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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Back to The Ghost of Him first 13

   
Author Topic: Back to The Ghost of Him first 13
AllyL
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The boy refuses to accept death and clings to the living because he can’t remember how he died. No one knows what happened to him because his secrets were buried with him. The fact that there is no story is the story.
In the small New England town where I live, the dead boy’s legend is famous. Everyone calls him the lonely boy. The first time I heard the old tale, I was only a little girl. All that mystery, all those loose ends made me curious. I started thinking about him often. Ghosts are particularly sensitive to the thought waves of curious young girls. They love subliminal messages. From far away, they can hear our questions and they long to help us find the answers.
I didn’t intend for things to happen the way they did. But it’s

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited November 01, 2010).]


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LDWriter2
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Not too bad, you answer some of the questions from early tries, but I think you should start with "In the small New England".

Not sure about the "I didn't intend" sentence. It feels wrong. But that could be just me


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MAP
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quote:
The boy refuses to accept death and clings to the living because he can�t remember how he died. No one knows what happened to him because his secrets were buried with him. The fact that there is no story is the story.
In the small New England town where I live, the dead boy�s legend is famous. Everyone calls him the lonely boy. The first time I heard the old tale, I was only a little girl. All that mystery, all those loose ends made me curious. I started thinking about him often. Ghosts are particularly sensitive to the thought waves of curious young girls. They love subliminal messages. From far away, they can hear our questions and they long to help us find the answers.

Everything up to here sounds like the blurb on the back of a book. I am sure that you are going to get more specific about the dead boy and how the girl invited him into her life. And I would rather see this happen than be told this happened.

I think you are trying to make sure we understand everything at the start, but you don't have to. It is more interesting to weave this into the narrative as you tell the story.

Honestly, I would cut everything up to this point and start with the paragraph below. IMO it is engaging and sets up the mystery.

I didn�t intend for things to happen the way they did. But it�s my nature to start stuff I don�t know how to finish. Doing stupid things is not a good way to make your life more interesting. But it�s my way. Life is too boring when you don�t take risks. So I unwittingly invited the dead boy into the world of the living, where he doesn�t belong. And now he�s here with me.


Good luck.


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KayTi
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Because of the way you start, I am not sure what perspective we're in, whose point of view, and without that anchor it is hard to put the puzzle pieces of the story you're telling me into place. Even with a YA book, I think there's some benefit to sticking with conventions on the opening so your readers know what to expect. In this case, it might be something like:

Everybody knows about the legend of the dead boy. First time I heard the tale I was young. All that mystery, those loose ends. I thought about him often. Ghosts are particularly sensitive to the thought waves of curious young girls. They love subliminal messages.

So I guess the dead boy loved me, in a way. Odd when you think about it. The legend goes that he refused to accept death and clings to the living because he can't remember how he died. His secrets were buried with him, there is no story, and that makes up the story.

...

Something like that, mostly your words rearranged. It's your story, tell it the way you want to tell it, but as a reader I found it disorienting to not know who the narrator was until many sentences in.


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Grayson Morris
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I agree with MAP. I think that's a great place to start.

I got pulled out of the story when the narrator said, "Ghosts are particularly sensitive...". I assume the story takes place in a version of our world where ghosts are a well-known phenomenon, but I wasn't assuming that when I started reading, so this section sounds like the writer jumping in and taking the microphone from the narrator to insert some information. Not that you can't do it, but it would work better for me if you let the reader know before that point that ghosts are a real, accepted part of this world.

I like your style, and I'd definitely read more.


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Amanda1199
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I like your writing style. It's easy to read. The flow and rhythm really bring you in and keep you reading.

I am also intrigued by the conept you're presenting - a young girl who's unwittingly brought a ghost to where he shouldn't be - with her. That's fascinating.

That said, I do agree with the other comments by MAP and KayTi. There's a little too much explanation in the first 2 paragraphs. Par it down a bit and you've got me hooked.


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gr8n8
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I would cut the first three sentences and replace "the dead boy's" with "a dead boy's". The first three sentences seem like you are trying to tell me the plot like MAP said, from back of book. Otherwise, pretty interesting.
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Jesse D
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quote:
The boy refuses to accept death and clings to the living because he can’t remember how he died. No one knows what happened to him because his secrets were buried with him. The fact that there is no story is the story.

