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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | First Impressions: LONG WAY HOME

First Impressions: LONG WAY HOME

In honor of our one year anniversary of First Impressions, Marcy Hatch of Mainewords and I will be turning the tables by sharing the first pages of our own WIPs.

This is the first page of Marcy’s YA magical realism novel, LONG WAY HOME.  I’m not going to critique it. (Marcy’s already heard what I have to say, since we’re critique partners.)  But I can’t wait to hear what all you brilliant blog followers think about it!


Once, I fell

 Ch. 1 – April 16th1:00AM MONDAY
     I remember falling.
     I remember reaching out for something to grab hold of, anything, anything at all. But there was nothing but blue sky and air.
     What I don’t remember is who pushed me. Or why.
     I look up and all I can see is a big sky full of stars and the moon not quite full and the cliff above me, a massive perpendicular shadow rising. It’s dark now.
     And I’m in the desert below.
     My eyes adjust to the light – or rather lack of – and as I sit up I can see the sage and cacti, dark shapes I recognize by their outline and …and the pictures Max showed me.
     My head throbs, a sharp relentless stabbing. I reach up to rub where it hurts and feel the wetness there, know when I bring my fingers away that they are bloody. My body aches hard, like someone threw me against that canyon wall until…
     I look up to the place I fell from, a black outline against the starry sky.
     I should be dead. 

16 Responses to First Impressions: LONG WAY HOME

  1. SA Larsenッ says:

    I read this already. Nice. It think the only place that gave me pause was repeating the word ‘remember’ at the beginning. It’s not wrong, but felt redundant.

    Can’t believe it’s been one year already since you two started this. 😀

  2. I was first under the impression the protag was falling, and then I felt like I missed the part where they should have hit the ground. Then they’re on the ground and I had to pause to catch up to the slight timeline jump, and again when they have the memory lapse. (Why am I bleeding? Oh yeah, someone pushed me. No wait, that just happened 2 paragraphs ago.)

    In that regards, it feels like some ideas are being repeated. I’d feel more drawn into the story if there wasn’t the gaps in POV and it continued from the push through the impact.

    (And what pictures is she referring to?)

    The desert setting is unique and was the thing that made this stand out most to me.

  3. Linda G. says:

    Ooooh, I like it! It’s a total hook. A gaff-size hook. I’d sure turn the page!

  4. Pk Hrezo says:

    I left her a comment on her blog. I really like it! Can’t wait to read yours! 🙂

  5. Oooh, great intro- definitely intrigues! Congrats on your one year first impressions anniversary!

  6. The only two issues I see are:

    – The jump from blue sky with nothing to grab, to a starry sky. I’m assuming she got knocked unconscious, and woke up later, but that could be made clearer.

    – I don’t like the “and” showing up on both sides of the ellipsis in paragraph six. It’s just a stylistic thing, and is really only a matter of taste, but I would cut the second one.

    Otherwise, this is all very intriguing. It certainly opens with a bang.

  7. Mina Burrows says:

    She should totally be dead. Very cool. My favorite line: “I remember reaching out for something to grab hold of, anything, anything at all. But there was nothing but blue sky and air.”

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Lydia Kang says:

    I really liked this, but I was also confused at blue sky followed so quickly by stars and night sky. I had to reread that, so an extra few words to show time passing or waking up later (days? hours?) would be helpful.

    Thanks you two!

  9. Chris Fries says:

    Well first off, the ending line is wonderful at establishing a “why isn’t (s)he?” question in the reader’s mind. That in itself was enough to make we want to go on.

    Craft-wise, the writing is very smooth and a clear voice is being developed in the MC — I have few nits to pick.

    But overall, all the MC is doing is sitting up and remembering, or realizing that they don’t remember, and describing the scenery.

    I think the story really begins at the top of the cliff. Begin in the midst of a scene, give a little lead-in, establish the character (a name would help), establish some conflict or tension to pull us in, and then let us careen over the edge with the MC. That would be much more compelling and effective at sinking your hooks into the reader, I think.

    Just my suggestion…

  10. This is compelling! Pretty writing!

    I was waiting for the slam against the ground, but then thought, oh maybe this is lapse in time, she is thinking back, just woke up? If so, needs something in there to make that clearer.

    Also, I’d take out this part:”like someone threw me against that canyon wall until…” and merge: “My body aches hard and I look up to the place I fell from, a black outline against the starry sky.”

  11. I loved it! Really well written and pulled me right in.

  12. Angela Brown says:

    I enjoyed reading this a second time. I added my comments over at your partner-in-crime, erm, uh, rhyme…no, not right either…how about just your partner’s blog. Yeah, that works.

  13. DL Hammons says:

    I’m like Lydia…I stumbled on the blue sky to sky full of stars transition. Other than that…me likes!! 🙂

  14. Awesome beginning. Not sure you need the words “hold of” after “grab”, but that may be a matter of taste. When you have her (I assume it’s a her?) look up at the sky, it might be more effective if you establish the fact that she’s lying flat on her back on the gritty desert floor. The reference to the pictures “Max showed her” seemed out of place to me. Obviously, this is an important fact, but it’s tossed in here in an off-hand manner.

    But, all in all, I’m intrigued. Yes, yes, yes, I would definitely turn the page!

    And congrats to both you ladies for a year of offering critiques. You guys… um … gals rock.

  15. Ooooo . . . nice! Can you say which book this is from?

  16. Fiona Claire says:

    Oh, this is just luscious! Yes, please, I’d like to read some more — right now. As for the comments on the blue sky/night sky transition, well, some people just think linearly and, methinks, obsess overmuch on this small detail. Time passed. Duh. If you wanted to add more clarity, you could just add ‘Now,’ in front of ‘I look up and all I can see is a big sky full of stars. . . ’ but I think it’s grand as is.