Sunday, October 13, 2019

1st 5 Pages Oct Workshop - Helt Rev 1

 Name: Julianna Helt
Genre: MG Contemporary
Title: Slime Wars

I waved my sign at a passing car. “Get your slime,” I shouted. My BFFs Shelby and Lexi and I all stood in Shelby’s yard, behind an old fold-out table we lugged from her garage with plastic containers lined up on top, each filled with a different color of our awesome homemade goo.

We spent all summer making slime and it was taking over all our houses. Lexi’s mom threatened to throw it all away if something wasn’t done. Lexi decided a good old-fashioned stand like a lemonade stand was the way to go. But instead of lemonade, we would sell all the slime we made throughout the summer. I had my eyes on some new lacrosse gear that my parents said they wouldn’t buy me because my old stick was “just fine for now” even though all the girls on the elite team I made in the spring have brand new equipment. Mine is second hand and the strings always come undone. Anyway, I did the math and if we each made six dollars every day for the next ten days I would have enough to buy the gear myself.

That means, since we decided to split our profits three ways, we need to sell nine containers of slime every day!

My sweaty hands slipped on the poster board with, “SLIME FOR SALE,” emblazoned in large red letters. Old Mrs. Mabel passed by walking Charlie, her equally old dog. She peered at our signs and containers, shaking her head muttering, “slime?”

Lexi held up her poster board with “SLIME $2” written on it. She messed up the dollar sign and scratched it out with a black marker. 

Shelby laid down on her sign, “It’s so hot,” she whined, “Can we go inside?” She decorated her poster board with hearts and stars instead of anything to do with selling slime.      

“We might as well! No one is going to want our slime!” I laid down next to Shelby, closing my eyes against the blaring sun. This was a bad plan!  

No one had stopped at our table all afternoon except for Mrs. Mabel who definitely didn’t look interested. Some cars slowed down but when they realized we weren’t selling lemonade on this hot day, they sped up and drove away.

Then a car door slammed.

“Hi,” Lexi said. I squinted my eyes at a boy standing on the sidewalk with a crisp five-dollar bill. His mom waited with the window down in a gray minivan.

“Maycie,” she whispered, kicking me. “Get up!”

I stood up off the grass. I guess we had our first customer.

“Hey, you made all this?” he asked waving at the containers on the table.  
“Um, yeah. did you want some?” I mumbled pulling the end of my ponytail into my mouth. This seemed like a good idea until someone actually wanted to buy slime. Talking to customers made my already hot body become drenched in sweat.

 “I don’t know.” The kid studied the merchandise. “Do you have blue?” He peered at the containers of slime on our table.

“Of course.” Lexi picked up a container opening the lid.

“Ew.” She dropped the container, squishing her face up in disgust.
“Um, never mind.” The kid backed away his eyes wide.
“Wait!” Desperate to make our first sale, I called out to the kid, but he was already back in the car.

The car sped away as I looked in the container in Lexi’s hand.

“Gross.” What was once a blue masterpiece was now a pool of glue and laundry detergent. It didn’t look anything like slime.
“They’re not all like that are they?” Shelby asked opening the other containers. They were. All the slime had melted in the sun.
Lexi let out a deep breath and threw herself down in the grass.

“This is terrible!” She buried her face in her hands in a dramatic pose of defeat. But I had an idea! We needed something to thicken the slime in this heat. Maybe flour?

“I’ll be right back!” I ran across the street to my house.

“Mom!” I screamed as the front door banged open. A blast of cold air hit my face, but I didn’t pause to enjoy it. Mom wasn’t in the living room or the kitchen. She must be in the backyard with the twins. Since she’s usually ok with me borrowing stuff and I was in a hurry, I grabbed the bag of flour without asking from the kitchen and carried it back to slime headquarters.

“What are you doing?” Lexi asked as I sprinkled some flour into the first container of blue slime stirring it with a plastic spoon. More and more flour went into the mixture, but the goo didn’t thicken like I thought it would. Flour covered the front of my #laxgirl shirt.

“Borax!” I yelled to no one in particular, picking up the bag of flour to run back home with it. As I made my way across the front yard, my sweaty hands lost their grip on the bag of flour. It slipped through my fingers exploding on to my front yard like a flour atomic bomb.

“Oh no!” I yelled. Lexi and Shelby came running.

“Look at you,” Lexi tried to brush the flour out of my hair and clothes. It only smeared it in more. Her sweaty hands now white with flour. She wiped them off on my shirt instead of her own.   

