?” asked Lars. Jessie hears twitters of the five girls crowded in the back seat of the extended cab. Someone says “Good one Lars.”

Tony, all by himself, realizes that he’s got an audience. He spits a bit tobacco chew towards Lars’ truck. Based on Lars reaction, it must have hit the truck, nasty old spit. That is gross. Tony looks up, and across at Lars. He slowly looses the curve of his smile. Rolling up his window, he grinds the gears of the manual transmission. He peels out and takes the road away from town. Jessie thinks, what’s the point? Lars is going to catch him, he should just give up.

“What a jerk. Trucks should be seen, not heard,” said Lars. “Change of plans y’all.” He pulls half-way into the intersection, and then pops a u-ee. He breaks the law, but in a one-stop light town it’s no big deal because there is no one around to notice.

Jessie isn’t a regular at mudding. She doesn’t really get it – all they do is drive their trucks through a mud pit. Is it a sport? Is it a party? Whatever it is, it has Boiling Springs stamped all over it.

She sees a glow across the corn field; it looks like a massive bonfire.

Lars drops the group off over at the crowd of kids watching directly across the widest and deepest vantage point – the most likely to get stuck spot. The crowd loves to cheer for their favorites. Jessie can hear screams and sees the crowd run along beside the most recent competitor. It looks like he’ll make it out.

Moving closer to the speakers, staged on top of a truck bed; Jessie feels the pull to dance – solo. Some kids are brave and dance from the bed of a truck. She’s not bold enough for that. It is not choreographed or planned, mostly a free form response to the music. Her teachers wouldn’t recognize her. She keeps to herself mostly in class. Patiently quiet, she’s gotten marked absent and served a Saturday detention rather than speak up about the mistake. Glancing down at her wrist, she sees her fluttering pulse keeping time with the Electronic Dance Music. The lyrics, “Dream, Dream, Dream bigger,” speak to her. One song mixes into the next. She notices that she is no longer by herself, but with others compelled to move along with the beat.

She walks over to the line of trucks are staged and ready to compete. Griffin is a family acquaintance. She goes over to join him. Leaning against his truck he lifts his chin to acknowledge Jessie. She watches him open up his Pepsi and slide in some peanuts. He takes a deep swig. She usually likes the salty combo, but she is without peanuts. She heads over his way to see if he’ll share.

“Sup,” said Griffin. He takes the hint and pours some salty peanuts into her glass bottle of Pepsi, causing the fizz to broach the aluminum rim. She slurps loudly. The efferent gulp offers her a welcome sensation of burning caffeine.

“Hey, thanks,” said Jessie.

Despite the razor sharp edges of the corn stalks, too soon the light from morning cuts through. Waking up from her trance, she feels an unrelenting pull to head back to the house.

“When,” asks Jessie.

“Soon,” said the junior firefighter. He hacks the Navy’s weather

“Not soon enough,” said Jessie. Careful, she cautions herself; she can’t act like a yappy dog. She doesn’t believe in making plans.

“In a day or two we can expect a lightning storm. It should bust a groove for us to play in.” Jessie nods her head in response and steps with a boost of emotional helium that immediately lifts her mood.

Walking away she notices that she is covered by a film of dirt with who knows what cling-on bugs, the nabs she ate hours ago makes her now crave a back side of a forward facing mule, her eyes feel hot-glued to her contacts; and she couldn’t be happier. Moving to Boiling Springs from Miami a year ago was scary, but good based on tonight.
Flinging mud and spinning tires fuel her with the same adrenaline rush that is typically bottled up in a Red Bull. Nobody likes going mudding more than Jessie.

"Hey, what's the story with that Jessie girl?"

Jessie hears the voices through her air buds. She left her phone in her purse in Lars' truck. She is hearing them somehow.

"Does she have cancer?"


  1. Hi, Jeannie!

    Congratulations on the revision! The story flows better now with different length sentences, shorter paragraphs, and the slower pace. I love that it starts in the middle of action and that we can see different aspects of Jessie's life. You should be super proud!

    My advice, though, is that you try to make Jessie more present from the very beginning. You open the story with dialogue between Tony and Lars, and we don't read Jessie's name until several sentences later. I would love to see her right off the bat, see her thoughts on mudding sooner, hear her voice a lot more. I think there is a lot of space to add moments in which Jessie is the one talking, and Jessie is the one doing instead of being there along for the ride, and you can accomplish with tweaking this very draft a little bit more.

    Another thing I think the story would benefit from is a closer narrator, and for that narrator to be of course Jessie, for the story to be more limited to her experiences and the way she perceives the world. You're doing this already but I think it could be tighten up a bit more.

    Great revision!

  2. Hi!

    I like that we’re getting more into the nitty gritty of who Jessie is. I agree with Majo & Nessa—starting with Jessie and making her more present in those opening lines would help ground the reader in her POV. At this stage, the argument between Lars and Tony doesn’t mean a whole lot to the reader and since Jessie is our POV, we want to know more about her than about the people surrounding her.

    There is a lot going on and at times it was almost too much, you might consider tightening up the action and sticking to one main event rather than having several sub events going on. Let the reader really get immersed in one thing and then slowly build from there.

    I think this revision has the strongest voice in it of what you’ve submitted; I could definitely feel/hear/see Jessie and her friends. Great job and good luck!


  3. Hi Jeannie!

    I love that you're opening up with the mudding scene again - it's unique and has a great hook to it.

    As previous comments mention, if I didn't know this story was about Jessie beforehand, I would've assumed the main character was Tony or Lars from the first few lines.

    I enjoy all of the elements in the scene but feel like I don't know enough about each thing happening before we move on. There's a lot here, which is all good, but a little too fast. I'd recommend going a bit deeper by focusing on one or two things at a time.

