Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are You Hooked? -- Entry #11

TITLE: Blink
GENRE: YA speculative fiction

Cold potatoes sitting in a pool of butter. Echo pushed her plate away; she never had an appetite when her parents were fighting.

“Fifty dollars!”  That was her father’s voice, coarse and angry. “You didn’t ask.”

Celeste was crying. “Ace, I—”

“FIFTY DOLLARS!” Something shattered in the living room. “You are never to touch my money unless I tell you to buy something.”

“I’m sick of it, Ace!” Celeste’s voice rose shakily. “I can’t even buy a stick of gum without your permission! We are husband and wife—”

“And the money’s mine!” Ace roared.

“So I’m not allowed to buy a dress that I—?” A slap, and Celeste cried out.

“I’m the head of this house.” Something that sounded disturbingly like a body hit the wall. “If you don’t listen to me, I will make you!”

Echo lunged across the table and grabbed little Coraly off the stack of books that served as a high chair.

“Look at me, Coraly,” Echo crooned, aware of the tremble in her voice. “Look at Auntie Echo! That’s my Sweet Pea.”

But Coraly wasn’t listening. Her eyes were large and frightened. “Gamp angry?” she asked, voice soft and tentative.

There was another crash from the living room and Celeste yelled, “Go away! Just get out of here!”

Echo squeezed Coraly tight and whispered, “It’s a game, sweetness. It's only a game.”


  1. I like the way you draw us immediately into this scene.

    Your opening sentence made me stumble, because it's not really a sentence. I was then thrown off by the tense in the second sentence.


    "Cold potatoes sat in a pool of butter." ?

    Ace's anger is coming through clearly (what a jerk -- LOL!), but some of his dialogue is stilted. Such as:

    "You are never to touch my money..." People don't really talk like that. How about, "Don't touch my money" or "I don't want you touching my money" or something a little more natural.

    "If you don't listen to me, I will make you." This sounds awkward, too. How about, "Don't talk back to me!" or, simply, "Shut up!"

    I LOVE the way Echo attempts to calm Coraly and turn her attention away from the fight. It immediately sets up the relationship between the two of them, and I LOVE it.

    Good work!

  2. I agree with Authoress about the first sentence, and her suggestion was how I'd change it as well. I also agree about the stilted dialogue...but I do know how hard it is because I have a similar parental-unit fight scene in one of my novels and my CPs told me my dialogue was stilted, as well. >_>

    I also love how Echo is trying to distract Coraly from the fight. You've already made me sympathetic towards her and yes, like Authoress said, you've set the relationship between Coraly and Echo well.

  3. On one hand, I agree with Authoress and Lyla about the first sentence. On the other, I also think it would work as it is if it were moved to the second sentence--just so that it comes after we're introduced to Echo and in her POV, so to speak. For me, I think that would make it less jarring.

    I love the relationship between Echo and Coraly. I'm sympathetic to their situation, I'm rooting for them, and I want to know more, so consider me hooked. :-)

  4. I agree about the stilted dialogue Authoress mentioned, but her suggestions don't need help.
    I love Echo already; in her situation, I would do the exact same thing.
    I would absolutely read on. :)

  5. I'm going to agree with everyone else about the first sentence; the fact that it's a fragment threw me off. I also agree with everyone else about the dialogue during the fight, and add that the fact that Celeste stood up for herself seemed a bit...odd, I guess, for me. Ace is clearly hurting her, so I felt that she would agree with what he said (eg, of course, I'm sorry, it won't happen again), rather than say she can't even buy a stick of gum and then later that she's not allowed to buy a dress. I felt like she would be aware that saying that would just make him angrier. Then, Celeste tells him to leave, which doesn't sound like something that a person who's (presumably) just been thrown against a wall would say.

    I love the names Echo and Coraly, and I love the interaction between them. (Quick note: when Echo calls Coraly "Sweet Pea", I don't think it should be capitalized.)

