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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » YA novel: A quick survey

   
Author Topic: YA novel: A quick survey
wrenbird
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Hi all. I have been wrestling with two different openings for my story and I hope you guys can help me out. (I know the genre isn't most of you SF writer's thing, but I'd still like your opinion of you wouldn't mind.)

I want to know, which opening grabs you more? Which appeals to you more? Does anything in either one bother you or sit wrong? As I am about to start submiting to agents, I feel very strongly that my opening needs to be good. So, I would very much appreciate which one of these you think puts my best foot forward.

Thanks!

Version 1

On closing night of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I sat alone in the girls’ dressing room and prayed to Will Shakespeare to give me the courage to kiss Brandon Drake.
I had been madly in love with him for the five months, ever since he moved to Avery. Yet, for five months, we had been friends, nothing more. But, tonight everything would change. I could feel it.
I held up our paper program, and stared at the Xeroxed picture of Shakespeare with his big, frilly collar, his sly goatee. His play brought Brandon and I together in the first place, and I just knew that somehow, he would make the magic happen tonight. It was destiny.
“Destiny,” I said, in a reverent whisper.

Version 2

On closing night of The Great Gatsby, I sat alone in the girl’s dressing room, staring in the mirror, planning for what would surely be the most epic kiss of my entire life.
At the cusp of such an event, I suppose I should have been a nervous wreck, but I felt strangely calm as I spritzed a bit of my special, performance night perfume on my wrists and neck. The cherry blossom, peach, and orchid mingled with the waxy smell of makeup, summoning visions of a dozen closing nights that had come before this one. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. Every one of them would pale in comparison to tonight.
For five months, I had been madly in love with Brandon Drake. For five months, we had been good friends, nothing more. But tonight, everything would change. I could feel it. It was destiny

[This message has been edited by wrenbird (edited September 23, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by wrenbird (edited September 23, 2008).]


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innesjen
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I prefer the second one. The first is a little over the top with her praying to Shakespeare, and then even having a printed photo of the playwright to gaze upon.

[This message has been edited by innesjen (edited September 23, 2008).]


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KStar
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I actually prefer the first one. It sounds very cute and I would love to read more. I like the idea of including William Shakespeare. The first sentence is perfect.

The only thing that seems off is the very end: "It was destiny." And then having her say "destiny" out loud. I would prefer one or the other mentions of "destiny", but not both.

[This message has been edited by KStar (edited September 23, 2008).]


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Kin Castelmare
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I like them both as well-written openings to two very different books. For me, the choice would depend on the story that follows.

If your work is more of a comedy with characters finding amusement in manipulating the love lives of other students, go with the Shakespeare. On the other hand, if the work is more of a drama with wild parties, infidelity on all sides, death, and lies--definitely the Gatsby. It was interesting that the tone of both choices was consistent with their literary references as well: the first was more whimsical and the second more serious.

So, by invoking those references and using a different voice, you've already set things up for what will follow. Your skills are good though! And in both cases, I would keep reading to see how the story progresses along the lines of how it has begun.


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Tiergan
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I wondered where you had been wrenbird. Now I know, query hell, and proposal packages for novels take forever, query, synopsis and how mnay pages to include. (I'm there as well)

I liked the first 1, by far on the first read, by the 2nd read, the other came closer, but still the first. Of course the second doesnt mention WS at all, where as the first does, how important is he to the story, is it his magic that starts it all, if so I would suggest the first.

If you would like, I would be happy to read the first chapter, and give you a more qualified decision.


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wrenbird
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Thanks to all of you who have tossed in your opinions so far. I knew it would be somewhat divided. I'm torn myself, so I appreciate hearing others opinions.

And thanks Tiergan, it's good to know I'm not the only one thrashing in the stormy waters of querying. Good luck to you!


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TBeard
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I agree with Kin: your choice depends on what's going to happen for the rest of the story.

I think the Shakespeare beginning hints at a modern fantasy, with perhaps a prayer being answered by the long-dead bard. If you want something magical, then go for that one. You've especially got a good hint of that with the play being MSND. There is no more magical romantic comedy!

If, on the other hand, you want something a little more cynical, something where much is lost before anything is gained, perhaps even something tragic, then Gatsby's your man.


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Crank
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Guys and girls kissing does not interest me...unless I'm the guy involved. But, the second you involved praying to Billy Shakespeare, I was ready to read the entire story in one sitting. Version One gets my vote, for the simple fact that the first 13 tells me the story is going to be fun.


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sjsampson
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I like version 1, but I agree with Kin. It might depend on what type of story you are trying to tell. Maybe I am hoping for a happy story by liking version 1 more.
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wrenbird
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quote:
But, the second you involved praying to Billy Shakespeare, I was ready to read the entire story in one sitting.

Crank, you made my day.

More thanks to those who have offered their opinions. I think I know where I am going to go now and I am SO grateful.

(I still welcome any new votes) So, thanks!


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kings_falcon
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If the tone is more humorous - I think version 1 is better.

If the love story elements are more along the tragic lines of Gatsby, version 2 would work better.

By naming/picking the play, you're setting up my expectations/ making a promise about your story.

[This message has been edited by kings_falcon (edited September 25, 2008).]


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Ennis
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Hi, I think both versions were very well-written, you have talent! I have to say though, the first one grabbed me more than the second. There was a certain personality in the first one that made me very much want to continue reading. My vote is for the first, but either way, I hope you get a bite.
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aspirit
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The girl in Version 1 and Version 2 feels to me like two different people. In Version 1, she's more nerdy, the kind of girl who gets along with enough people to make friends but is teased even by her friends for being weird. In Version 2, she is the kind who is probably "popular" and a bit self-centered. She's spritzing on flower/fruit perfume for a stage performance?! The first girl is concerned about courage and the second about preparing for an "epic" kiss. I expect one fits the tone of the book better than the other.

That said, I am more likely to identify with and care about the girl in Version 1. Conversely, I think Version 2 reads more smoothly. Version 1 could use a little more polish. I enjoyed the first sentence, then stopped half-way through the second sentence, wondering if she loved Drake, Shakespeare, or both. I thought of the black-haired friend in 10 Things I Hate About You.

I do like the Version 1 girl whispering "destiny", as if she's so absorbed in her daydreaming she abandons the silence around her.

I wish you the best of luck in attracting an agent.


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jkhodgepodge
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I suppose I'm a little late but I like the first one. I love Shakespeare so I am probably bias, but I would read on based on that fact

Good luck with your query!


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honu
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combo Chinese dinner one for me please the gushiness made me think this was more than just a romance...seemed like some humor could pop up
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ArachneWeave
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The first has more quirky in it, and more off-the-bat tension. Sounds too self-assured to me.

It does seem to jump the gun a bit for a YA romance, so I'd be looking at the summary to see if it was going to be more story than what this is suggesting.

I think both could use some cleaning, but the first (though over-the-top) has more humor potential.
And YA is my thing, but only if it has a sense of humor. ^_^


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