    I'm definitely interested in Jessie and this whole new world she's thrown into. It's a great set up to the story! Good job on the revisions this month! I think you're almost there. :)

  4. I agree with the above comments. In the first submission, the mudding scene confused me, but it was unique and fresh. I wanted clarity, which you did here. The paragraphs are coherent and fllow together. I missed the inciting incident

    1. I forgot to mention that your setting/location is great. I will look forward to reading more in the future.

  5. Hi!

    This is by far the best iteration! Great job!!!!!

    I love where it starts now, right in the middle of the action — and it’s really intriguing action, too, so kudos for that! I'm so glad you added the dialogue, as well.

    I would’ve liked a little better set-up, to make it clear where everybody is. I didn’t know at first that Jesse was in the car next to Lars, of that there were 5 girls in the backseat (why are they all squashed back there? With just Jesse and Lars in the front seat?) I think you need to set the scene from the beginning. Otherwise, every time we get a new piece of information, we have to revise our visual of the scene.

    I’m also not clear where Tony is and how they can heat him so clearly if he’s in another car.

    Jesse is the main POV character. You need to make this utterly clear from the beginning. As is, she gets an introduction in the middle of the paragraph, and she just randomly appears.

    I’m still not sure about the “when” conversation because I don’t know what they’re referring to. I’m intrigued by plopping peanuts in soda! Great detail.

    And finally, love the hook at the very end, although it’s not clear in my mind where the voices are coming from or how she’s hearing them.

    All in all, this is a vast improvement! Great job!!!

  6. This is Erin posting For Amy:

    Hi Jeannie,

    What a thorough reviser you are! Well done. It’s good to start in the middle of things – this set up helps me see much more clearly what mudding is (and is going to be). I’m also getting more of a feel for Jessie without being told as explicitly (as in a few drafts back) but more through her actions, which helps her come to life for me.

    I’m still looking for her stakes beyond that she wants to fit in a little more than she does (which I deduce from her sense of herself among the others in the truck) – I see that she’s timid in school and is a new girl, but I also know she’s doing better than she expected since her move and even feels free enough to dance when the mood strikes her. That last line about cancer is a humdinger – why do those girls think that about her? Is it something about her appearance? A rumor that’s been told about her? If this is going to be the storyline (she does have cancer and they had to move from Miami b/c…? something to do with cancer) it would be good to weave it in a little more throughout the beginning. It’s great to end a section on a hook, of course – keeps the reader flipping pages, but it should feel earned somewhat and come not as a total surprise.

    I would still like to see (through a few deftly placed details) some more of where we are (place/setting) and who the cast of characters are – that “junior firefighter” remains an enigma.

    One small thing – in the beginning you say “Jessie isn’t a regular at mudding. She doesn’t really get it –” and later the text tells us “Nobody likes going mudding more than Jessie.” These two things seem to be somewhat at odds – of course you can love something without really understanding it, but to say “Nobody likes it more than…” among obviously devoted mudders (is that a term?) seems a little over the top and tripped me up in terms of flow.

    You are a skilled reviser. Keep going!

  7. Yesterday I went axe throwing at a bar, yes they serve beer, with my colleagues. The Axepert designated to supervise our group taught me something very important. He was coaching me how to toss the axe. But I didn't listen, I was convinced that I could imbed the blade, making the shards of wood fly; if I simply put more force behind my throw. Each throw, after once again I missed, I would look to him for guidance. He would say things like move up, hold the axe lower on the handle, and follow through; yet it didn't stick, nor did his advice. But something he said did, "You're giving me a different throw every time. I'm giving advice based on your last throw. You got to be patient and work on what I give you." Thanks to Pickle, I hope to apply that concept to my writing. I wanted to thank all of you for letting me fail fabulously with this workshop. I appreciate your feedback. I've been tangled up in Jessie's story. But I'm on the cusp of "getting it." I have a good feeling now that I understand, I may finally create her experience in the form of a MS.

  8. Pitch: Jessie's dad died of a heart attack, they say. Her Grammy is suspicious that his pacemaker was hacked. Unfortunately, Grammy inhabits her brain only part-time due to Alzheimer’s. Her claim has significant implications. If Grammy is right, then all medical devices are at risk from a remote puppet-master who can unplug a pacemaker with a magnet or inject a lethal dose of insulin in a pump. Everyone thinks that Grammy is talking out of her head - Alzheimer’s has a way of tossing thoughts like glitter of a snow globe. Jessie has to sort through Grammy’s random or imagined thoughts to follow a twisting path with fake summits and dead ends. Just as they are getting closer, Grammy gets locked up Geezer jail (nursing home) and Jessie is sentenced to a hoods-in-the-woods (juvenile delinquent) program. This is hopeless – all of their leads are locked up along with them. A virtual riptide pulls her away from everything and everybody who can help her. Jessie is ready to give up until she meets a friend who confirms that this is no conspiracy. In fact, tracing its roots can save insulin-dependent patients and resolve why her dad died.
    (I know this is late, but power went out last week. I had to write it even if no one ever reads it.)

  9. This is Erin posting for Carlie:
    I'm a big fan of the imagery and punchy dialogue here. I also like that you're alternating this sharper dialogue with longer narrative. It keeps the pace up nicely. I'm having some trouble connecting to this manuscript, however, for a few reasons. First, dialogue makes for a difficult opening. I think this scene could be very powerful, but because I don't know who these characters are or why they're saying the things they are in the way they are, I'm losing the things that make them meaningful. Second, there are four characters talking in this very short amount of space. I'm not sure where to focus my attention. It seems like the narrative is in Jessie's head, but if that's the case I feel that this early in the book she should also have the most dialogue. This scene has massive potential but it's not quite working for me as an opening. What if it came at a point when the reader knows more about these characters, who they are, and what they want?