I wanted to do this because I need a jumpstart on my manuscript. I want to set goals for the month of June that will stretch me but still be realistic (I know I can't do an entire manuscript with my situation, but I want to get going!) and I want to have accountability with you guys.
So here's what we're going to do first. Tell me what your goals are for the month of June in the comments. Think of a writing goal that will stretch you a bit and make you reach, but is still reasonable.
When you put it in the comments, we're going to hold you to it for the whole month of June. We're going to cheer you to it, motivate you with it, and be there with you every step of the way.
I will be providing motivational guests, writing guides, sprints, and incentives as well as writing tips all the way through and I think it would be fun to have everyone check in at the end of the day and tell everyone how they did.
Here are my goals. I want to finish revising/editing my book Hostage and I want to get 48,000 words done on my new manuscript, Ribbon of Light. That's going to stretch me, (2000 words a day, six days a week give or take) but it will be so worth it in the end. Jumpstart in June, right?
I hope you'll grab my cool badge below (thank you Jordan McCollum!) and join the fun as well as invite your friends. The more the merrier!
First Page Friday
What would Friday be without a First Page Friday? (For any new people, we have a national editor that critiques first pages for us every Friday. If you would like to submit, directions are in the sidebar.)
By Debbie Vilardi
I dropped my plate in the sink and started toward the door. " Steven," Mom called, "don' t go upstairs yet. We have something to discuss with you."
My stomach pressed into my dinner. They're finally going to tell me what's going on. Could we need money? Could something be wrong with Grandma? Could we be moving? No way! I wouldn't allow that, but the other possibilities- I crossed my fingers against them.
My parents cleared the table while I headed for the living room. A cabinet closed. I heard Dad say, "Did you just put the juice in there? "
"What?" Mom answered. She must have looked, because she said, " I don't know where my brain is." Then I heard the refrigerator door.
What could mess her up that much? I 'd been waiting two weeks for them to clue me in. The wait was almost over. What's coming? There wasn't any point to thinking about it. I'd know soon. I collapsed into the most comfortable living room chair, Dad's chair, and pulled down the movie screen in my mind. My imaginary self was always ready for a challenge.
Bright Star rushed to answer King Olaf' s summons.
King Olaf stood in the palace courtyard with a scroll in his hand. "Sir Bright Star, I have a quest for you."
The door creaked shut behind Bight Star as he bowed his head. " Yes, King Olaf."
"Take this parchment through the Darklands to King Isaac at the desert 's edge. Don't open it, and don' t let anyone lay hold of it. Do not fail, or darkness may well befall us all. Ride swiftly."
Ms. Shreditor's Comments
I fear that this first page may have taken on too much. There’s the tease of a juicy parent-child discussion and then a sudden jump to the “movie screen in [Steven’s] mind.” It’s jarring. Before we’ve gotten our bearings our understood anything vital about Steven as a character, we’re thrown from a realistic scene into a fantastical one. To further complicate matters, it’s hard to determine whether or not King Olaf and Bright Star exist anywhere other than Steven’s imagination. If these characters are mere figments, then the suspense of a nonexistent quest may not be enough to power the first page. I would consider differentiating between these real and imagined scenes with breaks and/or font changes for clarity’s sake.
The writing has a fun, childlike quality that would appeal to kids ages 9 to 12. Steven makes for an inquisitive narrator and pauses often to question the world around him. I questioned a few of his reactions as I read. When his mother accidentally puts juice in a cabinet instead of the refrigerator, Steven worries, “What could mess her up that much?” The reaction seems excessive; while putting a perishable item in the wrong place is certainly a scatterbrained thing to do, it doesn’t strike me as cause for grave concern. Perhaps rework this section so that his mom does something more in keeping with Steven’s reaction—or simply tone down the reaction itself. I also stumbled over Steven’s chain of questions in the second paragraph. He seems more alarmed at the thought of moving than the thought of something being wrong with his grandmother, and thus relegates Grandma to the same back burner as potential money woes.
The text could benefit from a thorough proofread to resolve miscellaneous spelling, grammatical, and punctuation issues. There are a lot of short sentences that make for a choppy rhythm, so you’ll want to work on varying sentence length.
Watch also for tense inconsistency. For the most part, the story unfolds in the past tense; however, at a few introspective junctures, it flips suddenly to the present (examples: “They’re finally going to tell me what’s going on” and “What’s coming?”). These sentences might work in the present tense if they appeared as italicized thoughts, but I’d advise just switching them to the past to keep things consistent.
Be careful with imagery, too. It needs to be concise, and it needs to be clear. I tried to envision someone’s stomach pressing into his dinner and had a difficult time with it. You never want to kill the momentum in your story, but you definitely don’t want to kill it in your second paragraph. Can you simplify this by saying something like “My stomach lurched”?
The most important consideration for the revision phase is pacing. There need to be smoother segues between Steven’s and Bright Star’s worlds. Work on fine-tuning syntax and resolving mechanical issues to create a more polished product.
And now a note about my next column: Next week, I will be attending Book Expo America (BEA) with several colleagues. For those of you unfamiliar with BEA, it is like the Oscars of book industry events. Think top publishing houses, famous authors, celebrities, and all the advance review copies you can cram into a tote bag. I'll take thorough notes and share some of what I learn with you all next week. Stay tuned!