Shelby smiled. I knew she was trying not to laugh. She sniffed. Any second she was going to explode in fits of giggles.

“Don’t do it,” I warned her, putting my hand up to stop her. That just sent a whiff of flour dust in the air. I couldn’t help but crack a smile.

Shelby covered her mouth with both hands, but the sound burst from her lips under her fingers. Peels of laughter exploded across the lawn. I grabbed a handful from the bag and threw it in the air. It rained down on the three of us.

“No, don’t!” Lexi cried in horror while Shelby spun around in the flour rain

I threw another handful of flour in the air and danced in it with Shelby. Lexi laughed, streaking through the yard to escape the mess.  She’d be in so much trouble if she got flour all over her clothes. I knew this but I chased her anyway.            

She stopped running, out of breath, facing me, “Please stop, Maycie!” She put her hands out in front of her.

A fistful of flour in my hand, I held it up threatening to throw it. She cowered.

“Don’t, Maycie,” I heard a stern voice behind me. Lexi relaxed, triumphant, looking passed me to the owner of the voice.

“Hi, Dad,” I turned, smiling my sweetest smile. 

“What in the world are you doing?” he demanded. My sweetness having no effect on him whatsoever.

“I could ask you the same thing, you know? Did you skip out of work early?” I gave him a playful but stern look, shaking my finger at him. 

I expected him to have some witty comeback and we would exchange banter like we usually do. Instead, his face darkened, a cloud passing over his eyes. 

“Just put the flour away, Maycie, and clean up. You’re a mess!” He opened up the backseat door, lifting out a box. “Can you close that door for me?” he said as he walked past.


  1. There's a lot in the second paragraph, and a lot of it is repetitive. You could totally cut some of the information as we can put one and one together (but instead of lemonade line, and the tatter strings line about lacrosse).

    I'm not even sure we need all the numbers stuff, as I think for the reader, all that really matters is that they're selling the slime, she wants to make enough for a new lacrosse stick, and they have so much parents are getting annoyed. I think the stuff about how much for how many days is just filler?

    I think my only other suggestion or thought is about getting to the conflict sooner. Either the conflict of the slime being bad, and taking longer with the boy so that he's more pointed about how its messed up, or with the dad.

    Or, pointing the motivation so that it's more important than its being presented right now. Basically, I want to know that Maycie cares about the slime selling, because then I'll get more invested in her. Right now, even thought yes she wants the new stick, it doesn't seem to have much emotional vale or impact to her, and the motivation is standing just as "we're selling slime case of X" rather than, "I care about us selling slime because I really really want this new stick otherwise I won't fit in on the new lacrosse team."

    Basically, the motivation could be tied in better to Maycie's personal stakes about the slime selling, which would make us care more about her.

  2. Hey Julianna!

    I’m enjoying reading your revision! It certainly flows better throughout different parts than your first one!

    Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

    In the next to last paragraph, should it be “a cloud passed over his eyes”? This would keep with your past tense uses throughout.
    I think if you can condense the sentence in the second paragraph about having eyes on new lacrosse gear, that will help with the flow. But, definitely leave it in! I like knowing that as a reader. I know some people want things to unfold as the story develops—and that should happen—but some things just need to be stated up front like you did.

    I can totally “see” the girls and their signs. The “SLIME $2” and the hearts and stars descriptions certainly help with that and paints your characters as what I assume to be typical 4th,5th,6th grade girls. I’ve spent many years teaching those grades, your descriptions are spot on!

    As far as the rest goes, I see motivation—she cares because she wants new lacrosse gear. I see plot development because the slime melted. And I see great interaction between your characters to the extent girls of that age would act.

    I am also left with the question, what haunts her dad?

    Overall, enjoyed reading this revision!

    Best Wishes,

  3. Hi, Julianna. Thank you so much for last week's feedback. I tried to incorporate what everyone said in the rewrite.

    I really enjoyed reading this week's submission. I had a better idea for how the characters were selling the slime, and I loved learning that Maycie is a hockey player. I wasn't sure what "the strings always come undone" meant, as I know absolutely nothing about hockey, but that's OK -- I got that it was an inconvenience for her and distinguished her stick as being used, as opposed to new. It was also a good clue as to the family's financial situation.

    Most of what I noticed was nit-picky.