    That's all I've got to say. Good job, and good luck!

  6. Something else I just thought of--why hasn't Echo grabbed Coraly and gone someplace else? The environment doesn't seem really great for a small child--why can't Echo take Coraly for a drive or a walk, or at least go sit outside? I'm guessing that there's a reason they haven't left (maybe a family dinner or something, and leaving would enrage Ace further) but I think you could have Echo contemplate it for a few seconds.

    I was also curious as to where Coraly's mom is, but I'm guessing that it's explained soon.

  7. I agree about the first line. There's a verb, so it doesn't register as a purposefully incomplete sentence right away. So I'd either complete it, a la Authoress's suggestion, or go the incomplete route w/out a verb, like "Cold potatoes in a pool of butter." Tighter, and I'm not trying to make it complete in my head—it sounds like an internal observation immediately. And it is, so there you go. =)

    The use of 'Celeste' outside of dialogue threw me. Isn't she Echo's mom? So wouldn't she be called 'Mom/Mother/Madre/ect.' in Echo's head, which is where we are, I presume? Calling her Celeste segregates my ideas of her being Echo's mother from her character. Same goes for using 'Ace' instead of 'Dad/Father/Padre/ect.'.

    Also, the names 'Ace' 'Coraly' and 'Echo' made it hard for me to get into the story…mainly 'Ace'. I can't take it seriously. One odd name would be fine, but when all of them are weird in a realistic setting, it feels a bit…gimmicky? Idk, that's not quite the right word. Trying too hard to be different, maybe. I'm really hoping that Echo is a nickname.

    I agree with Authoress about the stiff dialogue. And I agree with Becca about 'Sweet Pea' being 'sweet pea'. Not a proper name, so you don't capitalize it. Just like 'honey', 'sweetie', ect. All that being said, I might give it a few more paragraphs, or a couple more pages to see if I'm interested in where it's going. I wouldn't keep reading if the dialogue problem continued. So…semi-hooked. =) Good luck with this!

  8. This is an awesome start! Domestic violence is a great way to make me feel empathy for Echo and Coraly - I love them already!

    Like Amanda suggested, I would refer to the parents as Mom [that feels weird just typing it!] and Dad. Although, from what I've seen of Echo and Coraly, they might refer to the parents as Mama and Papa.

    Apart from that, this is excellent. Unlike everyone else, I thought the first sentence is okay, and I also didn't think the dialogue was too bad. I'm definitely hooked!

  9. You don't need the "she never had an appetite when her parents were fighting" as this is implied by her pushing her plate away during the fighting. Otherwise, I agree about the dialogue sounding too formal. I also agree that you need to remove your narrator from this scene. She would not call her father Ace in her head and, when she does, we are pulled out of her story.

    I don't mind the first line aside from the fact that butter probably cools at the same rate as potatoes and thus wouldn't be pooled anymore. My main concern here is that your main character has no visible reaction to this situation. She has no appetite and she has a slight tremble in her voice but aside from that, I can't tell how she feels about this situation which again, pulls me out of her story. I am not suggesting that you write in 1st person, however you might want to try doing this one scene that way so you can find her voice.

    Good luck!

  10. God, I love this! I could see the fight playing out and I got the chills. I really like where you started the book, in the middle of an abusive fight between Echo's parents. It's a unique place to start, and sucked me right in.

    There's only a few things that really stuck out for me. One being that I didn't get a feel of Echo: who this person was or how her parents fighting affected her. The actual fight took main stage, whereas I couldn't help thinking that it would be really great if Echo's reaction to the fight was more of the focus.

    Also, in some places I flowed over the dialogue and in some places I kind of stumbled over it. This happens to me a lot, so I've trained myself to read my dialogue out loud. Something about hearing your words in your ears brings all the rough patches to glaring relief.

    Anyway, these are small things. I stand by my earlier comment, I really do love this.