Okay, this is all extraneous. Get rid of it.

quote:
In the small New England town where I live, the dead boy’s legend is famous. Everyone calls him the lonely boy.

I like this as the beginning, actually. This gives me everything I need to know to be hooked.

quote:
The first time I heard the story, I was only a little girl. All that mystery, all those loose ends made me curious. I started thinking about him often. Ghosts are particularly sensitive to the thought waves of curious young girls. They love subliminal messages. From far away, they can hear our questions and they long to help us find the answers.

You're telling, not showing. Do I need to know right this second in the story that ghosts are particularly sensitive to little girls? Probably not. Is there a way you can show their love for subliminal messages, or that they long to help us find answers, rather than just stating it as fact? These are all things you can reveal over the course of the story, particularly if it's a novel.


quote:
I didn’t intend for things to happen the way they did. But it’s my nature to start stuff I don’t know how to finish. Doing stupid things is not a good way to make your life more interesting. But it’s my way. Life is too boring when you don’t take risks. So I unwittingly invited the dead boy into the world of the living, where he doesn’t belong. And now he’s here with me.

Again, telling us what has happened rather than showing it. If the fact that she's invited the boy into the world of the living is important to the story, maybe you should start with her doing that, rather than telling us after the fact. It's too abrupt, and we as readers aren't going to care.

So, as far as I'm concerned, I'd keep those two sentences and ditch the rest. That's the only part that held any interest for me.


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sojoyful
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Without repeating, I will agree with the consensus. This sounds like an interesting story, but what you've written sounds more like the blurb about the story than the story itself. I would like to see this happen before my eyes, rather than being told it happened.
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AllyL
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I tried to consider everyone's advice, which I'm very grateful for. Here's what I came up with.

In the small New England town where I live, the dead boy’s legend is famous. Everyone calls him the lonely boy. No one knows who he was or how he died. His secrets were buried with him. All that mystery, all those loose ends, made me curious enough to do something stupid. It all began one summer night seven years ago, when my brothers were trying to scare the crap out of me.
“Let’s tell ghost stories. What do you think, Annabelle?” Without waiting for an answer, my two older brothers drag me into their room, close the door and turn off the lights. My oldest brother, Joe, pulls a book of matches out of his pants pocket and lights one on the first try. He holds the flame to the wick of a scented candle he smuggled in from our parents’

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited November 01, 2010).]


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LDWriter2
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Again I say not too bad. I didn't really notice the Telling in the previous version since it's First Person so I can't say for sure but this sounds a bit more like show.

But over all I liked the previous version better. This one says a bit more, with the brothers again, but the other felt smoother even if it really was too much tell


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sojoyful
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Your revision is definitely an improvement. However, the first paragraph is still all back cover blurb. Just start with the second paragraph. It is sufficiently interesting to keep me reading further into the story.
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MAP
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I think you have a nice writing style and an interesting concept, but do you really want to start the story when she first hears about the dead boy? Are you sure this isn't back story that can be filtered in later? Going just from the first thirteen it is hard for me to tell.

I really think you have an interesting story here, and if you like, I'd be willing to look at the first chapter.


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AllyL
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I would love for MAP to read my first chapter. How do I contact you? I'm pretty new here.
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AllyL
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Actually, MAP, you can contact me. My email is available, so feel free. Thanks.
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MAP
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Sorry, I am hard to get a hold of. I'll drop you an e-mail.
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RoxanneCrouse
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The "In the small New England town where I live, the dead boy’s legend is famous." is definately a better hooking sentence. I'd start there.

In the small New England town where I live, the dead boy’s legend is famous. Everyone calls him the lonely boy. The first time I heard the old tale, I was only a little girl. All that mystery, all those loose ends made me curious.

Here I'd go into what the legend was so we get curious about the legend too. Without telling us the legend, we , the reader, don't get curious. I don't care about that other information your trying to give us yet. I need to know what the legend is or I'm putting the book down.

Your second version, down a little farther, is better, more on track

[This message has been edited by RoxanneCrouse (edited November 06, 2010).]


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