    There were a couple of times when the internal monologue in Maycie's head repeated what the dialogue showed and might benefit from being simplified. Example, "except for Ms. Mabel who definitely didn't look interested." You show that earlier, when she keeps walking with the dog and mutters under her breath about the slime. Another was, "I guess we had our first customer." They do have their first customer, so the "I guess we had" part in her head was not necessary. "Our first customer!" might work just as well. And toward the end, when she gives her Dad her sweetest smile. When he answers her, "What in the world are you doing?" there's a dialogue tag, but because he's the only Dad in the scene, I get that he's responding to her question and I'm not sure the tag is necessary.

    I loved when Maycie pulled her ponytail into her mouth. Does she suck on the hair, too? My daughter did that.

    The only other thing I'd mention is when he pulls the box out of the car. I get that we all have the 1250 word limit. I'm betting the next sentence establishes the contents are from his work? Because I really liked that last time and am missing it and Maycie's reaction to it, this time.

    It read so well, I'm excited to read the next version!

  4. Hi Julianna,

    I really enjoyed your changes this week! I feel like you have given is a clear picture of everybody's placement and action this time around.

    I do think that sometimes you try to be too clear. For instance, your sentence that starts: "But instead of lemonade, we would sell all the slime..." It's not really needed. I think there is a shift in tense in paragraph 3, take a look and see if you agree.

    Paragraph 19 read a little clunky to me. Maybe reorganize to something like: "Wait!" I called out, desperate to make our first sale."

    In paragraph 38 which starts "Dont Maycie,"... I noticed the filter word "heard" I used to get dinged on words like "heard" and "saw". I have to fight these phrases everytime I write, so I just wanted to mention it.

    Overall, I think you did a great job! I'm hoping some of my suggestions leave you some room to add more of your book because I want to read more.

  5. I completely love what you're getting at here in the open. I feel like I have a much better sense of the character (and that she's the main character) because of your set up. The second paragraph does that work for you, but probably needs to be pruned a bit now. It'd be easy enough to cut off the last two sentences (beginning with Mine), as the context is set already by the sentence immediately preceding those two (and, great, putting our kid in a bit of an underdog spot right from the get-go).

    When Maycie goes to try to fix the slime, I'd recall that she doesn't want to give up the possibility of new lacrosse equipment. Let the reader feel her pain/panic here a bit with the emotional bell rung again. I think this is especially true if something about her parents' situation is causing her not to have the equipment she feels she needs.

    All-in-all, I think this is a really good revise. To my mind, you're heading in the absolute right direction. You've provided an emotional context, a reason for the slime, and a button with dad that (potentially) makes Maycie's slime profit dreams a symptom of a larger problem in her life than simply lacrosse equipment.

  6. Hi Julianna,

    I like the inclusion of Maycie's motivation for selling slime, but the way you handle it feels like an information dump. This paragraph does a ton of telling:

    ***We spent all summer making slime and it was taking over all our houses. Lexi’s mom threatened to throw it all away if something wasn’t done. Lexi decided a good old-fashioned stand like a lemonade stand was the way to go. But instead of lemonade, we would sell all the slime we made throughout the summer. I had my eyes on some new lacrosse gear that my parents said they wouldn’t buy me because my old stick was “just fine for now” even though all the girls on the elite team I made in the spring have brand new equipment. Mine is second hand and the strings always come undone. Anyway, I did the math and if we each made six dollars every day for the next ten days I would have enough to buy the gear myself.***

    I'd suggest trying to weave it throughout your pages and maybe cut out the material that isn't really essential. I suspect it's less about the quality of the lacrosse stick and more about the snooty girls who give her a hard time for not having an expensive new one. It would be great if that could come out in an emotional way. If we could see how much that hurts your main character, it would help raise the stakes and add a nice element of interiority.

    I'm also wondering if there isn't an opportunity to jump into the action a little quicker. The description of the old lady and the dog, for example, doesn't really contribute to the main story, so I suspect you could lose it without readers missing anything. I think you might be able to condense your first page or so and get to the flour fight faster.

    I still wish the silly/gross out factor were dialed up a bit in these pages. Slime is such a gross thing, it just feels natural to go to a little gross-out humor. Maybe one of the girls is the gross one in the trio and says something funny about how they'd have better luck selling real snot. (Just off the top of my head.)

    Finally, I'd love to see a little tension between the girls as they talk about the slime. For example, if Maycie is the only one who really NEEDS the money, she can take things more seriously than the others, who just want to give up or keep goofing around, which can irk your MC. Just a thought.

    Keep at it!