First Page Feedback: The Mis(s)fits: All That Glitters

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First Page Feedback: The Mis(s)fits: All That Glitters by Heather H.


Original:

Chapter One: Saturday June 21 

A cotton-sundress day beamed hope, happiness and promise over Manhattan, skimming over the back room of a boutique on Central Park West where one sixth-grade designing duo was ripping apart at the seams.

“I guess that’s it,” Celia Narro said, stroking the silver nailhead trim of her pink velvet chair. Her fingertips, rough with pricks from needlework, snagged on the soft fabric. These two velvet chairs (one pink one purple), two silver nameplates (Aracelia Francisca Narro – Accessory Designer, Indira Devi Prabshan – Jewelry Designer), and two lifelong best friends with matching mirrored desks made up Narshan headquarters. One desk now stood empty beside several overflowing boxes as the relaxing hum of shopping floated back from the front of the Prabshans’ boutique.

“Are you sure you don’t want any of these pictures?” Indira said, waving at the wall of designer portraits. Chanel, Westwood, Rodriguez, Galliano, Lagerfeld, McQueen and McCartney lounged on the pink silk wallpaper. Their favorite, the time they photobombed the Gossip Girls on set, had a soft light over it.

“Keep them for me. I’ll be back.” As Celia bit her lip and reached for a tissue Indira pulled a little tent card out of her purse and put it in the middle of her desk: Reserved for Celia Narro.

“I knew you’d say that, now it’s official! Hey – you’re not throwing this out are you?” Indira plucked Mabel Caylor’s crumpled letter out of the trash basket.

Mysterious treasures and love, pure Indira catnip! Celia knew she wouldn’t this slide.


Lorin's Feedback:

Chapter One: Saturday June 21 

A cotton-sundress day beamed hope, happiness and promise over Manhattan, skimming over the back room of a boutique on Central Park West where one sixth-grade designing duo was ripping apart at the seams. [Though I appreciate the gentle lyricism of this line, it feels a bit overwritten and a bit too authorial to really draw the reader into the story. It also takes a bit too long to get to the point of tension, the idea that elicits a question on the part of the reader—that the duo is “ripping apart at the seams.” It would be, I think, much more potent to put us right into the perspective of a character, someone who is either trying to serve as peacemaker or trying to meet some other critical desire.]

“I guess that’s it,” Celia Narro said, stroking the silver nailhead trim of her pink velvet chair. Her fingertips, rough with pricks from needlework, snagged on the soft fabric. These two velvet chairs (one pink, one purple), two silver nameplates (Aracelia Francisca Narro – Accessory Designer, Indira Devi Prabshan – Jewelry Designer), and two lifelong best friends with matching mirrored desks made up Narshan headquarters. One desk now stood empty beside several overflowing boxes as the relaxing hum of shopping floated back from the front of the Prabshans’ boutique. [Again, I’m afraid some of this feels a little overburdened to me. The repeated use of parenthetical phrases, combined with em-dashes, combined with the girls’ full names just creates a feeling of density here, which may be off-putting to younger readers of the genre.]

“Are you sure you don’t want any of these pictures?” Indira said, waving waved at the wall of designer portraits. Chanel, Westwood, Rodriguez, Galliano, Lagerfeld, McQueen and McCartney lounged on the pink silk wallpaper. [Perhaps something a little more personal to the girls here. E.g., “…McQueen and McCartney formed the cheering section over what had been their busy work space.”] A soft overhead light cast its glow on their favorite: Their favorite, the time they photo-bombed the Gossip Girls on set, had a soft light over it. [Gossip Girls is generally considered a young adult to adult series, with some pretty strong sexual themes. Given this is middle grade, I wonder if a different show might be more suitable?]

“Keep them for me. I’ll be back.” As Celia bit her lip and reached for a tissue, Indira pulled a little tent card out of her purse and put it in the middle of her desk: Reserved for Celia Narro. [Nice]

“I knew you’d say that, now it’s official! Hey, you’re not throwing this out, are you?” Indira plucked Mabel Caylor’s crumpled letter out of the trash basket.

[As a side note, I wonder if the names Celia and Indira are a little too similar in appearance and feel?]

Mysterious treasures and love: pure Indira catnip! Celia knew she wouldn’t this slide. [Great]


Thanks so much for sharing this opening with me, Heather! It was a pleasure to delve into Indira and Celia’s world just a bit, and I’m sure you have an awesome adventure in store for them.

The prose had a wonderful texture, and I got a strong sense of the world of the story right away. I also think you’ve made a great, intelligent choice in potentially splitting the friends apart at the beginning of the piece.

That said, I’m a little concerned about what I call the “density” of the language, above. It’s not that I don’t think there are many, MANY extremely bright and well read nine to twelve-year-olds (your ostensive target audience), but it felt to me as though the syntax you employed, the names you used, the level of description, etc., kept the reader at a bit of a distance rather than inviting her or him into the story.  It felt a little remote and authorial, somehow. And though you certainly have the option of using a more omniscient/authorial voice, this type of story tends to work better with a warmer, more subjective tone, one that makes us feel as though we’re really rooted in the perceptions, emotions, and vernacular of our characters.

Beyond that, too, the opening could use a stronger sense of trajectory, of one character attempting to accomplish something in the scene, entering the story with a clear objective that the reader will quickly come to care about as well. This feels like a basic establishment of their circumstance, but I’m not really clear whose perspective we’re in, what that character desires, or where to find the beating heart of this opening.

As a possible solution, I wonder if you might play with it in the first person, from either Indira or Celia’s point of view, and give that character something she’s trying to accomplish—to comfort her other friend, to stop her from going, or to elicit some important promise. Something to give it a little more emotional and narrative energy.

Hope that helps! Again, thanks so much for sharing your pages with me, and best of luck with the entire work! 

-- Lorin